Whether you’re in Barcelona for a short or long term stay, you want to be able to enjoy a smooth and hassle free ride from A to B.
Thankfully, Barcelona is fantastically simple to navigate your way around due to it being one of the most compact and densely populated cities within Europe. Despite where you’re heading to, it’s unlikely that it’ll be more than a 45 minute walk away, making it pretty hard to lose your bearings in the Catalan capital, especially with Montjuïc and the Mediterranean sea as your points of reference.
Fortunately, Barcelona also has an extremely efficient public transport system that’ll seamlessly take you from one corner of the city to another. But who says travelling has to be a monotonous task and a dreaded part of the day? Why not make it a part of your experience in Barcelona and enjoy travelling around this beautiful city either by foot or bicycle. What’s more, why not try something new whilst in Barcelona and see its stunning sights whilst riding a Segway?
Either way, there’s a multitude of possibilities for how you can get around Barcelona, however, we’ve provided an insider’s insight into the best methods of transport when it comes to this city.
Train (Metro and FGC)
The metro is undeniably one of the quickest, easiest and most convenient ways of getting around the city. You’ll find that, on the whole, one of the diamond-shaped signs wearing an ‘M’ mark, signaling the location of a metro station, is only a stone’s throw away from wherever you may be. The metro system consists of 11 colour-coded lines, including the recently introduced L9 which takes you directly to the airport, making stops near many of the city’s most popular attractions.
There are a variety of ticket options available, however, it’d be advisable to purchase the T-10 ticket. This offers access to all five of the city’s main transport systems and is valid for a total of 10 trips. It can be shared by two or more people, therefore even if you’re here for just the weekend, it’s unlikely that you won’t fully utilise your ticket. At just 9.95€, it is extremely reasonable compared to the price of a single journey ticket for 2.15€.
All metro lines operate from 5am to midnight Monday to Thursday, Sunday and public holidays; 5am to 2am Friday; and non-stop on Saturday. Be aware that you have to pay extra to take the L9 all the way to the airport.
Barcelona also has an urban and metropolitan rail network which is run by the Catalan government. If you’re planning to travel further afield to the Barcelona suburbs, FGC trains are a great way of getting around via one of their three lines: the L6, L7 or L8. If you’re staying in the city, two underground lines connect with the metro, one from Plaça Catalunya and the other from Plaça d'Espanya.
Why not be smart about your sightseeing and burn a few calories whilst you’re at it? Conducting your tour of Barcelona on foot allows you to enjoy the city up-close and not to mention is one of the most environmentally friendly means of transportation. It’s ideal for visiting all those tucked away areas of Barcelona such as the Gothic Quarter and the Born district where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, bars and boutique shopping streets in the city.
Being such a picturesque city, it’ll always be a pleasant stroll, no matter which part of the city that you’re in. Plus, in the summer months, when the weather is hitting the 35 degree mark, being in a sweltering underground metro station may possibly be one of the most unpleasant experiences you’ll have during your time in Barcelona. So, unless you’re travelling a considerable distance, think twice before investing in a travel card and walk when possible.
Biking around the city is another fantastic option regarding sightseeing purposes and what’s more, also environmentally friendly. With an expanding number of fully integrated cycle lanes and plenty of open spaces and parks, namely Parc de la Ciutadella, it’s a fun and enjoyable way to discover the city. Seeing the city on foot can be somewhat exhausting and time consuming so this is a great alternative and a fabulous suggestion for a family activity.
You can either participate in organised excursions or rent a bike from one of the countless places located throughout the city so you can explore the city at your own leisurely pace. Otherwise, if you’re in Barcelona for a while and have an address in the city, your best bet would be to join the Bicing scheme provided by the city council. Hundreds of community bikes are parked in racks across the city (they’re hard to miss), and you pay 30 Euros a year to use a bike for 30 minutes free of charge. If you’d like to exceed the half an hour, you have the option of paying 50 cents per 30 minutes thereafter.
It would be foolish not to take advantage of Barcelona’s easy-to-use and affordable city buses. Depending on where you are on the city, they tend to be frequent and a relatively quick way of getting you from A to B without the train hopping that can often be involved with using the metro system. The main problem with using the bus system, however, is that it’s more prone to delays due to the intense city traffic. What’s more, you can use your T-10 journey card on Barcelona’s buses.
There are night buses that run all night, which are particularly useful to those enjoying Barcelona’s nightlife scene during the week when the metro is closed. They also often run in areas not covered by the metro system which minimises the need to walk long distances late at night making it the safer option.
The bus service, Aerobús, is simply fantastic. It is the official shuttle bus service that connects Barcelona-El Prat Airport (both Terminal 1 and 2) with the city centre (Plaça Catalunya) in 35 minutes. The bus makes 3 other stops: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Plaça Universitat and runs 365 days of the year. Buses run very frequently, approximately every 5 minutes. A single costs 5.90€ and a return is 10.20€. Tickets can be purchased either at the bus stop, on the bus or online.
It’s simply not worth the hassle hiring a rental car and driving around the city yourself. Much of Barcelona is made up of narrow streets that were designed and constructed before the automobile was even invented, making areas like the Gothic Quarter virtually inaccessible by car. Depending on the month, parking in a congested city like Barcelona can be somewhat impossible and has no overriding benefits to using another method of transport. Even if you’re planning trips outside the city, you’re better off steering clear from driving and going via the FGC system.
Taxis, on the other hand, are great if you’re in a rush or as a method of transport after a night out on the town. Unfortunately, being in the middle of a city, they can be pricey, however they do accept card payments so don’t worry about having to take large amounts of cash out with you. As expected, they are more expensive after 8pm and at weekends and public holidays.
Ever wanted to glide through the streets of Barcelona? Learn how to do it like a pro with Barcelona Segway tours. Supposedly as fast as cycling, without the effort, the standard tour offered includes 2 hours of segwaying fun. The trip will take you on a 12.5km tour from the city’s old down to the modern promenade at Barceloneta beach. At 59€, it makes for the ideal present for your loved one who wants to explore Barcelona with a twist.
Unique tours in Barcelona
There are a few unique ways to tour around Barcelona, if you're looking for a few different tour groups to join, check out the below options:
Tip: book your accommodation in Barcelona in advance as hotels can full up quickly! Read our extensive Barcelona Accommodation Guide if you're looking for somewhere to stay while in Barcelona!
Travel tip shared by Sara Siddeeq from Apartment Barcelona