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.
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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! Book your ticket online at the La Sagrada Familia website. A basic ticket is 15 euros. 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 would recommend you book your 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.
When you go to buy a ticket on the La Sagrada Familia website, you will see an option to include an audio guide. That ticket costs 22 euros. With an audio guide, you can go at your own pace and really appreciate what you’re seeing. The audio guide lasts 45 minutes and starts from the Carrer de la Marina entrance.
If you want an actual person to do the narration, you choose the ‘guided experience’ option. The ticket costs 24 euros. If I were to choose between the two, I would go with this option. A human guide is more personalized and, usually, more engaging than a pre-recorded track. You also get to ask them 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 a 29 euro ticket, you get an audio guide as well as a tour of one of the towers. From there, you can view the basilica from a different vantage point and also get a panoramic view of Barcelona. If you only plan to visit La Sagrada Familia once, I think this is the best option. It’s the complete package.
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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 so make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The La Sagrada Familia staff organize the aforementioned tours, but you can also book tours with independent companies. Get Your Guide is one of my favorites. I did their tour 3-hour tour of La Alhambra in Granada and had a fantastic experience. Check out their La Sagrada Familia tour and compare it with the in-house tours.
You may also like: 25 Free Things To Do in Barcelona in 2019
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!
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