Park Güell should be on any traveler’s Barcelona itinerary, especially if you’re a fan of architect Antoni Gaudí. Originally designed as a private neighborhood for the wealthy, the park was commissioned by businessman Eusebi Güell. Güell enlisted Gaudí for the project and allowed the architect to run wild with his imagination.
The housing project ultimately failed due to lack of interest, and only two of the proposed homes were ever built. The area was eventually sold to the city to redevelop as a public park. Today it stands as a favorite local attraction and a testament to what architecture can be if we let our minds run free and aren’t afraid of the playful, whimsical, and surreal.
If you visit Barcelona on one of our Spain tours, you’ll experience the colorful vibrancy of the Catalan capital. In a city gleaming with dreamy, multicolored architecture, Park Güell manages to shine bright. Here are 5 reasons why it should be on your Barcelona itinerary.
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What to know before you go
From how long you should plan to visit to how to get guaranteed entry, we’ve got answers to all of your commonly asked questions about Park Güell.
Why is Park Güell famous?
Park Güell is a sprawling wonderland of colorful mosaics and nature-inspired architecture. It’s famous for being one of architect Antoni Gaudí’s greatest creations. The park is full of whimsical sculptures and stunning examples of Catalan modernism.
When is the best time to visit Park Güell?
The park is open year-round and there’s no bad time to visit, but if you’d like to see it without a lot of other tourists, the best time to go is in the early morning and during the cooler months between October and April. “I’ve been twice, and February was a great time of year. Warm and sunny but off-season so less crowds,” said staffer Emily.
How long do you need in Park Güell?
You should reserve at least two hours to visit the park. Although admission is only allowed in half-hour intervals, once you’ve entered the park, you may stay as long as you’d like, so take your time exploring the space.
Should you book a ticket in advance when visiting Park Güell?
The park is split into two sections. The larger section, mainly a green space, is free and open to the public. The second section, known as the monumental zone, makes up about five percent of the park but contains most of Gaudí’s work. Entrance to the monumental zone is ticketed, and only a few hundred people are let in every half hour.
Booking a ticket in advance is the best way to ensure you won’t get stuck waiting for admission into the park. Each of our Barcelona tours offers an optional excursion to Park Güell, which includes a ticket to the monumental zone, so all you have to do is show up ready to explore—and maybe bring a camera.
“We had our reservation and tickets to get into Parc Güell [and] got right in with our reservation so we didn’t miss this wonderful adventure,” said traveler Jana. “A couple on my tour didn’t choose this optional [excursion] but decided to go see Parc Güell on their own with their free time the next day. They arrived at 11:00am and were told they could not get in until after 4:30pm. They decided not to wait and never got to go inside.”
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5 reasons to visit Park Güell
1. You can admire the best views of Barcelona from the park
The view from the serpentine bench that winds around the Plaça de la Natura, the park’s central plaza, is unlike any other in the city. Look down beyond the park’s two gingerbread-style gatehouses and gaze out at the city skyline as it stretches to the sea beyond. From here, you’ll also be able to see Gaudî’s most famous work, la Sagrada Família. The church has been under construction since 1882.
Amplify your experience: Climb higher to experience the view from Calvary.
If the view from the serpentine bench isn’t enough for you, climb to Calvary, the park’s highest point, where you’ll find three crosses atop a stone hill. Gaudí originally intended this spot to be the site of a small chapel, but when work on the rest of the park halted, he instead erected this monument called Turó de les tres creus. From atop the hill, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view of Barcelona.
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2. It’s the best way to catch a glimpse inside Gaudí’s life and mind
The entire city of Barcelona is a testament to Antoni Gaudí’s creativity, but Park Güell represents the architect at his most playful. Surrounded by brilliant bursts of candy-colored mosaics, undulating curves of architectural mastery, and sloped columns that feel like something out of a fantasy, walking the park is like wandering through the mind of a creative genius. “Barcelona is a city that is steeped in history and art. Gaudí’s influence on the city is noted everywhere,” said traveler Winter.
Amplify your experience: Discover Antoni Gaudí’s Barcelona by visiting the Gaudí House Museum. Located on top of a hill within the park, you’ll find a pink house known as Torre Rosa. It was one of only two of the proposed 60 homes built in the neighborhood. Gaudí moved in, along with his father and niece, and resided there for the last 20 years of his life. Today it stands as a museum; some rooms are set up to look the way they did when the architect resided there, while others are filled with furniture that he designed.
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3. You’ll experience a fusion of nature and architecture unlike anything else
Around every corner in Park Güell, you’ll discover a new monument so organic and powerful that you’ll think it simply sprouted from the earth. Twisted columns erupt from the ground like the trunks of massive palm trees to support roadways elevated in their canopies. Nearby, stone pathways wind their way along the hillside’s lush greenery.
Amplify your experience: Walk along the Laundry Room Portico. This passage resembles a slanted ocean wave made from textured stone. The path above the walkway drips with dense local flora, and the portico winds its way along a retaining wall from the Plaça de la Natura to Güell’s former mansion residence.
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4. You can snap a photo with El Drac, Barcelona’s most famous mascot
You’ll find no shortage of photo ops in the park, but El Drac, the large mosaic dragon (or salamander, no one is really sure), might be Park Güell’s most photogenic resident. The colorful creature is one of the most famous examples of Trencadís technique, the broken tile mosaic technique of which Gaudí was so fond.
Amplify your experience: Snap a photo with El Drac and then hunt for the park’s other animal sculptures. You’ll also find a snake, an octopus, and a lion hidden throughout the grounds.
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5. You’ll daydream about life within the park community and marvel at what could have been
We’re secretly glad that the Park Güell residential project failed and the site was subsequently opened to the public—otherwise, we wouldn’t get to enjoy it—but it is fun to wander through the park and dream about what it would have been like to live there.
Amplify your experience: Marvel at the Hypostyle Room. The Hypostyle Room is one of the most awe-inspiring places in the park. The cavernous space contains a forest of 86 massive columns which support the Plaça de la Natura and the serpentine bench above. It was initially planned as the neighborhood’s central market, and you can imagine the bustle of local vendors selling their goods and produce as residents meander through the columns. When you stand in the room, don’t forget to look up! The ceiling was crafted from billowing domes of white tiles and is adorned with colorful mosaics representing the sun in all four seasons.