BARCELONA FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Barcelona's airport, El Prat del Llobregat (BCN), is located 8 miles from the city center. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. The RENFE rail service departs every 30 minutes between 6:15am and 11:15pm from the El Prat train station to Estació Barcelona-Sants (Plaça dels Paisos Catalans) with a journey time of 25 minutes; then at Plaça de Catalunya, Arc de Triomf and Clot-Aragó where you will find connections with the Metro and bus services.

Aerobús services A1 and A2 travel between the airport and the city center. Buses leave from outside the 'Arrivals' hall at all three terminals every 15 minutes from 6am to 11pm on weekdays (every 30 minutes from 6:30am to 10:30pm on weekends) and stop at Plaça Espanya, Gran Vía de les Corts Catalanes, Plaça Universitat and Plaça de Catalunya. Journey time is about 40 minutes to the last stop and the fare is €5.50 one-way or €10 round-trip.

NOTE: If you are traveling to Barcelona Airport, it is important to remember that Aerobuses for Terminal 1 and for Terminal 2 stop at the same bus stops so make sure that you take the right Aerobus. The Aerobus for Terminal 1 is two-tone light blue and dark blue. The Aerobus for Terminal 2 is dark blue and yellow.

Alternately, there are black and yellow taxi ranks outside all three airport terminals. They should be metered. Cab fare from the airport into town is €30 to €35, depending on traffic, the part of town you're going to and the number of large bags you're carrying (€1 is charged for each large bag). Tip between 5% and 10% of the fare. There's a supplement from the airport after 10pm. The journey to the center of town can take from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Barcelona is serviced by numerous domestic and International rail lines and two main train stations. Spain has invested heavily in its rail system making the train a great way to get around for both long and short distances. Spain's intercity services (along with some of Barcelona's rodalies, or local train routes) are handled by the government run railroad system - RENFE. Please check the links below for additional information regarding transportation from your arrival station. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you will find Barcelona is well connected by Metro, tram and bus.

Barcelona Train Stations: Estació Barcelona-Sants - Estació de Franca

How do I get around Barcelona using the Metro?

In Barcelona the underground metro, or subway, is the cheapest and easiest way to get around. The Metro runs 5am to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 5am to 2am Friday and Saturday. There are five color-coded and numbered lines that fan out from the center of the city. Stations are recognizable by a red diamond-shaped sign with the letter M in the center. Maps are available from the stations and from tourist information offices. The stations at Plaça de Catalunya, Sants, and Passeig de Gràcia connect with RENFE or over ground trains.

A single (senzill or sencillo) ticket in central zone 1 costs 1.40€. More economical options include a T-10 at 7.85€, which offers 10 journeys that can be shared by two or more people, or a T-Día for unlimited 24 hour transport in central Barcelona for 5.90€. Travel cards valid for 2 or 3 days are also available for 11.20€ to 15.90€. All these tickets are valid for the FGC and bus systems as well as the Metro. When a sencillo ticket is activated it is valid for up to 75 minutes on a different form of transport if you need to do a combined Metro/bus journey - simply insert the card through the slot and the turnstile will open without charging you for a second ride.

The TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona) website has information on the city's transport system in English, including which Metro stations and buses are equipped to take wheelchairs. The customer service number is tel. 93-318-70-74; there are also customer service centers at Universitat, Sagrada Família, Sants, and Diagonal stations.

How do I get around the city using other public transportation?

Considering the complexity of Barcelona, getting around is surprisingly easy. In addition to the efficient subway system, surface trams and buses will take you from one end of the city to the other for less than the price of a cup of coffee. Barcelona's main bus station is Estació del Nord (Carrer d'Ali Bei 80, Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08018. 902/260606), a few blocks east of the Arc de Triomf. Buses also depart from the Estació de Sants. City buses run daily from 5:30am to 11:30pm. Route maps are displayed at bus stops and it is helpful to note that those with a red band always stop at a central square - Catalunya, Universitat or Urquinaona. The Nitbus, which is particularly useful, runs from 11pm to 4am. These buses are bright yellow and clearly marked with an N. While travel cards and other TMB passes are valid for daytime buses they're not valid on Nitbuses. Tickets cost 1.25€ one-way and are purchased directly from the driver in cash.

Barcelona's sleek new tramvías (trams) run the main routes through the city alongside buses. Although buses are plentiful, they can be far less convenient as they are often caught up in the city's infamous traffic congestion. Most bus and tram routes stop at Plaça de Catalunya, which is also the stopping point for the Aerobús service from the airport and the Bus Turístic. Routes and timetables are clearly marked at each stop; however, most buses and trams stop running well before the Metro closes.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Yellow and black taxis are plentiful with cabstands (parades, in Catalan) all over town; or you can hail one on the street if its green light is on. Taxis have meters and the rate from 6am to 10pm weekdays starts at €2 and rises in increments of €0.90 every kilometer. The more expensive night rate starts at 3.10€. There is a supplemental charge of €2.10 for trips to/from a train station and €3.10 for trips to/from the airport. There are official supplements of €1 per bag for luggage as well. By law, a list of prices and surcharges is on display on the back passenger window. Drivers do not expect a tip, although rounding up in their favor is appreciated. To reserve a taxi, please call the Institut Metropolità del Taxi (tel. 93-223-51-51).

I will have a car in Barcelona, where can I park?

Our best advice on driving in Barcelona would be: don't. Between parking, navigating, drunk-driving patrols and traffic congestion, you'll find the ease and efficiency of public transportation to good to pass up. On the other hand, if you are planning on taking any day trips or touring the Catalonia province then we suggest you pick up your rental car as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses. Alternatively, you may consider renting the car in a town where you will be visiting and then traveling there by train and picking up the car once you arrive.

Warning: luggage, cameras and laptops are commonly stolen from parked cars. Don't leave anything in a parked car and keep doors locked, windows up, and valuables out of sight while driving!

Is Barcelona a walking city?

Barcelona is a city of contrasts! From the medieval Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter) to the moderniste L'Eixample to the coast of the Mediterranean, it offers not just one but many different worlds to explore. And while it's tempting to hop on and off the Metro to see the sights, remember that Metro stations are often only about a 5 - 10 minute walk apart so a good pair of shoes is the best way around central Barcelona.

Is Barcelona a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Barcelona has reported a growing number of violent attacks in tourist areas, with older tourists particularly at risk. Criminals, who often work in teams, frequent tourist areas and major attractions as well as trains, train stations, airports, subways and ATMs. Muggings and pickpocketing are common so travelers should exercise caution, carry limited cash and credit cards, and leave passports and personal documents in a safe location. Crimes occur at all times of day and night, but the early hours of the morning are when visitors should be most cautious.

Are there long lines at the museums? Does it make sense to buy a museum pass?

An Articket Barcelona can save you time and money if you're planning to visit two or more museums. It entitles you to free admission to all the permanent collections and temporary exhibitions at seven of the most important and remarkable museums and art centers in Barcelona including the Picasso Museum, Fundacion Joan Miro, Casa Mila, Fundacion Antonio Tapies, Museo Nacional de Arte de Catalunya (MNAC), Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Barcelona (MACBA) and Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona (CCCB). The Articket can be used once at each museum and is valid for three months after the date of voucher exchange.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Spain is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATM's can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Spain by clicking here.

I don't speak Spanish. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Spanish dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

What time do Spaniards usually eat? Do I need to make reservations to fancy restaurants in advance?

Traditionally Catalans and Spaniards have their meals later than in other European countries. Breakfast (esmorzar in Catalan or desayuno in Spanish) is usually from 9:00am to 11:00am in the morning and is a light meal with 'cafe amb llet' (in Catalan) or 'café con leche' (in Spanish), which both mean coffee with milk. With the coffee you might have a croissant or a 'tostada' (toast with butter and jam). Lunch is an important meal and usually lasts about two hours, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm, but some shops and business close by 1:00pm. Dinner (cena) is generally from 9:00pm to 11:00pm, but you can often find people eating until midnight. Most upscale restaurants do require a reservation, and depeding on the restaurant, may require booking weeks or even months in advance.

Note: new anti-smoking laws in Spain prohibit smoking in all enclosed public spaces including restaurants and night clubs.

What are the best areas for shopping?

L'Eixample's elegant Passeig de Gràcia is home to some of the most expensive retail space in Spain. Here the top names of fashion have set up shop. And all along the avenue there are dozens of outdoor cafes for relaxing over wine and tapas. The older, more traditional shops and specialized retailers are to be found in the Ciutat Vella (El Raval, El Born and the Barri Gòtic). In the Old City, you will also find intimate boutiques and galleries. One promising new area is located around the MACBA, the city's museum of contemporary art in El Raval.

Clothing, shoes and leatherwear are the items to buy in Barcelona. The quality and value of leather goods is superb with leather shoes, belts and coats being particularly good buys. Barcelona is also renowned for its vibrant design culture so decorative objects and house wares here are original and well made and can be found in the shops around the MACBA and the Museu Picasso. Artisan pieces such as ceramic tiles and earthenware bowls and plates are cheap and plentiful.

Where can I rent a bicycle in Barcelona?

Barcelona offers 200 km of bike lanes and cycling in the city is very safe. The city has a bike sharing program with red bicicletas (6,000 in all) available for free from bus and Metro stations for up to 30 minutes. There are also shops that rent them, including Un Coxte Menys, Esparteria 3 (tel. 93-268-21-05), and Biciclot, Verneda 16 (tel. 93-307-74-75). It is important to note that you are required by law to wear a helmet.