A Guide to Transport in Barcelona

A Guide to Transport in Barcelona

It can be a daunting task, making your way in and around a new and unfamiliar city. Different modes of transport often operate in particular ways that, unless you’re a local and used to it, can cause a few of your internal fuses to blow when travelling.
Thankfully, Barcelona is easy to navigate around – once you know a few things. To help make your journeying through BCN as easy as chilling on the beach, we’ve got some helpful information about transport in Barcelona for you. You’re welcome!


Getting from Barcelona Airport to City Centre

The best and quickest public transport to get into the Barcelona centre from the airport is the RENFE Train. After three stops you’ll be in Sants Estacio, the main train station, and the fourth stop is Passeig de Gracia. Journey time is around 25-28 minutes.

train barcelona

There are also Metro lines to and from the airport to Barcelona city centre; but for the best value, the smart option is the RENFE train because you can use what’s called the T-10 Multi-Card which is valid for ten single journeys on the trams, buses, and Metro in Barcelona, but not on the Metro lines serving the airport (costs €6).

The T-10 card costs just €10.20 and you can buy one at any rail and metro station, tram stop and in Tobacco shops; but we recommend getting it right next to the train station at the airport so you’re already saving money from your very first journey.

If you intend making five journeys or more in Barcelona (you will), it is the best value means of using public transport. It can be used by more than one person each time too, so it’s ideal for a couple of friends traveling together, and it doesn’t count changing lines as separate journeys. There are different T-10 cards for different zones, but get a Zone 1 card as this covers all of the main city centre and the vast majority of tourist attractions in Barcelona.


Getting around Barcelona City centre

The best ways to get around Barcelona are by Metro and bus.


Barcelona Metro

The Metro connects the city everywhere and comes every 2-5 mins. A single ride Metro ticket costs €2.20 so, again, the T-10 ticket is the way to go.

The Barcelona Metro runs from Sunday to Thursday 5:00 - 00.00, Friday 5:00 - 2:00, and on Saturdays, it runs 24 hours. It also runs 24 hours on the eve of most public holidays and fiestas –partying ‘til dawn is always an option in BCN!

Underground-Metro station sign on street level in Barcelona

The Metro in Barcelona is easy to use once you get the hang of it. There are wall maps of the Metro system at the entrances to all stations and free Metro maps at the ticket booths, so planning journeys and trips around the city is quite straightforward. To estimate journey times, average around 2.5 mins between stops.


Buses in Barcelona

Buses are a good option as well for getting around Barcelona, with several lines and connections spanning the city centre. There are free bus maps and timetables available at transport stations and stops, but the most convenient way of planning bus journeys in Barcelona is by using Google maps to check time and route.

A city bus in service in Barcelona

After midnight there are Night buses connecting essentially all of the city. These buses are indicated by the letter ‘N’ preceding the route number. You can use a T-10 ticket on buses or buy a single ticket (2.20€) on board.

Note, if buying a ticket on board, you pay the bus driver directly and in cash only as the card cannot be used on buses in Barcelona. It’s best to have exact change or small denominations of cash as often the driver will not have sufficient change for larger notes, in which case you are not permitted to purchase travel.


Trams in Barcelona

The Barcelona Tram system is relatively under-used; perhaps a testament to the effectiveness of the metro and bus lines which are most popular among locals and visitors. You likely will not end up using the tram in Barcelona, the routes are a little fewer than the metro and bus offers and is less frequent too, but it is a really nice way to travel around Barcelona and see the city, especially as it also covers parts of the city that the metro or bus routes do not.

the green and white coloured tram of Barcelona in service

As with the bus and metro, the tram in Barcelona costs €2.20 for a single ride and you can also use your T-10 card. If buying a single ticket, you buy at the machine at the tram stop before boarding. These are touch-screen, and available in English. Please note that you can pay with card and coin, but not paper notes. Change is given, but cash payment can only be made using coins.

If you haven’t gone through a barrier at the tram station, hence validating your ticket, you will need to validate the ticket in one of many machines in the tram car itself when you board.


Taxis in Barcelona

Taxi prices in Barcelona are relatively cheap compared to other European cities; but, as in any city, always be careful that you don’t get ‘taken for a ride’ when using taxis in Barcelona. It’s good to have a general idea of estimated journey time between your point-A and desired point-B as well as an idea of the cost before you get into a taxi. Ask locals, or the reception staff at your hostel or hotel, for guidelines, and get an estimate from the driver before committing.

And always be sure that the taxi driver switches on the meter.

the typical black and yellow taxi in Barcelona

The best way for using taxis in Barcelona, and indeed in numerous cities around Europe, is the MyTaxi app. It lets you book official taxis, pay through the app and keeps records of the actual journey and charge so you can always report suspect journeys.

Unfortunately, you can't use Uber in Barcelona, since the company suspended its services in the Spanish city due to local regulations.
Cabify is very popular here and is, arguably, the most widely used service by locals for private journeys around Barcelona.

Of course, some travelers might like to consider renting a car in Barcelona. This is really not necessary if you intend staying in Barcelona City center and the surrounding districts as the city is so well served with connections. Car rental is a good idea though if you plan to take some day trips from Barcelona to other worthy locations, such as Girona, Montserrat, Costa Brava or the Cistercian Route, and prefer to do so at your own pace and in your own time, rather than rely on trains and buses.

Montserrat mountain range near Barcelona


Some local tips on using transport in Barcelona

Most Barcelona tourist attractions are easily reachable from one to the next, especially by Metro, tram, or bus. Indeed, many of them are all within walking distance, as you’ll discover on the excellent free walking tours of Barcelona. Indeed, we do recommend foregoing the convenience of public transport in Barcelona when you only need to go a few stops and walk instead. There’s no better way to feel the pulse of the city than on foot.


The bustling Las Ramblas street in Barcelona with tourists
There are some attractions in Barcelona that you’ll need public transport to get to though. Most notably, the beaches.

Most people take the metro to Barceloneta beach (BARCELONETA Metro stop). It’s the most popular, and therefore most crowded beach, but there is always a great buzz here. There are lots of beachfront restaurants, cafes, bars and shops, and a delightful promenade too.

busy crowded Barceloneta beach in Barcelona


We recommend going one more stop though, to VILA OLIMPICA, and looking for ‘p de Bogatell’ (Bogatell beach), which is a good local tip for a less crowded day on the sand. You can also take the purple metro line to Badalona, about a 20-minute journey from Barcelona city centre, for a lovely beach which is more popular with locals and doesn’t suffer the same overcrowding and risk of pick-pockets as Barceloneta beach can in peak seasons.

And one last local tip for you; if you want to visit Park Güell, the delightful public park created by Antoni Gaudi, you’ll likely take off on foot, soon to be confronted with what looks like the Everest of stairs. So many steps up to the park on Carmen Hill, and no Elevator in sight. Take the metro (green line) to VALLCARCA stop, from there you can take escalators that will bring you to the highest point of the Park. From there then, you can also easily walk down to the famous Gaudi benches.

balcony in Park Guell in Barcelona, colourful tiles and rooftops in view

Park Güell is a wonderfully unique park, thanks to the inspired creativity of Gaudi, and if you would like to learn more about him, his life and his amazing works across the city, including Sagrada Familia, then you should join a Gaudi and Modernism free walking tour in Barcelona while you’re here. You won’t regret it!

Well, that’s your lot, dear Barcelona-bound travelers. We hope this has helped you feel a little bit more at ease about getting around our city and getting the best value and experience from your time in Barcelona. Of course, feel free to ask your lovely local guide on your free walking tour for insider hints and tips, not just on transport in Barcelona, but for eating in the city, partying, where to shop - anything you want to know, they’ll be happy to share their own local expert recommendations.
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