How To Use Barcelona’s Public Transportation

This post covers the entire public transportation system in Barcelona, providing helpful information for tourists to help them navigate around the city with ease, as well as details about tickets and how to save money on admission.

 

 


TICKETS

There are several different public transit services in Barcelona, including the metro, trams, buses, and even suburban trains. 

Single tickets are €2.40 per ride, and you can purchase them at vending machines at metro stations and aboard buses.

Although you can purchase single tickets, they are not valid across all services and are only available for metro and bus.


Multi-Ticket Cards

Barcelona’s public transit system also offers what is known as T-Casual Tickets

These cards are valid for 10 journeys and they are available for as many as 1-6 zones on metro, tram, bus and suburban trains. 

Here are the prices for these cards:

  • 1-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €11.35
    • Price per ticket: €1.14
  • 2-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €22.40
    • Price per ticket: €2.24
  • 3-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €30.50
    • Price per ticket: €3.05
  • 4-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €39.20
    • Price per ticket: €3.92
  • 5-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €45.05
    • Price per ticket: €4.50
  • 6-Zone T-Casual Ticket: €47.90
    • Price per ticket: €4.79

Zone 1 is the city centre, so chances are you won’t need any other type of ticket. 

That said, if you plan to visit the outskirts of Barcelona, you may want to consider purchasing tickets for zones 2-6.

If you’re still not sure which zones you’ll need, the best way to avoid any problems is simply to purchase a travel card or tourist pass.

 

T-Casual and T-Usual


Unlimited Rides

In addition to the T-Casual tickets, you can also purchase a T-Dia pass with unlimited rides. Prices start at €10.50 for a 1-zone ticket.

There is also a T-Usual ticket which provides public transportation for one full month with prices starting at €40 for 1-zone tickets.

 

The best deal on admission for Barcelona public transport is via the Hola BCN travel card. 

These passes can be purchased for 2-5 days at a time, and they provide unlimited rides on the metro, buses, tram, and suburban trains.

  • Hola BCN 2-Day Card: €16.30
    • Price per day: €8.15
  • Hola BCN 3-Day Card: €23.70
    • Price per day: €7.90
  • Hola BCN 4-Day Card: €30.80
    • Price per day: €7.70
  • Hola BCN 5-Day Card: €38.00
    • Price per day: €7.60

In addition to the Hola BCN card, you can also get unlimited travel on all metro, trams, buses and suburban trains using the Barcelona Card. 

This is a great option if you’re planning to visit several landmarks and popular attractions. Please read our discount section for more details about the Barcelona Card.


Airport Transfers

Another factor to consider when purchasing tickets is whether or not you’ll need to use public transport to get from the airport to the city centre of Barcelona.

If you do need an airport transfer, it’s worth noting that you’ll need more than a single ticket to reach the city centre from the Barcelona airport. 

 

Barcelona Airport El Prat

 

While there is a metro train that can take you to the city centre, it requires a special airport ticket which is €5.15 one way and €10.30 round trip. 

T-Casual tickets are not valid at the airport metro stops T1 and T2, but T-Dia and T-Usual do provide at least one airport transfer. You can also take an Aerobus for €5.90. 

That said, if you use the Hola BCN or Barcelona Card, this service will be included at no extra cost. 

Considering that the price of these services is as little as €7.60 per day, you’d actually save money over the cost of a round trip airport ticket!

 

Cable Cars & Funiculars

In addition to all the other services available in Barcelona, there are also a few cable cars and funiculars at notable sites such as Montserrat, Montjuïc, and Tibidabo.

These transport options are not part of the public transit system and they have their own ticket prices. 

That said, you can save money on tickets for some cable cars by purchasing your admission online ahead of time.

We’ll provide more details about these services in our section covering Cable Cars & Funiculars in Barcelona.

 


METRO

Barcelona’s metro service is arguably their most extensive public transportation system with 8 different lines and hundreds of different stops. 

The only problem with a metro system this wide and varied is that it might be a little difficult to navigate. 

Our guide will help you find some of the most notable and popular stops across each line so that you can find your way around the city with ease.

 

Barcelona Metro Map

(full map)

 

Lines

  • Line 1 | Red Line
    • Stops at Plaça de Catalunya, Arc de Triomf, Plaça de Sants, Marina, Plaça d’Espanya and more.
  • Line 2 | Purple Line
    • Stops at Sagrada Familia, The Monumental bullring, Plaça de Tetuan and more. 
  • Line 3 | Green Line
    • Stops at Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça d’Espanya, Plaça del Centre, Plaça Reial and more.
  • Line 5 | Blue Line
    • Stops at Sagrada Familia, Plaça de Sants, Camp de l’Arpa and more.
  • Line 9 | Orange Line
    • Mostly used for airport transfers, stops at Zona Universitaria.

While there are other lines (Yellow, Light Blue, and Light Green), they don’t really include any notable stops that tourists and travelers might want to visit.

Line 3 makes a stop at Liceu, which is just a block away from Plaça Reial, where at least one of our self-guided Barcelona tours begins.

Metro trains arrive every 2-6 minutes and they observe the following hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 5 am – 12 am
  • Friday: 5 am – 2 am
  • Saturday: 24 hours
  • Sunday: 5 am – 12 am

You’ll find ticket machines at each metro station in Barcelona, making it easy to purchase admission no matter where you are. 


TRAMS

There are currently 6 different tram lines and 3 separate networks in Barcelona, all of them accessible with either the Hola BCN card or the Barcelona card

That said, the line most travelers will want to consider is Tramvia Blau (otherwise known as the Blue Tramway).

Tramvia Blau is the most historic tram line in the city, and its route passes through streets full of beautiful Modernista houses to the bottom of Tibidabo Mountain, where you can ride a funicular to the top.

If you’re interested in enjoying excellent views of Barcelona, this is arguably one of the best tram lines in the city. This tram also passes by CosmoCaixa, a popular interactive museum.

Sadly, Tramvia Blau is temporarily out of service, but you can use bus 196 to take essentially the same journey. Check our buses section for more details.

NOTE: Tramvia Blau is scheduled to come back into service in 2020, but this date could be pushed back as a result of measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid 19.

The other two networks in Barcelona are Trambaix (T1, T2, T3) and Trambesós (T4, T5, T6). While Trambaix includes a variety of stops in the western half of the city, Trambesós covers the eastern and coastal region.

The Trambaix network provides stops at locations such as Zona Universitària, Palau Reial, Cornellà Centre, Plaça Francesc Macià, and other notable sites.

Alternatively, the Trambesós network starts at Villa Olimpica and includes stops at Marina, Teatro Nacional, Barcelona Zoo, Glòries square, Port Olimpic, and the Barcelona Forum.

Tram hours are basically the same as Metro hours with one key difference: they don’t offer 24-hour service on Saturdays. 

Instead, you can expect Barcelona trams to run from 5 am – 2 am on all weekend days.

 

BUSES

Barcelona currently has over 100 different bus routes that connect all the districts of the city, including the suburban areas. 

Although this service provides a lot of notable stops, it’s a bit more difficult to navigate than either the Metro or Tram.

 

 

We cover some of the more popular stops provided by this service and the routes associated with them below.

  • Plaça d’Espanya | Line D40, V7, 23, 46, 65, 79, 150
  • Plaça de Catalunya | Line 19, 22, 24, 52, 62
  • Zona Universitària | Line H, 33, 7
  • Montjuïc Cemetery | Line 107
  • Tibidabo | Line 111, 196
  • La Sagrera | Line 96
  • La Marina | Line 125
  • Camp Nou | Line H
  • Plaça Reial | Line 59

Of all the lines listed above, we recommend using the bus to reach Tibidabo, where you can take the funicular to the top and enjoy spectacular views of Barcelona.

You may also want to use Line 59 to reach Plaça Reial, where at least one of our self-guided Barcelona tours begins.

There is also a bus line that can connect you with the airport known as the Aerobus. While line A1 services Terminal 1, A2 will take you to and from Terminal 2. 

The Aerobus provides stops at several popular locations in the city centre including Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça de Catalunya. This service isn’t technically part of the public transit system, and as such, tickets are €5.90.

Although the Aerobus is specifically designed for airport transfers, you can also use lines 46, N16, and N17 to get from the airport to the city centre, and these options will be much more affordable at €2.40 per single ticket.

Lines N16 and N17 are part of the night bus service, consisting of 17 different routes and running from about 10:30 pm – 5:30 am.

The main daily bus lines operate from around 5 am – 11 pm each day.

 


SUBURBAN TRAINS

As the name implies, Barcelona’s suburban trains are mainly designed to connect the suburbs with the city centre, and as such, they’re mostly used by locals.

That said, whether you have family or friends in the suburbs or you just want to see some of the outer neighbourhoods in Barcelona, this service can be quite useful.

Suburban trains also provide stops at several notable public squares and other sites you might want to visit in the city, so even though you might not use them for much, they could still be quite useful.

These are basically commuter trains, also known as rodalies in Barcelona. While they are similar to the metro and tram services, you can tell the difference between them by the signifier “R,” which stands for “rodalies.”

 

 

There are also some S lines as well, and this letter stands for “Suburban.”

Here are a few of the more notable stops you can reach using the suburban trains/rodalies of Barcelona:

  • Plaça d’Espanya | S4, S8, R5, R6
  • Plaça de Catalunya | S1, S2, S5, S55
  • Castell de Torre Baró | R3, R4, R7
  • Arc de Triomf | R1, R3, R4
  • Estacio de Franca | R2
  • La Sagrera | R3, R4
  • Montserrat | R5

As you can see, there are several great reasons to use suburban trains, although some stops are arguably better than others.

For example, if you want to visit Montserrat, these trains will offer you one of the easiest and most affordable routes to the historic site. 

 

Anyone interested in seeing the Castell de Torre Baró will also appreciate that there are multiple suburban trains servicing that stop, as well as landmarks like Arc de Triomf.

It’s also worth noting that the R2 Nord train services the airport from the T2 terminal, providing yet another affordable transfer to the city centre of Barcelona.

Ticket prices and operating hours are the same as the metro, and T-Casual/Hola BCN cards are valid on suburban trains as well.

 


CABLE CARS & FUNICULARS

While there aren’t a lot of these services in Barcelona, there are a few you may want to consider while visiting the city.

 

 

We’ll cover the most notable examples in this section.


Montjuïc Cable Car

This service will help you ascend to the Montjuïc Castle, and it also provides one of the best views in the entire city.

Ticket Prices

  • Single Tickets: €8.90/Adults | €7.10/Children | Children 0-4 are free
  • Return Tickets: €13.50/Adults | €9.70/Children | Children 0-4 are free
  • Get a 10% discount when purchased online.
  • Save €2 with the Barcelona Card.

Operating Hours

  • Nov-Feb Hours: 10 am – 6 pm
  • Mar-May Hours: 10 am – 7 pm
  • Jun-Sept Hours: 10 am – 9 pm
  • October Hours: 10 am – 6 pm

Tibidabo Funicular

This service will help you ascend the Tibidabo Mountain in order to reach the Tibidabo Amusement Park, and you can also enjoy great views from here as well.

Ticket Prices

  • €4 when purchased with tickets for the Amusement Park.
  • €7.50 without tickets for the Amusement Park.

Operating Hours

The Tibidabo Funicular runs from 15 minutes before the park opens to 15 minutes after it closes, and it operates on the following days each week:

  • Mar-Dec: 7 days a week
  • February: Weekends only
  • January: Closed

Montserrat Cable Car

This service is designed to help visitors climb the mountain of Montserrat and see the monastery at the top, and it’s another excellent location to enjoy the views of Barcelona.

Ticket Prices

  • Single Tickets: €7.50/Adults | €4/Children | €6/Seniors
  • Return Tickets: €11.50/Adults | €6/Children | €9/Seniors
  • Free for children 4 and under.

Operating Hours

  • Mar-Oct Hours: Everyday from 9:40 am – 7 pm
  • Nov-Feb Weekday Hours: 9:40 am – 5:15 pm
  • Nov-Feb Weekend Hours: 9:40 am – 6:15 pm

DISCOUNTS

In addition to the Hola BCN Card, there is also a tourist pass known as the Barcelona Card. 

This service provides admission to dozens of popular attractions as well as unlimited access to all public transit including metro, trams, buses, and suburban trains.

Here are just a few of the locations you can visit for free using the Barcelona Card:

  • National Art Museum of Catalonia
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Frederic Marès Museum
  • Chocolate Museum
  • Egyptian Museum
  • Olympic Museum
  • Picasso Museum
  • Music Museum
  • CosmoCaixa
  • CaixaForum
  • And more!

 

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In addition to covering admission prices for several popular attractions, this pass also offers additional discounts on other activities including the following excellent examples:

  • Palau Güell | 25% off
  • Gaudí Experiència | 20% off
  • Basílica de Santa Maria del Mar | €1 off
  • Barcelona Bus Tours | 20% off
  • PortAventura World | 20% off
  • Montjuïc Cable Car | €2 off
  • L’Aquàrium de Barcelona | 20% off
  • Barcelona Zoo | 20% off
  • Opera & Flamenco | 20% off
  • And more!

With the addition of a discount on the Montjuïc Cable Car, this could be a much better option than the Hola BCN Card for some travelers.

When you compare prices with the Hola BCN Card, this pass is typically €5-€7 more per day, but all you really need to do is use it for a few of the free attractions each day to save a decent amount of money.

Here’s a comparison to help you understand what we mean:

Hola BCN Card Prices

  • 3-Day Card: €23.70
    • Price per day: €7.90
  • 4-Day Card: €30.80
    • Price per day: €7.70
  • 5-Day Card: €38.00
    • Price per day: €7.60

Barcelona Card Prices

  • 3-Day Card: €46/Adults | €22/Children
    • Price per day: €15.33/Adults | €7.33/Children
  • 4-Day Card: €56/Adults | €28/Children
    • Price per day: €14/Adults | €7/Children
  • 5-Day Card: €61/Adults | €33/Children
    • Price per day: €12.20/Adults | €6.60/Children

The first thing to note is that while the Hola BCN Card does not offer passes for kids, the Barcelona Card has discounted services for all children between the ages of 4-12. 

Both cards provide free service to kids under the age of 4.

If you’re traveling with children, you could actually save more money buying a Barcelona Card for your children than a Hola BCN Card, and both services provide unlimited access to the public transit system.

Although adults will pay €5-€7 more per day for the Barcelona Card, that’s essentially the price of 1-2 attractions included with the pass at no extra cost, and you could save more than that each day with the discounts on tours and other activities!

In other words, if you’re planning to take a tour, visit a museum, or see one of the attractions included with this tourist pass, it makes a lot more sense to purchase a Barcelona Card than a Hola BCN Card.

For more details, please read our post covering Barcelona tourist attraction discount passes.


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About the author

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers.

Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.