I only spent two days in Barcelona but it didn’t even take me that long to learn that Antoni Gaudi is a genius. Gaudi was a Spanish architect who lived from 1852 to 1926. He had a vivid imagination and it shows in his designs. It is clear he was well ahead of his time.
It may sound like I am exaggerating as I describe some of the places, but honestly, I was thoroughly impressed. I am not the only one who thinks this, many of his projects have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of my priorities was to see as many of Gaudi buildings in Barcelona as I could in my short time there.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is a basilica designed by Gaudi, still currently under construction. After more than 130 years, it is scheduled for completion in 2026. I have been to many amazing churches across the world (St. Patrick’s, St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s and more) but in my mind, La Sagrada Familia tops them all. It’s one of the things you must see in Barcelona.
If you plan on visiting La Sagrada Familia while you’re in Barcelona (and you must) get your tickets in advance! There are several different ticket options but all are timed entry. The cheapest option is to just buy entry into the cathedral for 15€ each.
We decided to splurge and go for the most expensive option. For 29€ per person, you get access to the cathedral, an audio guide, and you get to go to the top of the towers on one of the cathedral facades. I wish I would have known about this full tour of La Sagrada Familia with an expert guide.
When we booked our tickets, we had to also decide what time we wanted to go up and which side (Passion or Nativity) we would choose. Plus, we needed to decide when we wanted to enter the basilica. We weren’t sure how long we would want to spend inside La Sagrada Familia and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to go back and see the rest of the cathedral after we went up the tower. We booked going up the Passion tower about 45 minutes after our entrance time. You can re-enter the basilica after you go up the tower so the timing doesn’t matter so much.
When I was booking I also wasn’t able to find much information about which facade would be the best one to go up, so we just went with the Passion because to me it sounded more interesting. To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I didn’t think the view was worth the extra money. In some spots, the view was blocked by the towers and scaffolding. Plus climbing down the stairs did get a little claustrophobic especially as the line backed up when people stopped to take pictures. Luckily we were able to take an elevator up.
La Sagrada Familia looks impressive from the outside even though it is still not finished. You have to get close to see the two amazing pieces of artwork make up the front and back facades. One side tells the story of Christ’s birth (Nativity) and the other tells the story of his death (Passion).
Both are totally different styles of art to help emphasize the differences in the two stories. The details in both pieces were very impressive, so and in a way, the artwork reminded me of Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell. There will be a third facade called Spirit when La Sagrada Familia is completed.
While the outside is impressive, I think the inside is even more spectacular. The stained glass is absolutely amazing. I have never seen stained glass light up a place like it does inside La Sagrada Familia. Pictures do not it justice. Plus you don’t get a sense of the sheer size of the basilica.
Overall, I do think La Sagrada Familia is a must-see in Barcelona. (It’s one reason why I think it’s better to visit Barcelona than Madrid.) You don’t get an accurate sense of it from pictures. I enjoyed my visit and the audio tour, just would not get the ticket to go up the tower next time. I can’t wait to see what La Sagrada Familia looks like once it is finally complete.
After La Sagrada Familia the next most famous Gaudi site is Park Guell, a public park with both gardens and architectural elements. You can visit Park Guell for free, but to enter the monumental zone, you will need a ticket. Entry to the monumental zone for an adult costs 7€ and a guided tour costs 14€.
We again splurged and bought tickets for the guided tour. It is a bit of a hike from the subway so be sure you leave enough time. We ended up basically running across the park to make sure we didn’t miss our tour. Even if you just purchase access to the monumental zone, it will be a timed entry.
Tickets for the guided tour or the monumental zone do not include entry to the Gaudi House Museum. This is where Gaudi lived. You can buy a special ticket for La Sagrada Familia that includes entrance to the Gaudi House Museum or purchase it separately for 5.50€. The Gaudi House Museum is located in the free access section of Park Guell so you could visit without paying to access the monumental zone.
The tickets you buy online for the Gaudi House are timed entry. Unfortunately, when we visited, we didn’t realize that we needed to buy the tickets for the Gaudi House Museum in addition to the guided tour. The line was just too long, so we didn’t have enough time. I was disappointed because I would have liked to learn more about Gaudi.
Walking through Park Guell, I felt like I was in a fairy tale. To me, the buildings reminded me of gingerbread houses like the ones in Hansel and Gretel. I also loved all the colors. I felt like it was a place that you just couldn’t help but be happy. In addition to the impressive artwork, Park Guell has pretty impressive views of Barcelona.
I enjoyed our tour too. We learned a lot about Gaudi and the history of Park Guell. I think the most fascinating tidbit I learned was that Park Guell was considered a failure at the time it was opened because it was supposed to be a neighborhood and not many people were interested in buying the houses.
Additional Gaudi Buildings in Barcelona
Since we were not in Barcelona very long, we did not get to visit all the Gaudi buildings. I was surprised to learn there were quite a few:
If I would have had three days in Barcelona, I would have loved to see more of Gaudi’s work. It’s definitely one of the things that makes Barcelona worth visiting.
Sadly Gaudi’s life came to a tragic end. At age 74, he was hit by a tram. Unfortunately, no one recognized him and did not receive immediate aid. He was only recognized two days later and then died the following day.
I plan on trying to see more of Gaudi’s work on my next visit. Have you seen any of Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona? I would love to hear what you thought about it.
Expert Tips for seeing Gaudi’s Buildings in Barcelona
- La Sagrada Familia is a must see in Barcelona. Be sure to buy your tickets in advance. I would recommend getting the audio tour but not sure it is worth paying extra to go up the tower.
- You will need to purchase tickets to the Gaudi House Museum in addition to any tickets to visit Park Guell.
- While you are in Barcelona, you should also see the Picasso Museum and La Boqueria Market. If you have time consider a day trip from Barcelona like a visit to Montserrat.
Last Updated on February 27, 2021
I went to Barcelona 15 yrs ago:) still remember Gaudi’s works:) #TheWeeklyPostcard
Yes Tanja his works really are unforgettable!
We are big fans of architecture in the first place, and fans of Gaudi. Put them together and Barcelona is a must! I could seriously live in Sagrada Familia if they’d let me – there is so much to see and explore, and so much innovation. Beyond that, though, Barcelona is such a great city with lots to see and seriously great food. Can’t wait to go back!
Rob – Thanks so much. Glad to hear you loved Barcelona too. I am excited to go back as well.
I haven’t been to Barcelona yet but it’s high on my bucket list. Of course, i definitely plan to visit La Sagrada Familia and will take your tips into account. Park Guell looks so beautiful too.
Sara – Thanks. I know you will love Barcelona. Hope you make it there soon!
I’m going to Barcelona in October and cannot wait to see these beautiful buildings.
Gemma – Excellent! You are gonna have a great time!
I have been dreaming of Spain for a long time, specifically Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia…. this post just added to my wanderlust… 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
Elisabeth – So glad you enjoyed the post! I hope you get to visit one day!
I’ve been to Spain, but not to Barcelona. I’ve always wanted to see the Saraga Famlia, and after reading this I want to see it event more! I’ll be sure to book tickets in advance. Thanks for the tips! #theweeklypostcard
Upeksha – Glad you found the post helpful. There are so many great places in Spain so it’s understandable you haven’t been yet but I hope you get to go soon!
This Basilica is beyond beautiful. I recently stepped into one here in India. I found it gorgeous but it was nothing compared to majesty that this structure presents.
Penny – Yes I agree I think it is the most amazing basilica that I have ever been to!
Great post! I also fell in love with Gaudi when I visited Barcelona and I can’t wait to get back and discover more of his work. I saw the facade of the La Sagrada Familia, but unfortunately they had sold all tickets for the day and it was our only chance to see it. The next day I went to Park Guell, and isn’t it just spectacular?!
You’re right about that hike from the subway! I thought I must have missed it when I was walking back for 40 minutes…. nope, just a big walk LOL
Loved the post and reminiscing about Barcelona.
Rebecca | http://www.whatrebeccaloves.com
Rebecca – Glad to hear you made it to Park Guell. I hope you get to go back to Barcelona and see the inside of La Sagrada Familia.
I’m not surprised you fell in love with Gaudi’s architecture, Anisa. It’s absolutely unique. The first time I saw La Sagrada Familia I thought I was in a dream. I wish I could see that church finally finished.
Anda – Yes his work is amazing. I want to see La Sagrada Familia when it is finished too.
My good friends run gites in France and every year after their busy summer season they head to Barcelona for a good rest. They have often spoken of Gaudi and his works. Thanks for your photos and descriptions. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Annette – You are welcome. I can understand why they keep going back to Barcelona.
Under construction for the past 130 years…! Wow! But his buildings do look very interesting, and that detail on the nativity scene is mind-boggling!
Bryna – Yes, it is really something you must see for yourself.
The architecture in Barcelona is one of the main reason why it’s my favorite city in the world. Sagrada Familia is simply gorgeous, I’m blown away by all its details every time I visit. #TheWeeklyPostcard
Thanks Vlad. I definitely agree!
I agree that Gaudi is the best part of a visit to Barcelona. It’s been almost 30 years since I visited, and the Sagrada Familia could only be enjoyed from the outside at that time. I’ve always wondered what the interior would be like. That light from the stained windows in your photos is unlike any other church I’ve seen. I would really like to return to see it for myself.
Michele – Wow that is fascinating to hear. Yes you must go back and see the progress.
I felt the same way as you about Sagrada Familia. It was stunning and so unique, but the scaffolds and construction definitely took away from the experience, not to mention the lines. Casa Batilo was by far my favorite!
Thanks Maya! I will have to see Casa Batilo I’m there.
We have visited Spain twice and cannot seem to make it to Barcelona. This would definitely be at the top of the list once we make it there. I have a fascination with European churches and cathedrals and I’m sure this one will blow my mind away. The pictures and details are just incredible. We hope to make it before it’s completed 🙂 Thanks for all the tips.
Mary – Thank you! There is a lot to see in Spain so I hope you can make another trip to Barcelona. I do think you will be impressed by La Sagrada Familia.
In May it was our third visit to Antoni Gaudi’s fabulous La Sagrada Familia and yet again we were in awe!
The detail in this cathedral is mind blowing… from a distance, it looks very Gothic in nature but then you get closer and every single element leaves your jaw hanging. From the lighting, the tree-like columns, the sculpture… It’s safe to say we have witnessed a work of art in the making!
They’re aiming to finish construction by June 2026 – this will coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death.
I would love to go back and see the progress since my visit and I can’t wait to see it when it is finished.