"Here in Barcelona, it's the architects who built the buildings that made the city iconic who are the objects of admiration — not a bunch of half-witted monarchs." — Julie Burchill, "Patriotism is for Reactionaries," The Guardian, 2012

Cities > Barcelona > 7 Things Tourists Do in Barcelona That You Should Do Also...

6) Go to Güell

Park Güell: Antoni Gaudí's Famous Hilltop Park


2023 Travel Update: As of 2023, Spain essentially is open for tourism by both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers without Covid-specific documentation or testing. However, be sure to double check the official government site for up-to-the minute details.

Named after its property developer Eusebi Güell, Park Güell was designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudí as a posh residential suburb loosely modeled after the English Garden City concept. There is a hint of the English influence in its spelling of park. In Catalan, it would be Parc Güell and in Spanish, Parque Güell.

When it was built starting in 1900, despite its clean and green environment, Park Güell was considered too far away from the core of Barcelona and the wealthy preferred to live near Passeig de Gracia. It was not successful as a housing development; only two of the envisioned 60 houses were built.

After abandoning his efforts to develop the suburb, Eusebi Güell converted the area to a large private garden and allowed it to be used for public events. Güell's heirs gave the garden to the city, and it became a public park in 1926.

How to Visit Park Güell for Free

The entrance portion of Park Güell, which contains its playful Gaudí-designed structures like the "Dragon Stairway" with its now iconic dragon-salamander creature (el drac), the "Hypostyle Room" with its Greek-inspired columns and colorful ceiling mosaics, and more, once was referred to as the Restricted Zone (zona regulada).

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When first visited Park Güell years ago, entry to the entire park was free all the time. However, starting in 2014 — because of overwhelming crowds — the Restricted Zone required a ticket most of the time and capacity began being limited on an hourly basis. Further up the hill, the other portions of the park — the Monumental Zone (zona monumental) and Forest Zone (zona forestal) — remained free and did not limit capacity. However, during the pandemic, the city eliminated the Restricted Zone and made it part of the larger, now also restricted, Monumental Zone. Post-pandemic, Barcelona made this change permanent. In 2022, Barcelona eliminated the free entry with a local library card option, as well.

It is clear that free access to Park Güell has become more and more difficult. Nevertheless, our favorite time to go to Park Güell always has been in the early morning before the tourist onslaught arrives. The city once still allowed free entry to the Restricted Zone before 8 AM in the spring and summer and before 8:30 AM in the autumn and winter. However, during the pandemic, Barcelona began limiting early morning access to locals starting at 7 AM for the entire Monumental Zone, with tourist entry allowed only starting at 9:30 AM. This change has been maintained post-pandemic.

The metro generally starts running at 5 AM, so if you are able to drag yourself out of bed, it still is quite possible to view Park Güell at sunrise, though. In our experience, because there are a number of children's schools in and around the park and school tends to start quite early (to the dismay of children everywhere), one or more of the gates for the Monumental Zone likely still are unlocked and unattended before 7 AM. The hours and access have changed, but the magic of the early morning light bouncing off the colorful mosaic tiles has not — it really is quite beautiful. The Forest Zone, higher up the hill, officially remains free for all at all times and it certainly offers a glorious sunrise over the city, as well.

Paid Ticket Options for Park Güell

If an early morning start for potential free access to Park Güell isn't your cup of tea, you alternately can buy a timed ticket to access the park.

It is not uncommon for Park Güell to be sold out at least a few days in advance, so buying a ticket beforehand is strongly recommended for late morning or afternoon access. One way to book tickets is through the official website. However, often for the same price, third-party services also sell advance tickets and skip-the-line guided tours and may have more options and times available than the official site. Be sure to show up close to the admission time stated on your ticket; Park Güell kindly offers a 30-minute grace period, but after that, admission will be denied.

Additionally, you might like to take a peek at the paid Gaudí House Museum in Park Güell. This once residential building was not designed by Gaudí, but he lived there from 1906 to 1925.

Where to Eat & The Best Metro Route

We never have eaten immediately around Park Güell, and the gauntlet of tourist-targeted options heading up the hill toward the park do not look promising. Instead, we suggest eating a breakfast or lunch at the cafe in the local Mercat de Lesseps near the metro station. It opens at 7:30 AM, except on Sundays, when it is closed. If the weather is nice — and it often is in Barcelona — you alternately could buy a picnic from Mercat de Lesseps and eat in Park Güell's Monumental Zone. There are several picnic areas available for use at no extra charge.

Below, we have mapped out the most pleasant walk directly to Park Güell, which is from Lesseps Station. It looks closer on a map, but we tried the route from Vallcarca Station on one visit; the walk is much worse and we do not recommend it. There once also was a BUS GÜELL shuttle bus from Alfons X Station, but it was discontinued during the pandemic and seems to be gone for good.

How to Get Here: To go directly to Park Güell, take Line 3 (Green) to Lesseps Station. Take the Plaça de Lesseps Exit and cut diagonally across the plaza (to your left when exiting the station) to begin our suggested walk.'s Park Güell Map (Full Screen)

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All 7 Things Tourists Do in Barcelona That You Should Do Also:

  • 6) Park Güell
  • 7) Vila de Gràcia
  • 1) La Rambla
  • 2) Barri Gòtic
  • 3) La Barceloneta
  • 4) Block of Discord
  • 5) Sagrada Família

Be sure to see our 7 Things Tourists Don't Do in Barcelona, but You Should, too.

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  • Writing & Photos By Brock Kyle. All Rights Reserved. Update Published 6 January 2023. Feedback.