Barcelona is a relatively inexpensive city, compared to many others in Europe. Getting there from Frankfurt, especially in February, wasn’t too expensive. The apartment was very cheap (more on that later), and the food was reasonably priced, although tapas can add up when you have hungry teens.
What really blew my mind, was the cost of everything “Gaudi” in Barcelona. Kids over 10 years old got a teeny price break, but only by a couple of euros. Which means if you hope to do these sites with your family, you better make them memorable. A family of four at one Gaudi site could cost you anywhere from 50 to more than 100 euros, depending on what “experience” you choose or how you package them.
First and foremost, according to my teens, the “Teen Take” top attraction is the Sagrada Familia. This infamous basilica (a UNESCO World Heritage site) offers something for everyone: the artist, the naturalist, the engineer, the mathematician, the techie, and the spiritualist. With so many layers to the church, just walking in and looking up, while incredible as that is, will force you to miss so many wonderful details.
But choosing how you see it will depend on your family. Here are a few things to know before you go. (Our whole trip is summarized here.)
Homework Will Be Assigned
I strongly suggested my kids listen to a Rick Steves podcast on the Sagrada Familia before we left for Barcelona. I loved Rick Steves as a young adult, but my kids thought this podcast was a little dry. I also had them read a chapter of the book Homage to Barcelona. I hate to assign homework for vacation, but since we were spending, what feels like a small fortune on the tickets, I wanted to make sure they got the full scope of what we were experiencing.
Schedule Your Visit for Early in the Day
Both the guided and/or audio tours allow you to reserve these early in the morning. General admission tickets with no audio (obviously the cheapest) are only available after 2 pm, which is still worth if you’re on a budget. I would still do this over not seeing it…hands down. Earlier in the day, it was so nice to walk through the church without being pushed around. Our tour started at 11 am, and it was already crowded. By noon it was significantly busier. I can’t even image what it would be like during the high season of the summer months. While there are timed entry slots, people can stay as long as they want. Keep the crowds in mind as you plan. They say the best time to visit is a dusk, but no way my kids would be ready for that after a long day. If your kids are, you should go. I would imagine it’s even more magical at sundown.
Related: 5 Days in Barcelona with Teens
Book Online Ahead of Time
The rumors are true. You really need to book ahead of time for this visit. Even in February, the time slot we wanted was already sold out 2 weeks in advance. If you have a specific time you want to visit the Sagrada Familia, make this your cornerstone and build the rest of your vacation around this.
Take the Guided Tour to Keep Teens Engaged
I read a million reviews before I purchased the tour. The Audio Tour is significantly more than just buying the Basic Ticket, but the Guided Tour is only 1 euro more than the audio tour. I have no idea why it’s priced like this. To be completely honest, I can’t compare one vs. the other since we only did the Guided Tour. Maybe the audio tour is just as good, but my teens seem to be more attuned and willing to discuss with a live person there. So for 4 more euros total, I felt the “live and in-person” guide would keep their attention. The only thing that is odd is they will talk into the little microphone and you’ll walk around with headphones (new and for you to keep afterwards). However, once you see the crowds, you’ll understand why speaking to a group of 30=40 without a mic just won’t cut it.
As far as I could tell, there are not placards around the church so unless you did extra credit homework, you may miss so many things about the building by just “popping in.” If you got your kids to do the extra credit to get you through the church, then point them my way, and they can write the next blog post here.
But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget the extras.
You have already paid to get in so you might as well see it all. There is a bonus museum under the church (that is included with your ticket), an observatory where they are using 3D printers to help construct the towers, and you can see the crypt, which I heard was very cool. But you can only go in during mass times so pay attention if you want to visit where Gaudi is buried.
Overall, my kids said this was their #1 favorite thing we saw, and they were looking forward to making a trip back in 2026 when the basilica is expected to be completed.