People come to Barcelona for different reasons (mine were heavy on eat, drink, tan repeat). But your trip will be lacking if you don’t include at least one piece of Barcelona’s fantastical Gaudi architecture. As these places are major tourist draws, it can be seriously off-putting to elbow your way through a massive tour group to appreciate the quiet whimsy of each. So what is the best time to see Gaudi in Barcelona?
Preparing your visit
If you’re thinking of making a game-time decision to pop over to one of the Gaudi houses, think again. When you’re seeking to avoid the crowds, you have to buy in advance. (The only spot you can play by ear is Casa Vicens, Gaudí’s first designed home in Barcelona. It’s not as well-known or popular as some of the other places, so there’s less risk of crazy lines.) Luckily it’s very easy to grab tickets online—and most sites offer a discount for purchasing online versus at the door. I’ve included the relevant ticket links, as well as the best time to see each Gaudi, below!
The Best Time to see the Gaudi …
Ideal time to visit? 8:00-9:00am
Yep, it’s early. And Park Güell is tucked up northwest of the city, making it a bit of a haul if you’re staying closer to the water. But the early hour ensures you’re missing the big bus tours, and gives you some some quiet time in Gaudi’s urban oasis. Last time I went to Barcelona, you didn’t need a ticket for Park Güell. Nowadays, the bulk of the park is open, but to get into the monumental zone, you need a ticket. (You can read why they’ve instituted this policy here.)
The ticket costs 10€, and restricts the area to 800 people at a time. I’ve not doubt that later in the day, you’ll see that many. However, at 9:00, we shared the space with fewer than 100—ideal for taking some photos and getting to enjoy the space. Your ticket is valid for 30 minutes after your purchased time, and you need to enter the monumental zone within that frame or your ticket expires.
Coming early has more benefits too—you can stroll the larger park in relative quiet, and cool. There are tons of staircases and upward spiraling paths. You’ll be grateful for the morning chill and the soft morning sun. If you’re worried about transport, your ticket also includes a round-trip direct bus transfer from the Alfons X (L4) metro stop, so you don’t even have to walk.
You can purchase tickets for your Park Güell visit here!
Ideal time to visit? 5:00pm
The famous Sagrada Familia has been under construction for over one hundred years. While it is still unfinished (it’s scheduled to be completed by 2026), it’s now possible to tour the interior. I have to say, even if you are not religious and not big into churches, Sagrada Familia is not to be missed. The inside is by far the most stunning spiritual place I’ve ever entered. And a main factor is the light.
The cathedral is designed specifically to capture sunlight through stained glass windows. In the morning, light pours in from the east, through cool-tinted panes. In the evening, the sun shines through the western windows, lighting up the white interior in bright gold and orange. It is absolutely breathtaking—which sounds like hyperbole until you walk in yourself.
We bought our tickets for 5:00pm, so that we would have enough time to explore the perimeter before catching the full intensity of light inside. Our visit was in October, and the hour was perfect. As you plan your trip, I’d schedule your Sagrada Familia ticket for two hours before sunset, to make sure you get the full golden hour effect. If you’re lucky enough to come around the solstices, the light is supposed to be even more magical.
You can purchase tickets for your Sagrada Familia visit here!
Wondering where to eat in Barcelona after your Sagrada Familia visit? Read my recommendations here!
Ideal time to visit? 8:00am
We chose to visit Casa Batlló over Casa Mila, as our budget could only accommodate one, at the recommendation of a friend. He called it, simply, “a jewel” (and this from a very pragmatic man). I’ve always loved Casa Batlló’s fish-scale-like facade, so we booked our tickets for the last day of our trip, anticipating it being a highlight.
Reader, it was. Mainly because we successfully dodged the camera-wielding crowds by purchasing a special ticket. The house offers a “Be the first!” ticket, which allows you to enter with a restricted number of people the hour before the Casa opens to the public. The restricted number was admittedly more than I was thinking—in my naiveté, I kind of expected to be the only ones, ha! But I’d say we shared the experience with fewer than 50 people.
Seeing the house with fewer people is ideal, as the tour comes with a VR experience that furnishes the empty rooms and gives you a better sense of how things looked back when it was inhabited. To really appreciate the VR, you’ll want a bit of breathing room. And, of course, you get the ideal ‘gram shots without all the background people.
Casa Batlló has a few additional tickets, including a theatrical option. There’s also a night experience with concert—although part of what I loved about Casa Batlló was seeing how Gaudi played with light in his design, so I’m not sure I’d recommend visiting at night.
You can purchase tickets for your Casa Batlló visit here!
Ideal time to visit? 8:00am
Casa Mila, also called La Pedrera for its resemblance to a stone quarry, is the city’s other famous Gaudi house. It’s white where Casa Batlló is colorful, but has the same undulating unexpectedness that trademarks each of the other buildings.
Because we saw Casa Batlló, we didn’t go into Casa Mila. (Gotta leave our next trip wanting more, eh?) But a bit of research shows that the best time to see this Gaudi masterpiece is the same as Casa Batlló. Casa Mila offers the same ticket options as Casa Batlló. Called La Pedrera Exclusive, this ticket lets you in an hour before the house opens properly. Also similar to Casa Batlló, Casa Mila has a few additional tickets, including a dinner option and a night experience with light show.
You can purchase tickets for your Casa Mila visit here!