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When I visited Lisbon and parts of Portugal, I was very confused by their transportation system. In Barcelona, it was the complete opposite. They have an excellent transportation system and it was super easy to get around everywhere. This is coming from someone that gets lost easily, so if you are a natural at finding your way around cities, Barcelona will be a breeze.
GETTING TO THE CITY FROM THE AIRPORT - AEROBUS
I flew into Barcelona twice, so I had different experiences with different means of transport. My first place I stayed at was only a 5-minute walk from Placa Catalunya, which was one of the stops on Aerobus. Aerobus is the way to go if you’re going into the city. It’s only 5.90 Euros for a one-way ticket or 10.20 Euros for a round trip ticket. You can buy tickets several ways: 1) Online 2) Information desk at airport 3) Vending machines by the buses or 4) Cash (but make sure to have exact change). I chose to get my tickets at the information desk and both times, it only took 5 minutes tops to purchase.
What I love most about the Aerobus is that you really don’t have to wait for a bus to arrive because they just keep coming in one after another. It’s a never-ending line of these buses, so as soon as you get in line for the Aerobus, you’ll be on the bus in no time.
The bus ride takes about 40 minutes and it’s a very comfortable ride. There are some seats that have USB plugs. They also provide free wifi which was pretty convenient. They make a few stops before arriving to Placa Catalunya, which seems to be the hub of meeting points, taxi stops and bus stops. As I mentioned, my Airbnb was only a 5-minute walk from Placa Catalunya, so it was a breeze getting to my place. Even though Barcelona is bustling with loads of tourists, I was able to easily walk through the streets with my suitcase and backpack.
If your accommodation is further away from the Aerobus stops, take a taxi. There are taxis everywhere in Barcelona, so it’s easy to hail down one. If it’s around 1-2 miles away, it’ll be about 6-8 Euros. You can also take another local bus or the metro but you’ll need exact change for the bus and you’ll need to go up and down steps in the metro, so it’s a little inconvenient.
GETTING BACK TO THE AIRPORT FROM THE CITY - TAXI
Uber was not very common (or not operating) at the time I went in July 2018, but taxis are everywhere. Since my flight was so early in the morning at 6:30am, I had to get a taxi at 4:00am since Aerobus does not start running until 5:00am. I was a little nervous not being able to hail down a taxi since I was staying at an Airbnb, so I downloaded the MyTaxi app and booked a taxi. Even though I booked it, I was still nervous that it wouldn’t show up on time or the app wouldn’t work or the taxi driver wouldn’t be able to find me. Well, I didn’t have to worry about any of those things because the taxi showed up right on time and found me just fine. Interesting thing is before my reserved taxi arrived, I had THREE taxis pass by me asking if I needed a ride. Who knew that there would be so many taxis so early in the morning! Apparently, people party in Barcelona until 6 or 7 in the morning, so it’s totally normal to see so many taxis at that hour. Something to note if your’e nervous about not being able to find taxis like me!
I followed the taxi route on Google Maps and he seemed to go the exact route that was being displayed. I also knew it would be around 30 Euros, so I was surprised that the fee was a little more than the app estimated, which was 22-27 Euros. I read a lot of reviews online that some tourists got taken advantage of if they didn’t know the average fares, so I just wanted to make sure everything was legit. My experience with taxis in Barcelona was awesome. I loved all my drivers and they were all very kind and to the best of my knowledge, they were being honest.
GETTING AROUND THE CITY - HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS
On my first day in Barcelona, I was a little overwhelmed with all the things to do, so I decided to take the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour to get a glimpse of all the sites and see what I would like to check out more later. The bus ticket was 30 Euros and they have a very efficient system where they use 3 different buses (the red line, blue line and green line) that takes you to the main sites of Barcelona. I mainly took the Red Line and did the entire loop in about 2 hours. Some sites I noted that were interesting were Casa Batllo, Passeig de Garcia, Placa d’espanya, MNAC (had great views up top), Fundacio Joan Miró (contemporary art museum) and Teleferic de Montjuïc (ride on gondolas). You can connect your headphones (or the bus attendant will provide you a new set of headphones) to the audio guide located at each seat. They also provide free WiFi on the bus.
GETTING AROUND THE CITY - METRO
Once I got a better understanding what was around Barcelona, I decided to try out the metro. I bought the 2-Day Hola Barcelona Travel Card online which gave me unlimited use of Barcelona's transportation system including the metro and buses for 2 consecutive days or 48 hours for 13.50 Euros (normally 15 Euros but I got a 10% discount for purchasing online). You can also get the 3-Day, 4-Day or 5-Day pass as well.
Once I purchased my pass, I went to one of the metro stations (you can go to any metro station) and entered my voucher number in the vending machine and got my 2-Day pass. I was a little nervous trying out the metro system at first because I had such a hard time getting around in Lisbon but Barcelona's metro system is super easy to understand. I just entered my location in Google Maps and the app instantly told me what metro line to take and how many stops it would be. You can even get details on which stations you will be making stops at before you reach your destination. For the rest of my time in Barcelona, I just used the metro system because it was so easy and convenient.
GETTING AROUND THE CITY - WALKING
Of course, there's always walking if you want the exercise. Everything in Barcelona is pretty much within walking distance. Just to give you some examples: from Plaça de Catalunya to the beach is a 30-minute walk; from Plaça de Catalunya to Gothic Quarter is an 11-minute walk; from Plaça de Catalunya to La Sagrada Familia is a 35-minute walk.
The only place that is a little too far to walk is Park Guell, which would take about an hour from Plaça de Catalunya. I did my fair share of walking but I still needed some sort of transportation to help me out throughout the day because I was walking an average of 10 miles per day.
As you can see, you will have no problem getting around Barcelona because they have a superb transportation system. That was one of my favorite things about Barcelona because it made my visit so much easier and more enjoyable.