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One afternoon spent soaking up the Mediterranean sun on its beautiful beaches, strolling its winding Old City streets, and marvelling at its wealth of astonishing architecture is all it takes to see why Barcelona is the first place to which many travellers flock in Spain.

The country’s second-largest city and capital of Catalonia, Barcelona has enjoyed sustained interest following its successful hosting of the 1992 Summer Olympics. Visitors can easily spend multiple days blissfully wandering the gorgeous Ciutat Vella, the city’s oldest district and site of the popular La Rambla, Barri Gòtic, and Plaça de Catalunya pedestrian areas. The spectacular La Sagrada Família is but one of numerous stops on the Gaudí architectural trail, while the towering Santa Maria del Mar church, built in Catalan Gothic style, is another definite highlight.

And when afternoon turns to evening, know that Barcelona and its lively late-night culture is just getting started.

Getting Around

Barcelona is divided into 10 districts, though most tourists rarely venture outside of those located near the coast. Ciutat Vella, or the Old City, is where you’ll find many of the Catalonian capital’s most well-known lures, including lively La Rambla, the common landing point for first-time visitors.

Ciutat Vella and other well-trodden districts can be easily covered on foot, but a fully integrated public transportation system that includes the metro subway, buses, and trams gives travellers plenty of other easy options for sprinting around the city. Taxis are abundant, as well, though like buses they will get caught up in Barcelona’s frequently clogged traffic. Numerous bicycle shops offer daily rentals and guided tours.

By Metro Train

There are eight coloured and numbered subway lines in Barcelona’s easy-to-use metro system. Passengers can transfer at no cost from the metro to the city’s government-managed, three-line rail network, the FGC, as well as to the above-ground trams, which have two lines.

The metro is available from 5am to midnight, except on Fridays, when it stops at 2am, and on Saturdays, which has 24-hour service.

Individual journeys are €2.20 (US$2.70), though visitors can purchase Hola BCN! cards starting at just €15 (US$18.35) for two days of unlimited travel on all trains and trams. Turisme de Barcelona offers discounted Hola BCN! cards at its airport and Plaça Catalunya offices. 

By Buses

There are upwards of 1,000 buses shuttling passengers along 80 different routes in Barcelona, making frequent stops in all of the most-popular districts and tourist areas.

Single-journey fares are €2.20 (US$2.70) and can be purchased at the time of boarding, though if you plan to take frequent rides instead purchase a T-10 card, which provides 10 rides for €10.20 (US$12.45). Fares are integrated between Barcelona’s various public transportation systems, which means you can transfer between the metro and buses within 85 minutes at no additional charge. The Hola BCN! card is valid for buses, as well.

Buses run on regular schedules from 4:30am to 11pm, though there are reduced overnight services available, as well.

By Taxi

Taxis are a safe and generally effective means of transportation within the city, though traffic jams are common—walk or use public transportation when possible.

Cars in Barcelona’s fleet of 11,000-plus taxis are identifiable by their yellow-and-black colouring; a green light on top of the car is illuminated when the driver is available. There are more than 300 taxi stands in metropolitan Barcelona, though you should also be able to flag cars down elsewhere.

Fares vary slightly based on location, starting at around €2 (US$2.20) and increasing by €1.10 to €1.40 (US$1.20 to $1.60) every kilometre. Extra surcharges apply for travel between 10pm and 8am, as well as for hauling large pieces of luggage.

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