Park Güell & La Sagrada Familia
One of the great things about Europe is it’s public transportation systems. Today, we got up extra early to head to Park Güell using a system of buses and underground trains. As we headed out of our hotel and down the quiet streets of Barcelona, the train station just a few blocks away, we noticed locals making their way to their final destinations. Once we stepped onboard the train, you could tell most tourists were still in bed because everyone was in their business casual attire. The efficiency of the train and bus system is astonishing compared to North America. All stops were on time, as described.
A few stops later and we were jumping off the train to catch the bus a street over. Park Güell is not in the city center, but just outside of the hustle and bustle. So, if you want to get a glimpse of the famous mosaic tile wall overlooking the city, you had better get there early. Park Güell is one of the most popular attractions that Barcelona has to offer. Many postcards and beautiful desktop backgrounds have the image as the poster-child of what one thinks, when one thinks of Barcelona. You may recognize it?
Welcome to Park Güell! From the front of our hotel room to the front door of the park, it took around 50 minutes or so. We could have saved some time, had we known, by jumping on a second bus and taking it right to the front gates. But, no harm no foul, as we entered the park just before 8am. Right on time!
Park Güell is one of the masterpieces of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who projected it in 1900. Inaugurated as a public park in 1926, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, recognizing its patrimonial and cultural value as a symbol of modern architecture, being one of the biggest exponents of Gaudi’s modernism. This playful urban park features peaceful greens, winding paths and many sculptures and mosaics designed by Gaudi himself.
If you do not know, you must purchase advanced tickets to get into the restricted area, which is the area everybody wants to go, with the mosaic tile wall. You can purchase tickets here.
Also, I’d recommend booking at least a month in advanced. Each day there is a limit on how many tickets are sold and you do not want to miss out. The rest of the park is free to look and stroll but the main attraction is well worth 10€ . Included in each ticket is a bus pass to get or be dropped off by the park bus at the bottom of the hill. We made this mistake by not using the bus and walked the entire hill. It was a bad time. Take the bus!
Overall, the park is gorgeous. You could easily spend two hours here and much more. Our visit was just over two hours or so. There is a lot of walking, so be prepared, wear some sturdy shoes with lots of support. Your legs will be tired before noon!
Below is a helpful map that shows an overview of the park. Click on the map to be taken to the park website.
After our time at Park Güell , we headed right to another Gaudi masterpiece. It was a quick bus ride back to the city center or Barcelona. As I turned the corner of an adjacent hotel, phone in hand, following my GPS, I stopped dead in my tracks.
“Oh. my. god….no way! No freaking way!!”
I just couldn’t believe the sheer size and mass of the cathedral. The last time I had this feeling was in San Francisco, when I saw the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time. I was completely taken back and aw-struck. No picture will ever do this landmark justice.
You are looking at the most important landmark in the city of Barcelona. Gaudi’s mastery, with so many intricate details, would take weeks to see them all. The La Sagrada Familia is still being built to this day. Since 1882, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been under construction. When Francisco de Paula del Villar resigned from the project in 1883, Gaudí stepped in to take over as chief architect. Gaudi transformed Villar’s vision in his own way that combined the Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt inside. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Learn about the history and significance of Sagrada Familia by the hand of your local guide. Discover how nature influenced and inspired Gaudí on his planning. Find out why Sagrada Familia is a must-see landmark in Barcelona! Click one of the tour options below.
The streets surrounding La Sagrada Familia were crowded, very crowded, as expected. It was early afternoon now and people looked to be standing in line for hours waiting to get in. We had seen enough cathedrals and churches that we didn’t feel it was worthwhile to wait in line and go inside. Waiting in the heat for a couple of hours didn’t sound fun at the time. If we would have gone in, we would’ve bought a quick pass to bypass the line weeks a head of time. Judging from the look on bystanders faces, we were happy to take our photos of the outside and just admire the architecture.
Foodie Alert: Don’t miss Chök in the Gothic Quarter that specializes in donuts, cupcakes and chocolate!
Another hot spot and a secret, if you will, is Ayre Hotel Rosellón. If you look beyond the front desk and take the elevators to the roof, you’ll be treated to a magnificent view of La Sagrada Familia. The drinks are good and the sunshine on your face will feel even better. Unless, its the middle of the day and too hot. Then, I suggest waiting until sunset or just before. We arrived midday and it was a great spot to chill, but quickly realized we needed to stay in the shade as the sun just beats you up.
Bonus, great spot for instagrammers!