A not so well kept secret is that if you arrive 30 minutes before the official opening time, you enter for free (all of it - including the paid monumental zone).
Official opening times vary by season. Check the official timings here and visit the Parc Guell accordingly.
Last time, I had a ticket for the monumental zone for 8 am and had reached the park 20 minutes in advance. I saw tourists entering the paid section for free and asked the staff about this. The staff were quite cool and said they do not stop anyone who manages to enter the park before the official opening hours.
Go for morning free entry, not the evening slot.
I have been to Park Guell at all hours of the day. When my guests bring up free entry, I always tell them that it is better to try and enter for free in the morning, and not in the evening.
Morning free entry to Park Guell is a great way to see the monumental zone without any crowds, and then proceed to see the rest of the park.
Why to avoid the evening free slot?
Fading light in the evening
You will not have enough time to visit all of Park Guell if you enter for free in the evening. At best you will see part of the monumental zone, before it starts to get dark. In the summer the official closing of the park is moved out to account for a delayed sunset. So there is no way to avoid the poor light.
No time to visit Park Guell free zone in the evening
The free zone is 90% of Park Guell and it is beautiful, especially as you climb up the hill to the crosses. With poor light, there is a very low chance you will be able to visit this part at all.
Gaudi House museum will be closed
Gaudi fans will be disappointed to find that the House Museum is a paid attraction but it is in the free zone. While you can enter the monumental zone for free, you will not be able to visit the Saudi House museum before it closes.
No crowd control in the evening
Park Guell officials disappear after the official closing so there is no one left to control the crowds. This causes chaos at the salamander, the trencadis, and the pillared hall in the monumental zone. Even taking photos is difficult with out of control crowds.
After official closing time, Park Guell is invaded by manteros
Street sellers or manteros barge into park Guell for free, along with the tourists. When you add this to the lack of crowd control, it is not a pleasant experience.
So I hope you agree that it is better to target free entry at 8am in the morning. If your schedule is such that you cannot enter early, then I would suggest that it is better to pay 8 euro fee during official hours, than attempting an evening free entry to Park Guell.
There are 3 parts to Park Guell.
1. The Free Zone
For the large section of the Park Guell (90%), there is no entry fee.
2. Monumental Zone
Monumental zone is the key attraction. However, there is an entry fee of 8 euros
3. Gaudi Museum
The house where Gaudi lived is now a museum. Entry to Gaudi House Museum is 4.5 euros.
1. Between 6am-8am, access to monumental part of the park is free. Start early and reach the park by 7am. There will be few people in the park, so you can have the entire park for yourself and for free!
2. Climb up to the viewpoint above the park for amazing views of Barcelona. If you find the climb difficult, climb to the Trinity hill in the park.
2. Do not buy monumental zone tickets in advance. Lines are not long and you may be able to get in for free before 745am anyway.
Most of Park Güell is accessible free of charge. There is an entrance free for less than 10% of the park called 'Monumental Zone'. While Monumental Zone is interesting as it terrace, and the Gaudi designed mosaics, there are many equally interesting attractions that are free. For instance, you can go to Turó de les tres creus, the highest part of the park, without paying any entry fee. Hike to Turó de les tres creus is worth the hike for panoramic view of Barcelona.
Here is a secret : Access to monumental zone is free, if you reach Guell Park before 8 AM!
Gaudi did not design Monumental Zone to be access restricted area. Thus, there are no gates that separate Monumental Zone from other parts of the park. To demarcate monumental zone from other parts of the park, authorities put security bands at 8 AM and remove them by 6 PM. Thus, you can visit monumental zone for free before 8 AM and after 6 PM.
It may not be worthwhile to visit monumental zone after 6 PM because of failing light. However, the view is excellent between 7 AM and 8 AM. The added bonus is that park is devoid of any crowd in the morning making it easy to take photos of all the monuments.
With the money saved, head to Gaudi Experience, a small exhibition close to Park Guell with interactive 4D screens showing the work of Gaudi.
Park Guell is a public park and much of the park is free to the public. However, a small part called Monumental Zone, housing many of Gaudi’s creation has an entry fee of €7.
Monumental Zone is free in the morning before 8 AM
I take my guests early in the morning by around 745 AM and enter the monumental zone for free. Staff at the park will let you free if you reach 15 minutes before the official hours ( the opening time is either 8 AM or 830 AM depending on the season). Once you enter for free, you can stay as long as you wish.
You can also visit for free up to 30 minutes after the official closing hours. If you plan to go in the evening, schedule such that you catch the spectacular sunset.
- Take the bus #24 from Plaza Catalunya. The bus will drop up right at the gate (Ctra del Carmel - Parc Güell stop). Otherwise, by metro, it is a long walk.
- Download the free interactive app for the best walking routes.
- Hike to The Three Crosses, the highest point in park Guell for a spectacular view of Barcelona. Three crosses viewpoint is part of the free zone of the park.
- Do not forget to pack a picnic
- Learn to ignore the illegal vendors who clog the walkway selling all sorts of cheap souvenirs.