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Back in the day, it was easy to walk inside the Sagrada Familia church and buy your ticket. Today – no more. Now you have to snake through lines and get through airport-style security, equipped with security machines and metal detectors (but no pat downs, phew). In the summer, queues to buy your Sagrada Familia tickets wrap around the block. You can easily HATE the Sagrada Familia without stepping in the door yet. But that’s not going to happen to you, will it? Because you’re armed with this ultra-practical guide for your Sagrada Familia visit. Allow me to unpack the whats, wheres, and hows: the best time to visit, how to buy tickets, which tower to go up, and other discombobulations eating your brain. I visited Sagrada Familia in December, so I was surprised to see how much it’s changed. Read on to know everything you need to know about the Sagrada Familia: tips for your visit!
Now, let’s talk about why the Sagrada Familia is a big deal. You may be asking…
My answer is obviously “yes”. Here’s why:
Here’s why you shouldn’t go in:
You detest the Catholic Church. You hate culture. You hate art. Therefore your heart must be made of cold stone. Okay, seriously. Don’t go in if you don’t have time. Or if you just don’t care that much about churches. Or maybe if you’re on a very strict budget. The minimum basic ticket is 17€, so it’s not cheap. No judging. See it on the outside and move on.
In my opinion, yes. NO, they are not the best views in Barcelona. If you’re looking for great views of Barcelona, head to Bunkers del Carmel or Tibidabo. BUT if you want to see the Sagrada Familia details up close, I recommend it. You get to spy on all the workers too. Skip below to read more about the towers
Okay, let’s say you decide that you want to go up a tower. Depending on which entrance ticket you buy (we’ll get to that soon), you can decide on two different sets of towers…
It’s an age-old question. Both are excellent. Here’s a breakdown:
Towers of the Nativity Facade – The Nativity Facade is the only facade designed by Antoni Gaudí before his death. So if you go up, you can see the intricacies and details of his work. The towers have has a small bridge, which you can cross and get interesting views. You can also access the small balconies. It faces the north-east, so you can see the cityscape of Barcelona and the sea. The staircase going down is a little narrower than the Passion Facade.
Towers of the Passion Facade – It faces the south-west of Barcelona. You’ll get a view of the city, some of the mountains, the shoreline, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Passion Facade is, of course, the work of the newer architects and not Gaudí’s original work. I went to visit the Passion towers in December, and the experience was still breathtaking. This is your view:
I talk more about the towers later and in the FAQ. Click here to skip below and experience going down the towers in my video.
Learning how to buy tickets to Sagrada Familia can be overwhelming. First of all, there are different ticket outlets out there. 1) You can buy tickets to La Sagrada Familia through the official website, which is run by Clorian, 2) or you can go through a third-party vendor.
Whichever way you choose, I highly recommend you buy your tickets ahead of time. They charge 3-4 euros more if you buy them at the door. PLUS, you have to wait in line – with the exception of winter. The people of the Sagrada Familia are begging you to buy your tickets ahead of time! You can buy them starting at two months in advance.
You have 5 choices:
If you buy the “Sagrada Familia with Towers” ticket, you choose two entry times: a time to get into the Sagrada Familia and it will automatically assign you a time to get into the towers 15 minutes after. This 15 minutes will give you enough time to go to pick up your audioguide and make your way to either set of towers.
Alternatively, you can buy through a third-party website. Now, there are hundreds of vendors out there, and most of them charge a processing fee. BUT, don’t discount them. There are benefits to buying through a third-party vendor. This could be…
When choosing your tickets, here are my suggestions:
Entrance + guided tour + tower access
First of all, if you want to maximize your time, money, and sheer value of visiting the Sagrada Familia, it’s best to get a thorough explanation. It would be a shame to miss the meaningful elements that make the basilica unique. I also feel that going up the towers is a must-do – to see the church from this altitude, you can appreciate the details and the level of details that go into the tower architecture. The Sagrada Familia website DOES NOT offer the entrance this. Check out my picks:
NOTE! You cannot choose which tower you want to go up. It depends on availability. If you’re dead set on going up the Nativity Tower, the most economical way to do it is to buy from the Sagrada Familia website, where you can choose your towers. Also, read what you’re buying carefully. Be sure that you book for BOTH the tower and the guided tour. Sometimes it gives you the option for the tour without the tower access.
If you’re visiting other Barcelona sights, the best value for your money is to buy a discount tourist card, specifically the Barcelona City Pass. It includes the skip-the-line general entrance fee AND a guided tour with a licensed guide. You’ll have to pick your dates and times to visit the Sagrada Familia and the Park Guell. The card also includes:
The Barcelona City Pass with a guided tour is 89.50€ (plus 2.39 processing fee), and it’s one of the best Barcelona attractions deals for the number of attractions you get into.
The best value for a guided tour is to buy it through Tiqets. The tours are 90 minutes long – as opposed to Sagrada Familia’s 60-minute tours. That’s a whole 30 minutes more of guided exploration! You’ll visit the interior, the exterior, and also the museum section to learn more. Read the reviews here, where it says the Sagrada Familia tour was “the highlight of our trip”, “our tour of Sagrada was AMAZING!”, and “It was a very personal performance and with a twist of her own point of view.”
Let me save you time going from website to website. The cheapest way to see the Sagrada Familia is to purchase a basic ticket (no towers, no audioguides, no tour guides) is through the Sagrada Familia website. Is it the best way to see the Sagrada Familia? No, I don’t think so. Because you miss out on important symbols and facts throughout the church if no one points them out to you. The interior itself isn’t a museum (although it has one), so there are only a few short descriptions if you explore the Sagrada Familia basilica on your own. Tickets are 17€. If you’re under age 30, the tickets are 15€. If you buy this ticket, you can only visit after 2pm.
As I mention, at a minimum, you should get the audioguide. It’s 45 minutes long. The cheapest way is to buy it through the Sagrada Familia website. It’s 25€ for adult, 23€ for those under 30 years old.
So now that you’ve bought your tickets, here’s what you can expect when you arrive. (Jump down to know how to get to the Sagrada Familia. It’s easy.)
Once you’ve booked your tickets, go to the Carrer Marina (Marina Street) side. This is where the general entrance is once you have your tickets. (If you’re buying your tickets on-site, the ticketing office is on the other side parallel to Carrer Marina on Carrer Sardenya.) The group entrance is on the left by the gift shop. Go on the right-hand side for general entrance.
Once you walk inside, you’ll have to go through heavy security. Employees are there to guide you as if you were in LaGuardia Airport – yay! Your belongings go through a scanning machine, and you walk through a metal detector. Once you get through Security, you’ll step outside, and you’ll be on the side of the Nativity Facade. You’ll see a sign to pick up your audioguide to your right.
Once inside, lines for the audioguide should go fairly quickly.
Next, it’s time to navigate your way around the Sagrada Familia. They will NOT give you a handy pamphlet about the Sagrada Familia to carry around – probably because it causes waste. So – no map, nothing. (Maybe it’s a way for them to get you to buy an audioguide?) Once you pick up your audioguide, use your own headphones or earphones because the audioguide has a jack! It also has a lanyard. So if you’re carrying lots of things, you can just throw it over your neck. Then you’ll be hands-free. This helped me relax a little bit more!
If you have tower tickets, head to your tower! See the map below. “Façana Naixement” is Nativity Facade, and “Façana Passió” is Passion Facade. You’ll go through the basilica to get to the Passion Facade.
For both towers, you go up via elevator. There are only about 5-7 people who can fit inside, including an elevator attendant. As I mentioned, I went up the Passion Towers. This is the Passion Tower experience mapped out:
Note that the Sagrada Familia towers are not a place to hang out for long. It’s like 20-30 minutes – TOPS. You literally go up in an elevator, enjoy the views and take photos, then you head back down. There’s no dilly-dallying or sitting on benches or anything. The space up there is not that big. I spent about 25 minutes there and arrived at 9:30am. There were just a few people, so I didn’t have to fight for spots for photos. Overall, the experience was exciting and exhilarating – just like my other visits to the towers in the past!
Also, note that go up the towers, you take an elevator up, but you have to climb down some 400 spiraling steps. It is not for the faint of heart nor for people with knee problems. Also, kids 6 years and younger are not allowed. Need to know what it feels like? Check out my video of the last one-third of the descent:
After your visit, you can stay inside the Sagrada Familia as long as you like. I spent about 3.5 hours there, and I could have easily wandered around for an hour more. But I had adulting responsibilities awaiting me at home.
The audioguide is 45 minutes, so it’s best to follow it in order according to the map. It’s fun to compare the intricate and old designs of Gaudí with the new designs of the following architects.
As I mentioned, the Museum of the Sagrada Familia is fascinating. The people of the Sagrada Familia keep their construction plans like an open book! Tourists get to watch the workers create mini-models of the upcoming sections of the church.
So there you go. More questions? Maybe I’ve hit them below:
Is getting an audioguide worth it?
Yes, most definitely. And getting an audioguide is the minimum you should do. There are a few descriptions that you can read throughout the Sagrada Familia grounds, but it’s not enough to fully appreciate it. If you can pay for a guided tour, I recommend that too.
What’s the best way to see the Sagrada Familia?
It’s a personal opinion. For me, it would be a guided visit AND a visit up the Nativity Towers. But you won’t find that combination anywhere. Not in a book. Not in a house. Not on a mouse. Trust me – because I tried. And if you challenge me on this one, let me know. As I’d love to update this blog post! For now, I think this is the best value.
Is the Sagrada Familia staircase of the tower dangerous?
I’ve gone down the staircase a few times. The last time was when I visited in December 2018. The thought of winding down the towers had me in the sweat the morning I was going to visit the Sagrada Familia. I thought, “What if I have a panic attack inside? How will they get me down if I break my leg?” But, honestly, it’s not like you can’t EVER use the elevator down in case you break your leg. If you feel like pausing, there are small spaces where you can retreat and let people behind you pass. I’ve never had a claustrophobic attack, so I don’t know what that’s like. But I can assure you that, once I was there, I was much calmer than I expected.
If you have any doubts, take the Passion Facade towers vs the Nativity Towers because it’s newer and wider. The first 2/3rds don’t have an exposed hole down the middle, so you’re just concentrating on the steps. And the steps aren’t tiny or difficult to go down. Also, consider going in the morning when there are fewer people. A lady behind me asked to pass me because I was taking photos. She barely squeezed by. Like I said, every 30 steps or so, there are small “inlets” where you can tuck yourself in and let another person pass. So it’s not like you’re completely stuck!
When will the Sagrada Familia be finished?
The Sagrada Familia is expected to be completed in 2026, which would mark the 100-year death anniversary of Antoni Gaudí.
How far ahead can I buy tickets?
About 2 months ahead of time. In the winter, it’s pretty easy to get tickets. You can probably get them the day of your visit. However, the last ones around 5 and 6pm (when the sun sets and the light comes through the colored glass) may be sold out weeks in advance.
Can I buy tower tickets, or any additional services, when I’m inside?
Yes, but they’re subject to availability. It might be possible in the winter, but they may be available at another hour. For example, let’s say you arrive at 10am, and decide to buy tower tickets. The next available time might be at 3pm. You’d have to stay there or for 4 hours, or attempt at buying another ticket! The smartest thing to do is to buy all the services (tower or guided tour, etc.) ahead of time all on one ticket.
What’s the dress code?
According to the official Sagrada Familia website, it’s shoes required, no see-through clothing, shoulders covered, modest neckline, no exposed backs or bellies, mid-thigh length skirt or shorts, no swimwear, and no special clothing to draw attention for artistic, religious, promotional or any other purposes.
Sagrada Familia location: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, www.sagradafamilia.org
Sagrada Familia hours:
Have you been to the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia? What did you think? Anything else you want me to share?
California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).
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