Most flights arrive at El Prat Airport, located 12 km (7.5 miles) south of the city centre. The airport has two terminals, linked by a shuttle bus. Local train services run every 30 minutes to the city centre, (about 25 mins), while metro Line 9 Sud links Zona Universitària station (Line 3) on the western side of the city (about 30 mins). There is also an express airport bus service, Aerobús (20–30 mins).
There are taxi ranks at both terminals (€25–35 into central Barcelona), as well as several car rental companies.
Iberia offers a shuttle service between Madrid and Barcelona with up to 30 flights a day, and also links to many other domestic destinations, as do Vueling and Air Europa. There are direct flights on national and low-cost airlines from the UK and most major European cities. Some low-cost and charter airlines also fly to Girona and Reus, both about 100 km (62 miles) away. There are direct flights from New York, Miami and Atlanta, and flights from Australia and New Zealand via Dubai and other stopovers.
Services are operated by Spain’s national rail company, RENFE, and by the Catalan government’s FGC (Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya). Inter-city and European trains use Estació de Sants and Estació de França (a new high-speed train station, Sagrera, is under construction). Sants offers a number of facilities, including lockers, ATMs and bureaux de change, but França has none. The fast AVE train from Sants connects Barcelona to Madrid in under 3 hours.
Several bus companies link Barcelona to Spain’s major cities, and both Eurolines and Alsa connect from major European cities. Book tickets online through Movelia. Most buses operate from Estació del Nord (timetables are available on its website) and from a smaller station next to Estació de Sants.
Those arriving by car will find good autopistes (tolled highways) and toll-free roads linking Europe and the rest of Spain to Barcelona. The tolled AP7 runs from the French border to Barcelona.
Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona or TMB runs the extensive public transport network in the city and suburbs, covering the funicular, bus, metro, FGC and RENFE. The eight-line metro system (L1–L5, L9–L11) is fast, convenient and easy to use. It runs from 5am to midnight Monday to Thursday, 5am to 2am Friday, and 5am Saturday to midnight on Sunday. TMB’s website has travel information, route finders and schedules.
Barcelona has two local train operators: RENFE runs rodalies (cercanías in Spanish) to towns around the city and the airport; FGC runs the commuter rail system (L6, L7, L8) in eastern and northern Barcelona. Both RENFE and FGC share some key stations with the metro.
Barcelona’s bus system covers the entire city. Bus stops are clearly marked and buses display their destinations on the front. Most routes run from 4:30am to 11pm daily. Nitbús (night bus) routes, operated by ATM, usually run from 10:40pm to 6am. For schedules and routes, check the ATM website or pick up a bus guide from the tourist office.
Barcelona has two tram lines, Trambaix (T1, T2, T3) and Trambesòs (T4, T5, T6), which run between 4:55am and 12:30am daily (each line has slightly different hours). They are operated by TRAM (check website for route and schedule).
The city’s integrated fare system covers bus, tram, metro, local train and rodalies. A single fare costs €2.20. The T-10 multi person travel card is valid for 10 trips in zones 1 to 6 (the total journey must be completed within 75 minutes. The T-Dia card offers unlimited daily travel for an individual. Tickets can be bought at metro stations from machines. The Hola BCN! pass can be bought via the TMB website or from machines at stations for 2, 3, 4 or 5 days of unlimited travel on public transport, including the airport metro line.
Driving in the city is not recommended. The narrow roads and one-way systems are tricky to negotiate and street parking is tough to find. Those arriving by car are advised to leave it in a covered car park on the outskirts and use public transport.
A yellow-and-black taxi can be hailed in the street; a green light on the roof indicates it is free. Taxis can be ordered online or on the phone from Taxi Ecològic, Radio Taxi 033, Barna Taxi, Taxi Class and Taxi Amic (adapted for disabled travellers). For two or more passengers, taxis are almost as cheap as the metro for short hops. There is a minimum fare, and supplements for luggage, for port and airport trips, journeys at night and on public holidays, and from the rank at Sants station. The arrival of unregulated taxi services such as Cabify and Uber have been met with resistance by the local taxi drivers, and thus the services they provide are limited.
Cycling can be a fun alternative to walking. Barcelona has more than 180 km (112 miles) of bike lanes: maps are available from the tourist office and rental shops, such as Budget Bikes, Rabbit Bike and Bikeceloning (see Trips and Tours). The city’s Bicing scheme, which allows people to pick up and drop off bikes from stands across town, is geared towards residents – there’s an annual charge and you need a local address. You can also get around by scooter, motorbike or Segway. Ask the tourist office for a list of local rental companies.
Most areas are best seen on foot, especially the old town and Gràcia, where a leisurely stroll is the only way to soak up the architectural and cultural riches. The seafront, from Port Vell to Port Olímpic, is also great for walking.
C/Ali Bei 80