You’ll understand the power of Sagrada Familia Church by looking at one Tripadvisor snip:
Yes, it just might be the most beautiful church you’ll ever see.
It’s also a UNESCO Heritage Site, the most visited church in Europe behind the Vatican, and Spain’s biggest tourist attraction by numbers.
Thinking of giving it a miss?
You won’t after my Sagrada Familia guide.
Let’s get into the history, some fantastic facts, a sneak preview of what to see, skip the line ticket links, English guided tour options, mass times, hours, dress code, and much more.
Sagrada Familia History and Info
This epic creation started after a bookseller’s 1872 trip Italy. It was there that he saw a comparatively uninspiring minor basilica called the Basilica della Santa Casa.
The inspiration lead to construction beginning in Barcelona in 1882.
The ball got rolling under Francisco de Paula del Villar as a standard Gothic revival church.
He resigned in 1883.
Cue the arrival of the real Sagrada Familia architect: Antoni Gaudi. It’s here that radical changes begin. The church takes on a decidedly modernist look with nature as its inspiration.
Gaudi would die in 1926 with the basilica only 20% complete.
Construction is later suspended during the Civil War and Gaudi’s plans are burned by Anarchists. After the war the construction is resumed by Gaudi’s contemporaries.
It was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 – even though it’s still under construction!
The outside of La Sagrada Familia is pure impact – only a madman would envision this.
Calling for 18 spires representing the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists, and Jesus Christ – the latter will rise to 172.5 meters above street level, one meter shorter than the highest point in the municipality of Barcelona: Montjuic.
Architect Antoni Gaudi believed that his creation shouldn’t surpass one of God.
One of the three main façades and the oldest and only one Gaudi saw before his death is the Nativity Façade. It serves as the church’s current main entrance. The walls recount the birth of Christ interspersed with vibrant, colourful scenes of nature.
It’s here we feel the energy of new life.
The opposite side is the Passion Façade (shown above), made in a cold and simplistic cubist style (which Gaudi designed on purpose since he despised cubism), with a wall of virtually colourless sculptures and bone-like columns depicting the downfall and eventual death of Jesus.
It’s here we confront the cruel face of death.
Still under construction is the future main entrance at the Glory Façade which will depict scenes of heaven and hell and touch on the theme of the Resurrection and ascension to god.
The interior is like stepping into the heart of a rainbow: the colour beaming in through the stained glass is other-worldly.
The light coming in from the Nativity Façade sparkles with ocean blues and forest greens while the Passion façade glows red and yellow. You’ll be able to tell the time of the day (blue/green in morning and red/yellow in afternoon) by which colours dominate.
The columns supporting the building were built to mirror trees and branches, each spanning various geometric forms. A simple example is a square base progressing to an octagon, passing to a sixteen-sided form and ending up in a circle.
None of the interior surfaces are flat and the level of detail to the ornamentation is something to behold.
Toward the front you’ll also be able to peek down into a small chapel (the only one constantly in use) and see Gaudi’s tomb in the floor decorated with a series of burning candles.
Sagrada Familia Completion Date
So far we’ve seen a completion of the Nativity Facade, the Passion Facade, the interior, and 8 towers.
So when will the Sagrada Familia be finished then? Don’t quote me on this but the city has an anticipated completion date of 2026 – so book your flight soon to get a good price!
Yes, they’re still hard at work on the Glory Façade and 10 additional towers including the tallest (172 meters/564 feet) and most spectacular that will be dedicated to Jesus Christ.
Can you believe it? Even though it’s still under construction, La Sagrada Familia is still the biggest tourist attraction in all of Spain with more than 3.2 million visitors a year.
So please, I’ll tell you one more time to ensure you book your tickets in advance!
Sagrada Familia Opening Hours 2020
Last tickets are sold 30 minutes before closing time but it’s recommended to book a time slot in advance online that allows you at least one hour to visit the church.
- November to February: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
- March: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
- April to September: 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
- October: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.
FYI: Mondays and Tuesdays are the best day of the week to visit Sagrada Familia to avoid crowds.
Sagrada Familia Special Hours in 2020
- December 25th and 26th, January 1st and 6th: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- January 28th: closing at 6:00 pm.
- March 1st: 10:30 am to 2:00 pm.
- March 27th: closing at 4:00 pm.
- March 28th: closing at 2:00 pm.
- April 5th: opening at 3:00 pm.
- April 9th: closing at 5:00 pm.
- April 10th: closing at 3:30 pm.
- April 11th: closing at 4:00 pm.
- May 24th: closing at 2:00 pm.
- August 15th: opening at 10:30 am.
- September 12th and 13th: closing at 1:00 pm.
- Open Doors Day (September, dates TBA): closing at 2:00 pm.
- September 24th, November 1st, December 8th: opening at 10:30 am.
- December 12th: closing at 2:00 pm.
- December 24th: from 10:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Sagrada Familia Dress Code
Even though this Barcelona church is highly respected it’s not necessary to cover up completely.
However please following the dress code rules:
- Tops must cover the shoulders.
- No really low necklines or see through clothing.
- Shorts and skirts must go down to the knee.
- No beachwear, swimsuits, or flip flops.
- Don’t enter with promotional/political/antagonizing clothing.
The dress code for Sagrada Familia is not negotiable: please follow it to avoid problems!
Sagrada Familia Tickets
You can buy them at ticket windows but you’ll end up waiting 30-90 minutes in line. And this is only to get yourself a time slot that is potentially hours in the future.
You need to buy your tickets online. This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get tickets to Sagrada Familia. I’ve put links to the official buying channels in the buttons below.
Keep in mind that buying on site costs €3.00 – €6.00 more. When applicable I will show the ticket window (offline) prices as well as the online ticket price in my tables.
English Guided Tours
This is the best option I recommend especially for first time visitors.
You get a 90 minute Sagrada Familia tour (almost double the time of the normal tour) with an entertaining flesh and blood guide who knows this Gaudi church inside out.
If any monument in the world deserves in-depth explanations of the richness of its detail it’s this. And when you add it up it’s great value compared to the audio guide and tower tours.
English guided tour times: 10:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm (depending on availability).
|Guided Tour||Online Price|
Need more info? Read all about my Sagrada Familia guided tour experience.
General Admission + Audio Guide
In the event you can’t find a good time for the guided tour the independent audio guide is the next best bet. With this ticket you’ll get explanations of the architecture and history in English.
This ticket allows you to really take the time to educate yourself.
You’re free to stay as long as you want.
Audio guide ticket entrance slots run every 15 minutes from 9:00 am (last entrance 30 minutes before closing time) until closing.
|Entrance + Audioguide||Online Price||Ticket Window Price|
|Under 30 + Students||€24.00||€29.00|
|Disabled + Companion||€8.00||€9.00|
General Admission + Audio Guide + Tower Tour
For those looking for a great view of the city you may consider climbing one of the towers at Sagrada Familia church for an additional cost. Due to crowds you can only climb one of the towers (more info in the towers section).
There are better views in the city for free but the claustrophobic stairs do have their charm.
Entrance times can be selected every 15 minutes from 9:00 am until closing depending on availability. Your Sagrada Familia tower tour will be timed with this entrance.
You’re free to stay as long as you want after the towers.
|Entrance + Audio guide + Towers||Online Price||Ticket Window Price|
|Under 30 + Students||€31.00||€37.00|
|Disabled + Companion||free||free|
FYI: the Sagrada Familia visit with audio guide and towers is not recommended for visitors with limited mobility due to the stairs. Also, children under 6 are not admitted to the towers.
General admission tickets are just that – a way into the building to explore on your own. Keep in mind there is very little explanation of the architecture by way of signs etc.
If you just want to soak in the visuals without the understanding this is the ticket for you.
IMPORTANT: with the general admission option you can only visit Sagrada Familia during a two hour period (from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, depending on the season).
If you want to visit beforehand it’s better to opt for the guided tour option.
|General Admission||Online Price||Ticket Windows|
|Under 30 + Students||€18.00||€21.00|
|Disabled + Companion||free||free|
With your basic Sagrada Familia ticket you’ll also be able to download/add the official audio guide app for an extra €4.00 (not available with free kids under 11 tickets)
This option is only found on the official website.
Sagrada Familia time slots can be booked on the hour and at 15, 30, and 45 past.
FYI: with these tickets the time slots indicated are entrance times only: you’re free to stay at any Barcelona church to visit as long as you want after.
Sagrada and Park Guell Combo Tickets
Most tourists visit these 2 top attractions on the same day due to their proximity.
If you’re looking to get both of them done with the same ticket there is the famous Gaudi Bundle offered by long time partner Tiqets.
The ticket includes:
- Skip the line access at Sagrada Familia with official interior audio guide.
- Skip the line access at Park Güell with app audio guide.
- Exterior app audio guide for Sagrada Familia
- Barcelona city audio guide
The Gaudi Bundle prices are as follows:
- Adults: €44.50
- Young adults (12-18): €38.00
- Kids (7-10): €9.00
- Kids (0-6): free.
IMPORTANT: When booking you’ll simply be asked for a visit date. Once booked, Tiqets will be in touch asking for times suiting your schedule. Then they’ll go to work and get your slot and email you the tickets.
Sagrada Familia Tour in English
I always recommend spending a bit more and opting for an extended English guided tour offered exclusively by legendary tour operator Tiqets for only €44.50.
At 90 minutes it is almost double the length of the official Sagrada Familia tour.
You also skip lines VIP style and don’t have to wait to get in.
These Sagrada Familia tickets are with accredited and enthusiastic guides who are experts on Antoni Gaudi and his cathedral.
This is an exclusive service not found anywhere else and in my opinion is the best Sagrada Familia tour on the market.
You can choose between morning or afternoon tours. It runs seven days a week.
The tour is also smaller and more personal than the normal tour (which routinely caps out at 40 people) – the guides are incredibly knowledgeable and funny and you’ll be a Sagrada Familia church expert in no time!
A friend of mine told me once that “without the tour it’s just some walls, columns, and statues” and after taking it myself I’m inclined to agree.
My Guided Tour Experience
When you book you’ll get an confirmation email with meeting details (in front of the KFC outside the church) and there you simply have to get your name checked off the guide’s list with your confirmation number.
Before you go in for the tour it’s a thorough explanation of Gaudi, Sagrada Familia’s history, and some interesting notes about the neighbourhood of Eixample.
Then they kit you up.
You’ll get a mini radio transmitter with earphones (yours to keep! useful for the Bus Turistic after) so you’ll never lose the guide’s voice. Once you’re in they’ll go into every nook and cranny of the Nativity Facade.
Here my guide is explaining something I passed by the first time without giving a second thought. The pillars of this side are supported by turtles, one of the earth’s oldest animals and a symbol of old world knowledge.
Yes, Sagrada Familia church is being held up by wisdom!
From here it’s on to inside with a beautiful explanation of Gaudi’s stained glass vision, the role the sun’s place in the sky plays in it, and info about the floor plan, stairwells, services, and pretty much everything else.
The tour ends on the Passion Façade with ominous stories surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus, the symbolism of the falling stones, and a revealed secret of Josep Subirach’s magic number square.
My favourite bit? Being pointing out where we can see Gaudi’s face hidden in plain sight among the characters immortalized in the façade sculptures – it’s based on a photo you can see in the museum downstairs.
Again, having been once before without a guide I can say the difference in understanding was day and night. What really impressed me was the way my guide handled questions from the group with ease and passion.
How to Purchase Guided Tour Tickets
If the Sagrada Familia tour that I took sounds good simply click the button below and you’ll have all the information you need plus the purchase links:
Your ticket(s) will be sent via email within 24 hours of purchase.
Sagrada Familia Tower Visits
When buying your tickets for Sagrada Familia you’ll be given the option to upgrade to climb the stairs of one of its towers. Keep in mind though that due to crowds you’ll only be able to select one tower.
Which tower is the best?
The difference between the two towers is their height: the Nativity Facade is 55 meters (180 feet) tall while the Passion Facade is 75 meters (246 feet) tall.
For this reason I’d recommend choosing the Passion Tower as the view is slightly better.
Are Sagrada Familia Towers Worth it?
In both towers you go up by elevator and go down by stairs. For this reason visitors with mobility issues and children under 6 cannot be accepted.
It’s also not a great choice for claustrophobics as the stairwell is cramped.
The €7.00 price tag to climb the stairs also isn’t great value compared to other superior, cheaper views in the city. There are insane panoramic views at Park Guell and Turo de la Rovira that I’d recommend first.
In summer you’d also be more comfortable heading to a free hotel roof terrace like Hotel Grand Central or Hotel Pulitzer (usually open to non-guests after 8:00 pm).
Also, to ensure visitor safety the towers may be closed in bad weather. The hassle of having to get a refund may complicate your trip (if you need one contact firstname.lastname@example.org) – but you should receive it within 30 days.
My advice? Save the money for a roof terrace cocktail or get a guided tour of Sagrada Familia.
If you do however get a Sagrada Familia tower tour ticket please ensure that you head for the towers at the time indicated on your ticket. It should be the first thing you do once inside.
If you show up later you may not be given access if the usher is in a bad mood!
Sagrada Familia Mass Times
From October 2017 it’s possible to attend the international mass on Saturday evenings, Sunday mornings, and some holidays at Sagrada Familia.
Sunday morning mass begins at 9:00 am and is open to all comers, though there are limited spots. Doors open at 8:30 so you’ll want to get there at least this early.
Saturday evening mass begins at 8:00 pm (doors at 7:30 pm).
The entrance is on Carrer de Marina and the dress code is ‘dignified’.
International masses also run on holidays: August 15th, September 24th, the 1st of November and the 8th and 25th of December.
Those interested in celebrating mass at Sagrada Familia Crypt can so for free without booking at the following times:
- Weekdays at 9:00 am (Spanish) and 8:00 pm (Catalan).
- Saturday at 9:00 am (Spanish)
- Sundays and holidays at 10:30 am (Catalan), 11:45 am (Spanish), 1:00 pm (Catalan), 6:30 pm (Catalan), and 8:00 pm (Spanish).
As of October 2020 there is also an additional international mass which takes place Saturdays (and holiday eves) at 8:00 pm.
Keep in mind regular Sunday masses are celebrated in the crypt and not the cathedral itself. In the end the Sagrada Familia crypt opening hours are those above – it’s closed at all other times.
If you’re looking to go to mass keep in mind there is standard Barcelona church dress code: women must cover their shoulders and have dresses cut off no higher than the knee.
Keep in mind you cannot take photos at either mass.
Throughout 2020 you’ll also be able to attend some of Sagrada Familia church’s masses held for special occasions like beatifications, Christmas mass, family masses etc.
Here’s a list:
- March 1st at 6:00 pm: Sant la Creu mass
- April 5th at noon: Palm Sunday mass
- April 9th at 8:00 pm: Saint John’s mass
- April 10th at 6:30 pm: Good Friday mass
- April 11th at 9:00 pm: Easter mass
- May 24th at 5:00 pm: Priest ordination mass
- August 15th at 9:00 am: Virgin Mary mass
- September 24th at 9:00 am: Notre Dame mass
- October 24th (time TBA): Beatification mass
- November 1st at 9:00 am: All Saints mass
- December 8th at 9:00 am: Immaculate Conception mass
- December 24th at 5:30 pm and 9:00 pm: Christmas mass.
You can solicit and invite and see the events calendar here.
Tips for Visiting Sagrada Familia
Showing up without tickets for Sagrada Familia and buying at the window means waiting in lines.
After 30+ minutes of queuing you’ll be booking a time slot that is crowd dependent so a 4:00 pm arrival could mean a 6:45 pm entrance.
To avoid the hassle buy your Sagrada Familia tickets online.
Some other visiting tips?
- Buy your tickets well in advance because time slots tend to sell out (even low season)
- Go before 10 am for the best shot avoiding crowds.
- Set aside at least 90 minutes for the visit.
- Get there well in advance of your time slot as they can be sticklers.
- The more natural light the better (sunset is great, nights should be avoided).
- Print out your tickets if you can as smartphone copies can be hard to scan in the sun.
- Sit in the pews for at least 15 minutes to see the colours change as the sun moves.
- Keep an eye out for pickpockets.
- If you need to go to the bathroom go to the Mcdonald’s outside beforehand!
- Avoid weekends if possible, the crowds are a nightmare!
- You can grab a perfect selfie angle on the escalator at the Calle Marina metro exit.
- iPhone users: change to the ‘chrome’ photo setting to really capture the colours of light.
- You may seriously want to stretch your neck as you’ll spend a lot of time looking up.
- Consider seeing the Recinto Modernista de Sant Pau (just 15 minutes away).
- Can’t decide a day? Check the weather forecast and opt for the sunniest day.
How to Get to Sagrada Familia
You’ll find La Sagrada Familia church at the top of the trendy Eixample district at 42 Calle Marina.
Sagrada Familia is served by the Sagrada Familia metro stop (purple line L2 and blue line L5).
The area is served by buses 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20, B24, and V19.
You can also get to Sagrada Familia using the Bus Turistic (blue line, Sagrada Familia stop).
Once you’ve bought your Sagrada Familia tickets online head straight to the main visitor access point at the Nativity Façade on Calle Marina (indicated on metro exits) – don’t bother with the lines on the other side.
If you haven’t bought your tickets online and want to line up (not recommended) you’ll find the ticket windows at the Passion Façade on Calle Sardenya.
Visitors with disabilities and their companions should go to the Group Visitors Centre on Calle Marina.
Where to Eat in the Area
If you’re waiting to get into Sagrada Familia or you’ve already visited and have a bit of a growl in your stomach this could be the perfect opportunity to try one Spain’s most famous dishes – jamon (Serrano ham/prosciutto).
At just two minutes’ walk you’ll get to Enrique Tomas at Carrer Marina 261. Here you’ll be able to taste different types of ham including the very prestigious bellota. The service is quick, the local clean, and the coffee top notch!
If you spend 10 euros or more and mention that you’re a friend of Barcelona Hacks they’ll give you a free coffee! Not bad, especially considering you’d be dropping 5 euros at Starbucks around the corner.
You’ll also have the opportunity to get yourself a vacuum packed ham souvenir to take home (EU only).
Seafood lovers who don’t wanna spend a ton should check out La Paradeta at 18 Passatge de Simó. Pick fresh fish from a market style counter and let the cooks do their magic! I recommend the Blanc Pescador wine.
Another place is Café Parc Belmont at 256 Carrer de Lepant 256. This cool cafe out of the tourist spotlight is famous for its large portion salads with homemade dressings. Up the ante by adding some meat for a combo and you’ve got the perfect cheap lunch.
For a top quality breakfast, brunch, or dinner with a modern Spanish twist just 200 meters away from La Sagrada Familia head to Restaurant Singular at Calle Sardenya 321.
For more information check out my list of best restaurants in Barcelona.
Can I buy Sagrada Familia tickets on the day?
Technically yes, though it is very likely you will be waiting in a long line and given a time slot many hours in the future.
Have Sagrada Familia tickets sold out at any point?
It is not uncommon for tickets to sell out over holidays and weekends and at any time during high season: for this reason and the one listed above it is recommended to reserve online in advance.
Is the Sagrada Familia audio guide available in English?
Do I have to print my tickets for Sagrada Familia beforehand?
No, you can show them on your smartphone.
If I buy Sagrada Familia tickets online what entrance do I use?
Those with tickets enter on Carrer de la Marina (the Nativity Facade).
What happens if I show up later than the time indicated on my ticket?
Don’t show up late. They’re big sticklers here and you’ll only have a ten minute margin to enter.
How long does the tour last?
About an hour and a half.
When is the best time to visit Sagrada Familia?
The best time to visit to avoid crowds is during the opening time slots at 9:00 am. This is especially true early in the week between Monday and Wednesday.
It it worth it to do the tower tour?
To be honest it’s not going to be a can’t-miss attraction: the prices go up considerably and you’re going to get a better view at other locations like Park Guell anyway.
Guided tour or tower tour?
I always suggest paying the extra €2.50 and getting yourself an informative and entertaining guide that will give you the key to unlock this amazing building.
Can I take the tower tour without the audio guide?
How tall is the Sagrada Familia?
At the moment the tallest part of Barcelona’s famous church is 115 meters (377 feet).
The church will eventually rise to 172.5 meters tall (565 feet) – one meter lower than the tallest point in the city: Montjuic.
What’s the ticket with the “CASA MUSEO GAUDÍ” option?
This ticket gives you the opportunity to visit Gaudi’s museum-house found on the site of Park Guell. CAREFUL: this doesn’t refer to entrance for the monumental portion of Park Guell, which must be paid separately.
Is it worth it to go inside Sagrada Familia?
Only seeing the outside of the church is preventing you from seeing half the genius.
The light play and stained glass of the inside is worth the price of ticket alone, not to mention Gaudi’s tomb and the ability to learn so much more with guided tours, audio guides etc.
See the inside.
Can I take photos inside?
When is Sagrada Familia lit up?
From Monday to Thursday between 8:00 pm and 12:00 am.
Can I take some cool photos at night?
It’s best to take night photos while it is lit up but regardless you’ll be able to get some decent shots even when the lights are not on.
How do I get to Sagrada Familia from Park Güell?
Take bus V19 from 170 meters outside the park exit (Ramiro de Maeztu – C N Catalunya) and get off at the Pg. de Sant Joan – Còrsega stop, then from there it’s a 13 minute walk.
How do I get to Park Guell from Sagrada Familia?
This common route only takes about 30 minutes if done properly.
I would walk down Calle Provença to the Verdaguer metro station. From here you can take the yellow line of the metro up to Alfons X station.
It’s from here that you can grab the free shuttle included with your ticket.
The shuttle drops you off right at the gates.
Does the Bus Turistic stop at the Sagrada Familia?
Yes, the blue Bus Turistic line has a stop at the basilica.
How do I get to Sagrada Familia from the cruise port?
Instead you should be taking the shuttle from your dock to the Columbus Statue and then grabbing the metro at the station Drassanes.
From here it’s only a few stops and will cost €2.20 (return).
What will Sagrada Familia look like when completed?
To see what the finished product will look like check out this video animation.
How many façades of Sagrada Familia are there?
There are three monumental façades: the Passion Façade, the Nativity Façade, and the Glory Façade (still under construction, not open to the public).
What does Sagrada Familia mean?
Sagrada Familia means ‘holy family’ in Spanish.
Why is Sagrada Familia unfinished?
According to the master architect Gaudi there was no need for a completion date. His response to such questions was simply ‘my client (god) is not in a hurry’.
It is also a question of quality. The current ‘slow architecture’ model has allowed the basilica to be influenced by the skills and craft of many generations of talented architects.
That said, there are the obvious budget constraints.
How much does it cost to build Sagrada Familia?
There is no definitive answer on how much money has been spent so far but the current budget estimates are €25 million per year.
What is Sagrada Familia made out of?
The bell towers of the Nativity Façade (built during Gaudi’s time) are made from sandstone taken from nearby Montjuic. The quarry there has since shut down, so for consistency it can only be taken from demolished buildings.
The other towers are largely made up of granite of a similar colour and resistance.
The naves and vaults are made from reinforced concrete.
Which metro to Sagrada Familia?
You can reach Sagrada Familia using the purple or blue lines of the metro at the Sagrada Familia stop. There is also the option to take the yellow line to Verdaguer – from here it’s a short 7-8 minute walk.
Is Sagrada Familia free?
Unfortunately no. As it is a work in progress which relies on ‘donations’ (tickets) to complete it you must book tickets in advance.
How much are Sagrada Familia tickets?
General admission tickets start at €20.00 if bought in advance online. From there the prices increase to €26.00 (with audio guide) and €33.00 (audio guide + towers).
How far in advance can I buy Sagrada Familia tickets?
General admission tickets can be bought up to two months (60 days) in advance. It is recommended to buy tickets at least two weeks in advance in low season) or 30-60 days in advance in high season.
Which Sagrada Familia tour is best?
The best price-quality ratio Sagrada Familia tour runs at 90 minutes (longer than the traditional one) and is offered by TGI City Tours.
Can you tell me when to buy Sagrada Familia tickets?
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