You’ve booked your flight, hotel and are finally planning your trip to Barcelona. Congrats and welcome to the land of beach sunsets, Gaudi and never-ending tapas! But before you buy your tickets to La Sagrada Familia, you might be wondering how to even get there. We’ve put together this guide for getting around Barcelona to help you navigate the city's transport system like a pro.
Do: Think about how you want to get from the airport to your hotel
There are quite a few ways to get from the airport to Barcelona’s city center. Depending on your budget or how fast you want to get to your hotel, you can choose from taking a taxi, the metro system, or the Aerobus.
Taxi: The most expensive yet comfortable means of transport is to hail a taxi from the airport using the MyTaxi app. Taxis are great because you can get your own private transportation after a long haul flight. Spain isn’t a tipping country like the U.S. but if you feel like your taxi driver did an extraordinary job (help you lug your so-overweight-that-you-paid-an-extra-fee” suitcase), you can tip a few euros in addition to the standard rate (which will hover between €30-40).
Aerobus: The budget-friendly Aerobus shuttles between Terminals 1 and 2 and Plaza Catalunya.
Metro: If you're traveling light, you might want to consider the least expensive option—taking Barcelona's metro L9 line from either Terminal 1 or 2 to the city center.
Don’t: Try to get an Uber
Sorry folks, put your Uber app away because the ride-sharing platform has been suspended in Catalonia, including Barcelona. Ever since these apps emerged onto the transportation scene, tension between Uber and traditional taxis in Barcelona skyrocketed and even turned violent last year during a two-day strike. So for the time being, look for other ways to get around on public transport.
Do: Walk around and experience Barcelona
Getting around a new city might be daunting, but walking is one of the best ways to get familiar and more comfortable with your new surroundings—as well as the tourist attractions. It's one of our favorite transport options in Barcelona! And if you get lost, don’t sweat it because you’ll eventually find your way—and you might even find a cute new concept store or the most Instragrammable medieval archway. And there's bound to be handful of metro stations close by at all times as well.
If you’re in the Gothic Quarter and need to orient yourself, remember that Las Ramblas, Via Laietana and Plaza Catalunya are the major streets and plazas. If you’re a bit further north, Avinguda Diagonal is the main avenue that separates the Gracia neighborhood from the L’Eixample neighborhood (it’s also one of the longest avenues in the city)—so if you find yourself crossing this street just keep in mind that you’re heading from one neighborhood to another. And Passeig de Gracia runs north to south, so if you’re in the L’Eixample and need to get to the Gothic Quarter (or vice versa), keep walking along this avenue as a guiding path to find your way.
But if you’re SO over walking and need to get somewhere ASAP, look out for the red and white metro signs to hop on the metro and call it a day.
Don’t: Forget that the metro closes after midnight
The Barcelona metro is one of the most reliable in the world and is a great way to get from place to place, but unfortunately it does not run for 24 hours. The metro lines currently run from 5 AM to midnight, so keep that in mind when planning post-midnight adventures. But for daytime sightseeing or wandering, you can either purchase a single ticket (€2.20) or a 10-journey ticket (€10.20). And if you want to ride the metro multiple times for consecutive days, definitely check out the Hola BCN Tourist Travel Card (unlimited metro rides on Barcelona’s public transportation system for consecutive days).
2-Day Card (48 hours from first use): €15.20
3-Day Card (72 hours from first use): €22.20
4-Day Card (96 hours from first use): €28.80
5-Day Card (120 hours from first use): €35.40
For late-night transportation, consider the night-bus system (Nit Bus), which departs from Barcelona's Plaça de Catalunya. The bus stops running between 5and 6am, making it a go-to option for all the night owls out there.
Pro tip: You can also take advantage of the Barcelona bus during the day, as there's over 100 routes that connect the various neighborhoods—with a free transfer within a period of 1 hour and 15 minutes. Because the system is integrated under the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB), your Barcelona card/T10 Card (which you can easily purchase at any train station) can be used across the metro, tram, FGC, and Renfe trains in zone 1.
Do: Explore the city on two wheels
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore Barcelona by bike. Join a tour or, if you don’t need a guide, take in the coastal Catalan breeze as you cycle down the promenade at Barceloneta beach.
We recommend Fat Tire Tours or Steel Donkey Bike Tour for guided tours or, if you’d rather rent a bike, you can choose from: Barcelona Rent a Bike, Green Bikes or Born Bike. If you’re feeling adventurous, blend in with local Barcelonians and rent a Vespa with Via Vespa.
Now that we’ve given you the rundown on how to get around Barcelona, you can travel around the city like a pro—but first, check out our complete travel guide to Spain (Madrid included) with info on transportation, geography, currency and useful Spanish phrases.