Barcelona: Cheap transportation guide

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Waiting for the Metro in Barcelona. Photo by Jamison.
Waiting for the Metro in Barcelona. Photo by Jamison.

Barcelona is small enough that you can walk most places, but big enough that you will probably want to hop on the Metro or grab a ride at some point. Here’s the scoop on how to navigate Barcelona on a budget.

Metro

The Metro is the fastest way to get from point A to point B in the city. Buy a T-10 card for €7.70 (good for ten journeys on the Metro or bus) and you’re on your way (tickets and cards are sold in the Metro entrance; cash or credit card). The Metro is not dangerous unless you are going way out to the outskirts late at night. Open from 5 AM to 12 midnight Sunday through Thurs; 5 AM to 2 AM Fridays, and all night long Saturdays.

Bus

You might be intimidated by the bus system with its multicolored route maps. Never fear, it’s easier than it looks! It is much slower than the Metro but more scenic. You can use the same T-10 cards on the bus and the Metro. If you don’t have a card, you will have to buy a ticket—but be warned: the bus driver will only accept small change.

Train

If you’re planning to travel outside of Barcelona, the train will be the obvious transportation choice. The trains that serve Catalonia are called the Cercanias (‘the close ones’) and the company is RENFE.

Here’s a tip: Don’t buy your RENFE tickets online. Go to the office. The RENFE website is a bit of a mess, although you can usually find the train departure times and locations on it with relatively little hassle. The main train stations are Passeig de Gracia and Sants Estacio.

Biking Barcelona. Photo by Silatix.

Biking Barcelona. Photo by Silatix.

Bike

Renting a bike for a day is not expensive (€7-15), and it’s a fabulous way to explore the city (just be prepared for riding in traffic!). A word to the wise: Do not leave your bike unattended. Check Bike Rental Barcelona, which offers bicycles rentals from €10.

Taxi

Taxi fares are relatively reasonable, especially if you are a group of three of four people and can split the cost. Most rides across town will run you about €10. At night and on holidays, however, taxi prices are more expensive. Taxis to the airport will run about €25-30, and they will add a surcharge for your luggage.

Check out our Barcelona city guide for more Cheapo advice on planning your trip.

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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2 thoughts on “Barcelona: Cheap transportation guide”

  1. Pingback: Transportation at night in Barcelona « Studying & Living in Barcelona

  2. We were a little surprised to read (in this excellent post on Barcelona) the following comment:

    “Here’s a tip: Don’t buy your RENFE tickets online. Go to the office. The RENFE website is a bit of a mess.”

    Rail websites are necessary more complicated that airline websites, by virtue of the multiplicity of possible journeys, many with an almost infinite variety of routings and fare options to match. The RENFE site is to our mind really quite good.

    The RENFE webfares, bookable online up to 15 days before departure, offer discounts of up to sixty per cent off the regular one way fare. If money is no object, then of course just show up and buy tickets at the ticket office just before departure. But for longer distance journeys in Spain the benefits available by booking online can be huge. Even after the web special deadline has passed (viz. two weeks before travel) you can still get Estrella and other discount fares online that undercut the regular fares.

    Of course, Regina Winkle-Bryan (in her piece above) has a point. If you are really intent on paying the last minute top-whack full fare, then there is little point in wasting time on the RENFE website. For those premium fares you get a tiny discount for online booking. This is typically €0.80 to €1.50 on a €100 fare. So in those instance surely better (as RWB suggests) to go to the ticket office just prior to departure and practice your Spanish.

    We hope these few thoughts help.
    Susanne Kries and Nicky Gardner
    hidden europe

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