You can’t visit the beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona without spotting the unique buildings of visionary architect, Antoni Gaudi. Colourful, curvaceous and creative they won’t fail to stop you in your tracks. Whether you linger outside on the pavement or explore the fantastical interiors, Gaudi’s buildings are a highlight of any Barcelona itinerary. Here are our six family favourite Gaudi buildings Barcelona.
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Must See Gaudi buildings Barcelona
Architecture isn’t always top of the list of must sees when you’re planning a family city break. Unless you’re going to Barcelona! When I visited Barcelona with my teenage sons we took a walking tour of Gaudi buildings on our first day. It was a fascinating insight into the brilliant mind behind these astonishing designs.
I’d recommend a tour at the beginning of your stay to help get your bearings in the city as well as some tips for more sightseeing.
The first thing to know is that the Gaudi buildings Barcelona are spread out around the city. One walking tour won’t take them all in.
This City Tour by Private Electric Tuk Tuk isn’t strictly a Gaudi tour but it passes all the main Gaudi sites from Sagrada Familia to Parc Guell. This will help you to orientate yourself in the city and decide which of the Gaudi buildings Barcelona you want to visit for a closer look.
If you’d prefer a private tour this Gaudi Private City Tour with Sagrada Familia is a 3 hour, customisable private tour by foot and Metro with a knowledgeable guide. It includes skip-the-line tickets and an audio guide to Sagrada Familia cathedral, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.
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1. Casa Mila aka La Pedrera
Curvy Casa Mila was one of Antoni Gaudi’s last works in 1910. But it’s also a great place to start a family tour of Gaudi’s buildings. Not only is it easy to find on a broad and fashionable shopping street, but it also may have a Star Wars connection!
Designed as an apartment block it stands proud on a corner of Passeig de Gràcia in the L’Eixample district.
Gaudi was at the height of his powers and he and his clients planned Casa Mila to be a flamboyant statement of the Modernisme movement. But even so the Mila family were a bit surprised by Gaudi’s outre design.
Inspired by nature and organic forms, Casa Mila doesn’t have straight lines. The undulating natural stone facade, sculpted into waves, shocked locals who called it La Pedrera or the Quarry.
Out on the roof Gaudi turned functional air ducts and chimneys into powerful sculptural forms like sentinels. In fact quite Darth Vadar-esque. Is it a coincidence that film director George Lucas visited Casa Mila when he was writing Star Wars?
Sadly the Mila family fell out with their architect during the build. Gaudi went way over budget and Pere Mila’s wife Rosa complained that there wasn’t a straight wall for a piano. Many thought the build was a work of art, especially since Gaudi specified every detail, including the furniture for the Mila’s apartment. But after his death in 1926, the widow Mila re-decorated and went for a more conventional look.
To get a glimpse of an original Casa Mila interior pop into Cafe de la Pedrera on the ground floor. It still has Gaudi’s original pillars and wavy ceilings.
Casa Mila tickets and tours
There are some fab new ways to visit Casa Mila, one of the most iconic of the Gaudi buildings Barcelona.
Or take the La Pedrera Sunrise Guided Tour which allows you early access before the crowds, in a small group with knowledgeable guide. Enjoy the roof terrace in the early morning light, visit the Gaudi exhibition in the Whale attic, and see the Tenant’s Apartment and the Flower and Butterfly Courtyards. It starts at a reasonable 8am so you can round off the experience in the ground floor cafe after the tour! Click here for availability and to book
Alternatively – and this would be great for teens! – check out the evening light show option. The La Pedrera Night Experience is an audio visual show on the rooftop of Casa Mila. Projections illuminate the stairwells as you ascend through the building. It is 8 floors, so quite a climb, but it does have a lift too. Once on the roof terrace you see a multi media show and then the evening ends downstairs with drinks in the courtyard. This isn’t a tour of the building but is a fun way to experience the unique architecture.
Gaudi buildings and the Barcelona Go City Explorer Pass
We didn’t buy Barcelona Passes on our visit but I certainly will next time! If you’re interested in Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, these are the Passes for you.
The Barcelona Go City Explorer Pass allows you to choose from 2 to 7 attractions from over 45 options:
- Casa Batlló
- La Pedrera
Entrance and guided tours at:
- Parc Güell
- Sagrada Familia
- Gaudi and Modernisme
- Barcelona Architecture
- Palau Güell and the Boqueria Market Tour
So it’s a good investment if you’re intrigued to see inside some Gaudi buildings.
Here are some more highlights from the list of options: Barcelona Hop On/ Hop Off bus; Las Golondrinas boat cruise; Barcelona Bike Tour; Barcelona Markets Tour; Vineyard and Wine Cellar Day Trip
You’ll have to do the calculations to work out whether it’s a good fit for your own trip, but the Barcelona Go City Explorer Pass suggests you can save 35% on ticket prices. It gets some excellent reviews.
Alternatively the Barcelona Go City All Inclusive Pass offers admission to 45+ museums, landmarks and tours and includes a Hop On Hop Off bus and a boat cruise. This pass is priced according to the number of days of access that you buy: 2, 3, 4 or 5.
The best way to pick a card is to work out in advance which sites you want to visit, check the prices, then compare the total with the price of a Pass. But either of these cards are likely to save you money especially if you like guided tours. And keen sightseers will realise that the 3 Day All Inclusive Pass, currently works out at approx £45 per day which is great value.
NB: the busiest sites need to be booked in advance so for best results you’ll need to get your Passes in advance too. Check availability before you buy your Pass.
Hotels and Apartments in Barcelona
Eixample district is a great area to stay if you’re planning to explore the Gaudi buildings of Barcelona. It’s home to Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló and Casa Mila – La Pedrera and other modernist works. This is a safe district with wide streets and excellent shopping, cafes and restaurants too. Find out where we stayed here.
Praktik Essens is a stylish, comfortable, quiet, well priced hotel in a great location for Gaudi fans. Casa Batlló is 300 metres away while Casa Mila-La Pedrera and Casa Calvet are close by too. And check out the Superior Double Room with private terrace and exterior bath tub! Passeig de Gràcia, Eixample
Ohla Eixample is a stylish boutique hotel that’s also just 10 minutes walk from La Pedrera and Casa Batlló. The sleek rooftop pool has city views and the on-site Xerta Restaurant has a Michelin star. Check here for availability and to book.
The Monument Hotel is an historic architectural jewel in its own right. It was commissioned by industrialist Enric Batlló and holds Specialty Monument status. It’s 5 minutes walk from Casa Batlló and La Pedrera. Monument Hotel has an outdoor pool, a spa and wellness centre, a 3 star Michelin restaurant and a bistro. Check here for availability and to book.
Click here for more hotels and apartments in Barcelona with Booking.com. You can set your preferred filters then scroll through the photos, descriptions and reviews to choose the accommodation you like best for your stay.
2. Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló, the House of the Dragon, is just down the street from Casa Mila. It’s another unmissable Gaudi building that you can enjoy from the pavement. In 1903 Gaudi’s clients bought a fixer upper in a fashionable location on Passeig de Gràcia. Inspired by Gaudi’s Park Guell, they gave him free rein. He transformed the plain building into a fantasy world of light and curves with a roof that looks suspiciously like a dragon.
Since St George is the patron saint of Catalonia it’s possible that Gaudi was thinking of the legend when he designed Casa Batllo. The colourful tiles on the curving roof look like a dragon’s scales whilst the tower beside it could be St George’s sword. The organic imagery carries on inside and outside the house. On the lower floors the facade is quite skeletal, explaining why locals call it the House of Bones.
The glass and tile mosaic which covers the building glows as the light changes throughout the day. Definitely worth viewing from the outside and I wish we’d had time to visit the fantastical interiors too. The hallway and stairs look glorious!
NB Casa Batllo is under a programme of careful restoration while remaining open to the public. You can follow its story here
3. Park Güell
Curly, whirly, mosaic’y Park Güell lies on a hillside overlooking Barcelona and the sea. It was originally intended as an exclusive garden city but the plan was scrapped whilst Gaudi was doing the initial landscaping. The area became a public park with a cluster of Gaudi’s trademark naturalistic and whimsical architectural designs.
The main park is free to enter and fun to explore or picnic in. But to get up close to Gaudi’s most extravagant creations you need to buy a separate timed ticket to the Monumental Area. Here is the mosaic lizard that features on a thousand Instagram shots, the collonaded Hypostyle room, once intended to be a market space, and the famous terrace with its sinuous and colourful boundary bench.
It’s a tour group magnet so try to book as early in the day as you can. Park Güell is a little outside the centre but there is a free shuttle bus service more info here.
4. Gaudi street lamps and paving
You don’t always have to look up to see Gaudi’s work in Barcelona. He has a hand in the pavements too. Look out for the hexagonal paving tiles on Passeig de Gràcia. The intricate 7-tile ocean-themed pattern from the 1970s is based on a Gaudi design for Casa Batlló.
One of Gaudi’s first commissions in Barcelona was for street lights which still stand in Placa Reial. Look for the ones with six arms that are decorated with snakes and winged helmets.
5. Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s Basilica is the best known of all his buildings and like the others is full of symbolism and naturalistic shapes. Although he began work on it in 1882 it’s still not finished. Gaudi only completed a small proportion of his vision before his death in 1926 but since then contemporary architects have continued his work.
Walk around the perimeter of the building to see the different interpretations of Gaudi’s design since his death and also the work in progress.
Each side of the building tells a story from the life of Jesus but the Nativity facade with its complex and ornate detailing is the Gaudi original. If you think the donkey in the nativity group looks fed up that may be because Gaudi insisted that a live donkey was winched up by crane so that the stonemasons could get a lifelike image.
Inside Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia is fascinating from the pavement but this is one Gaudi building that you really have to go inside to properly appreciate. The interior is epic, even by cathedral standards, and stepping inside is like suddenly entering a sunlit forest.
Entry is by timed ticket so to avoid a lot of queuing and wasted time do book in advance. If you arrive fifteen minutes early you can enjoy the exterior and won’t miss your time slot. You can go to the top of a tower for an additional cost although we couldn’t do this as we hadn’t booked it in advance. Here’s a selection of ticket and tour options from Get your Guide:
6. Casa Vicens
Designed as a family home in the Gràcia district, this was Gaudi’s first commission. Casa Vicens opened as a museum in late 2017 after years of careful restoration. Look out for a striking Moorish style building with turquoise and yellow checkerboard tiles on a red brick facade. Click here for an image of Casa Vicens and skip-the-line tickets.
You may not automatically think of choosing a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona. But head to China Crown in Carrer de Casp and you’ll be in for a double treat. Specialising in Imperial Chinese cuisine, the restaurant is housed on the ground floor of Casa Calvet, Gaudi’s first commission in the Eixample district. It was built between 1898 and 1900 and is more conservative than his later work in Eixample. But you can still see Gaudi hallmarks like the fairytale balconies and curvy lines. The restaurant gets great reviews so you can have a memorable meal and enjoy spotting Gaudi’s interior detailing at the same time.
Gaudi Buildings in Barcelona Map
What to read next
Check out our recommendations for 10 things to do in Barcelona with teens
And our tips on where to stay in Barcelona, which include our favourite places to eat and tips for getting around the city.
For another seaside city, famous for its art, check out our tips for visiting Venice with teenagers.
Please note that all visitor information here is for guidance only. Please check the venues’ websites for the most up to date information on tickets, entrance requirements, opening times etc.
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