Getting Around Barcelona
The best way to get around Barcelona is by Metro. A handful of numbered and color-coded lines weave throughout the city, making stops near many of the city's most popular attractions as well as the Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN). City buses are also an option for getting around the city, but be aware that ever-present traffic jams make commuting this way rather time-consuming. You could hail taxis on the street, but if you want to burn a few calories, conduct your tour on foot or by bike. Driving is not recommended.
Diamond-shaped signs wearing an "M" mark the locations of Barcelona's Metro stations. This underground rail system serves much of the city on eight color-coded lines. Single fare tickets are 2.15 euros (about $2.50). If you're visiting Barcelona for a couple days to a week, the T-10 ticket, which costs 9.95 euros (or roughly $11), is your best option. If you're taking the metro into the city from the airport, you'll have to pay a special fare of 4.50 euros (around $5). The metro runs 5 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday as well as on public holidays that fall on a weekday. On Fridays and the eves of public holidays, hours extend until 2 a.m. On Saturdays, the metro runs all night long.
The city also operates an extensive bus system (more than 80 routes), but it's more prone to backups due to the city's ever-present traffic. However, Nitbuses, which run from about 10:40 to 11:40 p.m. to 5 to 6 a.m. depending on the line, can be useful to those visitors enjoying the city's nightlife scene. Bus hours and timetables vary, but you can expect the buses to start running as early as 4:25 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. Single fare tickets are the same price as metro tickets (2.15 euros or $2.41) and T-10 travel cards work on buses as well. Single fare metro tickets can be used on the buses as single fare tickets.
Unless you're leaving the city, it's not recommended that you rent a car. Many of the narrow streets were designed and constructed before the automobile was invented. As such, congestion and traffic jams are the norm. Parking is also tricky. The city has loads of parking lots but it's common for people to reserve spaces in advance. Certain rates for the day can be reasonable (between 15 tand 20 euros or for the day or about $16 to $23) while others can be downright outrageous (upwards of 45 euros or around $50). If you show up to a parking lot without a spot reserved, you could be subject to higher rates. And as of 2016, the Barcelona City Council announced a plan to ban 60 percent of its roads from tourist vehicle use. If you must rent one, you must be at least 21 years of age and have an international driver's permit, which can be obtained here.
Metered taxis are bountiful. Taxis are black and yellow and you can hail them off the street (green light means they're free). Fares depend on zone traveled and time of day. For Zone 1, which you'll find most of Barcelona's top attractions, the fare starts at 2.10 euros ($2.35) and is 1.10 euros ($1.23) after for every kilometer traveled. Rates rise at night, so if you're traveling a lengthy way after dark, you might want to take the Metro or Nitbus instead. For rides between 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., the base fare is 3.10 euros (around $3.50).
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