How to use Barcelona metro – Everything you need to know

In a city with as many different places to visit as Barcelona, the metro network is an essential means of getting around the city in total comfort. Opened in 1924, the network that once linked Lesseps with Plaça de Catalunya today consists of a total of 12 lines, 186 stations and more than 150 km, making it the second longest in the country.

On average, more than 400 million passengers use the metro every year, many of them for the first time. If you are one of these people who have arrived in Barcelona and are wondering “how does Barcelona metro work?”, here we are going to explain all the details, from how to buy a ticket, what the timetables are and how the zones work.

BARCELONA METRO TICKETS 

There are lots of options to choose from when you buy a ticket, so we’ll explain each of them to help you get around the Barcelona metro in the way that suits you best. From 1 January 2020, the tickets available have been significantly simplified, and with the existence of the T-Mobilitat, the permanent card, many passes can be topped up more easily. Let’s take a look at all the ticket options:

TYPES OF METRO TICKET 

Single ticket: As the name suggests, this ticket only allows you to travel on public transport on a single journey. Although you can change metro lines, it does not allow you to transfer between different bus lines or different types of transport. Another important thing to know is that, for any journey made on the public transport network, the ticket expires two hours after it has been validated. This ticket is not valid to go to the airport. 

Airport ticket: This ticket costs more than a single ticket, as it allows you to travel from the airport to Barcelona or vice versa. This ticket is valid for one journey to or from terminals T1 and T2 and for the entire Barcelona metro network. 

T-día: This pass allows you to travel on the Barcelona metro as well as on the rest of the city’s public transport. You should know that this is not a 24-hour ticket, but will only be valid until 04:00 on the day you buy it. Another feature is that it is individual, so two people cannot travel on the same ticket.

Hola Barcelona Travel Card: These tickets are ideal if you’re coming on holiday for a few days and staying in one of our flats in Barcelona. This option allows you to choose a ticket to travel during the time you stay in the city, from 48 hours to 120 hours or, in other words, six days. As well as being able to make as many trips as you want, you will also have access to the line that takes you directly to the airport (L9 sud).

T-4: This is a multi-person 10-trip card at a reduced price. It is only valid for those who have a pink card (mainly retired or disabled people). There is also a single-person pink card that allows disabled people and people over a certain age (the limit is established by each municipality in the metropolitan area) to travel free of charge.

T-verda: This is a single-person transport ticket, free of charge and valid for three years, which can be requested by residents of the Barcelona metropolitan area who decommission and scrap a car without an environmental label.

T-aire: This is a multi-personal card with two integrated journeys from 1 to 6 zones. It is only available for sale on days when there is a traffic restriction due to high pollution, which is when it can be used. The price is that of two journeys with the T-10 card with a 10% discount. It is not valid at Aeropuerto T1 and T2 metro stations on line L9 South.

METRO TICKETS THAT YOU CAN ADD ON THE NEW T-MOBILITAT

The T-Mobilitat is a rechargeable card that came into use at the beginning of 2023. Thanks to it, you can easily top up journeys and types of season ticket. This card has an initial cost and can be easily activated through the TMB app, in the JoTMBé section. You can have your card in physical format (plastic or cardboard) or on your smartphone.

The fare options that can be loaded onto the T-Mobilitat are as follows: T-Casual (10 journeys), T-usual (30 days), T-Jove (90 days), T-usual (FM/FN), T- Jove (FM/FN), T-90/70 FM/FN, T-familiar (8 journeys in 30 days), T-16 and T-Grup. 

In the event of loss or theft, you can request that your ticket be blocked through TMB Tickets or at a TMB Point. Let’s take a look at the different types of T-Mobilitat cards that operate on the Barcelona metro: 

T-casual: This season ticket, available from 2020, replaces the old T-10. Like its predecessor, it is valid for 10 journeys. However, this is a single-person card, i.e. it can only be used by one person per journey. This card is valid until two months after the change in fares, which usually takes place every 1 January. This card can be easily topped up with the T-Mobilitat from the T-Mobilitat App, AMB offices, machines at stations or from the TMB website. 

T-usual: This card is designed for people who use public transport on a regular basis and replaces the old T-50/30 and T-mes fare options. Thus, by buying this ticket, the user will have unlimited journeys that can be spent during the next 30 days. This is a single-person card, and will also be the one to be used by the user of the old T-trimester card, who will have to renew the card every month instead of every three months. It is also easier to load the card by purchasing the T-Mobilitat. 

T-grup: Another new feature in 2020 was this multi-person card that allows a total of 70 journeys to be made in 30 days, replacing the old 70/30 card. It is ideal for groups of people travelling to Barcelona on a one-off basis.

T-familiar: The latest addition to this fare system is this multi-person card, which has a total of 8 journeys and can be used for the next 30 days after purchase. This card is only available through T-Mobilitat. 

T-jove: This card is designed for people under 30 years of age to travel for 90 days at a reduced price. This card is only available with T-Mobilitat. 

T-16: This is a personalised one-zone pass for children and young people aged 4 to 16 (until 31 December of the year in which they turn 16), valid for unlimited free travel for as long as the ticket is valid. It is also valid for Aeroport T1 and Aeroport T2 metro stations on line L9 Sud.

How to pay for the metro in Barcelona

Now that you know the type of ticket suits your needs, to travel on the metro to any point in the city, the first thing you should do is buy a ticket. Here are the instructions:

1. Go to the ticket machine in the entrance and choose your language, it will be much easier for you.

2. Choose the type of ticket you want. In the lower right part of the screen you will find the ‘More’ button. Press it if the option you need does not appear on the screen.

3. Once the ticket type has been selected, the price will appear on the screen. On your left, you can select the number of tickets you want to pay for, and on the right, decide in which zones you want to travel to (if you need to buy a ticket from more than one area, read the following sections). Select ‘continue’.

4. Now you must pay the amount that appears on the screen. Pay in notes through the first slot of the upper-right part of the machine. The slot to pay by card is located right next to it. Occasionally, some machines have no change, so they do not allow bills. In this case you must pay with another method or try another machine.

5. Confirm the purchase and wait for your ticket to appear in the opening below the screen.

If you want to buy an ‘Hola Barcelona’ card before arriving in the city, you also have the option to buy it online and pick it up at the airport tourist office or any other city office.

HOW TO TOP UP YOUR T-MOBILITAT

Your single-person T-Mobilitat cards can be topped up easily and at any time via the app. Likewise, if you want to top up your T-Mobilitat at a metro machine, you can do so in a few simple steps: 

  1. 1. Hold your cardboard or plastic card up to the machine’s reader. 
  2. 2. The screen will automatically ask you if you want to top up your card. 
  3. 3. Follow the steps on the screen. 
  4. 3. Make the payment.
  5. 5. Bring your card close to the machine again for the top-up to take effect.

USING THE BARCELONA METRO SYSTEM

Once you have purchased the ticket, you only need to start your trip. Look at the subway map (you’ll find it below if you need it) and decide where you want to go. When you have passed the turnstile, you will find two signs that will indicate the stops in each direction, so it is as easy as following the signs to the direction you want to go to reach the correct platform.

Once on the subway, remember that above each door there is a map of the line, and the stop you are about to arrive at will blink. On the other hand, the lights in red represent the stops the metro has already made.

TRANSFERS IN THE BARCELONA METRO

If you need to change lines, apart from on our map, you can also know where to get off thanks to the map in the carriage, as it tells you what type of transfers can be made at each stop with a small symbol:

– Tram: Indicated with a square turquoise green logo with a white ‘T’.

– Train: There are two types of trains. The Renfe commuter trains are marked with a white ‘R’ inside an orange box, while Ferrocarrils de la Generalidad (FGC) are signalled with a darker orange square with a white logo that resembles a chain.

Remember that you can transfer to any other type of transport without problem as long as it is within zone 1 and it has not been more than two hours since you first entered. However, if you leave the metro at a stop that was not the one you wanted and want to go through the turnstile again, you will have to use another trip.

METRO ZONES

There is a total of 3 zones that make up the Metropolitan Area and another 3 that will allow you to reach any point in the province, including some medieval villages near Barcelona.

If you are wondering where zone 2 begins to know if you need to buy a ticket for more than one zone, you should know that the entire metro network of Barcelona is located within zone 1. In addition, you can also travel to other cities and towns in the metropolitan area, the last stops that accept Zone 1 tickets are Castelldefels, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Montcada i Reixac and Montgat. Therefore, if you want to take an excursion outside of Barcelona, such as a visit to Montserrat, you must buy a ticket with more areas. In the mentioned case, for example, you should purchase a 4 zones ticket.

An important detail is that, if you go by metro to El Prat airport, the 1 zone ticket is not valid, so you must buy a special ticket unless you have an ‘Hola Barcelona’ card working. The ticket is not valid to transfer to the tourist buses, the Montjuïc cable car or the Tramvia Blau.

BARCELONA METRO TIMETABLES

Have you ever wondered what time the Barcelona metro closes? In this section we will explain the timetables in which the Barcelona metro runs, since it works 365 days a year.

– From Sunday to Thursday: It opens at 05:00 AM and closes at 12:00 PM
– Friday and holiday vigil: Open at 05: 00 AM and close at 02:00 PM
– Saturday: It opens at 05:00 AM and it does not close during the whole night
-Sunday: it opens from 12:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Note that the last train leaves each end of the line at 00:00 h, but that stations also close doors at this time.

On December 31, the train runs during the entire night, as well as the night of June 23 to 24, the night of August 17 to 18, September 21 to 22 and September 23 to 24.

BARCELONA METRO MAP

Now that you have all the information you need, you only need to decide where to go. Visit Gaudí’s art and eat in the best restaurants in Barcelona. It’s up to you! Here you have a map of all the subway lines, so you can comfortably move around the city:

Leave your comment to explain your own experience and some tips so that the rest of the readers know how to use Barcelona metro to perfection.

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