Moving around Barcelona
Barcelona’s public transportation network is actually quite good, covering the city very well. It has 11 metro lines plus dozens of bus lines which will take you to every corner of the city. Here are the rules of thumb to move around Barcelona on public transportation. A good help is the Barcelona Metropolitan Transportation website.
Fares are integrated, which means it is the same ticket for bus, metro and trains.
The first rule is: do not buy single tickets. They are outrageously expensive (2.15€ for a single ride) and on top of it you cannot transfer with them. So never get those, and go for the immensely popular T-10. This just means you get 10 trips in a single card, and it costs only 10,30€, so the price per ticket is less than half of the single ticket. Just using it for 5 trips is already cheaper than the single tickets. And it can be shared, so if two people travel together, just validate the card twice. Plus, the T-10 lets you transfer from one transport to another (metro-to-bus-to-train) for 1:15 hours since the validation. This means that if you take a metro and in less than 1:15 you ride a bus, the card won’t be charged with another trip. This gets important if you need metro lines L6, L7 and L8, which are disconnected from the main metro network, so you can transfer to and from them during 1:15. The other eight lines are connected underground without exiting the metro system. You can buy T-10s at the metro stops, newsstands and tobacco shops. Buses DO NOT sell T-10s.
Traveling to the outskirts of the city has a system of six concentric zones with prices increasing as you travel more zones. But there is still T-10s (multiple zone) which are cheaper than the single rides.
Metro is extremely convenient and fast, with trains running at three-minute intervals during the day. Most important metro lines are L1, L5 (parallel to the coastline) and L3, L4 (perpendicular). Expect crowds on those lines, especially at rush hour. The metro runs from 5:00am to midnight on weekdays, to 2:00am on Friday nights, and all night on Saturday.
The bus network is very complete and useful, it’s more likely that a bus line takes you closer to your destination than the metro. Buses run very often (10 minute interval times) all day. There is a special Night bus network, different from the daytime one, which may be the best (or the cheapest) way to move around the city very late at night.
Find PDF maps of Metro and bus in www.tmb.cat/es/el-teu-transport.
Plaça Catalunya (Catalonia Square), just a five-minute walk from CCCB, is the center of the city, with four metro lines (L1, L3, L6 and L7) converging there (Catalunya station), together with the commuter train and countless bus lines.
Commuter trains are convenient if they go near your destination, they have just a few stations in the city. They are not recommended to move around the city, metro and buses are much better.
The same way, the bicycle rental system (Bicing) is meant for residents and not visitors. Membership costs 45€ and it is necessary to show city residency. If you are in Barcelona for a week, you can’t use it.
The most convenient link to the airport is the Aerobus, although it is a bit expensive (6€). It connects Plaça Catalunya with the terminals, line A1 to terminal 1 and line A2 to terminal 2. Runs every 5 minutes most of the day, from 5am to 1am, with slightly lower frequency very early and very late. Check its website www.aerobusbcn.com.
Cheaper ways to get to the airport include trains and city bus. Trains run every half hour, but a great inconvenience is that so far (may be fixed by 2016 but we don’t know) they only go to Terminal 2, with a shuttle bus taking you to terminal 1. We recommend the Aerobus instead.
City bus 46 runs from Plaça Espanya (metro Espanya L1 and L3) to the airport every 20 minutes. This bus is slow (about 45 minutes), with lots of stops, but with the advantage that it is included in your T10. So a trip costs 1.03€. If you have enough time and a couple rides left on the T10, take 46 to the airport. Goes to both ternminals, T2 first and T1 after that.
Taxis are less expensive than you think, especially if you ride three or four people. A regular trip within the city should cost between 6 and 10 euros, maybe 15 for a long ride from one end to the other or stopping a lot in traffic. Costs 2,10 getting in, plus costs per kilometer or per minute if the car is stopped in traffic. Supplements for the airport and the main train station (Sants estació), and also for night rides. A typical airport run costs about 35€ to Terminal 1, and maybe 30€ to Terminal 2, including supplements. Luggage is free. Tipping is not necessary, but the drivers will surely appreciate it.