I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona and have taken multiple forms of transportation around the city. So today I’m sharing how to get around Barcelona on a budget! We’re talking about Barcelona public transportation tickets, passes, maps, how to get from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport to the city center of Barcelona, and so much more!
First I’ll give you an overview of the Barcelona public transportation system, then we’ll talk about the hours of operation, followed by how to get around Barcelona on a budget. This includes tickets, prices, where to buy passes, maps, and all the great details. Finally, we’ll end with how to get to and from the Barcelona airport to the city center and how to get to the cruise port along with which method(s) may be best for your trip.
Overview of the Barcelona Public Transportation System
All About Barcelona
In this blog, we’re talking about Barcelona (also known as Barna), Spain. Most people assume the nickname Barça is synonymous with Barcelona, but Barça is actually the nickname of Barcelona’s wildly popular soccer club, FC Barcelona. Those who understand the difference also know the locals use Barna to refer to Barcelona. Barcelona is located in the Catalonia region of Spain on the northeast coast, about a 1.5hrs flight from Madrid.
There are 10 Districts in Barcelona. These districts are likened to neighborhoods or barrios.
- Ciutat Vella
- Les Corts
- Sarrià – Sant Gervasi
- Horta – Guinardó
- Nou Barris
- Sant Andreu
- Sant Marti
Each barrio has different popular attractions within it. For example, the Gràcia neighborhood hosts Parc Güell, Plaça del Sol, and is popular for nightlife. Eixample is known for the luxury shopping street Passeig de Gràcia and world famous La Sagrada Família basilica. Ciutat Vella, the “Old City,” is the oldest and most central location that hosts Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter), vibrant and artsy El Raval, and Barceloneta beach.
There are two official languages in Barcelona: Catalan and Spanish. English is also widely spoken, so as you learn to navigate the public transportation system know that the kiosks will also have an English option for ease of use.
Barcelona’s Public Transportation Network
The public transportation network covers 296 towns organized into six zones. Barcelona is in zone 1 and you can consult the Zone map and zone calculator on the website to determine which zone a city is in. Remember this zone system because you will need it to determine which ticket type is best for your needs later in this post.
There are multiple types of transportation available to get around Barcelona on a Budget. You can take the tram, train, bus, metro, taxi, or funicular. How much does it cost to get around Barcelona? The answer depends on what mode of transportation you take – we’ll go in depth about tickets prices later in this post. On any given day, you will likely take a combination of metro, bus, tram, or simply walk to your destinations.
Barcelona Public Transportation Systems, Acronyms, and Definitions
In order to get around Barcelona on a budget, you’ll need to know which system applies to your ticket. I will refer to these system, acronyms, and definitions throughout the blog, so take note.
- Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB). This is the company that runs most of the metro and busses in Barcelona and the online website where you can purchase tickets. You will often see the words “TMB” in a red circle on many forms of transportation.
- Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) “Catalan Government Railways”. This network of urban and suburban trains connect Barcelona with other cities and nearby towns in Catalonia. FCG supplements the metro and commuter lines in and around the city of Barcelona, tourist mountain railways, and rural railway lines. Use the trip planner on the website to determine the best route for your trip.
- Autoritat del Transport Metropolità de Barcelona (ATM). ATM is the administrative organization that facilitates cooperation between systems. They are important to getting around Barcelona on a budget because they offer integrated tickets to use between all public transportation lines that we’ll discuss in this blog.
- Rodalies De Catalunya. The Rodalies are the commuter and regional railways in Catalonia. Each route is labeled lines R1-R17 on a transportation map.
- Funicular de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Funicular). This part metro, part tram car will take you from the metro system to the Parallel and Montjuïc stations. The funicular is part of the ATM system.
- Telefèric de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Cable Car). Not to be confused with the Montjuïc Funicular, the Montjuïc Cable Car gives you panoramic views of the city through large glass windows. The cable car stops at Parc de Montjuïc, Mirador, and Castell (Montjuïc castle). This is NOT part of the ATM system and requires a separate ticket. See the for the specific stops.
In this blog, we are going to focus on getting around Barcelona on a budget, so I am not going to go in depth about regional trains between cities or countries, areas outside of the city center of Barcelona (Zone 1), or the Barcelona City Passes. Side note: the Barcelona City pass is more expensive than the ticket types I’ll mention in this video because it combines transport with popular attraction tickets.
Barcelona Public Transportation Maps
With so many public transportation lines it can be confusing, that’s why it’s helpful to download a map of that has all the metro, tram, and train routes from FGC and Rodalies. Click the links below to download a PDF of each system map.
- Metro, Tram, Funicular, and Rodalies Combined System Map of Barcelona
- Bus System Map of Barcelona
- Tram Map of Barcelona
- Telefèric de Montjuïc Cable Car route map
As you’re browsing the map, note the closest stops to your accommodation. You can also research the top things to do as it relates to the closest public transportation stop.
Hours of Operation for the Barcelona Public Transportation System
Always consult each public transportation link for the current hours, but generally speaking these are the hours of operation for each transport type.
Barcelona has eight metro lines labeled “L1 to L11” and 165 stations, plus a special Parc de Montjuïc line labeled “FM”. Each line is color coded. The metro runs every few minutes, Monday to Thursday, from 5am until midnight; Friday from 5am to 2am; Saturday and Saturday 5am to Sunday midnight (holiday hours vary).
There are over 100 bus lines in Barcelona labeled D, H, V, X, LM, and with the numbers 1-200. The buses run all day and night!
The Barcelona TRAM system is made of two networks, six lines, and 56 stops. The tram is labeled “T1-T6” on public transportation maps.
Hours: Monday to Thursday from 5 am – midnight. Friday, Saturday and the evenings before public holidays from 5 am to 2 am. Sundays from 5 am to midnight.
Montjuïc Cable Car
Times change every few months with the season, but generally the Montjuïc Cable Car timetables run from 10am to 6 or 7pm (or until 9pm from June-Sept) every day.
How to Get Around Barcelona on a Budget
Now that we know a little bit about how Barcelona is laid out, the different forms of transportation, helpful definitions, and public transport hours of operation, now let’s talk about how to get around Barcelona on a budget!
What is the easiest way to get around Barcelona? What is the cheapest way to get around Barcelona? You WALK!
Most areas are flat and the weather is typically sunny and warm, the perfect walking conditions. You can absolutely visit Barcelona without a car and I suggest you do that by walking. Plus, you won’t be alone – everyone – young, old, tourists, and locals walk. So grab a good pair of sneakers and enjoy the beautiful city.
How else can you get around Barcelona on a budget? You can take public transportation.
Take Public Transportation
There are a lot of options to get around Barcelona on a budget using public transportation; but in this blog, I’m going to focus on the ones most applicable to tourists staying in Barcelona for less than 30 days.
To get around Barcelona on a budget and without a car is pretty easy – grab one of the tickets I’m going to mention in this section. Feel free to save and/or print this page and take it with you on your trip.
Important Barcelona Public Transportation Notes
Before we begin, know the various Barcelona public transportation tickets must be validated at the yellow or blue card readers on the bus or at the metro turnstiles. If you see a validating machine – validate your ticket!
There is a €100 fine for not having a ticket…and you must pay on the spot or have the ticket mailed to you. It’s really not worth it! Just pay for your ticket and go about your business. I’d rather pay less than €20 for a ticket vs €100 any day! Plus, children under 4 years old are FREE for every ticket I mention.
Also note that you can purchase tickets through the T-mobilitat app, but honestly it is a bit of a hassle and not really worth it if you are only going to visit Barcelona for less than a week. It’s great for residents who are staying longer than a few months, not so much for visitors. Aside from the app, if you purchase select tickets online through the website there may be discounts, so pay attention and Ill share which tickets have them.
Now let’s get started! In Barcelona, you can purchase…
Single Ride Tickets
A single ticket applies to the metro, bus, tram, or Montjuïc funicular.
Validity: The single ticket is valid for one ride only on either the metro, bus, tram, or Montjuïc funicular.
Transfers: No. The single ticket is not valid for transfers once you leave the metro station or get off the bus.
Groups: No. This ticket is valid for one person above 4 years old.
Airport: No. You can not use a single ticket to get to/from the El Prat airport. To travel one-way to or from Barcelona El prat airport, you will need an airport ticket (See Airport section below).
Where to Buy: At ticket machines at the metro stations, website, or via card reader on the bus for a bus ticket (Visa or Mastercard)
If you decide to take a single trip to Montjuïc, compare the €2.40 Montjuïc Funicular ticket to the Montjuïc Cable Car prices (see chart below)
|Montjuïc Cable Car
|Return (Round Trip)
|Children 4 to 12yrs
|Children under 4
Where to buy Montjuïc Cable Car tickets: At the ticket office or online through the website. If purchased online, you get a 10% discount; but even though there is a 10% discount on Montjuïc cable car tickets, you can just take the Funicular to Montjuïc for only €2.40 without the panoramic views!
Taxi/Uber Rides in Barcelona
When you compare the single ticket price of €2.40 to a single taxi ride at €10-20; you’re only paying a fraction of the cost!
Some people ask, “is there Uber in Barcelona?” or “is ridesharing available in Barcelona? The answer is…maybe?! Long story short, ride sharing apps are a hot debate in Barcelona and around Spain, with each city making their own rules. One season it’s banned in Barcelona, the other season it is not. Until the issue is resolved, walking or taking public transportation or even taking a yellow taxi may be the most reliable.
Even though we’re talking about how to get around Barcelona on a budget, it is always a good idea to plan for the worst in case public transportation is unavailable due to maintenance issues, a strike, or some other hazard. So in the spirit of proper planning, here is a list of taxi apps to research and possible download for your trip to Barcelona.
- Yellow Taxi
- Uber. If you’re wondering, “didn’t she just say that Uber was unreliable in Barcelona?” Yes, you are correct; however, if you open the Uber app while you are in Barcelona you will see links to taxis and other forms of transportation. It’s pretty cool because if you already have the app downloaded, you can now just use it to connect to a taxi service.
T-Casual is a transit pass that allows for 10 single trips within a particular zone for one person.
Validity: 10 single trips until the price changes. Unlike the T-Dia, which expires after 24hrs.
Groups: No. This ticket is valid for one person above 4 years old.
Cost: Based on the zones you want to travel in. Barcelona is only 1 Zone and kids under 4 years old are free. Remember, if you don’t know which zones you need, scroll up to the overview section to view the zone counter.
- 1 Zone €11.35
- 2 Zone €22.40
- 3 Zone €30.50
- 4 Zone €39.20
- 5 Zone €45.05
- 6 Zone €47.90
Where to Buy: same places as the single ticket.
This transit pass allows for 8 single trips within a particular zone for a group of people. The T-familiar is great if you are traveling in a group, like a family or with friends. This ticket type is unlike the Single or T-Casual tickets that are only valid for one person.
Validity: 8 single trips
Groups: Yes. There is no set number of people allowed, but one person = 1 trip. So if two people use this card, it will be valid for 4 trips for a total of 8 trips. If 4 people in your group = 2 trips each = 8 trips. When one person scans through, pass it to the next person.
Cost: B on the zone(s) you want to travel in.
- 1 Zone €10
- 2 Zone €19
- 3 Zone €27
- 4 Zone €35
- 5 Zone €40
- 6 Zone €42
Where to Buy: same places as T-Casual
We talked about single tickets that are valid for one ride on the metro, bus, tram, or funicular, now let’s talk about unlimited ride tickets that will help you get around Barcelona on a budget.
Unlimited Transportation Tickets
To start, the unlimited transport tickets are valid on the metro, bus, tram, or funicular and of course, kids under 4 years old are FREE for these tickets, too!
The T-Dia is a 24hr transit pass that allows for unlimited trips within a particular zone for one person older than 4 years old.
Validity: Unlimited trips in a 24hr period.
Airport: Yes, but it is valid for only one round trip on the metro Line 9 Sud starting or ending at Terminal 1 (T1) or Terminal 2 (T2)
Cost: Based on the zone you want to travel in. Barcelona is zone 1.
- 1 Zone €10.50
- 2 Zone €16
- 3 Zone €20.10
- 4 Zone €22.45
- 5 Zone €25.15
- 6 Zone €28.15
Where to Buy: at bus and metro station vending machines, online through the TMB website, or at customer service centers.
The Hola Barcelona Travel Card is the official tourist public transportation pass.
Valid: This card is valid for 2-5 days of unlimited travel, based on what you purchase. The clock starts when you first validate your card and is valid for the hours listed. You must activate the pass within 90 days from date of purchase.
Airport: Yes! Includes: metro, bus, urban railway (FGC, Zone 1), Montjuïc funicular, tram, and the regional railway (Rodalies de Catalunya, Zone 1). The Montjuïc Cable Car and Aerobús are not included in this pass.
Cost: The price
- 2 Days/48hrs = €16.40
- 3 Days/72hrs = €23.80
- 4 Days/96hrs = €31
- 5 Days/120hrs = €38.20
Where to Buy: online and at metro station kiosks and online through the TMB website for a 10% discount!
How to use: If you decide to purchase your tickets online for a discount, you will receive an email confirmation and purchase voucher with a 13-digit barcode. This purchase voucher is NOT YOUR OFFICIAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TICKET!! You cannot use this purchase voucher to ride on the metro, busses, or trams until you exchange it for an actual ticket. When you arrive at a metro station, either scan the barcode or type the number at the automatic ticket vending machines. Your official ticket will be dispensed.
Special Public Transportation Tickets
In addition to unlimited ticket types, there are also special tour tickets for tourists that can help you get around Barcelona on a budget.
Up Barcelona is combines a 2-day Hola Barcelona pass + Montjuïc Cable Car ticket.
Validity: 2 Days.
Airport: Yes! Since this special ticket includes an Hola Barcelona pass, you can travel to and from the El Prat airport using the metro.
Cost: Depends on the age of your travelers.
- Adults = €31.40
- Kids = €27.40
- Kids under 4 = free.
Where to Buy: Online through the Hola Barcelona website. There is a 15% discount if booked online.
If you only have one or two days in Barcelona and want to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, consider the Barcelona Bus Turístic ticket. It is the cities Official Hop On/Hop Off double-decker bus + audio guide. The Bus Turístic has two routes making 45 stops by famous sites like Sagrada Família, Park Güell, La Pedrera, Camp Nou, La Rambla, and Montjuïc among others.
Validity: 24 or 48hrs from first use. Tickets are valid 90 days from date of purchase. The hours of operation are from 9am-7pm (closed on Christmas and New Years).
Time: Runs frequently between 5-25min.
|CHILDREN (4-12yrs, UNDER 4 ARE FREE)
Where to buy: On the bus itself or online with a 10% discount!
There is a special night bus that offers tours beyond the times of the Barcelona Bus Turístic ticket listed above. This tour includes a guide and is available in English, Spanish, and Catalan.
Validity: Only available between the month of June – Sept. Tour length is approximately 1hr 15min – 1.5hrs total.
Availability: Monday – Sunday. Departs at 9:30pm from Plaça de Catalunya. Riders must arrive at the pickup location no later than 9:10pm (20 minutes prior).
- Adults 13+ = €22
- Kids 4-12 = €10
- under for free.
These special tickets are just a sample of what you can purchase online in advance before your trip to Barcelona. There are more transportation deals available, like a combined Hola Barcelona + Bus Turistic for a 15% discount! Check out the Transport Deals page for more information.
Now that we’ve just talked about the different public transportation ticket types, now let’s get into…
What is the Best Way to Get From the Barcelona Airport to the City Center of Barcelona?
There are four ways to get from the Barcelona El Prat airport (BCN) to Barcelona’s city center (Plaça de Catalunya). Taxis will cost €30-40 plus extra for nighttime service or extra bags, so taking one of the four methods below is a great way to get around Barcelona from the airport on a budget.
As you learned earlier in this blog, the Metro runs eight lines – only one of these lines reaches the Barcelona El Prat airport. Metro line L9 Sud runs every 7 minutes and takes 30-35min to reach the city center.
Directions from T1
- From T1 go to floor P0
- Follow the signs to enter the metro.
Directions from T2
From T2 terminals, follow the bright yellow metro symbol signs.
Next, walk down the escalator stairs. This will take your outside the terminal. Cross the street at the crosswalk to the entrance of the metro station. Once inside the station, there will be a wall of red kiosks. Purchase (or redeem) your tickets at the kiosk, grab a pocket map, and go around the corner to the metro station!
To take the metro from the Barcelona airport, you will need to purchase either an airport ticket or an unlimited transport pass.
Validity: Valid for one-way from either T1 or T2 stations to city center. Applies to the metro only, not the bus.
Remember, you can also use the T-Dia or Hola Barcelona card to get to and from the airport. However, you can not travel to/from the airport if you purchase a single ticket, T-Casual, or T-Familiar pass. Also note the airport stop is the start of metro line L9 Sud so there is plenty of seating and enough room for your luggage. On the way back to the airport, the metro was much more crowded but the crowds lessened the closer we got to the terminal.
The second way you can get from the BCN airport to Barcelona is by Bus. There are two busses you can take.
The Aerobús is an efficient, air conditioned charter bus with luggage storage that only operates to and from Barcelona’s El Prat airport. It runs from the airport terminals T1 (Line A1) and T2 (Line A2). The Aerobús runs every 15 minutes from 5am-11pm. It takes 30-45min, to get to the city center and operates everyday, 24/7. From the airport, the bus makes one or two stops, then ends at Plaça de Catalunya.
Validity: single ride or round trip, depending on which ticket you purchase. You have 90 days to use your ticket once purchased.
Cost of Aerobús: €6.75 one-way; €11.65 return. Kids under 4 are free. There are combined Hola Barcelona + Aerobús tickets starting at €25 for a 48hr pass up to 120hrs from €43.55, but they are more expensive than the regular Hola Barcelona and you can just jump on the metro. You decide!
Where to buy tickets: Online via the website, ticket machines at Plaça de Catalunya and at the airport, or in cash at the bus stop. From T2, follow the symbols of a bus (or metro symbol), walk down the escalators, and the bus will be right before the entrance to the metro station.
Bus line 46 is a public bus that runs from the airport to Plaça d’Espanya. It takes 30-40 minutes to get to the city center and operates everyday from 4:50am-11:50pm. A single ticket cost €2.40.
From the BCN airport, you can take the Rodalies R2 Nord Train from Terminal 2, exit Barcelona-Sants, Barcelona El Clot Arago, or Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia for only €2.40!
As with almost every major city in the world, you can take a taxi to your destination. How much is a taxi from Barcelona airport to the city center? It will cost €30-40 per car. This isn’t the most affordable way to get around Barcelona on a budget, but it’s always a good idea to have backup options for convenience.
For my bougie travelers, you can also arrange a Barcelona private airport transfer in advance. Someone will wait for you with a sign when you arrive at the airport to assist with your luggage and take you to your accommodations. The cost varies by the number of travelers, but it is a really comfortable experience for a special occasion or any day. Check the latest prices (along with a few other cool tours) below.
How do you Get From Barcelona City to the Cruise Port?
I asked this question when I was researching transportation methods for our 7-day western Mediterranean cruise! After all my research, I concluded the Moll Adossat cruise terminal is not accessible through any form of public transportation.
There is, however, a special cruise shuttle bus that only runs during the hours a ship is at port. This blue bus loops from the World Trade Center, a 5 minute walk from Las Ramblas, and stops at the ports. It costs around €3 one way and €4.50 to return. Must purchase tickets with cash on the bus or online. This method is not sponsored by the government public transport network so the tickets I mentioned earlier (single, T-Casual, T-Familiar, T-Dia, Hola Barcelona, etc.) are NOT valid.
What About Walking?
Can you walk to the cruise port? No – not really! It’s a 25 – 45-minute walk on pavement with no shade in the hot sun…and you’ll have to haul your luggage. The route is not pedestrian friendly and I really don’t recommend walking at all!
My recommendation is to take a taxi for €20. There is a €3.10 cruise port supplement; but it is one of the most popular, comfortable, and convenient forms of transportation to the cruise terminal. That’s what we did for our cruise! We stayed at Seventy Hotel Barcelona and the lovely front desk concierge called a taxi for us. We jumped in the Zolty cab and we were on our way. The taxi ride from our hotel was air conditioned, comfortable, and we arrived directly in front of our terminal.
You now have an overview of Barcelona’s public transportation system and learned about zones, the hours of operation, how to get around Barcelona on a budget using public transportation, different ticket types, cost, how to purchase tickets, how to get from Barcelona airport to the city center and how to get from Barcelona city center to the cruise port. That leaves one last question…
Which Ticket is Best for Your Trip?
It really depends on your itinerary, who you’re traveling with, how often you need to travel, and your expectations. I can’t tell you what will work best for you, but once you have your itinerary set, use google maps to determine the best way to get from point A to point B.
If you find you will make more than 5 round trips on various forms of public transportation, consider an unlimited pass such as the T-Dia or Hola Barcerlona pass. Only want to make a few stops in a few days? Consider a T-Casual ticket or a T-Dia for one-day of fun or a T-familiar ticket if you’re traveling in a group. Lastly, if you’re pressed for time and want to see the major sites, consider one of the Special Tour tickets along with an Airport or Aerobús ticket.
I really enjoyed taking the metro and bus during my visit. There are a lot of great, affordable ways to get around Barcelona on a budget – choose what’s best for your needs and enjoy your trip!
Antoinette | Frolic & Courage