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Top Tips & Travel Hacks for a Great Gaudi Museum Tour of Barcelona

Gaudi in Barcelona. Statue in Gaudi Experience
Written by Kirstie

Top Tips and Travel Hacks
for a Great Gaudi Museum Tour of Barcelona

Barcelona is a fantastic, varied, vibrant city but for me there is only one reason to visit. Gaudi. If you put me and the Catalan architect in a room and added Salvador Dali you’d have my dream dinner party right there. But what are the best Gaudi related attractions, when is the best time of day to visit and how can you get the most out of them? For this post, a collaboration with Casa Batllo, I thought I would outline some of my favourite Gaudi related things to see in Barcelona

Casa Batllo, Barcelona

Casa Batllo, Barcelona

Casa Batllo

What is it?

Casa Batlló is an Aladdin’s cave for creative thinkers and art enthusiasts. You won’t find any house like it anywhere else in the world. Architect Antoni Gaudí built the UNESCO World Heritage Monument in 1877 as a commission for a family home and then went wild and crazy with it in the 1900’s. Beyond the rippled, scaly dragon like facade you’ll find the original residences of the Batlló family, and the glorious roof terrace with chimneys that light up at night. You’ll also find possibly the most tiled stairwell in the world. What you won’t find is many straight lines.

How best to see it?

The best way to tour the house is using the augmented reality SmartGuide included in the ticket price. Using animation it narrates your journey, imagines how the Batllo family would have lived, and how the house would have been furnished. Casa Batllo can be ridiculously packed at peak time, so if you have extra budget you may want to look at some add-ons. You can visit early in the morning before it opens, but you’ll need to book way in advance as only 20 people a day have the opportunity to do this. From the autumn, for an extra fee, you’ll be able to have a glass of cava on the dragon studded rooftop as the sun goes down. If you have young children and a budget you may like to do the special theatrical family tour which feels more like a theatrical event. Antoni Gaudí himself (well kind of himself) explains the stories and secrets of the place.

How to get best value?

There are so many hacks to either avoiding queues or saving money on the ticket price at Casa Batllo that I could write a blog post dedicated solely to this. At the most basic level, make sure you book online or you will wait in two different lines on the day – one to get your ticket and the second to enter. You can do this right up till when you go using your smartphone – you won’t need to print off a paper ticket. Alternatively you can pay a few euros extra to skip the line with a fastpass ticket; I advise you to do this if you are only in Barcelona for a weekend in peak season.

If you aren’t sure when you’d like to go then an ‘open ticket’ will allow you to rock up when you want. Be aware there are discounts – you can get them for kids, students, pensioners etc and if you are staying with a local, then ask them about the residents’ discounted tickets. Some of the tourist passes also offer discounts. If you find yourself stuck for a ticket and there are long queues then you may be able to buy a ticket in a tourist information.

How to avoid the crowds?

Be the earlybird. Get there at 8.30am for a 9am opening! Or go after 4pm when it quietens down. Or after 7pm when it’s even quieter. (11am- 1pm is a very busy period.) Think about going on a weekday when there are fewer tourists in the city. Go in January or February for even fewer crowds. In summer you should look out for the magic nights which include a tour, live music and  drinks on the roof.

Our top tip?

If you are able to walk, don’t be tempted to take the lift. Many of the treasures can be found in the stairwells and you won’t get the best value if you skip them.

Casa Batllo in Barcelona

The roof top of Casa Batllo built by the spanish architect Antoni Gaudì

Park Guell

What is it?

Basically it’s wonderland. Or a Gaudi theme park, depending on your imagination. There are man-made walls, roads, and walkways that mimic nature. There are wooded trails. There are joyfully kooky buildings and places to chill out. There’s the best park bench ever. Originally envisioned as a gated community for the rich, Park Güell was a hit for Gaudi when it first opened 1926 and it has only got more popular as time has gone on.

How best to see it?

Wander freely – although the tourists cluster around the main, paid for attractions, many treats are in the far reaches of the park.  For example there’s a great view at Turó del Calvari. If you book the first timed slot of the day, (they allow 400 people in every half hour) you may see it when it’s quieter. Park Guell has a web page on how to prepare for your visit.

How to get best value?

The eight euro entrance fee to the Monumental Zone covers the main entrance, terrace, and mosaics. Entry to the rest of the Park is free if you have no euros to spare, although you will miss out on some extraordinary features.  Gaudí’s house, “la Torre Rosa,” is a further small fee but you can get a reduction for booking Gaudí’s house and the Sagrada Família together. When we were there four years ago there was a ‘happy hour’ loophole where if you went after 6.15 at night or before 8am then you got in free to the whole park as the barriers were removed. There are limited free tickets on the first Sunday of every month.

The best way to get value for money from Park Guell is to stay all day. Bring a picnic and lots of water and stroll and chill. From the forest of stone columns (my kids particularly loved playing around these), to the extraordinary serpent bench, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a great place for a family to explore. The Hypostyle room offers great acoustics and sometimes musicians play free concerts.

How to avoid the crowds?

Buy ticket online or at the ATMs near the park to avoid standing in a line for them. The entrance with the two fairytale houses leading to a central square and terrace is the busiest part of the park. Elsewhere you may get it to yourself off peak.

Our tip?

Bring art books and watercolours. Or bring a mosaic kit and create your own Gaudi inspired work of art or architecture in a shady spot. There’s free wifi in the park if you need to research your muse.

Looking out over Barcelona from Parc Guell

Looking out over Barcelona from Parc Guell

Sagrada Familia

What is it?

Sagrada Familia basilica is the architect’s ultimate masterpiece and one of the most impressive churches in the world. Gaudi considered God his client for this project but the Lord doesn’t pay for the builders – it is the visitors who fund the continually ongoing work on this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gaudí became involved in 1883, combining Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Today the builders are showing no signs of going home.

How best to see it?

Oh let me count the ways. The best way to see this gothic delight is at night. No, it’s in the middle of the day. No, it’s at sunset! Heck why not stay a few days and see it at different times of the day and night. Whenever you visit it is a beacon in the sky. By day, you’ll want to get inside it and unless you want to pay for a tour a good way to learn about it is with the audio guide, available for a small fee. In the past you could ask for one near the ticket desk, but these days you have to book online and pick it up when you get there. Or you can track down a free smartphone-based guide in the Apple or Google app stores.

How to get best value?

For the best value ever, go in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death, when the construction is due to end and you’ll see it without cranes. But if you can’t wait until then, make sure you leave enough time to see everything that’s available including the crypt and museum.

If you like a bird’s eye view then the towers are worth the extra fee, as it’s a fantastic view from the top. When you book you are offered the opportunity to choose between the Passion Towers which give you a view to the sea and the Nativity Towers which give you views of the mountain range behind Barcelona. (You may find the queue for the towers on the Nativity to be smaller than the Passion facade.) If your mission is to photograph it, a good time for interior photos is 5-6pm whereas you may have more luck with the façade early morning. Or try going on an open top bus in the front seat for a different view of the church.

How to avoid the crowds?

Avoiding the crowds just ain’t possible at this attraction I’m afraid as thousands of people pass through it every day and many more stand outside and worship, wonder, wander or buy the tat from the street stalls. But if you book online you can avoid queuing for a ticket. You may want to book an early or late slot or go off season for the best chance of seeing it when it’s quiet. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are apparently less busy than weekends. It all looked busy to me!

Our tip?

For a different view of Sagrada Familia take a Fat Tire bike tour of the city. Towards the end of the tour you’ll pitch up at the church and your guide will give you some background about it. Then you can quiz them further over lunch at the beach. Or if you want to see it from on high, jump on the open top bus tour.

The inspiring Sagrada Familia at Night

The inspiring Sagrada Familia at Night

Gaudi Experience

What is it?

The Gaudi Experience isn’t one of the big Gaudi related sites, but it is a fun indoor attraction and perfect for entertaining children who are getting tired of monuments! The 4D film, which lasts ten minutes takes you on a journey through Barcelona and shows you what inspired Gaudi’s masterpieces.

How best to see it?

Best viewed with kids for maximum fun, the film is a bit like a Disney ride, with air blowing in your face and water spraying at you. (If you are a solo adult you may prefer spending your money on La Pedrera.) My kids loved the chairs, which move around at the same pace as the action on screen. (Try selling it to weary six and seven year olds as a roller coaster?)

How to get the best value?

If you buy tickets online you can get a ten per cent discount. The film is fun but cash strapped families can still enjoy a large part of the attraction for free. In the gift shop you’ll find huge interactive screens which give you the history of Gaudi, his buildings, and achievements. You can even see blueprints of his work. If I’m honest this is the part of the attraction the kids liked best. The screens, in nine languages, tell the story of his life, work and projects. You can also see a model of Park Guell.

How to avoid the crowds?

Not an issue. As the film runs every fifteen minutes and can hold 70 people, overcrowding isn’t a problem. But as the Gaudi Experience is only a block from Park Guell, it might well be busier when the park is busier.

Our top tip?

While some recommend this attraction as a preview for Gaudi’s work, I feel it’s better enjoyed later, when you’ve seen the other attractions in case it acts as a spoiler for their wow factor. Oh and if you go in August, it’s cool interior can take the heat out of the day for youngsters who’ve had too much of the sun.

Exploring the Sagrada Familia at Gaudi Experiencia, Barcelona

Exploring the Sagrada Familia at Gaudi Experiencia, Barcelona

Disclosure Note: This post is a sponsored content collaboration with Casa Battlo. The Gaudi appreciation is all our own. 

About the author

Kirstie

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

1 Comment

  • I could easily spend a weekend Gaudi-ing around Barcelona – on my last visit, with about 90 minutes free, I was determined to fit in La Sagrada Familia even if I couldn’t get inside the others. It has changed so hugely from my first visit. And cava at Casa Batllo on the roof is definitely on my list (or the kids option if I’m being realistic)

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