Barcelona in one day also passes through the works of Gaudì, so here is everything you need to visit to get to know the beautiful Spanish city, even in a few hours.
Barcelona is a surprising city full of stimuli, suspended between the ancient and the modern. The Catalan capital satisfies all tastes, all ages and all budgets: perhaps this is why it remains one of the most popular European tourist destinations.
Visiting Barcelona without encountering Gaudi's genius is practically impossible. His style has forever transformed the appearance and history of this city. For this I thought of dedicate a day to discovering Gaudì, because I believe that an entire day spent in the fantastic world of this unique artist can leave a profound trace in our memories.
Antoni Gaudì was undoubtedly an original character, a visionary and a man of extraordinary talent, who with his works characterized the history and architecture of Barcelona at the end of the 800th century. Gaudì is rightly mentioned in all the Barcelona guides; Catalan modernism, the call of nature in architectural works, etc.
What to visit and how to get organized
Three are the places that I think most representative of Gaudì's style: Casa Battlò, Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia, in that order.
Why in this precise order?
Why Battlò house it's small and crowded with tourists all day, so your best bet is to go there in the morning when it opens. Park Guell around lunchtime it is perfect because it allows you to have a picnic in the open air. Finally the late afternoon lights inside the Sagrada Familia make this place even more magical. To better enjoy this day to discover Gaudì you will have to get up early enough in the morning so that you will be at the entrance of Casa Battlò at 8.50am (10 minutes before opening).
Also in your backpack prepare a packed lunch and water, a hat if you are in summer or an umbrella if you are in winter. Camera, very comfortable shoes… are we ready?
Street! Let's start our mini-tour to discover Gaudì.
Do I dream and am I awake? I'm at Casa Battlò
Casa Battlò is a building in the heart of Barcelona designed in the early 1900s by Gaudì for a wealthy Barcelona family, the Battlò family. Its originality is already expressed with the very famous facade decorated with glass tiles and ceramic discs: you will find yourself in front of the spectacle of a colorful building with an undulating, irregular surface full of symbols drawn from the natural world.
The interior of the house is even more spectacular, articulated, colorful, surreal and magical. For get to Casa Battlò there are two alternatives: the metro or the bus.
Alternative 1: the Metro.
If you decide to take the metro, get off at Passeig de Gracia with one of these lines: L2 (purple), L3 (green), L4 (yellow) and then with a few minutes' walk you arrive in front of the house entrance on Passeig de Gracia - one of the main avenues in the city center.
Alternative 2: the bus.
If you decide to take the bus you can choose between lines 7,22,24 or V15 and get off at Passeig de Gracia - Aragò. An easy way to navigate Barcelona's public transport is to download two very useful applications, TMB App for all public transport in Barcelona and MapWay Barcelona for the Metro only. TMB App is available for both Apple Store and Android; MapWay can be downloaded from here for both stores.
TMB App in particular allows you to locate where you are and enter the destination you want to reach to know how to reach it in the fastest way by public transport. In case of doubts this App is an inevitable support. Instead MapWay is an intuitive metro map that allows you to enter the departure and destination stations to find the shortest route.
For the visit to Casa Battlò I recommend that you buy tickets online with audio guide on the official website.
The audio guide is very well done, it is a smartphone where you can view in real time the environment in which you are reconstructed as it appeared at the time (and devoid of people). You are able to grasp many more details thanks also to the explanations of the audio guide that are clear, sufficiently concise and useful to really understand what you are observing.
I do not consider the visit suitable for very young children, under 3 years old, because the rooms are small and crowded, in summer I think it's really unpleasant. Also I don't think a very young child would appreciate the visit, which could be downright boring.
Show up at the entrance with your tickets purchased online even 10 or 15 minutes before opening and enjoy the visit, which in total takes a couple of hours at most (it took me 1 hour and 30 '). You will see that at the exit you will find a nice queue at the entrance and you will notice as you go down the stairs that are increasingly crowded. Of course it will be difficult if not impossible to take photos inside without including "unwanted" subjects, but this is completely normal in attractions of great interest such as this work by Gaudì.
I really liked the Battlò house: its shapes, its colors, its clever tricks… It seems to be in Wonderland and not in the luxurious home of a wealthy turn-of-the-century Spanish family.
If you love like me to admire what human intuition can create, this building will captivate you and leave you with a beautiful memory. In forums, people often ask if the visit is worth 20 euros or more for the ticket.
I say: it depends. If you don't care about architecture, art and culture at all, you just go there to post a selfie in the House on Instagram…. Well, you better spend this money on an activity that you enjoy the most. Traveling is freedom and discovery. There are no rules other than those written by your heart.
Architecture and nature: Park Guell
As soon as you leave Casa Battlò on Passeig de Gracia, cross the street and take Bus 24 - Direction El Carmel; get off at stop 1216 Ctra del Carmel - Park Guell, which will take you right in front of the upper entrance to the park.
I do not recommend taking other bus or metro lines that stop near the lower entrance because the park is set on a hill and the last stretch (15 minutes on foot) is all uphill!
If you followed my advice and entered the Battlò house opening, at 11.00 at the latest you will be outside the house and in about 30 minutes you will arrive in Park Guell.
Also for Park Guell I recommend that you buy tickets online in advance on the official website to visit the monumental part. In fact, part of the park is free to access, but the most beautiful area is the monumental one.
By purchasing tickets first you will not have to queue at the ticket office and the waiting times will be reduced: to enter the monumental part you will have to queue up because the accesses are regulated to avoid excessive crowding. Honestly, it is a matter of waiting 10/15 minutes, I don't think it's a problem.
When buying tickets to visit the monumental part of the park you must book an entry time, on which there is a tolerance of maximum 30 minutes…. So be on time! In our case you should arrive around 11.30 so you have two alternatives.
1 - Buy tickets for 12.00, visit the monumental part (no less than 1 hour, but in my opinion it takes almost 2) and then at the exit you stop and eat, because in the monumental area it is theoretically forbidden. Someone tries the same, but I personally was picked up and they asked me to put the sandwich away.
2 - Or you decide to take a ride in the free part of the park and eat your packed lunch before entering to visit the monumental part. In this case you will book tickets for 13.00 pm.
Park Guell was created by the genius of Gaudì in the early 900s on the commission of the entrepreneur Eusebi Guell; it had to be an exclusive residential area surrounded by a park. The project was interrupted, the park became the property of the municipality of Barcelona and today what we can admire are some buildings including the two houses of the lower entrance (they look like the houses of Hansel and Gretel), the hall of 100 columns and the staircase .
At the edge of the park there is also the house where Gaudì lived for many years, today it has become a house-museum.
The view from the terrace from the Park is simply splendid, it embraces the whole city at its feet and on a beautiful day it is really worth admiring it.
The park, its structure, the buildings, the staircase, everything is simply magical. A dream, a vision. Special. A further confirmation of Gaudi's creativity and his deep connection with the natural elements that here as never elsewhere are integrated into architecture and art.
The visit is also very pleasant for children: even if the park is always crowded it is not claustrophobic, and they will surely be happy to discover that another child has enjoyed drawing the park…. Yes, because only a child can have such a fervent imagination as the one that guided Gaudì in the creation of this area.
In the whole park if you find a beautiful sunny day you can do some wonderful photos: an explosion of harmonic shapes and colors that will tickle your artistic vein.
Personally I found a lot of queues to visit the interior of one of the two houses at the lower entrance and I avoided: after all I came from Casa Battlò so what else could I learn about Gaudì's architecture that I hadn't already seen?
I don't think it will take you more than an hour and a half to visit the monumental part. If you stop to take pictures, however, it could easily take more than 2 hours.
Surely at this point you will begin to feel a little tired: you could stop next to the ticket office of the upper entrance where there is a bar to have a coffee or a cold drink before taking the bus back to continue the mini tour to discover Gaudì .
On balance you should leave the park between 15.30 pm and 16.30 pm at the latest, depending on how much time you wanted to dedicate to the visit, lunch and rest.
Touch the sky with your finger: the Sagrada Familia
At this point of our mini tour you just have to visit the incredible and thrilling Sagrada Familia architectural masterpiece of the genius of Catalan modernism.
This imposing work by Gaudì is still unfinished, which is why you will find it surrounded by cranes, scaffolding and workers at work. Gaudi's initial project was so grandiose that he was unable to carry it out in life. The architects who have inherited the arduous task of finishing the work have encountered many difficulties, so much so that it is hoped to finish the work no earlier than 2026!
The church, or rather from 2010 Basilica, dedicated to the Holy Family stands out unmistakably for 170 meters on the sky of Barcelona. Each of the 4 facades represents different subjects with different styles: the one finished by Gaudì is the facade of the Nativity, just before his death, in 1926.
The interior is indescribable: long and slender columns of a marble forest, colored mosaics everywhere, filtered lights of every shade that make the overall vision nuanced and magical as in a dream. Inside the Basilica you feel at the same time small and close to God. The emotion you feel is very intense, and the amazement for the surreal atmosphere will not leave you for the duration of the visit, and even after.
To reach the Sagrada Familia from Park Guell you will have to take Bus 92 Pg. Marítim / Av. Tibidabo at the stop just in front of the upper entrance, which is stop number 1220.
Get off at stop number 307 called Av.Gaudi; a few hundred meters away you will find the stop of the Metro blue line L5 Sant Pau / Dos de Mag. Here you will take the metro for only 1 stop to the Sagrada Familia. You should arrive in 30 minutes - at most 45 in case of particular traffic.
Being the most visited attraction in Barcelona I highly recommend you to buy the ticket online on the official website: you will skip the huge ticket line and enter in a flash. You will queue up a bit inside the site to collect the audio guides if you have chosen this option (let's talk about 10 minutes). I believe that especially in this case, to fully appreciate the visit of this majestic and incredible building, an audio guide will be very useful.
The options for purchasing the ticket are many and include various services; I have personally decided not to climb the towers because I suffer from vertigo, but I think it is really worth it.
Here too, admission must be booked at a specific time. Attention: they are tax! In our tour a good time could be between 17.00 pm and 18.00 pm, it always depends on how much time you want to dedicate to visiting Park Guell and on the closing time, which changes between winter and summer. Remember, it is better to stay wide with the times: if you arrive earlier you can always take a walk outside the building and admire the 4 facades, all different from each other and incredibly fascinating.
It is also possible to get off in the crypt of the Basilica, where Gaudì is buried. Access to the crypt is free but is allowed only to the faithful who want to attend Mass at set times. In short, no tourists with cameras.
The visit lasts about 1 hour and a half, maybe even 2. The audio guide is sometimes slightly verbose, but I think it is inevitable because this place is a mine of symbols, stories and meanings.
In the late afternoon, the oblique light of the sun's rays entering through the stained glass windows take on wonderfully warm tones and make this place a real dream.
I recommend you sit on the side benches inside the Basilica for a few minutes and admire the suggestive plays of light that are created as if by magic. It is a special place that you instinctively perceive, where a particular energy envelops you: it will be, I assure you, a beautiful experience.
At this point it will be late. The day was long and tiring. I am also sure that you will be hungry and want to sit around a table with a nice glass of wine to share the emotions of the day with your travel companions.
I recommend you stop near the Basilica for a stop in a Tapas Bar.
My favorite is called InterTapa and it is located in Avenue de Gaudì at number 11. It is a very nice little place where you can try excellent tapas and drink wine or better a nice mug of beer. The staff is very kind and smiling and will gladly help you choose the best samples available to guests.
Well, our day discovering Gaudì ends here. I'm sure your travel diary today has been enriched with unforgettable memories.
If you still have energy, go back to your accommodation, take a nice shower, pull out your best outfit and dive into the nightlife of Barcelona. After all, this city is so generous with those who love it that it offers fun for all tastes at all times!