Once you’re in Barcelona the best ways to get around are on the underground and by using the city sightseeing tourist buses. The “Barcelona Card” is often wort getting as it offers useful travel discounts and cheap entrances to some of the city’s top attractions.
Take the Metro
The Barcelona underground rail system is known locally as the ‘Metro de Barcelona’. It is an extensive system of around 125km of lines connecting all parts of the city.
The Metro is probably the easiest way to get around the city but you may need buses or suburban trains to reach some places. It’s a good idea to buy the 10 journey “Targeta T-10” which gives you ten single journeys within Zone 1 in the central area of Barcelona (See the Metro Map below). This ticket provides worthwhile savings over single tickets and is valid on the Metro system, RENFE local trains, city buses and FGC suburban trains. It can be used on the RENFE airport train but NOT the airport bus.
The “Targeta T-10” allows you to transfer between different modes of transport within a 1hr 15mins period on the same ticket. Therefore, you can leave a Metro station then jump on a bus provided the journey is completed within the time limit. Buses run along most city routes every few minutes. You can also buy one ticket and share it provided you pass it back to the other person as you go through ticket barriers so it isn’t necessary to buy two tickets for two people.
Tickets are sold at all Metro stations and at the airport as you approach the train. The “Targeta T-DIA” is an alternative ticket that you might be interested in which allows for unlimited travel on all these forms of transport for one day. Or better still buy a Barcelona Card which includes all transport on the Metro as well as the RENFE train from the airport. Children under four years of age travel for free.
On a recent visit to Barcelona I took the bus from Girona Airport to the bus station at Arc de Triomf where I bought a Barcelona Card at the tourist information kiosk. At the Catalunya stop the driver left his cabin and the door closed behind him. The last I saw as I decided to leave the train was someone trying to break back into the cabin to allow the driver to get back to work!
As a rule the Barcelona metro system is very efficient and is well worth using when you visit the city.
Distinctive black and yellow taxis swarm the streets of Barcelona. There’s a basic charge as soon as you get in the taxi then a meter charge per kilometre as well as additional charges for putting luggage in the boot. More often than not you’ll manage to flag down a taxi on any of the main streets, however, there are major taxi ranks at Plaça de Catalunya and at the bottom of the Ramblas near the Plaça de Colom.
If you’re travelling into the city from Barcelona’s El Prat International Airport you’ll spot hundreds of these official yellow and black taxis lining up outside the terminal awaiting passengers. The journey to the centre of the city takes up to 30 minutes depending on traffic conditions and where you’re going.
The price of a taxi to a city centre hotel should be about 25 Euros but more often than not it seems to be nearer 30 Euros due to luggage supplements and for an airport supplement. The journey from Terminal 1 is about 4km further than journeys from Terminal 2 so costs a little extra.
Rates should be posted inside the taxi. Make sure the taxi meter is reset when you get in and ensure that you know exactly where you’re going. We have heard stories of overcharging especially when passengers are travelling from their cruise ship at the port to a city centre hotel. Most drivers will not speak English. Pre-booked transfers from the airport are often a much cheaper and better alternative than a taxi.
Taxis are often not the best option for getting around the tourist sights. Public transport on the bus and metro systems is very good and the Bus Turístic is very convenient for visitors.
City Bus Tours – Bus Turístic
This is the best way to visit Barcelona in a day or two with all tours beginning from in front of El Corte Inglés in Plaça Catalunya. You can get on and get off the bus at any one of the programmed stops (listed below) on the three routes which include stops at nearly all of Barcelona’s main tourist attractions. Buses come every 20 to 30 minutes. Tickets are valid on all routes and are sold on the bus along with an informative leaflet on the places you can visit. Alternatively, you can buy your bus tours online and print out a voucher which you present on the bus.
1) Northern Route (Red Line):
Plaça de Catalunya – Casa Batllo – Fundacio Antoni Tapies – Passeig de Gràcia /La Pedrera – Sagrada Família – Gracia – Parc Güell – Tramvia Blau/Tibidabo – Sarria – Monestir de Pedralbes/Col·lecció Thyssen – Palau Reial/Pavellons Guell – Fútbol Club Barcelona – Francesc Macià/Diagonal – Pelai/Centre d’Art Contemporani (MACBA).
2) Southern Route (Blue Line):
Plaça de Catalunya – Casa Batllo – Fundacio Antoni Tapies – Passeig de Gràcia /La Pedrera – Francesc Macià /Diagonal – Estació de Sants – Creu Coberta – Plaça d’Espanya – Caixa Forum/Pavello Van Der Rohe – Poble Espanyol – MNAC – Anella Olímpica – Funicular de Montjuïc – Fundació Joan Miró – Miramar/Jardins Costa i Llobera – World Trade Center – Colom/Museu Maritim – Port Vell – Museu d’Historia de Catalunya – Port Olímpic – Vila Olímpica – Place de la Citadel/Zoo – Pla de Palau – Barri Gòtic.
3) Forum Route (Green Line):
Port Olimpic – Platja del Bogatell – Forum – Parc Diagonal Mar – Poblenou (The Green Line only operates between March 14 and September 28)
Along with the Bus Turístic bus tour ticket you will also receive vouchers for significant discounts at various tourist attractions in Barcelona. Check the Bus Turístic website for more information.
Along the waterfront you’ll see cycle taxis known as Trixis which are a novel way to have a look around.