Apart from the medieval Barri Gòtic where you'll want to (and have to) walk, you'll need to use Barcelona's excellent transport system to make the most of what the city has to offer. The system comprises the metro, buses, trains and a network of funiculars and cable cars: to sort it all out, pick up a free public transport map ( Guía del Transport Públic de Barcelona ), available at the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) office in Universitat metro station (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm), at any of the tourist offices, or at the city information office in Plaça de Sant Miquel; the map is also posted at bus stops and metro stations. Detailed information is also available by telephone (tel 010) and on the internet ( ).
On all the city's public transport you can buy a single ticket every time you ride (?1), but even over only a couple of days it's cheaper to buy a targeta - a discount ticket strip which you either pass through the box on top of the barrier or punch in the machine at the metro entrance or on the bus and are available at metro station ticket offices and at FGC stations. The T-10 ("tay day-oo") targeta (?5.40) is valid for ten separate journeys on the metro, buses, FGC and RENFE Rodalies trains, but not on night buses. These tickets can be used by more than one person at a time - just make sure you punch it the same number of times as there are people travelling. Each ticket or fare is now valid for one trip, which can combine various bus, train and metro connections (up to four in one trip). A transit plan divides the province into six zones, which reach as far out as Vic. The entire metropolitan area of Barcelona falls within Zone 1, El Masnou is in 2E, Sitges in 3A and Montserrat in 3C.
Other travel passes are available at station ticket offices and valid on the buses, metro, FGC and RENFE Rodalies: the T-Dia (for 1 zone: 1 day ?4.10), the T-50/30 (for 1 zone: 50 trips within a 30-day period, ?22.30) or the T-Mes (for 1 zone: 1 month, ?35.10) - for the latter you'll need a transport ID card, available from the TMB office at the Universitat metro. Anyone caught without a valid ticket is liable to an on-the-spot fine of ?30.10. In addition, you can buy a T-3 Dies (valid for 3 days; ?10.30) or a T-5 Dies (valid for 5 days; ?15.70), but these are valid only on buses and metro and cannot be used to combine the two mediums on one fare.
Travellers with disabilities: getting around the city
Travellers with disabilities will find it easier to get around Barcelona than most other Spanish cities, but that's not saying a great deal. For specific information , contact the Institut Municipal de Disminuits, c/Llacuna 171, 3º (tel 932 918 400), or call the City Information Line on 010. The Ajuntament produces a map with some suggested itineraries for sightseeing, a list of accessible bus routes and restaurants as well as useful contact numbers, which is available from the municipal information office in Plaça de Sant Miquel, or the transport office in Universitat metro station.The metro
Available facilities include ramp space for two wheelchairs on most city buses; ring the bell on the bus door. Most bus lines are wheelchair accessible, at least at certain times, but check with TMB. Some of the more useful wheelchair accessible lines are #24 (Carmel-Manso), #33 (Pedralbes-Verneda), #44 (Sants-Estacío-Badalona), #47 (Canyelles-Plaça de Catalunya), #59 (Maria Cristina-Barceloneta), #72 (Maria Cristina-Zona Franca) and #171 (Port Vell-Sant Gervasi). Nightbuses #N1 (Via Julia-Zona Franca), #N2 (Collblanc-Verneda) and #N3 (Montcada-Collblanc) are also wheelchair-accessible as is the Aerobús. The metro is inaccessible to wheelchair users apart from line 2, which has lifts from the platform to the street at some stations. If you need a taxi that's wheelchair-accessible, call Barna Taxi tel 933 577 755 or Taxi Móvil tel 933 581 111.Out on the streets, the only acoustic traffic-light signals are on Rambla de Catalunya and Plaça d'Espanya; and only some of the pavements in the newly renovated parts of town have graduated slopes at crossing points.
The quickest way of getting around Barcelona is by the modern and efficient metro , which runs on five lines; entrances are marked with a red diamond sign. Its hours of operation are Mon-Thurs 5am-11pm; Fri, Sat and the day before a public holiday 5am-2am; Sun 6am-midnight; and public holidays 6am-11pm.
Bus routes in the city are easy to master if you get hold of a copy of the transport map and remember that the routes are colour-coded: city centre buses are red and always stop at one of three central squares (Catalunya, Universitat or Urquinaona); cross-city buses are yellow; green buses run on all the peripheral routes outside the city centre; and Nightbuses are blue (and always stop near or in Plaça de Catalunya). In addition, the route is marked at each bus stop, along with a timetable - where relevant, bus routes are detailed in the text.
Most buses operate daily , roughly from 4 or 5am until 10.30pm, though some lines stop earlier and some run on until after midnight. The Nightbuses fill in the gaps on all the main routes, with services every thirty minutes from around 10pm to 4am - for these, you can buy single tickets (?1), or a nitbus targeta for ?6.40 which is valid for ten rides and available on the bus itself.
Between April and November, there's also a tourist bus , the Bus Turístic (#100; daily 9am-7pm; every 20min), starting at Plaça de Catalunya and linking all the main sights and tourist destinations, including the Sagrada Família, Parc Güell and the Poble Espanyol. The buses are colour-coded according to their direction: red destination boards indicate northbound services and blue are for southbound. Tickets cost ?13.30 and are valid for one day, allowing you to get on and off as you please; a two-day fare costs ?16.10 and a child's ticket is ?7.90. The ticket also gives discounts at various sights and on other transport systems, such as the tram to Tibidabo.
Out of Barcelona, and away from the main routes, buses will probably meet most of your transport needs and on the whole they're reliable and comfortable enough, with prices pretty standard at about ?4.20 per 100km. Timetables are posted at bus stations and, usually, in local tourist offices. It's worth noting that the bus service is drastically reduced on Sundays and holidays - it's best not even to consider travelling to out-of-the-way places on these days. The (Catalan) words to look out for on timetables are diari (daily), feiners (workdays, including Sat), and diumenge or festius (Sun and holidays).
The city has a cheap and efficient commuter train line, the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC ), with its main stations at Plaça de Catalunya and Plaça d'Espanya. You'll use this going to Montserrat and Tibidabo; it's also useful for reaching towns outside the city limits and details are given in the text where appropriate.
RENFE ( ) , the Spanish rail company, operates an horrendously complicated variety of train services. An ordinary train, much the same speed and cost as the bus, will normally be described as an Expreso or Rapido. Semi-directos and Tranvías (mostly short-haul trains) are somewhat slower. Intercity expresses, in ascending order of speed and luxury, are known as Electrotren, Talgo or Pendular . The latter two categories are the most expensive, costing as much as 60-70 percent more than you'd pay for a standard second-class ticket; Electrotren tickets cost 40-50 percent more. There's a whole range of discount fares available for those over 65, travelling with children under twelve, in a group of eleven or more, or planning a day return, so make it clear to the clerk exactly what you're planning.
Tickets can be bought at the stations between sixty days and fifteen minutes before the train leaves from the venta anticipada window, or in the final two hours from the venta inmediata window. Don't leave it to the last minute as there are usually long lines. There may also be separate windows for Largo recorrido (long-distance) trains and Regionales or Cercanías (locals). You can also buy tickets and make seat reservations at travel agents which display the RENFE sign; the cost is the same as at the station.
Funiculars and cable cars
There's a funicular (?1.50 one way, ?2.30 return) and cable car (?2.90 one way, ?3.80 return) of use when going to Montjuïc, and there's also a tram (?1.70 one way, ?2.40 return) and funicular service (?1.80 one way, ?3 return) to Tibidabo - full details are given in those sections of the text. On these services, your targeta (the T1) is only valid for the Tibidabo tram. Finally, the cross-harbour cable car (?6 one way, ?7.20 return; ?3.70 if get on or off at the halfway station) is well worth taking at least once for the views.
Black-and-yellow taxis (with a green roof-light on when available for hire) are inexpensive, plentiful and well worth using, especially late at night. There's a minimum charge of ?1.80 (?2 evenings, weekends and holidays) and after that it's around ?0.70 per kilometre. But taxis won't take more than four people and charge extra for baggage and on public holidays, for picking up from Sants and for a multitude of other things. Asking for a receipt ( rebut in Catalan, recibo in Castilian) should ensure that the price is fair. Cabs can be called on the following numbers: tel 934 902 222; tel 934 331 020; tel 933 003 811; tel 933 577 755; tel 933 199 268; and tel 933 215 700.
Driving and vehicle rental
You're not going to need a car to get around Barcelona, but you may want to rent one if you plan to see anything else of the region - though note that the coastal roads in summer are a nightmare; stick to buses and trains if that's as far as you're going. Major roads are generally good, and traffic, while a little hectic in the towns, is generally well behaved - though Spain does have one of the highest incidences of traffic accidents in Europe. Driving, even with a full car, will work out expensive: fuel prices are only marginally lower than in Britain and almost double US prices, and in Barcelona at least you'll probably want to pay extra for a hotel with parking (which is notoriously difficult in the city centre), or be forced to stay on the outskirts. Vehicle crime is rampant - never leave any thing visible in the car.
Most foreign driving licences are honoured in Spain - including all EU, US and Canadian ones - but an International Driver's Licence (available from recognized driving organizations) is an easy way to set your mind at rest. If you're bringing your own car, you must have a green card from your insurers, and a bail bond or extra coverage for legal costs is also worth having, since if you do have an accident it'll be seen as your fault as a foreigner, regardless of the circumstances. Without a bail bond both you and the car could be locked up pending investigation.
Away from main roads you yield to vehicles approaching from the right, but rules are not too strictly observed anywhere. Remember that you drive on the right in Spain. Speed limits are posted - maximum on urban roads is 60kph, other roads 90kph, motorways 120kph. If you're stopped for any violation, the Spanish police can and usually will levy a stiff on-the-spot fine before letting you go on your way, especially since as a foreigner you're unlikely to want, or be able, to appear in court.
In the event of car trouble, the Reial Automòbil Club de Catalunya has links with its European equivalents, and there's a 24-hour telephone line for emergency help and information : tel 900 307 307. Its office address in Barcelona is Avda Diagonal 687 (tel 934 955 000).
Taking your own bike can be an inexpensive and flexible way to get around Catalunya, and is one of the best ways to take in Barcelona's far-flung sights. Despite the fact that the Spanish are keen cycling fans, they tend to see it more as sport than transport, and many pedestrians regard the city's new network of bike paths as additional pavements. There are bike shops in Barcelona and the larger towns, and parts can often be found at auto repair shops or garages - look for "Michelin" signs. Cars tend to hoot in warning before they pass, which can be alarming at first but is useful once you're used to it.
Getting your bike there should present few problems. Most airlines are happy to take them as ordinary baggage provided they come within your allowance (though crowded charter flights may be less obliging). Deflate the tyres to avoid explosions in the unpressurized hold. Spanish trains are also reasonably accessible, though bikes can only go on a train with a guard's van and must be registered - go to the Equipajes or Paquexpres desk at the station.
For information on renting a bike in the city, see "Directory".
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