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Tips: Using the Barcelona Metro Map

Using the Barcelona Metro Map to Get Around the City with your Roommates

“Are you new to Barcelona? Do you want to conquer the labyrinth known as the Barcelona Metro? It can take months to understand such a beast, therefore I’ve “outlined 4 concrete steps for you to better understand the pathways and tunnels of the Barcelona metro.

I’ve lived in a variety of cities and have always been a fan of using public transportation, but have had the most problems with the Barcelona Metro. Local friends and friends studying abroad have all told me the same thing—at one point—they too had struggled with the Barcelona Metro who live here. It’s hard to say why so many have difficulties with the Barcelona Metro system. I was boggled when I first came to Barcelona because the metro is essential to navigating the city, especially if you don’t have a car or a bike, but it can often be so counterintuitive. I’ll break down the steps for you to use the metro, in a way that I wish I was told about the metro when I had arrived in Barcelona.

barcelona metro

First, you must be able to know where you are going. For the purposes of this article, let’s say you are next to the Arc de Triomf metro station and you need to get to the Urgell station so you can walk over to the Rekons restaurant. The easiest way is to first get a clear route to your destination through a map or a map application (like google maps). Once you type in your location button, look at the options of travel by train, you’ll see which metro routes will allow you to reach your destination and how long they will take. Now that you know where you’re going and which line to take, you must learn how to identify the Barcelona metro signs. There are many signs around the city, which can be identified by a diamond and an “M” inside.


Pro Tip #1:

In general, you’ll notice that the Barcelona metro stations are placed on both sides of the street almost symmetrically. Therefore if you see an “M” across the street (for Metro), then a metro station should be nearby you or not too far away.

barcelona metro

Once you descend the stairs to the metro, you’ll notice that there are gates prevented you from passing, unless you show a ticket. Near the gates are machines, which accept cash or cards. Some machines don’t accept cards; however, two to three machines will often be side by side and one should accept your card. If you find yourself needing help, there is a button you can press that will send a mechanical operator to help you, but you should need that unless something unexpected happens.

To use the machine, you’ll tap the screen once, then you’ll notice a variety of images of tickets pop up on the screen. At first, the ticket names might seem like another foreign language (e.g. T-Jove, T-10, T-50/30.); however, you’ll soon adjust and learn to tell them apart from one another. These are the kinds of tickets:

  • 1 ticket 2.20€

  • 10 journeys, zone 1, 10.20€

barcelona metro

  • 24h non-stop, zone 1, 8.45€

barcelona metro

  • 1 month non-stop, zone 1, 54€

barcelona metro

  • 90 days non-stop, zone 1, 145.30€

barcelona metro

  • 50 journeys in 30 days, zone 1, 43.50€

barcelona metro

  • 70 journeys in 30 days, zone 1, 60.90€

barcelona metro

  • 90 days non-stop, <25yo, zone 1, 105€.

    This pass requires you to put your NIE in the machine but is the best deal if you are to be staying in Spain for an extended period of time.

barcelona metro

If you buy a ticket with more than one ride on it, the number of rides remaining will be noted on the back of the pass. Also, any rides that you have on your metro pass can be used to pay the fare of a trip on the bus.

Pro Tip #2:

Before you start selecting your Barcelona metro tickets, look for the flags at the bottom of the screen; pressing them will allow you to change the input language to Spanish, French, Catalan or English. Even if your intention is to practice a new language, try to buy your first few tickets in your native language to truly understand how the machine works.

Now that you’ve chosen, paid for, and obtained your first Barcelona metro ticket, you can slide your ticket into the gate to head down to the trains. Make sure you enter the gates marked with green arrows; you will not be permitted to enter the gates marked with a red “X.” Please be sure to make sure you insert your ticket with the arrow indicated on the ticket facing up and towards the slot for the gate.

Remember when you checked your mobile phone earlier to see if you could map out a way to get to Urgell station. Well, now you can use that as a reference for your journey to Rekons. You’ll notice on the map it will show the Barcelona Metro sign next to the four-stop path from Arc de Triomf to Urgell. It will also show you next to the L1 sign (metro line one) that you will be going in the direction of Hospital de Bellvitge. Each Barcelona metro line has two stops at the start and finish of that line, and those two lines mark the direction in which you will be traveling. For Line one (L1), the track ends at “Hospital de Bellvitge” and “Fondo.” Therefore the train will travel in either the direction of Hospital de Bellvitge or in the direction of Fondo.

barcelona metro

Pro Tip #3:

When using the Barcelona metro always check which end station you are traveling towards. Using the example above, double check to see that you are heading in the general direction of Hospital de Bellvitge. There will be diagrams on the walls depicting which way the trains are traveling.

Pro Tip #4:

If you do notice that you’re waiting for a train going in the wrong direction: do not fret. You don’t need to charge your ticket again, simply use the stairs to go on the other side of the tracks. If you need to change lines, there will be arrows on the wall pointing out which way to go, whether that’s to get on a train going a different direction or to a completely different line.

Okay so now you’re almost set to use the Barcelona Metro system, you have your route, you know when to get off, and you are going in the right direction. To know when the train is coming, look at one of the monitors which should indicate how many minutes the next train will arrive. Once the train arrives, be sure to open the door, as the doors will not open automatically. There is a handle or a button to press, which should open the door.

There are a few unspoken rules of the metro that you should be aware of if you don’t already abide by them:

  1. The first is to respect your elders. Allow them to take your seat, if they tell you they’re okay, insist once more and most will take you up on your offer.
  2. Secondly, watch out for your personal belongings, as there are many pickpockets even on the train. You’ll hear lots of stories from people about them having things stolen in the Barcelona metro system; I had a friend who was almost mugged by three old women. Luckily she was saved by a stranger who was watching from afar; it’s not often that someone else will step in, so keep your guard up/stay focused/etc.
  3. Finally, to get the train, you simply get to the door and use the door handle or press the button to exit. Often times, the metro will be crowded, so it’s polite to ask the people near the door that will be opening if they are getting off that the next stop. If they aren’t, then they will make room for you to walk out, rather than you pushing through the crowd.

Pro Tip #5:

One trick to know which metro stop to get off at—besides peering out the window—is looking at the electronic map on the above the door frame inside of the train. This linear map has labels for each station and lights up when the train has arrived at each station. Another trick to learn which side to get off at in the Barcelona metro is to look for the two arrows on the right and left sides of the interior of the train that illustrate which side of the train you can get off at.

barcelona metro

Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll notice that there will two exits listed on the wall leading you to both sides of the block above the metro. If you’ve followed the steps so far, the map on your phone should show you which side to get off on. If you’ve chosen to use a paper map, then look for a map on the wall of the metro. This map will depict where you, where a few blocks above you and where both metro exits are located in relation to your current position. My greatest hope from this article is that you and your roommates can utilize the Barcelona metro more often to travel to all sorts of interesting places together. Once you grasp the steps above, I encourage you to take the metro to its furthest ends and explore Barcelona together!

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