Tibidabo Church is a fantastic place to visit in Barcelona and it is a perfect half day trip. Allow at least 3 hours for visiting Tibidabo, because it’s high up on a hill, and so you need to allow time to get there plus an hour or two to see the stunning two tier Church that towers over the city. The views of Barcelona from the top will blow your mind!
At the top you will also find Tibidabo theme Park – the second oldest theme park in Europe! So Tibidabo is a fantastic day out for all ages.
When to go to Tibidabo Church
A good time to visit Tibidabo Church is April to June as it is quieter and the weather is mild. Avoid visiting at Easter time when it can get very busy. Also avoid visiting during August when it can be too hot for uphill jaunts.
The temple of the Sacred Heart in Barcelona is open from 9am to 8pm. The best time of day to visit is first thing, as soon as it opens. You will be battling with less tourists and have good light for photography. However, we went as an afternoon trip (following our morning at Sant Pau Hospital) and it was still not too packed and views were excellent.
How to get there
You will be relieved to know that there is a funicular (uphill tram) to get you up the hill – you don’t have to walk to the top!
Option 1 – Metro plus 20 minute uphill walk
Take the green line (L3) Metro to Penitents. From there you will need to walk uphill for about 20 minutes to the funicular. When you reach the Funicular I recommend that you stop off for a drink at Mirablau. The open air bar offers a fantastic view over the city and will give you a chance to do some great instagram shots and refresh before heading further uphill!
Travel Tip – if you are using the Metro regularly in Barcelona then a good option is to buy a T10 casual ticket. You get 10 Metro rides for just €11.55.
Option 2 – Metro and Bus option for Minimal walking
If you don’t fancy an uphill walk which can be tiring especially during the heat of the day then you can take the Metro to Fontana and jump on the S2 bus which will take you straight to the Funicular.
Then when you’re ready, head over to the Funicular! You don’t need to book a ticket in advance, you can buy one at the ticket office or from the machine. The staff here speak good English and are used to tourists. The price of the Tibidabo Funicular is currently €14 for a return (time of writing April 2022).
What to Take for a half day trip to Tibidabo
A good pair of walking boots or comfortable trainers are recommended as you will be a long time on your feet. Avoid sandals or flip flops. Pack a couple of bottles of water especially if it is a hot day in Barcelona. Pack a rain jacket in case the weather turns A good camera is essential as the views from the top are extremely picturesque and there are great photo opportunities. Take a subway map, or even better, your phone with GPS navigation to make sure that you know the way back.
Take spending money, especially if you want to pay to go right to the top in the lift and get a bracelet for the theme park attractions at Tibidabo (recommended if you’re travelling with kids!).
Where to Stay
If you are staying anywhere in Central Barcelona, Tibidabo is accessible by public transport, but if you want to be particularly close to get there early then stay somewhere near Park Guell. ere are a few recommended hotels….
- Hotel Catalonia Park Guell
- Hotel Mirlo Barcelona – stunning 5 star hotel near Vallarta Metro
History of the Church
It seems strange to think that a Church of this spectacular nature would be built so high up and far out of the city. The idea of building a Catholic Church out here was initially conceived by businessman Salvador Andreu in the Nineteenth Century.
The project finally commenced in response to the threat of a Protestant Church and hotel-casino being built on this spot! And so the Catholic Monarchs bought the land and the land was handed over to Italian Priest John Bosco who coined the idea of creating the temple of the Sacred Heart.
In 1886 they began constructing a neo-gothic hermitage which was supported by John Bosco’s community – the Salesians. The plan was to build a square chapel that would house an image of the sacred heart of Jesus. However, the plans were not put into action until a later date, and so the gothic top chapel pre-dates the lower crypt.
Visiting Tibidabo Church
As soon as you come out of the Metro you will be amazed by the two tier Church that stands before you. Many people call it Tibidabo Church, but its official name is the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Tibidabo or The Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor.
Entrance to the Tibidabo Church is free, but if you wish to go right to the top in the lift then you will need to pay €5.
Expiatory Church of Sagrat Cor – Top Tier
The top tier is a beautifully constructed blue-white stone Gothic temple (architect Enrique Sagnier 1858-1931). Both the style and appearance is reminiscent of the Sacre Coeur in Monmartre, Paris.
The upper Church consists of one central tower with the statue of Christ and then our smaller towers. Look for the stone statues of the 12 apostles by Jose Miret. You can reach the top of the construction by lift and also by an interior stairway in the central tower.
Lower Crypt – Lower Tier
The lower Crypt has a walled appearance and was a later addition, built in 1902. You will find a Baroque entrance into a Neo-Byzantine style crypt. It was inaugurated in 1941 and is the work of the Bro workshops.
The crypt is home to several phenomenal mosaics depicting the handing over of the land to John Bosco, the Hermitage and an allegoric group of angels who offer the temple to the glory of God. The lower Crypt also houses the great Crucifix which is the work of Joan Puigdollers and an image of Saint Michael on the keystone on the central door of the facade.
Views of Barcelona from Tibidabo
The top of Tibidabo Church offers fantastic views of the whole city of Barcelona. It is the highest point of the Serra de Collserola Natural Park and 500 meters above sea level. Note how Barcelona was constructed in Octagonal blocks which are unique to the city. You will be able to see out to the Mediterranean. Can you spot La Sagrada Familia or any other famous monuments of the city?
Tibidabo Theme Park
The construction of Tibidabo theme park followed after the Church was finally finished. The rides of the Tibidabo include a carousel, big wheel and an aeroplane ride. The theme park also has cafes and play areas for children and so it makes for a great family day out. If you want to enjoy the Tibidabo amusement park you can get a bracelet for €35.
Further Reading on Barcelona
If you enjoy fantastic viewpoints then I also recommend a day trip to the Montserrat Barcelona Monastery where a funicular takes visitors to the top of Mount Montserrat for an arial view of the mountain monastery.
While you are in the fabulous city of Barcelona, you might also want to visit the art nouveau in Barcelona including Casa Mila, Park Guell and Casa Batllo.
If you want to cover more ground in a shorter time, then you might want to consider a bike tour of Barcelona. The tour that I did covered park Ciutadella, La Rambla, La Boqueria and Barcelona Harbour and beach.