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Understanding The Barcelona Metro System

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Train arriving at a Barcelona subway station

MOVING AROUND BARCELONA LIKE A LOCAL​

Using the metro is an awesome way of moving around Barcelona for sightseeing. Today we are going to discuss the specificities of the underground Barcelona transportation system, so you feel comfortable doing that and don’t look like a tourist.

There are in Barcelona metro stops every few blocks in the city center, and it’s always faster than a bus. So go ahead, grab a Barcelona subway map from a tourist office, and get ready to go!

Here are our 5 basic tips for understanding how the Barcelona metro system works:​

1

Get your metro card​

The good old 10-trip card was discontinued in 2020. Now the best option for travelers is the T-Casual (10 trips to be use by only one person, expiration date after yearly fee change) or the T-Familiar (8 trips to be used within 30 days, can be used by more than one person).

There's also the T-Grup (70 trips to be used within 30 days by one or more people - that would be a reasonable choice for large families staying several days and using public transit to move around rather than taxis). Another option if you'll be taking the subway even for short distances is getting a multiple day pass.

2

Ticket machines​

There haven’t been ticket-offices with real people in them for a while in the Barcelona underground… But don’t worry: the ticket vending machines speak English (just select it before touching any other button, though). 

Also make sure to have a small bill or coins to pay, as the change is always given in coins. Credit cards will only work as long as you have a PIN number (yes, in Spain we have PIN numbers for credit cards, too!)

3

Validating your ticket​

Nothing annoys more a local than to have a tourist blocking the validation machines. So once you’ve got your ten-journey metro card, check out where is the little arrow that will show you which you need to insert the ticket. 

Also make sure that you are in the right side of the validating machine: there are arrows showing you what door will open if you use that machine (if you are in the wrong side, someone else will go in for free through the door you opened for them!). Remember to retrieve the ticket, and don’t get too close to the door as sometimes they don’t open when you are too close: if that happens, just step back and it’ll open.

4

In the train​

There are visual and sound signals telling you what’s the next station: very convenient! However, remember that in the Barcelona subway system the doors won’t open until you action the button or lever: if you are standing in front of the door waiting for it to open, an angry Barcelonan will do it for you and push you out of his way (or you’ll miss your stop if no one else is getting out!)

5

Escalators​

The Barcelona metro system etiquette says that if you are not going to walk up the escalator, you have to stand to the right to let passengers that are in a hurry walk up. Same thing if you are a couple or a group and you are not walking up, remember not to block the way.

Another thing to take into account is that escalators are often a preferred area of action for pickpockets. We have a post where we explain their thief techniques so you can be prepared and avoid them.

AND BONUS! What can happen when exiting the subway?​

6

Exiting the subway​

You won’t need to validate your ticket again to exit the station, however, don’t throw it away until you are back in the street, as occasionally there are ticket controls to catch people who sneak in the Barcelona metro system without paying. If you didn’t spend your 10-journey metro card, you can still use it until the next fees change.

Have you ever used the Barcelona metro system?​

Marta

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