Barcelona Transportation Tip: How to use the bus system


Get on the bus. Photo by wizziebob
Get on the bus. Photo by wizziebob

By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—

As I said last week, it took me a while to figure out Barcelona‘s transport system, especially the buses. Now that you’ve learned (and I have too) how to see the sights of Barcelona on the public transport system, it’s time for some of the finer points.

Here are seven useful bus tips for locals and travelers alike. Happy touring Cheapos!

1) Spotting the stop

Bus stops in the city are covered areas, usually with a bench or a pole that has a bus number listed on top. Around the pole, there are bus maps showing the routes of each of the buses that come to that particular stop.

2) Single ticket sales onboard

You cannot buy an all-use ticket (T-10; good for ten trips on any form of public Barcelona transportation) on the bus. Oh, how I wish I would have known this the first time I tried. These T-10 bus tickets are only sold in Metro stations. Plan ahead and get your T-10 in the Metro first thing.

3) Exact change, please

Bus operators will not make change for large bills. If you just want to take one trip on the bus, for example, you should plan to have exact change or close to it (€1.40 is the cost for one trip). Typically, bus drivers won’t take anything over €5. Cheapo tip: Unless you’re really planning on taking one ride, this isn’t the best deal. Why? You will not be able to use a single ticket purchased on the bus anywhere else.

4) Know where to sit

The gray seats on the bus are for elderly and women with children. Don’t sit there unless you really want to get some glares, or make Barcelona locals write you off as another tourist who didn’t do their research.

5) Keep alert

Perhaps this is just common sense, but it should be mentioned: watch your purse or wallet on the bus. People get pick-pocketed all the time in Barcelona. It’s just a product of a large tourist city. Just remain alert and aware, no matter what public place you’re in, but especially on a crowded bus.

6) Ring the bell

When you want to get off the bus, you must ring the bell. Otherwise, the driver will not stop and you’ll be, well, you-know-what out of luck.

7) Flag it down

If you see your bus coming at a non-designated stop, you can flag it down assuming there’s limited traffic. But, be sure to flag it; otherwise, that bus will keep on going.

Cheapo tip: Check the TMB website for a full listing of Barcelona buses and their routes before you go.

Oh, and one other thing…

Some of the bus stops in the city have digital panels to inform antsy travelers of when the next ride will be arriving. But be forewarned, these panels are frequently incorrect, but I must say I appreciate the effort and hope they will work out the kinks soon.

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: and

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2 thoughts on “Barcelona Transportation Tip: How to use the bus system”

  1. I have to agree we were a little phased by the transport system too – and having the right change is definitely a must if you want to stay on the good side of a bus driver! There’s so much to see around Barcelona that using public transport and planning a good route means you can really squeeze a lot in.


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