Photo: Vunav/Shutterstock

Towers, Dress Codes, and Controversy: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting La Sagrada Família

Barcelona Religion Insider Guides Culture
by Morgane Croissant Feb 17, 2023

Arguably the most famous church in all of Spain and one the most celebrated religious buildings in the world, La Sagrada Família is not a landmark that travelers to Barcelona will want to pass on. Yes, it’s busy, and yes, you need to pay to get in, which is always a little disturbing in a church, but what you’ll find inside is much more impressive than what you’ve seen on pictures and videos. The highly praised and somewhat controversial UNESCO World Heritage church does not disappoint. But before you set off, there are a few things you’ll want to know about La Sagrada Família to make your visit a success.

Where is La Sagrada Família located?

La Sagrada Familia from above

Photo: username/Shutterstock

Unsurprisingly, La Sagrada Família, which takes up an entire city block and is still growing, has a whole neighborhood named after her. The Sagrada Família neighborhood is in the Eixample Dret district of Barcelona and is located a few blocks north of Avinguda Diagonal (Diagonal Avenue), the largest and main avenue in Barcelona.

How to get to La Sagrada Família

The easiest way to get to the basilica is by riding the subway. Subway lines L2 and L5 (respectively colored purple and blue on metro maps) will get you to the Sagrada Família subway station, located right by the entrance (the Nativity Facade) to the basilica.

If you want to visit two of Antoni Gaudí’s most famous creations in one day, know that you can easily walk from La Sagrada Família to Park Güell. It’s about 20 minutes on foot, most of which is spent on the large Carrer De Sardenya (Sardenya Street).

Who designed La Sagrada Família and when?

Construction of La Sagrada Família began in 1882 according to the plans of the initial architect of the project, Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, architect Antoni Gaudí took over the project and changed the design of the structure entirely and dramatically. Gaudí exclusively worked on La Sagrada Família from 1914 until his death in 1926. Many architects have worked on the construction of the church since then, following Gaudí’s detailed drawings.

When will La Sagrada Família be finished?
La Sagrada familia at night

Photo: Pelin Nathalia/Shutterstock

Slowly, but surely, construction on La Sagrada Família advances. In 2022, two towers were completed (the Tower of Mark and the Tower of Luke), and two more are expected to be finished by the end of 2023 (the Tower of Matthew and the Tower of John). The central tower of the basilica, the Tower of Jesus, is expected to be completed in 2026. This will mark the end of the construction of the basilica.

Why is La Sagrada Família so controversial?

Over the years, La Sagrada Família has faced controversy:

  • For the first 137 years of its construction, unlike every other building in Barcelona, the basilica had no building license. A license was issued by the city in 2019 and it cost the Sagrada Família Foundation $5.2 million (4.6 million €) to obtain permission to keep the existing structure and complete the project.
  • The completion of the basilica involves the destruction of several thousands of homes around the site and the eviction of up to 15,000 people from their houses.

What does Sagrada Família mean in English?

The full name of the basilica is “el Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia”, which translate as “The Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family”. While “sagrada” means “sacred”, a more natural translation in English is “Holy Family”.

La Sagrada Família in numbers

  • The construction of La Sagrada Família started in 1882, over 140 years ago.
  • La Sagrada Família is expected to be completed in 2026 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Antoni Gaudí’s death.
  • The construction of the basilica was stopped for seven months during the COVID-19 pandemic, from March to October 2020.
  • When completed, La Sagrada Família will reach a height of 566 feet. (the Tower of Jesus will be the tallest of all 18 towers.)
  • According to a 2019 report, about 4.5 million people visit La Sagrada Família each year.

What is the best tower to visit in La Sagrada Família?

Visitors to the basilica can opt to climb one of two of the basilica’s towers: the Nativity Tower or the Passion Tower. Most visitors recommend choosing the Nativity Tower, but both towers provide great views of the city. That said, no matter the tower, many visitors don’t find the experience to be worth the money.

Note that there are elevators to take people up the towers, but that you must go down on foot and the stairs are narrow, dark, and very crowded.

What should I wear to visit La Sagrada Família?

Visitors to the basilica must adhere to a simple dress code:

  • Hats are forbidden unless they are religion or health-related head coverings
  • Wearing shoes is compulsory
  • See-through clothing and swimwear are not allowed
  • Shorts and skirts must reach at least mid-thigh

When is La Sagrada Família open to visitors?

  • From November to February: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM; Sunday from 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
  • From March and October: Monday to Saturday 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM; Sunday from 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM.
  • From April to September: Monday to Saturday 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM; Sunday from 10:30 AM to 8:00 PM.
  • December 25 and 26, and on January 1 and 6, from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

How much does it cost to visit La Sagrada Família?

There are four packages available for purchase for future visitors to La Sagrada Família:

  • Visit of the basilica with an audio guide, tower visit not included: Adults pay $27.80 (26 €); seniors pay (21 €); people under the age of 30 and students pay(pay 24 €); children under the age of 11, and people with disabilities and their companion enter for free.
  • Visit of the basilica with a tour guide, tower visit not included: Adults pay (30 €); seniors pay 22.50 (23 €); people under the age of 30 and students pay $29.95 (pay 28 €); children under the age of 11, and people with disabilities enter for free.
  • Visit of the basilica with an audio guide, tower visit included: Adults pay $38.50 (36 €); seniors pay $29.95 (28 €); people under the age of 30 and students pay $25.70 (pay 24 €); children under the age of 11, and people with disabilities enter for free.
  • Visit of the basilica with a tour guide, tower visit included: Adults pay $42.80 (40 €); seniors pay $34.20 (32 €); people under the age of 30 and students pay $40.65 (pay 38 €); children under the age of 11, and people with disabilities enter for free.

It is strongly recommended to purchase your entry ticket to the basilica online in advance.

Where to stay in Barcelona to be near La Sagrada Família

We hope you love the spaces and stays we recommend in Barcelona! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay.

Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel


A six-minute walk to La Sagrada Família, the Radisson Blu 1882 Hotel is a four-star establishment that has an outdoor pool and a fitness center. The rooftop terrace at this hotel provide beautiful views of the basilica and sun loungers have been set up so guests can enjoy the vista while relaxing. The rooms all have air conditioning and their decor is sleek and elegant. The breakfast is also reputed to be delicious and there is a free airport shuttle for guests.

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Ibis Barcelona Centro


The Ibis Barcelona Centro hotel is a five-minute walk to La Sagrada Família. The rooms are everything you’d expect from a chain like Ibis: they are simple and without any frills, but clean and comfortable. Some rooms have views on the basilica, so make sure you request one upon booking. The daily breakfast buffet offers a large variety of items, from cheese to cold cuts, bread, and pastries.

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Sercotel Hotel Rosellon


The Sercotel Hotel Rosellon is the closest hotel to La Sagrada Família (a four-minute walk), which obviously translates into incredible views of the basilica, especially from the hotel’s rooftop terrace. Inside, the decor is modern and the rooms (some of them with views of the basilica) are simple and clean. There is a restaurant and bar on site, and a large breakfast buffet is available. If proximity to Antoni Gaudí’s masterpiece is what you want, the Sercotel Hotel Rosellon is the best value for your buck.

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If you prefer a private rental to a hotel, check out Matador‘s selection of Airbnbs in Barcelona.

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