By Regina Winkle-Bryan in Barcelona—
Don’t be afraid to take the city bus in Barcelona. Though the bus maps (located at every stop in the city) look like blueprints for alien ships, with a little research and care, you can learn to make sense of Barcelona’s overground system. Since it took me a while – about five years actually – to warm up to the bus lines, I say learn it now and use it!
Why? The buses in Barcelona are cleaner than the Metro and more entertaining. Here’s my quick primer for hopping on the bus in Barcelona, with one small caveat: If you do need to get somewhere fast, do not take the bus. Instead, opt for the Metro. There’s lots of traffic in Barcelona all year, apart from August. Plus, sometimes the Metro is even faster than a cab.
I recommend the Barcelona Bus Turistic, which is the official sightseeing tour bus of Barcelona. It has an open air top and stops at all the main sites in the city. This sort of thing isn’t usually my style, but I like this one because it gives the jet-lagged traveler a chance to sit back, relax and get a feeling for the city. It’s not too expensive either.
Create your own tourist experience with these city buses
#59: This bus goes along the beachfront (hop off here for swimming) and then up La Rambla before stopping around Plaza Cataluña. This is a very handy line, so these buses are usually pretty crowded. Try to get on early for a seat and watch your bag. Theft does sometimes occur on these buses.
#17: This bus will take you from Barcelona’s Port (eat seafood here) up the main drag Via Laietana, and then all the way up Passeig de Gracia. Look for the Cathedral off Via Laietana, and many Gaudi buildings on Passeig de Gracia (Batllo, Pedrera).
#39: This one works its way up from the beach past the very hip Born neighborhood, then to the Zoo and Park Ciutadella. Hop off at the park and walk up to Arc of Triomf.
Cheapo tip: Most buses run from early in the morning (6 am) to about midnight. After normal buses stop running take the Nit Bus. This night bus only stops at certain limited bus stops in each neighborhood in the city. See the full Nit Bus schedule here.