Getting Around in Barcelona – Transportation Options – Airport Travel Tips

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Follow these handy tips for getting around in Barcelona – getting to/from the airport plus all the top tourist attractions in Barcelona. Getting around in Barcelona is easy – you just have to decide which of the methods of transportation you wish to use.

  • Walking
  • Transit Bus
  • Tram
  • Metro
  • Hop-on-Hop-off Tourist Bus
  • Bicycle
  • Scooter
  • Taxi
  • Rental Car

Walking – favorite way of getting around in Barcelona

My favorite mode of transportation in most cities is walking. Slow, yes – but so enjoyable. I see so much more when I am walking than when I am in a taxi or bus. Just remember to bring comfortable walking shoes and a lightweight backpack for your travels. Break-in those shoes before your arrival in Barcelona so that you can enjoy your visit to the fullest. In Barcelona watch for the blue signs pointing the way to tourist sites around the city. You can also buy a handy laminated map of Barcelona to help find your way around on your own in Barcelona.

 

Getting Around in Barcelona - blue signs point the way to popular tourist sites all around the city

Blue signs with bright yellow and white text pointing the way to tourist sites in Barcelona

 

For my first solo trip to Barcelona I took an overnight flight from NYC, landing in Barcelona at 7:15 in the morning. I had researched my options for getting to my Airbnb rental (click here for $40 towards your first rental) in La Ribera neighborhood and AeroBus turned out to be a great option – such a cheap and easy way to get from the airport to Barcelona’s central historic region.

AeroBus gets you to and from BCN airport

AeroBus is a convenient mode of transportation from BCN El Prat airport to central Barcelona, and back to the airport from central Barcelona. At a cost of 5.90 Euros (single trip) or 10.20 (for a return ticket – valid within 15 days of validation) it is also a very affordable option, great for the budget traveler. There are numerous stops along the way such as Placa Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Placa Universidad) Placa de Catalunya is the last stop.

AeroBus runs every 5 minutes (365 days per year) from Barcelona airport Terminals 1 and 2. The bus ride takes approximately 35 minutes to Placa Catalunya.

 

Have a look at hotels near Barcelona El Prat airport – check here for the latest hotel rates – if you have an early morning flight this is a great option to ensure you are at the airport on time – and no traffic worries on your travel day!

 

On my first trip to Barcelona I was through customs and immigration and sitting on the AeroBus within 45 minutes of landing in Barcelona. Another 30 minutes or so and I was getting off the bus at Placa de Catalunya enjoying a sunny morning walk in Barcelona’s historic district.

With the AeroBus ticket I was given a coupon book for discounts at local restaurants, art museums, music events, bicycle and scooter rental, etc.

Buy your ticket upon arrival or online at the AeroBus website: AeroBus schedule and rates

 



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Bus and Tram

Barcelona has an extensive public bus system for travel throughout the city. All of the buses in Barcelona have been adapted for people with reduced mobility. On the TMB (Transport Metropolitans de Barcelona) website you can look up information for bus schedules and maps. There is also a new TMB map website where you can enter your beginning and destination addresses for route info.

Click here to visit the main TMB website for Barcelona bus schedules and maps.

 

Getting Around in Barcelona try the metro - 10 trip pass is a good bargain for getting around Barccelona

Barcelona metro 10 trip pass ticket

 

Metro

Metro was my favorite way to get around the city of Barcelona fast and cheap. I bought 10 ride passes at the ticket vending machine. Each time you use the ticket – feeding it into the machine at the entrance to the metro – the date and time of use are printed on the back of the ticket. There are numerous entrances to the underground metro stations in Barcelona so do take note of the street name for the entrance/exit at the metro. If you are directionally challenged like me, you may want to bring a map of Barcelona with you.

 

Getting Around in Barcelona - metro offers many ticket options for travelers from single ticket to monthly pass - also 2 - 5 day passes or 10 trip pass

Metro ticket options at Barcelona metro ticket machine

 

The metro lines are identified by number and color. To locate metro stations look for signs bearing a red “M” with white background. When buying metro tickets from the vending machines at the metro stations you can select language preference on the bottom right-hand part of the display – see the flags in the photo above.

Hola BCN! is a special pass that may be purchased for unlimited access to Barcelona public transport. Tickets are available for 2, 3, 4, or 5 days. If you buy Hola BCN! tickets online you can get 10% off. Click here for Hola BCN! tickets.

Transport Metropolitans de Barcelona website: Metro schedule, rates, maps

 

Hop-on Hop-off Tourist Bus

These tourist buses charge a flat rate for the ticket which is good for 24 hours, or you can buy a 2-day option. You can hop-on and hop-off the bus at any of their stops as many times as you like for the duration of your ticket. The beauty of the Hop-on Hop-Off Tourist Bus is that you don’t need to figure out how to get to all the best tourist sites in Barcelona – just hop-on and hop-off at the top things to see in Barcelona.

For 10% discount on tickets as well as information on routes, maps, and more visit the website:

Hop-on hop-off Bus Barcelona website

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Bicycle

There are bicycle rental options and there is the Bicing bike-share system in Barcelona. The Bicing website is only available in Spanish or Catalan but here is a link to the Bicing map page. Using Google translate: The map can be displayed stations in operation and see real-time availability of bicycles at each station. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. If I see one of the Bicing stations on my upcoming trip to Barcelona I may give it a short test ride. (Update: Bicing is set up for locals traveling on short trips around Barcelona – not really for tourists)

I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to riding a bike in a city. I think I am too easily distracted and would probably get in an accident due to my lack of attention to traffic. Or I would make such an effort to pay attention that I wouldn’t enjoy the seeing the city as I rode my bicycle. Smaller towns are more my style for bicycle riding but I know plenty of people who would be keen to explore Barcelona by bike.

Here are a couple of bike rental options in Barcelona:

Bici-Rent – located near Plaza Catalunya – bike rentals and tours available

Green Bikes Barcelona – rentals, tours, sales, and repairs

 

Scooter

You can zoom around Barcelona with a scooter rental. For me, a scooter would offer the opportunity to get lost that much faster and much more often than I do on foot. I did not try out a scooter rental but it looks like a fun way to get around in Barcelona.

Some scooter rental options in Barcelona:

Barcelona Moto Rent – rent a scooter – located near Plaza Catalunya. Or try their scooter delivery service. They also offer an option (for those with hand luggage only) to pick you up at the airport via scooter.

Vesping – tour around Barcelona in style on a Vespa rental

 

Taxi

Taxis are always an option in any major city. I mostly try to avoid using taxis as they are generally more costly than public transportation. I would use a taxi in Barcelona if I were attending an event that was not easily accessible by metro and walking.

 

Rental car

If you prefer to do the driving yourself then a rental car is a great option. There are plenty of great day trips from Barcelona so a rental comes in handy if you want to get to Sitges or Montserrat on your own.

Things to see and do in Barcelona

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post walking is still my favorite way to see a city. I enjoy being outdoors getting some exercise and seeing the city life up close. Barcelona is a great walking city and I stayed in La Ribera neighborhood so I could easily walk to:

Whatever transportation options you choose for getting around in Barcelona I hope you love the city as much as I did. Enjoy your travels! Remember to buy a guide book for Barcelona.

 

Ready for Barcelona?! Find a great hotel for your Barcelona vacation now!

 



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Tips for Getting Around in Barcelona - tourist signs

Best travel tips – getting around in Barcelona

 

What is your favorite mode of transportation when traveling?

FIVE helpful things to bring with you to BARCELONA:

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About the Author

Susan Moore’s first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook
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20 Comments

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  1. I always like to start off with a big bus to get an overview—before walking the streets!

  2. I love how you’re sharing all this fabulous information just ahead of our being there! Thanks so very much!

  3. Josie says:

    Hi Susan,

    I totally agree with Betsy that this list is timely, given that so many are headed to TBEX in a few days.
    Barcelona is one of my favorite places in the world and getting around is pleasant and fun — mostly walking for me! Five years ago Conrad and I started out there on the hop-on hop-off bus to get the overview, and we have used the metro extensively as well as regional trains to go beyond the city. But your listing goes way beyond the usual modes and I thank you! I have copied a link to this post on a reference page I have for Barcelona info. Thanks!
    Josie

    • Susan Moore says:

      I love Barcelona too Josie – and I agree that getting around is pleasant and fun. I have never used the Hop-on Hop-off bus but I am going to try it out on this visit so i can get a tour of the city and stop at a few places that I missed on my last trip. The metro is fantastic but you don’t get to see the city, great for people watching though :)

  4. What handy info! Now I have an extra reason to wish I was going to Barcelona this summer! That AeroBus option sounds like a fantastic service.

  5. I have a dear friend there right now! I love Barcelona – I do want to go back. Your post was so fabulous! My favorite way to get around is walking. We also use the metro and hop on and off buses. I think the hop on and off are helpful to take to get your bearings in a new city.

  6. Perfect timing as we will be there soon. While we will walk a lot, we will also use the Metro

  7. Donna Janke says:

    My favourite mode of transportation when travelling depends on the location. I was in Barcelona the summer of 2013 and I loved walking in it. I did a lot of walking. We had easy access to both bus and the Metro from where we staying. Although the Metro is a little faster, we preferred the bus because we could look around. I was there in August and there were always line-ups for the tourist hop-on hop-off bus, so we never chose that option.

  8. Patti Morrow says:

    What timely information as so many of us are heading to Barcelona! I’m with you — I absolutely love walking around a city!

  9. Thanks for this great compilation, I’ve pinned it to have it handy!

  10. Denis Gagnon says:

    Very timely information since we are planning another trip to Barcelona. Thanks!

  11. One time we both fell asleep on the bus in Barcelona and woke up at the end of the line. No problem, we got to ride back and see more of the city.

    • Susan Moore says:

      In Buenos Aires I took the bus in the wrong direction and I thought it would just loop around back to where I needed to be, but it was the last one for the night so it pulled into a bus station and parked. Luckily the driver helped me find the correct bus to catch back to my neighborhood. Like you, I enjoyed an extended tour of the city :)

  12. I really appreciate blogs like this that give practical advise. Anyone headed to Barcelona will certainty appreciate this detailed information as well!

  13. This post has a lot of helpful info on getting around in Barcelona – should really benefit people going to TEBX – I’ll tweet it. You forgot to mention Segways! (Not that I’ve even been on one!)

    • Susan Moore says:

      Kay, thank you for sharing! I hope others will benefit from this info while visiting Barcelona. Segway is a good additional mode of transport, thanks for mentioning that. I have never tried a Segway either but I have seen others using them to tour around.

  14. Read this eagerly, as we’re returning to Barcelona in a couple of weeks – and we’ll be walking, walking, walking!

  15. Thank you the handy and timely Barcelona transport info. Walking and metro for us. We’ll probably get the multi-day passes which are good for all types of transportation. We used them in Singapore. Quick, easy and inexpensive. These also work for regional rail.

  16. Three days until I leave for Barcelona, so this is an excellent refresher for me. I prefer walking and will sometimes opt to stay in a more expensive, more central location so I can walk to many of the places on my list of places to see. The last time I was in Barcelona I took the Aerobus, a great option for getting from the airport into town. I’ve been reading scary things about pickpockets on the Metro. Did you feel insecure at all?

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thanks for your comment Suzanne. I just used Aerobus again yesterday – bought my return ticket online so I didn’t have to bother getting the ticket upon arrival in Barcelona. I loved using the metro in Barcelona! I think I went through 3 of the 10-trip tickets on my last visit. As for pickpockets, every major city has them. While in any city, when you are among large crowds, I would advise keeping your handbag in front of you at all times. If I were a guy I wouldn’t be keeping a wallet or mobile phone in my back pocket. I felt perfectly safe during all my travels within Barcelona. Enjoy your trip Suzanne!

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