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March 20, 2010

Barcelona Travel Tips – A Guide to Getting Around

Barcelona has a public transport system that is an absolute delight for visitors to this spectacular city.

The totally integrated system allows you to get around cheaply and easily for 24 hours a day. The Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona is the organisation which is responsible for co-ordinating not only the city’s Metro and bus systems but also the trams and local train services.

By far the quickest way to travel around the Catalan capital city is by the truly excellent Metro system, with an easy to follow colour-coded route map that comes as a blessed relief to those more used to trying to decipher London’s underground maps. There are more than enough stations – you’re never very far from one wherever your wanderings take you – and they are easily identifiable by the signs with the blue letter M inside the red diamond. A single ride will cost you €1.25 – but, as we shall see later – there are some very good deals to be had.

The bus routes – and there are more than 80 lines across the city – may not be as quick as the Metro but they certainly offer an easy method of seeing the many architectural splendours – ranging from the bizarre Gaudi inspired architecture to the more classically inspired splendours the city can provide. The bus stops are at red signs with brown benches underneath a small roof and almost all of the buses in Barcelona are now wheelchair accessible, with many having wheelchairs lifts. For late-nighters, Barcelona provides a comprehensive night service, the Nitbus, which operates until 4.30 in the morning and goes past most of the popular night venues – some can even take you straight to the airport.

You can pick up free maps showing all the city’s bus and Metro lines – including the Nitbus – at tourist offices and Metro stations – and hotels often have them. The Tourist and Leisure Cards which offer significant savings on fares are available at TMB Customer Service centres, Metro stations, Newsagents, Tourist Information Offices and even at Lottery selling outlets. A two day card offering unlimited use costs €10.70, a three day card €14.30 and a five day €23.10 – and remember that they’re valid for all the TMB services.

Of course, Barcelona also has its share of taxis for those who prefer this mode of transport or who have luggage they need to stow. Barcelona cabs are easily recognised by their black and yellow colouring and, of course, have the green light on the roof which indicates they are ‘libre’ – lliure in Catalan. If the light is yellow, then the taxi is unavailable for hire or occupied. Currently there is a minimum fare of €1.80, with rates at €0.82 per kilometre or €1.04 per kilometre at nights and weekends. Obviously you can expect surcharges for luggage, etc and, if you’re looking to travel from the airport by cab, the minimum charge is €15.00, with €1 for every item of luggage.

With regard to taxis, it’s as well to remember, though, that much of the centre of Barcelona is pedestrianised and allows access only to buses, so there are some places taxis cannot take you.

Barcelona is considered, justifiably, one of Europe’s most attractive destinations – combining, as it does, beach and city, ancient and modern, local and international. As befits such a venue, the public transport systems are in place to ensure that visitors can really make the most of their time there

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