BARCELONA - GETTING AROUND

Walking

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.

By 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 eight 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 2.15€. More economical options include a T-10 at 9.95€, 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. Travel cards valid for 2 to 5 days are also available. 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.

By Bus and Tram

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 10:00pm. 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 2.15€ 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.

By Commuter Rail

The urban and metropolitan rail network, the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC), is run by the Catalan government and supplements Barcelona's metro network. There are three urban lines, L6, L7 and L8, which operate 5am to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 5am to 2am Friday with continuous service on Saturday.

By Taxi

Yellow and black taxis bear the letters 'SP' (Servicio Público) on their front and rear and 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 €1 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 Ràdio Taxi (tel. 93-303-30-33).

By Funicular

To visit Tibidabo by public transport, you'll have to take the Funicular de Tibidabo. The fare is 7.70€, or 4.10€ if you're also purchasing admission to theTibidabo amusement park. The funicular operates every 15 to 20 minutes. From mid-April to September service is daily 10am to 8pm. In the off season it usually operates only Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm. To get to the funicular, take Metro Line 7 to Avinguda Tibidabo. Exit onto Plaça Kennedy and take either the 1901 tram called Tramvía Blau (Blue Streetcar) or Bus 196 to the funicular. The bus is the usual 2€ fare. Tickets on the Tramvía Blau are 4€.

Getting to Montjuïc by funicular is a simple ride from the Paral-lel Metro station and is considered part of the Metro network, although you need to change and use a new 2€ ticket. Once you're on the mountain, you can ride a cable car to the castle on top. Tickets on Telefèric de Montjuïc are 7.30€ one-way, 10€ round-trip (5.50€ or 7.40€ for ages 4–12).

By Bicycle

Barcelona offers about 125 miles 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.

By Car

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: Small items such as hand 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!