I am a big proponent of using either a bike or public transit to get around in any city or town. And have actually been able to do so for the last seven years; first in Berlin and now in Barcelona. That said, and for specific purposes, we will also use taxis to get around, such as going to the airport on a family trip very early in the morning or coming home late at night, or on special occasions that require using a cab; especially since taxis are still reasonably priced in Barcelona. A taxi ride to or from the airport during the day, for example, will cost between 22€ and 25€. At night, with the special night fare, it might be as much as 28€ into town. Of course, it depends where you are, but for most central locations this is the average rate.
There are many bike routes that crisscross the city. They are usually well-marked and most of them are safe, but always be aware of your surroundings; especially as you get closer to the central part of the city, such as around Plaza Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia at Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, and on La Rambla. Traffic in these areas get especially busy with the addition of public buses, taxis, motorbikes, tour busses, and delivery trucks. When in doubt, or if you are feeling particularly vulnerable, simply get off the bike and walk. Just don’t let a few questionable areas keep you from enjoying the city on a bike. It is well worth it!
We have our own bikes, and can just barely fit them in the elevator to go up to the 7th floor of our building, but this is not an option for everyone. It is rare for buildings to have their own parking or inner courtyards where you can park your bike. If that is your case, you should look into a bike-share program around the city called Bicing (www.bicing.barcelona.) They have a couple of program options with very reasonable rates. Check out their webpage and find out what works best for you. In general, however, the reviews, including this one, are favorable. The way it works is that you open an account and can electronically unlock a bike from many stations citywide, start riding, and return it either where you picked it up or at another Bicing location citywide. The bikes are simple, but new, well maintained and get the job done for local commutes.
Personally, the best bike routes, in my opinion, are on Enric Granados, which goes sort of north and south from the university (Universitat de Barcelona) all the way up to Diagonal. The other fun bike routes are on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (GVCC) and on Diagonal. The bike route along Enric Granados is located along a narrow street with lots of places to stop for a meal, drink or even do some shopping. The route on GVCC runs primarily between Plaza Espanya, passed Passeig de Gracia and continue on. The diagonal route is wide, well-marked and helps get you across the town on this westerly traffic route. Mind you, there are plenty of other bike routes, but these are the primary ones to help you get from home to school, work or wherever.
One thing to consider, however, is that if you use your own bike, make sure you get a strong, thick lock and secure the bike frame to a pole, a fence or a bike rack. Bicycle theft is common in Barcelona, so be vigilant and make sure your bike is secured when you walk away from it. If you use Bicing, you can always dock it back into one of many service stations.
In addition to the cost of purchasing a car, registering it, paying the yearly tax, fuel, and the appropriate insurance, you have to add in the cost of parking. Typically, regardless of whether you rent or own, a parking stall is not included in the rent or purchase price, if you do buy an apartment. Additionally, most, if not all, older buildings do not have any parking on site. Therefore, you will need to rent or buy a parking stall close to your home. You can also try and find on-street parking, but it is tough to do. Long-term rentals for covered parking spaces run between 100€ and 150€ per month. Otherwise, you can buy a space for 10,000€ to 15,000€. Also, if you drive around the city, expect to pay for parking anywhere you go.
Metro and Buses
Barcelona has a great transit system and it is cheap. For example, you can buy a card for 10 trips for 10.20€, which equates to 1.02€ per trip within the central part of the city, which includes the airport. This means that you can take a regional train from downtown Barcelona to the airport for 1.02€. You just need to leave from Estació de França, Passeig de Gracia or Sants Estació. There is also a bus from downtown to the airport (Bus 46,) which also costs the price of one trip (1.02€.)
Within the city, the metro system, combined with busses and the occasional regional train, if needed, can get you wherever you need to go. Additionally, the metro lines have long routes, which allow you to avoid changing trains, or switching over to a bus, since they are able to take you close to where you want to be. The 1.02€ fare noted earlier includes the transfer over to another metro line; just change over to another line within the station. Don’t leave the station!
Like in most cities, taxis are plentiful within the central part of the city, but their availability starts to wane as you move away from the busy downtown area, such as beyond Diagonal or GVCC or Passeig, etc. I personally have never had any issues riding in a taxi in Barcelona, but I do know my way around and speak Spanish. Therefore, you should always make sure the taxi meter is on “0” when you get in, as well as ensure through a navigation app on your mobile that the driver is taking you to your destination in the most direct route. That said, sometimes a taxi driver will go a different way in order to avoid traffic.
I like to walk at night after dinner to help digest my meal, get some air, and take in the city life. There are always people out and about, so you feel safe and it is great to see other people out enjoying the evening as well. Additionally, whenever we have guests fly in from outside Spain, I take them on two-hour walks and they enjoy the chance to see so much of the city, while at the same stopping by to do some quick shopping or taking a break at a restaurant or café along the way.
As always, send us an email if you have any questions regarding the information in this article!