view over barcelona
ALL ABOUT THE VISIT
Do you want to see Barcelona from above? Enjoy a beautiful view over the city? Why not from the (soon to be) tallest building in the city? The Sagrada Família!
Personally, when I go on a city trip, I love to get a glimpse of the city first. In Barcelona, there are different possibilities like the Santa Maria del Mar, the Montjuic, the Urquinaona Tower or the Tibidabo. But the most impressive place for me is still that of the Sagrada Família!
Especially if you choose the time around sunset for it, the whole thing is a lot more intense!
The Tiqets-Ticket costs a whopping EUR 46.80, but it’s worth it!
The Sagrada Família towers are finally open again!
After two long years, you can enjoy the view of Barcelona from way up high once more.
As you might have guessed, I’ve been to check it out for you already. Well, twice actually!
Keep scrolling down to see what I thought after I’ve covered all the important information you might need ahead of your own visit.
Here’s what I’m going to cover
When do I need to arrive and where do I need to go?
What do I need to know (to stay safe)?
What can you see?
Summary: Is it worth going up the towers?
OPENING HOURS AND PRICES
OF THE TOWERS OF THE SAGRADA FAMILIA
The opening times of the towers are identical to the general opening times.
April – September: 9.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m
October: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m
November – February: 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m
March: 9.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m
The tower can only be visited with a combined ticket: entrance + audio guide + a tower
You can do that directly via the Sagrada Famila – and choose the side of the tower there, or via me and Tiqets.
Usually, you get the page of the Passion facade here – you can find out what that means in the next point.
Prices of Admission + Tower access:
EUR 46.80 for adults over 30 years
EUR 44.20 for young people under 30 + students
EUR 40.30 for adults over 65 years
free for children under 11 years old
Tip: Barcelona City Pass: All in one!
Admission to the Sagrada Familia + visit to the tower
Admission to Park Guell
1 day in the hop-on hop-off bus
Audio guide for the city
10% on further purchases via Tiqets
for EUR 97
Guided Tour + Tower access:
duration: 2 hours
languages: English, Spanish, French, German
EUR 62 for adults
EUR 60 for children aged 12 – 17 years and senior citizens over 65 years
EUR 50 for children up to 11 years
Sagrada Familia Towers
Admission + TowerEUR 46.80
Admission to Sagrada Família + App audio guide + access to one towerBuy ticket
Barcelona City Pass with TowerEUR 97
Admission to Sagrada Família + App audio guide + access to one tower + Admission to Park Güell + 1 day Hop-on Bus and moreBuy ticket
Admission + Tower + TourEUR 62
Admission to Sagrada Família + App audio guide + access to one tower + Guided TourBook tour
THE VISIT of THE TOWERS
INFORMATION AND FACTS
If you’re planning to visit the towers, there are a few things to think about before you can enjoy the view…
- There is the option of buying your ticket upon arrival, but only if there are some spare. You might find that the next available slot is in two hours. And you can only pay by card. Basically, you’re better off planning ahead and buying your ticket online.
- On the official Sagrada Família website, you have to decide between the Nativity façade and the Passion façade towers. If you order your tickets through Tiqets, you’ll be allocated a side. More often than not, though, you’ll end up at the Passion façade.
- You take an elevator to 65 meters, but that's not possible for everyone: When can't you climb the towers: - younger than 6 years - younger than 16 years and travelling without parents - if you have physical limitations (wheelchair users, walking difficulties, visual impairments etc.) - if there is a storm or if the Sagrada Familia deems the visit dangerous.
- The descent is via stairs: including narrow spiral staircases. People with claustrophobia should keep that in mind. Also, sometimes there are no railings...
- Depending on the weather, the Sagrada Família may decide to close down the tower access.
SAGRADA FAMILIA TOWERS
Antoni Gaudí is – as you probably know – the brains behind this grandiose building. And with the towers, of course, he also had a very specific program that he was pursuing.
How many towers does the Sagrada Familia have?
Currently, you can see 11 finished and 3 half finished towers. The finished towers are the 8 apostle towers, 4 on each of the side aisles – above the Nativity façade and the Passion façade and since December 2021 the tower of Maria, which is 125 meters high.
Since the end of 2022, 2 evangelist towers – Luke and Mark – have also been completed!
In addition, work continues on the towers of the two other evangelists and the central tower – the Jesus Tower.
The 4 apostle towers of the main façade – the glory façade (which has not yet been started) – are still completely missing.
The Apostle Towers:
The 4 towers of the respective façades are dedicated to the 12 apostles. So you can currently see 8 apostle towers – 4 are still missing. Because the main façade – the glory façade – is not yet finished, not even started…
The oldest apostle tower completed during Gaudí’s lifetime is that dedicated to Saint Barnabas the Apostle (November 30, 1925). This is on the birth façade page, far left.
How do you recognize the apostle towers? Quite simply, an apostle figure with a name is attached to each tower!
After Gaudi’s death, architect Sugrañes continued work on the other three towers.
Work on the Passion façade and its towers began much later and was completed in 1977.
How tall are the apostle towers of the Sagrada Família? These apostle towers have a height of 90 to 112 meters. They are the smallest of the 18 towers.
Their shape is reminiscent of a bishop’s crook, and they are crowned with tips that are just Gaudi: colorful and floral!
The evangelist towers:
4 other towers in the middle – at the corners of the crossing – are to be consecrated to the 4 evangelists.
You can also discover the 4 evangelists in the interior! Do you see their associated symbols in the glass ovals? The man represents Matthew, the lion for Mark, the bull for Luke and the eagle for John.
The two main towers:
Between the evangelist towers, will be the highest tower – the tower of Jesus Christ. In the end it will measure 172 meters and would then be the tallest church tower in the world and the tallest building in Barcelona.
The second main tower is the tower of Maria mentioned above, which is above the crypt and crowned with a star.
FROM THE TOWERS
The view from the Nativity facade side shows the east of Barcelona. Here you can see, for example, the Torre Agbar (which is now called Torre Glories), the three chimneys of Badalona, the neighboring town I’ve now moved to… Not quite sooo much, but you can sort of feel the towers, the Gaudí itself has built.
The view from the Passion facade side shows the view to the west and therefore a little more. You can see Montjuic and thus the MNAC, the Castell de Montjuic and the lush green of the mountain. You also have a view of the old town and the many cathedrals there. You can see the Tibidabo and the Torre de Collserola.
From both sides you also have a view of the sea and the mountains in the background!
For me personally, the view to the west, i.e. the Passion facade, is the most beautiful, especially when the sun goes down there…
MY VISITS IN 2022
Here’s what I’m going to cover
a) Nativity façade
Arrival: When do I need to arrive and where do I need to go? Can I buy tickets upon arrival?
Up: How does it work? Where do I need to go?
View: What can you see?
Down: What do I need to know (to stay safe)?
b) Passion façade
Arrival: Short and sweet
Up and view: Three platforms
Down: What can you see?
Summary: Is it worth going up the towers?
A) NATIVITY FACADE
Having bought my ticket online, I arrived for the security check nice and early. But I was shocked by what was waiting for me at the Sagrada Família… Where did all these people come from all of a sudden?! Was I back in 2019? It felt like the pandemic had never happened!
Once you’re through the security check, you’re free to go off and locate the entrances to the towers. I’d recommend asking someone to point you in the right direction – especially if you don’t have much of a gap between your entry time and tower time.
a) The entrance to the Sagrada Família is on the Nativity façade side, so you don’t have far to go if you’re heading for the Nativity façade towers. You just need to go through the middle entrance and you’ll see the stairs on your right.
b) If your ticket is for the Passion façade, you’ll have to go through the church to get to the other side. Try not to get distracted by all that beauty waiting on the inside – you’ll have plenty of time to admire all that once you’ve been up the towers.
c) If you decide to take a risk and see if you can get a ticket upon arrival, you’ll need to head to the opposite side of the church too. There’s a little information stand outside where you can buy tickets – if there are any left! Just remember that they only sell the leftover tickets here. There is no guarantee that any tickets will be available at all. Or you may end up waiting hours for your slot. Ticket price: EUR 10 (card payments only).
UP AND VIEW
I had no trouble getting to the Nativity façade. You can’t take any bags up with you for security reasons, but it’s just a case of handing them in and heading to the lift.
Only seven people can fit into the lift at once and there’s quite a big gap between trips up in the lift because space is so limited up the top.
The guide in the lift tells you which way to go when you get up there. And yet people still managed to go the wrong way somehow when I was there…
The lift takes you so far and then you just have to climb a few steps to get to the viewing platform. Don’t skip past it because this is your only chance to take photos from a proper platform. It’s literally a small walkway hidden beneath the Tree of Life. There’s not much room and people will undoubtedly push past you. It’s a good job you’re surrounded by Gaudí goodness by this point. The Tree of Life symbolises fertility and cosmic order. You should even be able to spot a few of the doves surrounding it from the platform…
What can you see from here?
- Look straight down to see the main entrance to the Sagrada Família. All the little people standing in the queue look like ants!
- Looking out into the distance, you can’t miss Torre Glories. It’s also a treat to be able to look out over the rooftops of Barcelona and see the city in all its glory.
Otherwise, there aren’t too many other Barcelona highlights to spot from this side (looking north). Those three towers you can see way in the distance from here belong to a disused factory in Badalona…
- Now, you do get a good view of the building work. It’s pretty exciting because at this height you can even see a construction site cabin and floral blocks of stone that will soon be making their way to the tops of the towers.
Once I was eventually happy that I’d taken enough photos, I made my way to carry on up. And found that I couldn’t get any further! What was the hold-up?
Well, a fair few people had missed the photo point and wanted to come back down the narrow spiral staircase, so we all had to go back the way we’d come. It was tight for space to say the least! Just make sure you don’t miss the viewing platform!
After that point, there’s not really another proper chance to enjoy an unobstructed view. Sure, it’s nice enough to look out over the city through the windows. But if you stop to take photos, you will most certainly be in the way of the people behind you… Sorry 😉
You know what you can see really clearly through the windows? The details of the façade itself.
This is a fantastic opportunity to see sculptures, gargoyles and other fascinating elements up close.
Make sure you check out the view towards the west too. Can you spot the modern marvel that is the Hospital de Sant Pau in the sea of houses? If you follow the green line that is the Avenida Gaudí, you’ll see that the Sagrada Família and the hospital are lined up perfectly with one another.
Here comes the trickiest part of the descent – a spiral staircase without any handrails in the middle. Did someone say photo opportunity?! Bearing in mind that some people might hate not having anything to cling onto…
It’s a shame you can’t admire the city from the spiral staircase, but the view of the inside of the Sagrada Família more than makes up for it! There are plenty of extra little steps to the side, so you can take your time to admire the building’s interior.
And then you’ll reach the end of your tour of the Nativity façade towers! 😉
Don’t forget to pick up any bags you dropped off and feel free to explore all the details on the inside and outside of the building. Remember to listen to the audio guide on your way round too – it’s included in the price after all!
B) PASSION FACADE
When I went back in May, I had to wait even longer than the time before. I had to queue up outside for the security check! The Sagrada Família is back, baby!
So after the security check took a little longer, I made my way through the interior of the Sagrada to the elevator of the Passion facade. Luckily there was half an hour between admission time and elevator time. That’s why it wasn’t a problem! But also the line for the lift moved a lot more slowly then last time.
This time, I wasn’t asked to hand in my little cloth bag this time, though. I guess it just depends on how they’re feeling on the day 😉
UP AND VIEW
Like last time, the lift guide told us what to expect at the top as we made our way up in the lift.
The good news is that there are three excellent viewing platforms this time. Not bad, hey? And, even better, they aren’t as easy to miss as the one on the Nativity façade. That’s definitely a bonus if you ask me 😉
Once you’re out of the lift, the inside of one of the towers is just a few steps away.
First viewing platform
This is a good chance to get a feel for things without having to worry about getting dizzy. And just look at that 180° view of the city and the sea! As if it wouldn’t be hard enough to take a decent photo through the narrow slots, there’s a mesh to contend with too. But you can make it work if you have a little patience 😉
And you’re on the next platform in just three steps…
Second viewing platform
You cross over a little bridge linking the fourth tower to the third. There’s not much space here and everyone seems to think that it’ll be the last chance to get a proper view. So people tend to linger here and take all the photos and selfies.
To be honest, though, the view is pretty special here because you can see the colourful decoration of the tower itself up close. You can also look down on the building work and see Torre Glories to the north and Montjuïc hill, the MNAC and the south of the city on the opposite side.
My top tip? Hold on tight to your phone or camera because there’s nothing there to catch them if they fall! You might feel the need to poke your hand through the safety mesh to take some better photos. One false move and whatever you’re holding could be plummeting down to the ground!
Time to walk down a few steps in the third tower to get to the third platform.
Third viewing platform
There’s finally space to move and breathe here without people pushing past and squashing you!
Look behind you to see how the construction work on the Sagrada Família is coming along. You’ll be able to spot colourful tower tops and building materials.
A clear view of the city awaits you here! Looking to the south, you can see everything from the port to Mount Tibidabo. And you can almost touch the statue of Jesus on the platform between the third and second towers. Subirach’s sculpted Jesus keeps watch over Barcelona and you get the feeling nothing escapes him!
Take all the time you need to soak up the view while you’re here because this is the last viewing platform.
Time to head back down to ground level! As I found on the Nativity façade side, it’s a little tight for space here too. But it’s totally manageable.
You head down the tower until you have a choice to make… There are two ways down! Left or right? It’s a difficult decision, but I was happy with my choice to go left.
On the way down, I had another chance to admire Subirach’s incredible design work on the façade. You can spot the feet of the Jesus sculpture I mentioned before, the cross that was added to the Passion façade just a few years ago and so many more decorative details. I managed to block the way on the narrow stairs yet again, but everyone just squeezed past me this time 😉
Even though you have the choice between left and right, there’s no way of avoiding a spiral staircase without a handrail in the middle! Sadly, you don’t get the treat of admiring the inside of the Sagrada Família to make up for it like you do over in the Nativity façade towers.
Which Sagrada Familia tower is the best?
You won’t regret visiting any of the Sagrada Família towers. Sure, it’s not cheap. But the price does include your entry, an audio guide and your trip up the towers on either side.
So which side is the best?
It’s difficult to say… There are pros and cons on each side!
For me, the viewing platform on the Nativity façade side was too small and the view itself was too limited. And yet there’s still plenty to see and there’s a lot to be said for getting so close to Gaudí’s work. One advantage over the Passion façade is that you can enjoy that incredible view of the inside of the Sagrada Família. That includes the forest of pillars stretching up to the ceiling.
If I had to choose, I would say I prefer the Passion façade towers because the view is better and there are more viewing platforms. You can see more of the city and admire that view on different levels. It’s a treat to be able to see Subirach’s façade up close – even though you’re not so exposed to Gaudí’s work.
As you can tell, there are good and bad points on both sides! Overall, I would say don’t worry about which façade you get tickets for and just prepare to be amazed by the spectacular views of Barcelona.
Text and image rights: © Céline Mülich, 2013 – 2023