5 Mistakes You Should Avoid at La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is without a doubt one of the must-see places in Spain. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a 135-year-old basilica designed by the famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí. Although I wholeheartedly dislike the city of Barcelona, I would go there simply to visit La Sagrada Familia. I should warn you that this basilica is a tourist-packed behemoth. It’s a good idea to prepare for your visit. To help with that, I figured it would be easier to tell you what NOT to do. Here are 5 mistakes you don’t want to make when visiting La Sagrada Familia.
This post may contain affiliate links as explained in my disclosure policy
How to get to La Sagrada Familia
First, let’s get some logistics out of the way. Located in the center of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia is easily accessible by metro or bus. These are the metro and bus routes you can use to get there.
- By Metro: L5 and L2 – Get off at Sagrada Familia station
- By Bus: 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24.
Hours of operation
Luckily, La Sagrada Familia is open every single day of the week. According to the La Sagrada Familia website, the basilica is open according to this schedule:
November to February – 9 am to 6 pm
March – 9 am to 7 pm
April to September – 9 am to 8 pm
October – 9 am to 7 pm
December 25, 26, January 1 and 6 – 9 am to 2 pm
Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Visiting La Sagrada Familia
1. Not buying your ticket online in advance
When I first visited La Sagrada Familia, I made the amateur mistake of not buying my ticket online. I just showed up at the entrance and asked where the ticket office was. To my dismay, the worker informed me that they didn’t sell tickets at the venue; all tickets must be purchased online. I ended up going back to my hostel, buying a ticket, and returning the next day. Gone are the days when you could just arrive at the venue and buy a ticket.
Don’t make the same mistake I did! You could buy your ticket online at the La Sagrada Familia website, but you’d still have to wait in line at the entrance. A better option is to purchase a fast-track La Sagrada Familia entrance ticket. You get to skip the line and go straight into the basilica.
La Sagrada Familia is the most visited place in Barcelona and the second most visited attraction in Spain (after La Alhambra in Granada.) As you can imagine, tickets sell out fast, especially during the peak season – June through August. I’d recommend you book your La Sagrada Familia ticket at least a week in advance just to be safe, regardless of when you go.
2. Not using a guide
I walked around, admiring the architecture and taking pictures. The only issue is that I had no idea what I was looking at or the story behind it. Because of that, I left with only a surface-level understanding of this magnificent work of art. That’s why it’s important to use a guide – whether it be audio or a real person.
The best way to see La Sagrada Familia is to do a guided tour. You can do a guided audio tour or a guided tour with a live guide. With these tours, you also get to skip the ridiculously long lines with a fast-track entrance ticket. Both of the tours mentioned are run by Get Your Guide, a company that organizes high-quality tours of landmarks around the world. I’ve been doing Get Your Guide tours across Europe for years and love how organized and informative they are.
Which of the tours should you choose? With an audio guide, you can go at your own pace and really appreciate what you’re seeing. If you want an actual person to do the narration, then go with the live guide option. If I were to choose between the two, I would go with the live guide option. A human guide is more personalized and, usually, more engaging than a pre-recorded track. You also get to ask the guide questions.
3. Touring only the inside of the church
During my visit, I only toured the interior of the basilica, but there is more to the structure! On the outside, there are 18 towers built in the Gothic style. Each tower represents a figure or gospel from the bible. For instance, 12 of the towers represent the 12 Apostles of Jesus. With this complete La Sagrada Familia tour, you get a live guide as well as a tour of the towers. From there, you can view the basilica from a different vantage point and also get a panoramic view of Barcelona.
Through this tour, you can see hidden details of the building from a 213-foot tower. Be aware that this tour may not be available due to weather conditions like rain or strong winds. The tour lasts an hour and a half. If you only plan to visit La Sagrada Familia once, I think this is the best option. It’s the complete package.
4. Not wearing comfortable shoes
I decided to wear flimsy sandals to tour La Sagrada Familia. It’s not quite as bad as when I wore flip flops to the Great Wall of China but still a bad idea. I spent at least an hour walking around, observing every detail. The foundation of the basilica is hard concrete so, of course, my feet started to hurt. Wear comfortable tennis shoes or flats and ditch the sandals or flip flops. You will thank me later.
5. Using a low-grade camera
A low-quality camera just won’t capture the brilliance of La Sagrada, neither in the interior nor in the exterior. I learned this by using my old iPhone 5 camera, whose resolution was pretty low. When I go back to La Sagrada Familia, I’m taking my Nikon D3400 camera, the perfect DSLR for beginner photographers. I’ll probably go wild with pictures because every corner of this basilica is like a portrait. If you want to capture high quality, stock photo-worthy images, I would highly recommend you take a DSLR on your visit. Or at least a phone with a high-quality camera.
There you have it. Don’t make these 5 mistakes when visiting La Sagrada Familia, and I’m sure you’ll have a marvelous time!
Travel Resources I Love
Tep Wireless Pocket WIFI Device – With portable WiFi, you can say goodbye to ridiculous roaming charges and SIM cards for good. I’ve been using the Tep Wireless Pocket WIFI device, called a Teppy, for a while and love the peace of mind it gives me. The Teppy provides 3G-4G WiFi for at least 6 hours and works in 100+ countries. In my experience, it lasts 9 hours. It also works in a variety of landscapes and terrains. I even filmed a Facebook Live from a boat in the Atlantic Ocean using my Teppy. I can also use Google Maps, request an Uber, call my mom, and do tons of other things I couldn’t do before. Quick tip: turn off the device when you’re not using it so that the battery can last longer. Use code SOMTOSEEKS to get 10% off your order.
Booking.com – Booking.com is my go-to website for booking discounted accommodations around the world. What I love most about Booking.com is the variety of properties you can find, from luxury apartments to treehouses to university housing. It’s hard to beat the insanely low prices. The website also has a flexible cancellation policy, which is great if things come up or you change your mind.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner.com is my go-to website to search for flights. It’s hard to beat the prices! I’ve snagged a $24 direct flight to Milan, a $30 flight to Berlin, a $400 roundtrip ticket to Colombia, and a $500 roundtrip ticket to Japan. I’ve been using Skyscanner since I studied abroad in Spain back in 2012. I check the website along with the Hopper app to determine the best time to buy tickets.
For more travel product recommendations, check out my travel essentials page.