Updated April 2016
Public transport in Barcelona consists of metro, bus, tram and train networks and generally works very well. Taxis are also a popular option, often proving cheaper than in other places, although rates have risen steadily in recent years. Private vehicles are more problematic due to cost and availability of parking and traffic.
Buses are a commonly used mode of transportation in Barcelona and a good alternative to the city’s metro (underground) system. Buses can be used to reach most destinations around the city, which are shown on the screen on the front of the bus. The bus schedule, map and separate line routes can be checked at the bus stop.
Thanks to the internet and mobile technology, the bus service is becoming increasingly easy to use. The TMB website, (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), the TMB app and www.emt-amb.com (Entitat Metropolitana del Transport) offer bus and metro maps, schedules and route planners. The TMB website and app also offer a ‘Where Am I?’ feature that allows you to type in your location (or bus stop number) and provides you with directions to the nearest bus/metro stop and details of buses en route. Both websites and the app are available in Spanish and English and offer additional information on tickets and nightbus (Nit Bus) schedules. You can also use iBus, a tool from tmb.net that tells you when the next bus will arrive. For more information on the TMB app click here. The app is available for iphones and androids and can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
Note: The same ticket is valid for the bus service, the metro system, Renfe trains and FGC trains (the latter two serve the city and the surrounding area). You can purchase tickets at any electronic kiosk in metro stations as well as in lottery shops, newsagent kiosks, and Servicaixa machines. When you get on the bus, validate your ticket in one of the machines positioned behind the driver. It will show the time, date and number of journeys remaining on your ticket.
Prices are as follows (for 2016 and for zone one, which covers the whole city):
- Single journey: €2.15 (Only available to purchase at the transport outlets—on bus, at metro station, etc.)
- T-10 (10 journeys that can be used by up to 10 people): €9.95
- T 50/30 (50 trips in 30 consecutive days): €42.50
- T-Dia (Unlimited travel for one day): €8.40
- T-Mes (Unlimited travel for one month): €52.75
- Tourist tickets are also available (includes bus, metro, FGC trains, tram and zone one local trains, Rodalies): two days unlimited travel—€14; three days unlimited travel—€20.50; four days unlimited travel—€26.50; five days unlimited travel—€32
NB. all multi-purpose public transport tickets are good for a free transfer between transport modes (eg from bus to metro or train to tram) within a one hour and 15 minute window from when you first validate your ticket.
Barcelona’s metro system is impressive, with easily navigable signs and colour-coded lines as well as easy-to-follow line maps inside each car that illuminate each stop as it arrives. Metro trains run about every three to five minutes and are generally very reliable. Well-lit stations feel safe at any hour and well-marked exit signs (Sortida) help direct the flow of foot-traffic. The metro system is open Sunday-Thursday 5am-midnight, Friday 5am-2am and 24 hours on Saturday.
Trains in Barcelona are primarily used for regional and national trips, and offer a convenient and affordable way to travel to neighbouring towns and cities as well as to El Prat (Barcelona International) Airport. Trains run between the airport and the centre every 20-30 minutes. National train company Renfe operates trains to various towns and cities, including the high-speed AVE (to Madrid and France), as well as overnight trains to France and Italy. Renfe schedules are posted online and can be checked by date or destination.
Barcelona Sants Estació is the city's largest Renfe train station and posts schedules on overhead screens. Schedules are also posted at the Plaça de Catalunya and França stations. Renfe offers an app that allows you to check routes and timetables among other things, for more information, click here.
The Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) trains are more locally based and serve the Barcelona metropolitan area and its suburbs. Schedules are posted online and at the FGC stations, such as Provença, Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça de Espanya. An FGC app is also available that provides timetable information and allows you to find your nearest station.
Tickets: Tickets for travel on the FGC and to towns within the designated metropolitan area of Barcelona are the same as those used for the metro and bus systems (see above). For tickets outside this area, check ticket prices online or at kiosks in the stations mentioned above. Tickets can be bought at FGC and Metro ticket machines and ticket offices, Servicaixa, and newsagent kiosks. Sants has the widest range of ticket-purchasing options, but be prepared to queue.
The town of Sitges is a popular day trip from Barcelona and can easily be reached by train or bus. The three main stations that go to Sitges are Estació de França, Passeig de Gràcia and Sants Estació and the journey takes around 40 minutes.
The bus Sitges stops at Ronda Universitat, Sepúlveda/Urgell and Plaça Espanya among other places. For a full list of stops click here. Tickets costs around €4 one way.
Barcelona and Sitges have recently been connected by a new sea link. The boat company, BlueMar, has a terminal close to the bottom of Las Ramblas, and the ferry takes you from Barcelona to the Port de Sitges Aiguadolç in less than an hour. General tickets are priced at €17 for a one-way trip, or a return ticket can be bought for €29. More information here.
Trains leave from Plaça Espanya to Montserrat every hour from 8.36am. It’s then possible to connect with the funicular or the cable car to get to the top of Montserrat. The train alone costs €5.10 each way. In Plaça Espanya you can buy a combined ticket that includes the train fare and the trip in cable car or funicular up to the top of the mountain. The two tickets cost the same (€11.40), but it’s important to specify which you want when you buy as the two aren’t interchangeable. You will need to get off the train at Montserrat Aeri for the cable car, and Monistrol for the funicular.
The tram is the newest addition to Barcelona’s modes of public transportation, although its limited routes mean it still has some catching up to do. But if you are travelling near Avinguda Diagonal and Parc de la Ciutadella then the tram and its three lines may be a more convenient form of travel for you and a nice break from the metro or bus. Because the tram has its own rail it is quick and efficient and rarely strays from its schedule, which can be checked on www.trambcn.com (Tel. 902 19 32 75) or via the app.
For a more traditional tram journey, take the Tramvia Blau, an old-fashioned style of tram, which runs from Avinguda Tibidabo (get there on the FGC) up to the Funicular of Tibidabo. This cable car then takes you up to the theme park overlooking Barcelona.
Tickets can be bought at tram stops, and the multi-purpose metro/bus tickets described above are also transferable.
Taxis are many in Barcelona, relatively affordable and convenient when you want to reach a particular destination or anytime after midnight or 2am, when public transportation becomes less frequent. Hailing a taxi will work fine as long as the black and yellow cab has its green light on and a ‘lliure’ or ‘libre’ sign, which means it's empty and ready for business. Fares are non-negotiable and vary between day and night trips. There is a minimum fee of €2.10 when you get in the cab, and it’s generally €1.10 to €1.40 per km after that.
There are additional supplements for: Friday to Sunday nights between midnight and 6am (€2); €1 for each bag or suitcase that you put in the boot of the taxi; going to or from the airport (€3.10); and to or from Sants station (where the high-speed AVE train currently stops), the Fira de Barcelona, and the Cruise Ship quay (all €2.10), amongst other extras. For full info on fares and supplements, click here.
Private vehicle parking
Parking in Barcelona can be difficult, even for residents. There are two parking zones for street parking (blue and green, azul and verde) regulated by the Barcelona Serveis Municipals company (B:SM). Parking in the blue zone is pay and display for the general public and tickets to can be bought at nearby parking machines for short-term stays only.
Green zones are reserved for those with resident stickers, and are offered at a discounted price (see www.bcn.cat/areaverda). B:SM also owns about 45 car parks around the city, which offer subscriptions that can be bought for a discounted price. Street parking cards are also available from B:SM. The ‘Hora Plus’ loyalty card is free and gives one hour free parking for every 10 hours in any B:SM car park (valid for one year). The ‘Parking Card’ can be purchased and allows users to pay a flat-rate charge for unlimited parking for 1 (€20), 3 (€45), 5 (€57) or 7 (€69) consecutive days, enabling people to come and go from different car parks as they want. For more information and to buy a Parking Card click here.
Private car parks are available around the city, but can be very expensive, especially those located in the centre.
Other transport options
Montjuïc cable car: €8 single for adults; €12 adult return; €6.20 child single; €8.80 child return
Port cable car: Another cable car can be caught from the end of Passeig de Joan de Borbó that takes you across the port to Montjuïc (or vice versa). This runs from Oct-Feb 11am-5.30pm; March-May 10.30am-7pm; June-Sept 10.30am-8pm. One way costs €11 and a return is €16.50.
Barcelona tourist bus: adult one-day ticket—€28; child one-day ticket—€16; adult two-day ticket—€39; child two-day ticket—€20
Cycling is a popular and pleasant way of moving across the city. For Barcelona residents, a public bike sharing initiative is in place called Bicing. Residents become a member through the website, at a cost of €47.16 a year. A card is then sent to the member’s house, which when swiped at one of 420 bike stations allows the member to take a bike. Use of the bike is free for the first half an hour, then 74 cents for every additional thirty minutes up to two hours, after which a penalty of €4.49 is payable. When finished with the bike, members simply lock it into the nearest available bike station.
There are four main options for getting to and from El Prat International Airport: taxi, bus (Aerobus), train or metro. However, if you land at Terminal 1 (including Iberia, British Airways, KLM, Air France, Continental, Delta, SAS, US Airways and Vueling) you will first have to take a bus to Terminal 2 to catch the train, which will add some time to your journey.
To and from the airport, you will have to pay a supplement of €3.10 on top of the metre fare; if you put suitcases in the boot of the car, there will also be a €1 charge per bag. Although the final cost of the journey will depend on where you're going, you should expect to pay approximately €25-30.
There are stops at both terminals for the Aerobus, although there are separate routes for each. The A1 goes to terminal one, whilst the A2 serves terminal two. Going into the city, both the A1 and A2 stop at: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Plaça Universitat and Plaça Catalunya. Going from the city to the airport, the stops are: Plaça Catalunya, Sepúlveda-Urgell, Plaça Espanya. The bus fare is €5.90 one way and €10.20 return (valid for up to nine days after purchase). Either buy your ticket on the bus (exact change preferred, €20 largest note accepted) or with a credit card at the machines at the airport or in Plaça Catalunya.
A new metro line (L9) that goes to both terminals of the airport opened in February year. It should be noted, however, that this metro line starts in Zona Universitària (at the end of L3), which isn’t in the city centre, meaning that if you’re staying in the centre other forms of transport could be quicker. A single ticket to the airport on the metro costs €4.50.
Additional travel app
Citymapper. A popular route-planner app not officially affiliated with any of the transport networks in Barcelona. Particularly useful as it covers all transport networks in one app (metro, bus, trains, tram, cycling, walking), saving the need for several separate apps.