Barcelona is a huge city (which we have talked about before) but the good news is that it is easy to get around thanks to Barcelona’s transport system. This transport system will allow you to cover the city with ease and not waste time trying to figure out a convoluted system. The main types of Barcelona’s transport system are the extensive metro system, taxis, trains, a few funiculars, and bike paths. Once you master these you will be able to cruise around Barcelona like a local.
Welcome to our Barcelona Series! Here in this series you will learn everything you need to have a perfect time in Barcelona. We are all about eating, drinking and living local and there is no place we like to do all of that better than Barcelona!
Here is what you can expect from this series:
Barcelona’s Transport System – You’re Here!
Getting To and From the Airport
The biggest concern about arriving in a new city is how to get to where you want from the airport. There are currently four easy ways to get to and from the Barcelona airport: the Barcelona Metro, the Aero Bus, the train, and taxis.
By far the easiest option, if you are staying in the center (especially near Plaça Catalunya) is to take the Aero Bus. The Aero Bus runs every ten minutes from 5 am to 12:30 am from both terminals. The ticket to get on is 5.90€ for a one-way ticket and 10.20€ if you decide to buy a roundtrip ticket. Just purchase your ticket, hop on and ride the bus straight into the city center.
There are a few other stops (only 3) if you are staying farther out of the city like near Plaça Espanya. Once you have arrived in the center you can either hop on the metro located just outside the bus stop in Plaça Catalunya or you can walk or take a taxi to your hotel.
The other easy public transportation option is to take the metro. The metro opened in February of 2016 and is an easy way to get to the airport. The only issue with the metro is that the line that connects to the airport is not a central line. The line that takes you to and from the airport is the L9 Sud and you must transfer to either the L1, L3 or L5. If you have a lot of luggage this may not be a great option for you.
However, if you are staying near Camp Nou, where FC Barcelona plays, then the metro stops right there. The metro to or from the airport costs 4.50€ but be careful of what zone your hotel is in as that may change the price. (We will talk more about the zones below)
The third public option with Barcelona’s transport is the train. The train runs from Terminal 2 to the city center with stops at Passeig de Grácia (perfect if you are staying in El Eixample) and Sants. These are great options if you are also using Barcelona as a jumping off point to explore other parts of Catalonia or Spain by train. The train runs every thirty minutes and costs 4.10€.
The final transportation option is to take a taxi. A taxi is by far the most expensive option but it is also the most convenient. The taxis should be at a set rate when you take them from the airport. From Terminal 1 the taxi will be 35€ and from Terminal 2 it will be 30€ as long as you are staying in the Barcelona metropolitan area. This is the best option if you arrive outside of the hours for the metro, bus or train. Just note that there may be supplemental charges for late night trips. It is super easy to find taxis outside the airport, just follow the signs to the taxi rank!
Now That You Are in Barcelona, How Do You Get Around??
Once in the city, there are several options to get around. Our favorite is to walk but Barcelona is a large city so that is not always possible. Here is a breakdown of Barcelona’s transport system so that you can navigate the city like a pro!
Barcelona’s transport system’s shining star is the metro and is probably what you will be using the most when in Barcelona. It is extensive, connects the major sights and is relatively user-friendly. The only issue is that it has a LOT of lines that connect to each other. There are eleven lines in total and they crisscross the city allowing you to get almost anywhere.
Our best advice is to use a metro trip planning app to pre-plan your trip. Not only is this app super helpful in figuring out how you should get to your destination but it also lets you know how long it will take and where to change lines. The best thing is that the map works offline too! So no matter where you are you will be able to find the metro closest to you!
The metro is pretty inexpensive too as long as you travel in Zone 1 which covers all of downtown Barcelona. It is highly unlikely that your trip to Barcelona will have you venturing outside Zone 1. And that means that your metro trips will cost 2.15€. If you think you will be taking the metro a lot then it will be worth investing in a metro card. You can purchase several different kinds depending how many trips you think you will be taking.
9.95€ for 10 trips. This can be used for multiple people (aka 2 people – 5 trips each). This is probably the most useful metro card for your visit.
42.50€ for 50 trips in 30 days. This is only for one person and is good if you plan on visiting Barcelona several times in a month and using the metro extensively.
59.50euros for 70 trips in 30 days. This one can be used for multiple people so it is great if you are traveling with family or in a larger group.
*All these metro cards (except the single ride) count a trip as one with transfers between the metro, bus, trams, etc… for up to an hour and fifteen minutes within Zone 1.
You most likely won’t use the train system all that often if you are staying in the center but there are several urban trains you can take to cross the city or to take day trips outside of Barcelona like Sitges or Sant Sadurni. Barcelona’s city train stations can be a tad confusing on which tickets to buy and what trains to catch as things are designated by the final stop and there is not much information. You are better off sticking to the metro in all honesty especially since some of the train’s lines are considered metro lines!
However, if you do feel like taking a train for a day trip here are some tips for you. There are several train stations located throughout the city including Estación de Francia, Sants and Passeig de Gràcia. All three of these connect to each other through the commuter rail system. This commuter rail system also overlaps with the Metro including Lines 6 – 11. There are also several R lines which are the interurban lines as part of Barcelona’s transport system. If you want to take a day trip to Sitges, Sant Sadurni (for Cava tasting) these will be the lines you will need to take.
Here is a fantastic map to see how they all connect courtesy of RENFE, the company in charge of the Barcelona’s urban rail.
Barcelona’s Funiculars/Cable Cars
There are several funiculars that you may end up taking in Barcelona. The two most famous ones are the one up to Tibidabo and then the one that takes you to the Montjuic Cable Car. Barcelona is surrounded by hills of these funiculars SAVE you from walking up them and then reward you with awesome views so why wouldn’t you want to take a funicular? Plus the word is just fun to say – FUN-I-CUL-AR!
Visiting Tibidabo is one of our favorite things to do in Barcelona and the funicular ride is just a part of that. And you do not want to walk up to the top, believe us, just the walk to the funicular is more than enough hill especially in the Barcelona heat (although you can also take the tram up to the funicular). This old school funicular, which opened in 1901 to connect the amusement park to the city which makes it one of Barcelona’s oldest transport systems, costs 7.70€ to catch a ride to the top. To get there simply take the metro Line 7 to Tibidabo and then walk up the hill to catch the funicular. The journey runs approximately every 15 to 30 minutes and the last journey is a half hour before the park closes.
The other funicular you may encounter is the one from Paral-Lel metro up to Montjuic. The funicular then connects to the cable car. It is super easy to catch the Paral-Lel funicular as the entrance is inside the metro (linked to Lines 2 and 3) and you do not need to pay anything extra as it is covered under your metro ticket.
The funicular then connects with the Montjuic cable car which takes you to the very top of the mountain. This is a fantastic chance to have phenomenal views of the city and be dropped off at the Castell de Montjuic to learn about its fascinating history! The cable car costs 11.25€ to soar over Montjuic.
Transbordador Aeri del Port
You can also opt to take the cable car straight from Barceloneta up to Montjuic and back. This is a unique way to get a panorama view of the city and ascend to Montjuic without actually walking up the hills. But be warned, this is not for people who have a fear of heights! The cable car is 70 meters above the ground (almost 230 feet!) and the trip takes about ten minutes. It is 11€ for a one-way ticket or 16.50€ for a round trip.
Taxis are fairly easy to catch in the city and are integral to Barcelona’s transport at night as the metro closes at midnight during the week and 2 am on the weekends. They are not too expensive and it is fairly easy to find a taxi rank throughout the city or simply hail one down when they have the green light on. There are just a few things you should keep in mind while taking a taxi in Barcelona.
The base fare of a taxi in the center of the city is 2.05€ and then it is .98€ for every kilometer between 8 am and 8 pm, Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, Sundays (6am-8pm) and Public Holidays (6am-8pm) the fare goes up to 1.24€ a kilometer. There is also a 2€ supplemental fee from midnight to 6 am. Note that the meter should always be on when taking a taxi and do not negotiate prices as drivers are required to use the meter.
If you have an issue make sure to get a receipt which should include the fare, taxi number, tax ID, driver’s signature, date and license plate. You can then register a complaint with Institut Metropolità del Taxi.
Note – there is no Uber or Lyft in Barcelona
Biking is a great way to get around Barcelona. There is a fantastic path along the boardwalk and several companies you can rent bikes from. There are also several bike paths along the main roads especially in the newer districts like Eixample and some fantastic paths through Poblenou and down to the water.
Barcelona also has a public bike sharing system set in place similar to Velib in Paris called Bicing. HOWEVER, this option is not open to tourists due to complaints from companies that rent bikes to tourists. If you know a local you may be able to take advantage of this but most likely not. The good news is you can rent bikes from several different companies (we suggest Green Bikes) and a lot of them are clustered around the Gothic Quarter.
You can also take advantage of a bike tour to get your bearings of the bike paths and see a different side of Barcelona. We highly recommend Steel Donkey Bike Tours for a unique look at the city. With this tour, you will be shown your tour guide’s Barcelona whether that is a trip through Parc de la Ciutadella, a stop at El Encants flea market or a stop at an old liquor store which is a historical sight!
Hola BCN Card
Barcelona has a fantastic tourist card for transportation if you want to take advantage of it. Called Hola BCN, this card covers all your transportation needs for 2-5 days. Plus, it includes your airport metro trip, unlimited metro rides, the regional trains, the urban trains, trams, buses, and the Montjuic funicular! The card is perfect for getting around Barcelona’s transport with ease! You can also buy your Hola BCN card before you depart to make life even easier 🙂
So now you know how to tackle Barcelona’s transport system like a local. No matter where you need to go in the city you will be able to do it!
Read On to Read the Rest of the Series!
Barcelona’s Transport System – You’re Here!
Heading to Barcelona soon? Don’t forget to buy travel insurance! Sure you may not use it but its always good to have. We recommend World Nomads which we have been using for years and have always made us feel secure as we travel around the world!
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