Barcelona is fantastically simple to get around, for various reasons. Firstly, its size – it’s one of the most compact and densely populated cities in Europe, so if you’re in the centre it’s rare that anything you need is more than a 20-minute walk away. Secondly, its topography, which means that you can almost always see where you are in relation to Montjuïc to the south-west, the sea to the south, and the Collserola range of hills to the north, marked by the Disneyesque church on the highest peak. Locals use mar and muntanya (sea and mountain) for orientation.
For information on getting in and out of the airport, see my Barcelona flights page.
Single tickets – 1.45 euros. Available on the bus, at metro stations or tram stops.
T-10 – 8.25 euros. Shareable pass with ten journeys. Validate the ticket in the machine on the bus or tram, or use it to get through the ticket barriers at metro stations. The ticket is valid for free transfers on to all forms of public transport up to 75 minutes after this point. Available at metro stations, estancos (government-run cigarette shops), newspaper kiosks and yellow ServiCaixa cashpoints.
T-Día – 6.20 euros. A one-day travelcard. Available as the T-10, above.
T-Mes – 51 euros. Unlimited travel for 30 days. Available as the T-10 above.
2-, 3-, 4- and 5-Dies. 11.50 euros, 16.50 euros, 21 euros and 25 euros. Two-, 3-, 4- and 5-day travelcards. Available at tourist offices and metro ticket machines.
For the Barcelona Card, which integrates unlimited public transport with discounts on sights and leisure, and the Bus Turístic tourist bus, see Barcelona insider tips.
The six metro lines and FGC train system are completely integrated, but FGC trains tend to continue further afield to the suburbs. The metro runs until midnight from Monday to Thursday, 2am on Friday and non-stop on Saturday.
Buses are frequent and relatively quick. Useful routes are:
7 runs up Passeig de Gràcia and along Avda Diagonal
22 runs from the centre up to the convent at Pedralbes
24 runs up Passeig de Gràcia to Park Güell
39 runs along the beach, through the centre and up to Gràcia
45 runs from the beach to Plaça Urquinaona
50 runs from Montjuïc to the Sagrada Família, via Gran Via.
The new, swish trams are not terribly useful to the visitor, with the possible exception of the line that runs from the far side of the Parc de la Ciutadella up to Plaça de les Glòries and along to Diagonal-Mar shopping centre.
Taxis (black and yellow, with a green light to indicate they are free) are no longer as cheap as they were, and nowadays are mostly only used when real necessity strikes. To get from the beach to Passeig de Gràcia, say, costs about 7 euros. They are more expensive after 8pm and at weekends and public holidays. Taxi drivers are famously reluctant to change anything bigger than a 20 euro note.
If you’re staying in the centre you may find you have no need of public transport at all. Even when a bit of a walk is involved, such as down to the beaches, it’s still a pleasant stroll, so think twice before investing in the more expensive travelcards. Exercise caution at road crossings; Spanish drivers are often blind to pedestrians and red lights.
There are countless bike hire places around town (ask at a tourist office for the nearest), and Barcelona has an expanding number of cycle lanes. If you are in Barcelona for a while, and have an address in the city, it’s worth joining the Bicing scheme, whereby hundreds of community bikes are parked in racks next to metro stations, transport hubs and other points of interest. You pay 30 euros a year and can use the bikes for free for 30 minutes and 50 cents per 30 minutes thereafter. See www.bicing.com for details.