18 April 2017: Day 4 – Parc Guell
Introduction to Parc Guell
Parc Güell is a large park comprising of gardens and architectonic elements built between 1900 and 1914. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also one of Antoni Gaudí’s creative works. Most of the park’s access is free except for the Monumental Zone.
Since October 2013, an entrance fee applies when you enter the Monumental Zone. Currently the general ticket is charged at €8 (€7 online) per person. Having paid for entrances to see two of Antoni Gaudí’s works (Sagrada Familia and Casa Batlló), I was hesitant to pay again. Then I found out there was a trick to enter the Monumental Zone for free and I am about to share it with you in detail.
Get into Parc Guell Monumental Zone for free
When we were there, the opening time for the Monumental Zone was 8.00am – 8.30pm. But we went early with an objective to catch the sunrise so we left as early as 6.30am to take a bus there. I will go into detail later about why we took the bus.
OPENING HOURS – as of 21 May 2017
Low season (winter-autumn)
1 January to 25 March*: 08.30 to 18.30 (last entry time at 17.30)
29 October to 31 December: 08.30 to 18.30 (last entry time at 17.30)
*1 March to 25 March, extended hours to 19.00 (last entry time at 18.00)
Mid season (spring)
26 March to 30 April: 08.00 to 20.30 (last entry time at 19.30)
High season (spring-summer)
1 May to 27 August: 08.00 to 21.30 (last entry time at 20.30)
Mid season (summer-autumm)
28 August to 28 October: 08.00 to 20.30 (last entry time at 19.30)
The Monumental Zone is cordoned off in a ‘mobile’ way. There are no gates that lock up the Monumental Zone (based on my entry from the side nearest to the bus stop). Hence if you go before the official opening hours, you will be able to enter the Zone free. Because the staff in charge of guarding the place has not started work yet.
This would be the same for entering after closing hours (though I did not try that but read that it worked the same way). However if you choose to do the latter, the disadvantage is that the park would already be filled with people.
Enter the Monumental Zone free before opening hours of Parc Guell.
The main park itself probably opens around 6.30am or so for joggers, locals, etc. So don’t get there in the wee hours of the morning or you might find the main entrance of the park closed. Unfortunately I did not find the official opening time for the main park (outside of the Monumental Zone) but if you have an idea, please share with me.
Parc Guell is a very popular attraction that receives many tourists on a daily basis especially in summer. My advice is to be the early bird so you can enjoy the park’s beauty in peace and quiet. One of the highlights in the Monumental Zone is the mosaic lizard at the entrance stairs. The lizard is hardly alone because of an endless stream of people taking photos with it. Going in the morning will give you a higher chance of taking a photo of the lizard alone or by yourself.
When we left, the gate’s staff did ask us if we went in before opening hours and we said we did. We do not know if the park’s management would make changes to the way they gate this section. Keep your fingers crossed and hope you can still get in free outside the opening hours.
Best Way To Get To Parc Guell
Many people will opt for the metro since it is seemingly the easiest way to travel around Barcelona. But what some might not know is the long walk or an uphill climb (depending on which line you take) to get to Parc Guell. We did not take the metro knowing this fact from my research. Our choice of transport was by bus which was a little longer but a whole lot smoother.
We walked from Hostalin Barcelona Gran Via to Passeig de Gracia-Gran Via bus stop and took Bus 24. Going there in the early morning hour meant that bus frequency would be low. We missed our bus and had to wait almost 25min for the next one. Don’t forget to use your T10 card for this bus ride.
Buses 24 and 92 are the best buses to take because you will alight at the closest bus stop to Parc Guell and one of its Monumental Zone entrances. You will know where to get off because there will surely be people getting off. But if not, the stop’s name is Ctra del Carmel – Parc Güell. What I did was to screenshot the bus stops for Bus 24 as a back up and followed the stops as we went. The buses sometimes display the names of the bus stops or you can sit on the right of the bus and look out for the bus stop names. I recommend also downloading the offline map from Google so you can use your phone’s GPS to know where to get off.
This bus stop will lead you to the Monumental Zone entrance closest to the famous look out point with the curvy mosaic tiled bench and the view of Barcelona. This means you do not need to climb up to get to the look out point but simply walk straight to get in.
Sunrise at Parc Guell
Parc Guell lights up quite beautifully as the sun rises. I went with the knowledge that some of the key features like the gingerbread houses would be seen with a backlight since the rising sun comes up from behind them. There were already people who went in early like us but not many photographers.
Parc Guell’s best photographic moments are likely when the sun sets. The best spot is at the stretch of mosaic tiled benches that curved along a look out. You can capture the two gingerbread houses and the view of Barcelona as the sun sets. But to get your nice sunset shots, you would have to pay for entrance, jostle with the crowd and park your tripod early for the best spot. Then you would have to “guard” your space when you shoot especially during the golden hour.
Bear in mind that there are timed entrances for tickets to get into the Monumental Zone if you choose to enter with tickets. Buy your tickets online to save time and €1 and get it early to avoid your preferred time slot getting sold out. Once you enter during your reserved time, you are free to stay inside for as long as you like.