The Barcelona public transport system has so many options it can get downright confusing.
Here are some simple solutions to get around the city, see what you need to see, and save money.
What Barcelona Travel Card is Right for Me?
First: get a discount travel card or you’ll be hemorrhaging money left right and centre.
To figure out which Barcelona travel card is right for you I’ve made a list below – so you can spend more time planning a real Barcelona itinerary than worrying how you’re gonna pay for the bus!
All Barcelona travel card options include access to the following:
- City buses
- Ferrocarril (overground rail services)
- Trains from the airport to the city center
- The Montjuïc funicular (not to be confused with the Montjuïc Cable Car)
Keep in mind if you’re traveling outside zone one (which is rare since zone one is MASSIVE) you’ll need to pay extra. Those of you with kids? You’ll be happy to know kids under four travel free.
The Hola BCN Card
The Hola BCN card is a discount travel card with unlimited travel so you won’t have to worry about buying new tickets. It comes with a 48, 72, 96, or 120 hour validity and prices vary from €13.77 to €32.01.
You can buy your Hola BCN card online from the Barcelona Tourism Office and pick it up at either airport terminal or in Plaça Catalunya. Just print out the vouchers or show it on your smart phone.
If you buy in advance online you’ll save 5%.
The Barcelona Card
This one is for more than just getting around and that’s why we’ve dedicated an entire article to this popular Barcelona travel card.
Like the Hola BCN this card comes with a 48, 72, 96, or 120 hour validity and prices range from €19.00 to €57.00.
If you buy in advance online you’ll save 5%.
The Online City Pass
On top of this you’ll get return tickets on the best Barcelona airport transport with Aerobus, a one or two day pass on the Bus Turistic, and a 20% discount to virtually every main attraction in Barcelona including restaurants, museums, flamenco shows, and more.
It also gives you 20% off the Hola BCN public transport pass.
It’s the only ticket that allows you to have the whole holiday planned from the comfort of home – all the tickets including the 20% discounted ones can be bought online which means no lines.
The mother of Barcelona public transport tickets among residents, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one for you. T-10 tickets cost €9.95 and include 10 public transport rides with a 1 hour and 15 minute validity.
This card is not valid for the metro from the airport. The T-10 ticket doesn’t expire and is ‘interpersonal’ meaning a group of friends can share the same ticket by stamping it once for every person traveling. It can be bought at every metro or train station.
A comparison? The mathematics say if you’re going to travel more than six times a day (very probable) the HolaBCN is the transport card to get.
The metro is fast, efficient, and air-conditioned!
It’s found in pretty much every area of the city. There aren’t signal failures like in London and you’ll always find access for people with disabilities. It’s quite intuitive and easy to navigate so basically… just take it!
Barcelona metro tickets can be bought at any station. Be sure to get one of the complimentary maps if you’re prone to getting lost – you’ll find them at almost every metro station.
Trains run every 2 to 3 minutes. On weekends you may wait 4 to 5 minutes for your train while nights after 10 o’ clock it runs at 7-8 minute intervals.
Barcelona Metro Timetable
- Sunday to Thursday from 5 am to 12 am
- Fridays from 5 am to 2 am
- Saturdays from 5 am non-stop!
Be sure to check out the Barcelona metro map for more information.
Buses and Night-Buses
Like the metro, buses and night buses cover the entire city grid.
In my opinion it’s a fascinating way to travel because it allows you to see the beauty of the city with the sun in your face, but there are also some prominent downsides that need to be mentioned:
- You’ll need an advanced sense of direction! If you live in a big city you won’t have trouble with buses but you’ll have to familiarize yourself all the lines and intricate maps at every bus stop.
- Slower than the metro
- You may have to stand
- If you don’t have a Barcelona transport card each ride will cost you €2.15
Barcelona’s red buses run every 8-15 minutes from 5 am to 10 pm depending on the line. At night you’ll find the yellow nit bus (night bus) which runs every 20-30 minutes.
This website will help you find your bus but be careful setting the filters before your search.
Starting from January 2017 all Barcelona buses should have free wifi – just don’t expect supersonic speeds 😉
I’m happy to report that taking a taxi in Barcelona is remarkably simple.
On main streets I rarely wait more than a minute. Barcelona taxis are black and yellow and a green light indicates a cab is available while a yellow light indicates they’re taken.
Prices are affordable. Consider 8-15 euros as the average price for rides within the city. From the airport to the city center you’ll be charged about €35 to €45. Every driver must use a meter but it’s possible that at the end of the ride you’ll be charged a slightly higher price.
Don’t get upset… everything is under control! It may be an extra charge applied for rides to the airport, for carrying luggage or night fares. The biggest risk is them taking you for a little longer of a ride than expected, but this isn’t common and taxi drivers are usually honest.
The Tourist Bus
This is the best way to see Barcelona if you’re not up for long walks or you’re traveling with kids.
This bus drops you off right in front of virtually every main attraction in the city and has a roofless upper deck where you’ll get a great 360 degree view. Read our article on Barcelona’s famous Bus Turístic for more info!
Cable Cars and Funicular
What the heck is the difference anyway!? 😉 Allow me.
Montjuïc Cable Car
With unspoiled views from 184 metres above the city, the emblematic Poble Espanyol, and its famous castle no trip would be complete without a trip up Montjuïc and this is a great way to do it in style!
Float 84.5 metres above the city and take in the incredible city views as you ride the Montjuïc cable car. The 750 metre run leaves from Avenida Miramar and stops at Montjuïc park and Montjuïc Castle.
Unfortunately the Montjuïc cable car isn’t included with any Barcelona travel card; a return ticket costs €10.80 per for adults and €7.92 for children between 4 and 12.
If you buy tickets online the Barcelona Tourism Office will give you a 10% discount.
Just print out the vouchers that they email you and head straight for the cable car. To get there you’ll need to take the funicular, the Bus Turistic, or bus 150.
Port Vell Cable Car
Not to be mistaken with the Montjuïc cable car, even if this one takes you on a magical ride high above Barcelona as well. This one was built in 1926 and its distinctly ‘antique’ cars are a dead giveaway of this.
It isn’t included in any of the travel cards either and has the disadvantage of being sold solely in person – you’ll have to line up at ticket counters to go. Tickets cost €11 one way and €16.50 return. Consult their departure schedules online.
The Port Vell Cable Car leaves from the Torre de San Sebastién, a few steps away from the beaches of Barceloneta and stops halfway at Torre di Jaime I (the port) and continues to Avenida Miramar at the foot of Montjuïc.
The Montjuïc Funicular
The less refined way up the mountain 😉 The good news? It’s valid with any Barcelona travel card. You won’t get a view since it’s more like a type of covered metro that slowly moves uphill, but we’re taking this for value anyway.
The funicular is caught at Parallel (green line L3) metro station and leaves you at Avenida Miramar where the Montjuïc cable car leaves.
Bike, Skateboard, or Rollerblades
You might just have to scrap all those Barcelona public transport tickets! The climate is so mild that getting around Barcelona by one of these alternative methods is not only possible, it’s suggested.
Bike lanes are almost everywhere.
You’ll find bike or rollerblade rentals in any tourist area but for the cheapest and most reliable service check out my article on Barcelona bike rentals.
CAREFUL: the red and white bikes you’ll spot around the city (Bicing) are only for residents.
Barcelona Scooter Rental
Can’t you just imagine yourself cruising around all Mediterranean-like by renting a scooter?
Cooltra is the highest ranking scooter rental agency on Tripadvisor and is known for its reliable service and rigorous safety and inspection standards.
This is an extremely cheap and efficient way to get around town – just make sure to wear a helmet or you could end up with a €100 fine 🙂
Get at Me in the Comments Below
You must be exhausted after all that reading, how did you find it?
Let me save you even more time – if you’ve got any questions about discount Barcelona travel cards, any particular method of transport, or anything else regarding your holiday in Spain get at me now in the comments below.