By Regina W Bryan in Barcelona—
Driving in Barcelona is about as fun as a root canal. There’s traffic. There’s no right on red and pedestrians jump out at every turn, sprinting across the road. And of course, scooter riders weave between cars with an insane amount of confidence.
One must remain calm to drive in Barcelona and know some simple rules of the road.
Some of the most important rules involve parking. You can’t just park your ride anywhere in the city, in fact there many zones where you may not be allowed at all.
Green Zone “Exclusiva”
The Green Zone “Exclusiva” for example, is only for people living in that area. They have a special tag and pay .10 cents a day or so. One neighborhood that has this “Exclusiva” Green Zone is the beach barri, La Barceloneta. If you find yourself in a Green Zone “Exclusiva” then you’ll need to park your Smartcar in a parking garage, which, let me warn you, will not be cheap.
Some Green Zones are “Preferente,” which means that anyone can park there but rates will be high. Expect to pay about €1-2 per half hour.
Mostly I don’t drive in Barcelona but a few years ago I rented a car to go out of town. I parked the car in a Green Zone “Exclusiva” and went to get my suitcase from my apartment. When I returned my car was gone, and in its place was a small green diamond sticker with the phone number of the tow truck company on it. Yes, my car had been towed. This mistake cost me a lot of time, not to mention the €250 or more I had to cough up to get the car out. Thank gawd I had a credit card!
The moral of this story is: Do not park in the Green Zone “Exclusiva” and pay attention to what zone you’re in. (To be fair, I had no idea at the time that the Green Zone was off limits to me.)
The Blue Zone is found around the city and is open to all. Sometimes the Blue Zone will be free on Saturday afternoons or Sundays. Other times you’ll have to pay no matter what day it is (such is the case by the beach). You can park in the Blue Zone as long as you pay the meter and then put the little paid meter ticket on your windshield.
Many central neighborhoods of interest in the city are Blue Zone. Expect to pay about €1 per 30 minutes.
However, just because there is Blue Zone does not mean that you will ever find a parking spot. You may have to drive around a lot and if you’re not familiar with the city then this could be a bit stressful and a hassle.
Parking lots and garages
The best bet is to to put your car in a car park. Make sure you check to see what time the garage opens and closes, and whether they will close for lunch.
Saba is one company which has parking garages all over the city. On the Saba Web site you can check a map of where their garages are located. Saba’s per-minute rate is €0.04 and a night will set you back €56.99.
At such steep rates it pays to ask your hotel about parking options. Hotels in Barcelona usually charge for parking but it won’t be €50.
Overall, avoid having to drive and park in Barcelona; it’s a pain. If you must then the easiest, albeit most expensive option, is a parking garage. Follow the giant “P” (usually in blue) anywhere in the city to nearby parking garages. Good luck!
Your Barcelona parking story
Do you have a story about parking in Barcelona? Share with us in our comments section!