What are the different modes of transport in barcelona?
Barcelona has an wide range of high quality, public and private transport, connecting all neighborhoods in the city and the surrounding areas.
Transport Metropolitan de Barcelona (TMB) offers travel cards to suit different needs. The most common ones are the single ticket, a 10-journey ticket (T-casual) or a monthly ticket (T-usual), all of which work on the metro, trains, buses and trams. The price of the ticket varies depending on the number of zones, periods or journeys required.
types of transport
The Barcelona metro system has 12 different lines and 161 stations, with carriages running regularly every day, including the Funicular service. Each line is identified with an ‘L’, followed by it’s own individual colour and number. You can travel on any of its 12 lines with a standard metro ticket.
TMB (red logo) and FGC (orange logo) are the two logos you should look for in the street to find the entrance to a metro station.
All stops in Barcelona’s metro network are in Zone 1. This means that with even with a standard metro ticket, you can reach any metro station in the city. If you don’t have a ticket, you can buy one from the red ticket machines available (the current single ticket price is 2.40 euros). Remember to validate your ticket at the turnstiles, or you could receive a fine.
Tip: A ticket is valid for 75 minutes, during which time you can make as many line changes as you like without leaving the metro.
The metro runs from Monday-Sunday from 5am-midnight during the week, and until 2am on a weekend. During the day, you can expect the metro to arrive every 2 to 4 minutes, while at night they run less frequently and you can be waiting for up to 10 minutes.
There are 2 main tram lines in Barcelona, both of which are very well maintained and quiet compared to other methods of transport in the city:
- Trambaix (T1, T2, T3), which runs from Francesc Macià to the towns of Sant Just Desvern, Sant Joan Despí, Sant Feliu de Llobregat and Cornellà.
- Trambesòs (T4, T5, T6), which links Sant Adrià de Besòs and Badalona to Barcelona.
The tram system is also integrated into Barcelona’s single-fare system, meaning you can use any ticket purchased from the TMB.
Rodalies de Catalunya is the main commuter and regional rail system in Catalonia. It’s currently operated by FGC (the Catalan railway company that operates the suburban trains). Renfe is the Spanish railway company.
Trains run along the Costa Brava to Blanes, to the airport, along the coast via Castelldefels and Sitges all the way to Tarragona. All of these lines meet in Barcelona, where they travel underground and are integrated into the public transport network. There are also underground connections between the stations of the Metro, Renfe and FGC.
The city’s current main terminal train station is Barcelona Sants.
Tip: All tickets, as well as unlimited journey tickets, must be validated before boarding the train. You will not be able to enter the platform without validating. Remember to keep your ticket until you have left the station.
The buses in Barcelona operate on over 100 routes and connect all of the city’s districts and surrounding areas. There are also Interurban buses which connect Barcelona with other municipalities in Catalonia, companies such as Sagalés, Moventis and Teisa provide these. Buses in Barcelona are highly efficient and easy to use, they are adapted for people with reduced mobility and information regarding the next stops and transfers is provided inside the vehicles.
Buses usually run from 5am-10pm and the running times and frequency of service are shared at the bus stops.
Remember that you must validate your travel card in the machine on board. If you do not have a ticket you can buy one from the driver.
Barcelona also has a night-bus service (Nit Bus) which serves most of the city and its suburban area. You can identify the night buses with the letter N on the front (for example, N12). The night-bus service usually starts around 10pm and ends between 5am-6am. They all stop at or depart from Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya.
Tip: Buses must be entered through the front door and exited using the rear doors.
Taxis in Barcelona are yellow and black, with a green light on top indicating if they are free. However, there are private taxi companies such as Cabify where you can book beforehand online.
Taxi fares in Barcelona are quite cheap compared to other major European cities but this does depend on the time of day and whether or not it is a public holiday. There are additional fees for luggage and for trips to and from the airport, cruise-ship terminal and Fira Barcelona. Fares are displayed on the taximeter, and are usually charged per kilometre.
You can usually pay by credit card or cash, but it’s always better to have some cash on you just in case.
Barcelona is an extremely bicycle-friendly city with numerous bicycle paths. There are also many bike parking stands, signage, traffic lights, and lane dividers to protect you from motorists.
Bicing is an urban bicycle-sharing company operating in Barcelona. Residents with a yearly membership can simply swipe their card at a Bicing station to unlock and use a bicycle.
For a membership fee of 50€ per year, the Bicing system is designed to complement other means of public transportation. For this reason, Bicing bicycles can be used for a maximum of 2 hours per ride.
Anyone over 18 with a valid driving license from their home country can legally drive in Spain for a short period of time. For Non-EU/EEA citizens, this applies for the first six months after moving to Spain and gaining residency. For EU/EEA nationals, it’s two years.
The motorways (autopistes and autovies) are the fastest way of getting to Barcelona. Along each motorway there will be toll roads identified by their blue signs.
Alternative routes to get around Catalonia involve using county and national roads, although these are generally slower. County roads can be identified by the letter C, national roads by an N and local roads by an E.
Tip: For Brits, remember that in Spain you must drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Scooters & Motorbikes
Scooters and motorbikes (more commonly known as ‘motos’) are another popular method of transport in Barcelona.
The general rules regarding licences are the same as those for cars (please see above).
However, there are stricter rules when it comes to parking, for example when it is not possible to park in the street and where there is not specific signage prohibiting it, you can park on the pavement only under the certain conditions.
Cruise ships & ferries
Port Vell in Barcelona is the largest cruise ship port in the Mediterranean, with seven international passenger terminals and four ferry terminals. It has links to the Balearic Islands and other major Mediterranean ports.
Ferries leave daily for the Balearic Islands, and there are also direct links with various ports on the Italian coast and Tangiers.
All terminals have good connections with the city’s public transport network. In particular, the T3 PORTBUS shuttle takes cruise passengers from Plaza de Colón in central Barcelona to terminals A, B, C and D on the Adossat wharf. Ticket prices are €3 for a single and €4 for a round-trip ticket.
Airports in Barcelona
Barcelona International Airport (also known as El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto) is the closest and busiest airport to Barcelona city centre. Below are several ways to reach the city centre from the airport:
Taking a taxi from the airport is a low cost and convenient way to get to the city centre, especially if you’re travelling in a large group or you have a lot of luggage. You will be able to find a taxi rank outside any of the main terminal exits.
The RENFE train will take you from Barcelona airport directly to the city centre where you can change for the metro system at either Barcelona Sants (Sants Estació) or Passeig de Gràcia stations. The train station is based at T2 in-between T2A and T2B.
You can also get to the airport via the L9 metro line. There are two stops at Barcelona airport which are called: Aeroport T1 and Aeroport T2.
Tip: When travelling by train or metro, you cannot purchase a regular ticket to get to and from the airport. Instead, you must buy an airport train ticket for €4.60, or a metro airport ticket for €5.15.
Another option is to take the Aerobús, the official shuttle bus service which connects Barcelona Airport T1 & T2 with Plaça España or Plaça de Catalunya in the city centre. You can either purchase tickets online beforehand or when you get on the bus, prices are €5.90 for a single or €10.20 for a return ticket.
The TMB bus no.46 bus travels from the city centre stopping first at T2 and then continuing on to T1. The big advantage of using this bus is that you don’t have to purchase a special ticket and you can use the T-Casual ticket.