Visiting Gaudí’s most popular architecture – is it worth it?

Park Güell

Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is one of Barcelona’s most formative architectures and is known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism. He designed more than ten buildings in and around the capital of Catalonia of which seven are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. I visited four of them. Was it worth it?

The staircase of Casa Battló

Back in 2014, I visited Barcelona for the first time. It was love at first sight. Almost no other city offers so much incredible architecture, art, culture and beautiful buildings. A huge credit for this goes to Gaudí. But also back then the entrance fees for its architecture were really pricey and for us as students just too much to pay. We only visited a part of Park Güell which was back then still for free (only the smaller part with its colourful benches and houses had an entrance fee). But I always wanted to come back to take a closer look at Gaudís work, and this year I did.


Park Güell, Palau Güell, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Sagrada Família, Casa Batlló, and Cripta Güell are the seven works of Antoni Gaudí which are nowadays part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. I visited four of them. In general, I loved all of my visits and do not regret spending any of the money on them. But in my opinion, two are more worth their money and two you can also skip.

I visited four of the most famous works of Antoni Gaudi: Casa Batlló, Sagrada Família, Casa Vicens, and Park Güell.

Casa Batlló (1904-1906)

Entrance fee: from 35 Euros

Casa Battló is in the city centre of Barcelona and is one of Gaudí’s more famous works. The house itself was already built in 1877 by Emilio Sala Cortés but later Josep Batlló put Antoni Gaudí in charge to rebuild it. Gaudí fully remodelled the house by changing the façade but also the interior. Casa Batlló is neighboured by beautiful other buildings that were renewed in the same time period by other prominent architects. This specific period is called the Bone of Contention.
From the 1950s on Casa Batlló was no longer owned by the family Battló and in 1995 it was opened to the public. According to the official page, every year 1 million people visit Casa Batlló.  

My first impression
The ceiling in a pattern of a giraffe inside of Casa Battló

As in all architecture of Gaudí, I was very impressed by the construction technology. Already the façade of the building is stunning even when I always see skulls on the balconies (I was never sure if it was actually meant to be). Gaudí really knows how to form buildings and use the natural elements, light, and air in favour of his work. The design of his rooms is incredibly well thought out I was really amazed by his sophistication behind the composition and presentation of the house. In case you decide to visit Casa Battló you should make sure to listen to the audio guide. It will tell you much about Gaudís thoughts and plans for creating the different rooms. The house still appears modern nowadays and shows Gaudí as a genius who understood his work. My favourite room was probably one of the first ones with the ceiling in a pattern of a giraffe. But of course, also the whole staircase including its wavy glass front and the roof terrace was beautiful to see. I spent around two hours in Casa Batlló to have the full experience.

On the rooftop of Casa Battló
Is it worth it?

This is probably the visit I have to be most critical with. I visited Casa Battló right before Easter, therefore it was very busy. But to me, there were just too many people. At some point, I realised that I got increasingly exhausted and annoyed by being pushed around by other people, having not one silent minute to actually enjoy the architecture. I was highly disappointed about the organisation and that the employees did not take care that not too many people at the same time can enter. I felt the main goal was not about showing Gaudís incredible architecture and art but just getting as many people as fast as possible inside to make as much money as possible. And this is combined with the extraordinary high entrance fees. Casa Battló was nice to see but way too overpriced.

If you still want to go, choose the mornings, to make sure not too many people visit at the same time. But be aware that you have to pay another 10 Euros extra. The ticket gets also more expensive when you will buy them directly at the cash point so make sure to order them beforehand

Gaudí Dome

There are three different tickets, the blue one, the silver, and the golden ticket. I actually bought the golden ticket because I wanted to have the full experience but honestly, I just really overpaid the whole visit. In my opinion, the Gaudí Dome which is only included in the silver and golden ticket is nice but not worth the extra money you have to pay. The same is with the tablet you get for your visit, the normal audio guide will be more than enough. The original Concierge room is also visible from the normal entrance you just cross it faster but it is also not worth the extra money. All in all, it depends on your wallet and your interest. If you always wanted to do it – go for it. If you are on a budget, honestly skip it since it is the most expensive one.

Sagrada Família (1882-today; Gaudí: 1883-1926)

Entrance fee: from 26 Euros

The basilica de la Sagrada Família is probably Gaudí’s most famous work and is used very often as a motive on postcards. The project started in 1882 and was taken over by Gaudí one year later in 1883. He designed the basilica and worked on it until the year he died, well knowing that he will never see the result of the completed church. Actually, when Gaudí died in 1962 less than a quarter of the Sagrada Família was completed. Until today a lot of different architects worked on Sagrada Família, the completion was estimated for 2026 – on the 100th anniversary of Gaudís death. But because of several obstacles, like the Spanish Civil War but also Corona, the date cannot be met.  According to the foundation, the construction work won’t be finished before 2030-2040.  

The colourful windows of Sagrada Família
My first impression
The facade shows the crucifixion of Jesus.

To me, the visit to Sagrada Família was one of the highlights of my trip to Barcelona. It was stunning to visit such a huge basilica which is built for centuries and is still a changing architecture. You should download the app with the audio guide before your visit because it gives you a lot of information about Gaudís work. It explains for example the two different facades of the basilica. The difference exists between the soft outlines of the scene of Jesus’ birth from where your visit starts to the hard and angular one on the other side which shows the crucifixion. I love the play of colours of the windows which gave the church a really welcoming touch and the columns inside of the building which symbolises a forest. All in all, I spent 1.5 hours inside Sagrada Família and it was kind of hard to finally leave it.

Is it worth it?

To make it short, I would say yes. Sagrada Família was my favourite work of Gaudí from the four I saw. Even though I visited the Basílica right before Easter, different from Casa Batlló the church never felt too full. No doubt, there were many people, but I felt it was not too crowded. Sagrada Família itself is really big and offers a lot of space. This time I was really able to take the time to look around. Since most of the architecture is on the walls and windows above you, the other visitors are not really in the way of seeing something. Other than in the other buildings, I did not have to wait to see the architecture or take a photo. The church also offers an associated museum that explains the history, technic, art, and symbolic aspects behind the basilica.  

To me Sagrada Família had a better price-performance ratio than Casa Vicens and Casa Batlló. The entrance fees are still really high though but they will be used for the construction work of the basilica. If you are on a budget you can use the church service to visit Sagrada Família for free. But then you should really respect the other worshippers, stay for the whole ceremony, and do not take photos during that time. Also, make sure to come early since the church has a limited capacity.  

Casa Vicens (1883-1885)

Entrance fee: 18 Euros

Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s first project that he designed and built. It was finished in 1885 and built as a summer house for the family of Manuel Vicens. Later the house was expanded among others by Joan Baptista Serra de Martínez which extension followed Gaudí’s original style. Casa Vicens is located in the neighbourhood of Gràcia. In order to open Gaudí’s house to the public, the museum installed a modern staircase in place of the original one to connect the spaces with each other. If you visit Casa Vicens, you can first explore the first two floors with the rooms in their original design by Gaudí before you will learn more about the different other works on the third floor.

The terrace of Casa Vicens
My first impression
The smoking room of Casa Vicens

The house is just really beautiful with its colours and its numerous ornaments. Especially the first floor was wonderful to explore. I love the ceilings which were mostly covered in different flowers. The terrace and the smoking room were my favourite ones. The whole visit including taking photos, listening to the audio guide and watching a video about the house took around 1.5 hours.    

Is it worth it?
The ceiling of the lady’s room

To be honest, the entrance price was rather high. The house is also nice to see from the inside though, but after I have already been to Casa Batlló, it was just less spectacular. I do not regret visiting it at all, especially the garden, but also the entrance hall, the terrace, the smoking room, and the lady’s room waited with beautiful architecture and a lot of details. But honestly, if you are on a low budget or just come with little time you can probably skip this one as well since it was the less spectacular.

Park Güell (1900-1914)

Entrance fee: 10 Euros

In 1900 Eusebi Güell assigned Gaudí with the design of Park Güell. The park was officially opened as a public park in 1926. The park is more than 17 hectares big, and therefore one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona. It is divided into two areas, the monumental and the woodland zone. The park also contains the house from Gaudí in which he lived from 1906 till 1925, so until one year before he died. Nowadays his former residential building is a museum. In Gaudís Casa, tourists can see personal belongings and the self-made furniture of the architect. The museum’s entrance fee is not included in the park and therefore has to be paid separately.  

My first impression
On the benches in Park Güell

Park Güell is probably the place I spent most of the time at. More than 3 hours until sundown we walked through the large park to discover every corner. The park itself offers a great view over Barcelona (but you have actually an even better view from the hills behind the park) and a lot of beautiful architecture as the two houses with roofs which look like made out of sugar icing. The most famous is probably the dragon on the stairs and of course, the benches covered in colourful mosaics.

The famous dragon of Park Güell
Is it worth it?

In my opinion, the visit is worth it. Even though a few years ago, the whole park and later at least a part of the park was for free. Because of the many tourists, the city decided to charge money since October 2013. Nowadays, tourists have to pay an entrance fee if they want to enter park Güell. But the fee is with 10 Euros really okay and for the preservation of the park and the architecture. There is no time limit on how long you are allowed to stay in the park with your ticket but you can not reenter if you once left it. You should already buy the tickets beforehand because it comes that it is fast sold out, especially on weekends and holidays. 

The tickets have a time frame but the staff told us that we do not need to come at the time our tickets say, just the right day is important (but the official page says you have to enter within 30 minutes after your time is marked). They recommended that we come after 6:30 pm because then there are fewer people in the park. However, this tip was in April, when the sundown was already around 8:30 pm.

The park is open from 7 am till 10 pm but the tickets are, adapted to the season from 9:00 am till latest 7:30 pm. Before and after 8 pm the park is officially only allowed to be visited by local residents but not by tourists. But the park has no artificial lighting anyway and should therefore not only be visited at night since you will miss the beautiful details of Gaudí’s art. By the way, local residents located in the neighbourhood adjacent to Park Güell are allowed to enter the park every time during the opening hours at no cost. I still think it is really odd that not every citizen of Barcelona can visit the park for free though.

Last but not least,  one tip is to always buy the tickets in advance to make sure you can enter them in any case and also take advantage of a faster entrance. All sights have a special price for students but the difference is really low. Visiting Gaudí’s architecture is for most people probably a one-time only thing because the entrance fees are really high – therefore you have to decide on your own how much money the visits seem worth to you.

What about you? Did you already visit Gaudí’s architecture? Tell me in the comments if you share my opinion or if you feel differently.

You have read the blog post Visiting Gaudí’s most popular architecture – is it worth it? on My Travel Journal-Blog.

My personal highlights and tips for Sintra

Palace of Pena

Ceilings of bird paintings, feeling like Alice and falling in love with palaces covered in sugar icing. This totally sounds like Sintra. If you also love palaces, castles, and mysterious gardens, Sintra is just perfect for you. Read about my personal highlights and get some tips for your own trip.

Sintra is around 25 km (15.5 miles) away from Lisbon, Portugal’s capital and therefore a perfect choice for a day or even a weekend trip. The beautiful town is full of palaces, gardens, parks and castles. I only had a day in Sintra and chose to visit the Portuguese renaissance Palácio Nacional de Sintra (Sintra National Palace), the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira and the romanticist Palácio Nacional da Pena (Pena National Palace).

💡 Information about Sintra
Sintra is a small town with a bit less than 30,000 inhabitants (status 2011) and full of colourful palaces, intricate gardens, and ostentatious mansions. It is part of the Greater Lisbon region and is located on the Portuguese Riviera. The town also belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since it is located in the hills and mountains of Serra de Sintra, the weather is more pleasant in summer. This fact determined the nobility of different centuries to build their summer residences in Sintra. But the town was also a popular travel destination for wealthy artists in the 19th century who built expensive villas in the town.

❗️ Tip: How to buy tickets
Of course, every sight has also its own ticket office. If you visit Sintra in the high season, it can be also worth it to buy your tickets beforehand online or at the ticket machine in front of the tourist information, next to the train station. There are different entrance fees for adults and children plus most attractions also offer an extra family ticket

Palácio Nacional de Sintra – The royal summer residence
Palácio Nacional de Sintra

The Sintra National Palace is not only directly located in the historic city centre but also counts as the town’s landmark. Especially prominent are its two white towers. It is the best-preserved medieval residence and was used as a royal summer residence from the early 15th till the late 19th century.
I especially loved the colourful walls with the typical Portuguese tiles (called Azulejos) and wild patterns of animals, as well as the ceilings covered in golden ornaments, decorated with birds such as swans and magpies. The rooms are beautifully arranged and give a nice feeling of the life of the royal families of Portugal. The palace shows a lot of different artistic influences such as Gothic, Renaissance, plus Portuguese tiles as their own artistic styles which were affected by the Mudéjar art, an Islamic artistic influence. The entrance cost me 10 € (10.60 US$).



Quinta da Regaleira – The mysterious garden
Quinta da Regaleira
The Initiation Well

Quinta da Regaleira is a big property with a palace, a chapel, and a huge garden around with different wells, fountains, grottoes, small lakes, and towers. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, exploring the park with its labyrinthine ways which are in between even under the earth. Of course, gardeners take care of the park but it still felt a bit feral (in a positive way) with all of the strong colours of the plants and trees. I absolutely loved it. To me, this place was truly magical. Already the palace or I would maybe call it a villa is a bit extraordinary. It was built in Gothic style and decorated with many ornaments, pinnacles, and gargoyles. Also, the rooms inside are extensively decorated, I especially liked the wooden ceilings.
Another highlight was to see the Initiation well, which is located in the middle of the park. If you go down the stairs you will find a tunnel you can follow to also find the Unfinished well. Both of them never served water sources but were actually used for rites. I paid 10 € (10.60 US$) to visit the whole garden including the palace.

Palácio Nacional da Pena – The colourful palace
Palácio Nacional da Pena

Pena National Palace is probably Sintra’s most visited site and part of the Seven Wonders of Portugal, voted by its inhabitants a few years ago. To me, it looked made out of sugar icing with its gaudy and popping colours. The palace itself is influenced by many different styles mainly Romanticism, but also Gothic, Manueline, Islamic, and Renaissance. The palace is surrounded by a huge park which takes some time to explore. Pena Nacional Palace is located in the Serra de Sintra and offers, therefore, a beautiful view over the town and to the Castelo dos Mouros (Moorish Castle). I was lucky enough to see a stunning sundown at the castle which brought even a bigger facet of lights.
You can also visit the rooms of the palace which offer as well colourful patterns, and tiles combined with wooden furniture. I paid a 14 € (15 US$) entrance fee including visiting the inside of the palace. If you only buy a ticket for outside it will be almost 50% cheaper, the ticket costs 7.5 € (8 US$).

🚌 How to reach Sintra
Question number one I asked myself is how to get to Sintra. The easiest way is to take a train from Lisbon. You can eighter way take the train from the station Rossio or Oriente. You can buy the tickets directly on the ticket machine at the station. In 2021, I paid 2.30€ (2.50 US$) one way. The ride takes approximately 45 minutes and the trains usually are going at least twice per hour.
There is also a bus going to Sintra but it takes more time. Going by car is not recommended because the streets of the town are very narrow and there are just a few parking spots in the town itself.  
The view of the Castelo dos Mouros from the Palácio Nacional da Pena
🚌 How to get around Sintra
Sintra is not too big, you can easily walk from the train station to the centre and even continue from there to the further palaces. There is also a bus, especially for tourists, which is therefore also a bit pricy (in 2021 it cost almost 7€ which equals 7.40 US$). Usually, it is more a question of time and your personal fitness level whether you want to take the bus or do a longer trip on foot. From the train station to the Palácio Nacional da Pena which is one of the furthest of the famous palaces, you will walk around 1-1.5 hours but almost the whole way is uphill since the palace as well as the Castelo dos Mauros (Castle of the Moors) is in the mountains of Serra de Sintra. But at least the Palácio Nacional de Sintra and the gardens of Quinta da Regaleira are easily accessible by walking without going up.

My short conclusion: Is it worth it to visit Sintra?

This question is easy to answer: Yes! I loved my day trip to Sintra and was even a bit sad I had not enough time to stay another day. In my opinion, all the sights I visited were worth their money.
Depending on the count of the hours you will spend in Sintra, you should already think beforehand about which sights you want to visit and plan enough time for each. Keep the distances in mind, whether you take the bus or want to walk, some time for lunch, and of course the opening hours. With three sights my day was already completely filled. But you should also ask yourself if you are the kind of traveller who wants to visit palaces for more than one day in a row.

In general, the most common sights to visit are Palácio Nacional da Pena, Castelo dos Mouros, Palácio Nacional de Sintra and of course Quinta da Regaleira. But Sintra and the area around have way more to offer. This can be also nice if you do not like to have too many other tourists around you. You can visit more palaces as the Palácio de Monserrate, Palácio de Seteais or Vila Sassetti. Or if you have a car you can drive to the 7 km (4.35 miles) distant Franciscan monastery Das Convento dos Capuchos. If you plan more time around Palácio Nacional da Pena you can follow the different hiking trails or visit the highest point of Sintra’s mountains Cruz Alta.

You have read the blog post My personal highlights and tips for Sintra on My Travel Journal-Blog.