First of all – for those who do not mind walking, this city is there to be explored by foot! However, if you are in a hurry or want to see lots of things in one day, you need to get around fast – so don’t be scared to take the Metro!
In my opinion, there is no need to buy the expensive Tourist cards which are valid for 2 or 3 days. The most economic way to travel by metro is the ticket that allows you to take 10 trips, the T-10. You can buy this ticket at any of the metro stations, either at the counter (if it is manned) or at the many ticket machines. They are easy to use: via touch screen, you choose the ticket option you want (in this case the T-10 for Zone 1), introduce the money (a little more than 10 Euros, December 2014) and then it will print the ticket for you. The good news is, that several persons can travel with the same ticket! So once you walked through the check-point, you can hand the ticket to your travel partner for him/her to use as well.
How do you know the ticket finished? It will show at the back of the ticket, where it keeps count of the trips left. Once you used your last trip, it will show so on the display when walking through at the check point, but also on the back of the ticket it will say “Titol esgotat”. That is Catalan and means “Title expired”. Make sure to keep the ticket until the end of your trip, since you are obliged to keep it with you until you leave the subway!
TIP: the ticket can be used both for Metro and bus! And even better: if you use the metro and then transfer to a bus, you will validate the ticket both at the metro and in the bus, but you will be only deduced one ride!!! It does not work the other way, though, for example if you take the bus first and then the metro, you will be charged two rides.
The metro system is quite easy to grasp. There are different lines taking you more or less horizontally or vertically through town. The main lines would be the Red Line (L1) which can for example bring you from Plaza Espanya to Plaza Catalunya. Or the Green Line (L3) that you might take from Drassanes (port of Barcelona, or end of Las Ramblas) to Passeig de Gracia (where Casa Batllo is), just to name a few examples. You will look for the final destination of the line on the maps which are published in the entrance areas of the metro and then follow the signs. For example, you want to go from Drassanes (green line, remember?) to Passeig de Gracia. You will look for the platform with final destination Trinitat Nova to get on the train taking you the right direction.
Find out detailed information about the Metro lines and buses of Barcelona here: http://www.tmb.cat/en/home
Let me give another example with the most popular connection:
- How do I get from Barcelona port to Sagrada Familia? Take Green Line (L3) in direction Zona Universitaria and get off after one stop at Paral.lel. Change to the Purple Line (L2) with final destination to Badalona Pompeu Fabra. Get off at the stop “Sagrada Familia” (5 stops)