Understanding Barcelona’s Public Transport Zones

Fares on Barcelona’s public transport network are based on zones, much as they are in London and Paris. Unlike London, the entire city of Barcelona is within TMB Zone 1. Zones 2 to 6 cover surrounding towns and cities which are also included in the integrated fare system.

Another important fact that I hadn’t noticed until this morning is that the zones on the TMB map (Barcelona’s metropolitan transport system) aren’t exactly the same as those on the RENFE map (Spanish train network).

The differences are minor and only affect a few stations so it’s hard to spot if you check the individual maps online. However, if you compare the maps side-by-side you will see that there are some discrepancies, one of which is especially interesting for budget minded tourists visiting Barcelona.

Two maps of Barcelona’s public transport zones.

Spot the difference !

Firstly, Sitges and Mataró are both in zone 3 on the TMB map and zone 4 on the RENFE map. More importantly, Barcelona airport is in zone one on the TMB map and zone 4 on the RENFE map!

This means that if you purchase a single RENFE ticket from the airport to Sants train station it will cost you €4.10 whereas if you purchase a T10 card (10 journeys by bus, metro and train) the same journey on the same train will cost just under €1.00.

Another advantage of the T10 is that allows you to transfer to the metro or bus as part of the same journey whereas the single train ticket or bonotren only covers the train.

So far I’ve only spotted 3 differences between the public transport zones on theTMB and RENFE maps. Have you found any that I’ve missed?

48 thoughts on “Understanding Barcelona’s Public Transport Zones

  1. Sahana Barike

    Hi Richard,

    We are a group of 6 people arriving at Barcelona airport at 10.p.m on saturday. We have booked a hotel in Granollers. I see taking train is more economical compared to cabs. I saw your comments that says one has to take R2 rails to reach Granollers from airport. But i am not able to understand the starting point of these rails. Does it start from airport?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards,
    Sahana

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Sahana,

      The train departs from the train station at terminal 2. If you will be landing at terminal 1 then you can take the free shuttle bus to terminal 2. Check out this post which gives more info about the airport train and how to get to the train station from both terminals.

      Trains run every 30 minutes and take about an hour to get to Granollers (theres a link to the train timetable in the article linked to above).

      Re. the taxi, just thought that I’d let you know that there are usually some 6 seater taxis available at the airport.

      Reply
  2. Felisha

    Hi Richard,

    I keep seeing on other information sites, that with the T10, you cannot use that ticket for the metro stops at Barcelona Airport. So how does that work then when getting from the airport into town using the T10 (as you mentioned it is only 1 euro from the airport when buying the T10? My husband and I will arrive on Sunday the 18th and will be traveling from Terminal 1 to Lesseps Metro Station.

    Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hello Felisha,

      That is correct, you can’t use the T10 at the airport metro stops. You CAN however use it on the airport train!

      Also, if you are lucky with the connections the train may actually be a faster way of getting to Lesseps.

      Take the free shutttle bus from T1 to the T2 then the R2 nord train from the airport train station to Passeig de Gràcia. At Passeig de Gràcia change to the L3 metro line to Lesseps.

      The entire journey counts as 1 trip on the T10 and will therefore cost just under €1. More information about the airport train and the free shuttle bus between airport terminals here.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca

    Hi there, I’m arriving in Barcelona for a few touristy days on Monday (arrival at T2 at noon) and my accommodation is near to Llucmayor metro station. I want to be able to travel daily to the city and around the main sights and also to the beaches on some days (Mar Bella naturist beach). What would you suggest would be the most economical travel card option please?

    Many thanks for your assistance.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Rebecca,

      Unless you plan to use public transport a lot (more than 6 journeys per day) I recommend you purchase a 1 zone T10.

      You can use this on the train from the airport to get to your hotel. Take the train from T2 to Passeig de Gràcia then the L4 from there to Llucmajor metro station and your hotel. More information about the airport train here.

      To get to the Mar Bella naturist beach take the L4 metro to Poblenou which is a 10 minute walk from the beach.

      Reply
  4. Peter

    Hi!

    If i have T10 ticket. can i get to aiport by renfe From arc de triomf lines R1 or R3 or R4 and change train in station Sants to lines R2?

    Reply
  5. Linda

    Hi Richard,
    I will travel to Barcelona with my husband and daughter. We will arrive at El Prat Airport Terminal 1 at 8 am. Our hostel located near Plaza Catalunya. We will stay at Barcelona for 1 day, then go to another Europe countries. In the end of our Europe journey we will back to Barcelona again and stay for one last day before going back to our country from El Prat Airport.
    My questions:
    1. Can you suggest for the cheapest transportation card for exploring Barcelona city?
    2. How much do I have to pay for T10?
    3. Can I use T10 to go to Camp Nou from my hostel?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Niki,

      1) This depends on which airport terminal you are arriving and departing and how you plan to transfer to / from your hotel and how much you plan to use the metro during your stay in Barcelona.Generally speaking, unless you plan to use the L9sud metro from the airport or travel a lot on public transport the T10 will be a good bet.

      2) The 1 zone T10 costs €9.95 for ten combined journeys by metro, bus train and tram.

      You didn’t say how old your daughter is but if she’s under 4 she can travel for free.

      3) Yes you can use the T10 to get from your hotel to Camp Nou. Take the metro L1 to Plaça de Sants then the L5 from there to Collblanc.

      Reply
  6. Nikki

    Hi Richard
    We are flying into Barcelona on the 12th and staying at Canet de Mar for 4 days. We will be travelling frequently all over. Which would be the best travel card to get?
    Many thanks
    Nikki

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hello Nikki,

      In order to be able to tell you which travel card would be best, I need you to tell me how many people are in your group and which towns you plan to visit and how many times if you intend to visit any of them more than once.

      Also, I assume that you mean Barcelona El Prat airport not Girona airport right?

      The reason I ask is that Ryanair and some other budget airlines refer to it as Barcelona Girona airport which can be confusing.

      Reply
      1. Nikki

        Hi Richard
        Theres just the 2 of us and yes its the El Prat airport. We will be going into barcelona, other than that we’re not sure yet where else. Think it may just be a case of playing it by ear and see where we fancy at the time if that mskes sense , I did manage to figure out we get the R2 nord service from the airport and I did read that its easier to change to the R2 at El Clot Arego instead of Sant as its less busy. I assume that we just buy 2 tickets at the station to canet de mar.
        Regards

        Reply
        1. Richard Post author

          Hi Nikki,

          I agree with the recommendation to change from the R2 nord to R1 at El Clot-Arago station. Not only is it less busy, it’s also smaller. Your train will arrive at platform 2 and the train de Canet de Mar leaves from platform 4. You just need to go up the escalator (or lift) turn left and go down the escalator/lift to the other platform.

          When you board the train at the airport it’s best to stay near the back of the train (near the ticket barriers) since the escalator and lift at El Clot Arago are at the rear of the train. This will save a little walking.

          Note that not all R1 trains go as far as Canet de Mar, some stop at Mataró. If you end up on one which terminates at Mataró just wait for the next R1 train.

          The trains that terminate in Mataró normaly arrive at platfrom 4 (at Mataró) the trains which continue on to Canet de Mar normally stop at platform 1.

          You could purchase single train tickets at the airport – it would cost €4.10 per person.

          You could also think about purchasing a 4 zone T10 ticket which could be shared between the two of you and allows you to transfer between the train, metro, bus or tram. For example if you travel from the airport to Canet de Mar by train on the first day then on the second and third day travel to and from Barcelona that would be a total of 10 journeys and works out at €3,45 per trip per person.

          Not a huge saving I admit, but has the advantage that when you arrive at El Clot Arago the T10 would allow you to transfer to the L2 metro to La Sagrada Familia (for example) and it would be included as the same journey.

          You would then purchase single train tickets to return to the airport on the last day.

          Note that there is also a 4 zone bonotren which is cheaper than the T10 but which doesn’t allow transfers of any kind. This means that if you used the bonotren to travel from the airport, when you get to El Clot Arago you should exit through the ticket barriers then enter again thus stamping the ticket again as a separate journey before continuing on to Canet de Mar.

          Reply
  7. Lisa

    Hi Richard, my husband and I will be arriving in Barcelona this week and staying near the metro Line Jaume I in the Gothic Quarter. We are staying for 4 nights and will probably be walking to most places. What is the cheapest train/metro ticket to buy? We plan to return to the airport by metro as well. I’m confused about the L9 Sud line or the airport train? Are they different? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      Since you will be mostly walking I recommend that you purchase a T10 travel card which can be shared between the two of you. You can purchase the T10 from the ticket machines at metro and train stations and at tram stops (they accept cash and cards).

      The T10 covers 10 combined journeys by a combination of metro, commuter trains, tram and bus and works out at just under €1 per journey.

      Yes, the L9 sud metro line is different from the R2 nord train line, you’ll find more information about them in this post.

      It’s worth mentioning that the T10 is not valid for the metro to the airport but it is valid for the train to the airport (crazy I know).

      To use the T10 to get to the airport from Jaume I you should take the metro L4 to Passeig de Gràcia then the train from there to the airport T2. If you are departing from terminal 1 there are free shuttle buses between terminals. There’s more information about how to get to / from the airport in the post I linked to above.

      Reply
  8. MARK

    Hi Richard,
    Would you please inform me how can I transfer between barcelona centre ( for example: Clot / Passeig de Gracia or Stant Estacio ) and Barbera Del Valles District .Please let me know if I can use T-10 tickets for this routes or not and also I would like to know that in which zone is Barbera Del Valles Distict located and how far is it from city centre.

    Reply
      1. Richard Post author

        Hi Mark,

        Barberá del Vallés is located 16km from Barcelona. It’s in transport zone 2 so the HolaBCN! travel pass isn’t valid but you can use a 2 zone T10.

        The R4 regional train line connects to Plaça de Catalunya (timetable) and there are inter-urban bus services.

        Reply
  9. Norman

    Hi Richard,

    Another traveller seeking your excellent advice, my wife and I are arriving at T1 at lunch time 4th June for 5 days and the nearest 2 stations easily walkable are Marina and Bogatell in the Marina area. We hope to get about Barcelona using metro etc.

    What do you recommend for the best route to these stations, we were looking to get the multi use multi day ticket for us both to use.

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Norman,

      Which multi trip ticket do you mean? The Hola Barcelona travel pass or the T10?

      If you mean the Hola Barcelona then I suggest that you take the metro L9 sud to Torrassa metro stop and then the L1 from there to the Marina.

      If you mean the T10 then take the free shuttle bus from T1 to T2 followed by the R2 nord train from the train station at Terminal 2 to Barcelona El Clot Arago train station. Then take the L1 metro from Clot to Marina. The Clot metro station is linked to the Clot Arago train station.

      Both options should take about an hour and a quarter.

      You’ll find lots of useful information and links in this post.

      If there’s anything that’s unclear feel free to ask.

      Reply
  10. MARK

    Hi Richard,

    I intend to stay in San pol del mar for about one week. So I’ll have frequent transfering to the centre of Barcelona during these times. Would you please inform me firstly in which zone this area is located and secondly which way is the most economical way for transfering and thirdly how far is this area from central Barcelona.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Mark,

      Sant Pol de Mar is approximately 50km north of Barcelona.

      The best way to get there by public transport is to take the train, line R1. The train lines run right alongside the beach for most of the route making it a very pleasant journey.

      Note that some R1 trains terminate at Mataró or Calella which are south of Sant Pol so you should check the timetables via the links in my previous reply.

      Sant Pol de Mar is in zone 5 on the renfe map so a single ticket will cost €4.90. Since you will be travelling several times then a 5 zone bonotren will most likely work out cheaper at €33.50 for 10 trips.

      The train stops at the following train stations within central Barcelona; El Clot Arago, Arc de Triomf, Plaça deCatalunya and Sants.

      Depending on your final destination you may want to purchase a T10 travel card which allows 10 combined journeys on a combination of train, bus, metro and tram.

      Sant Pol de Mar is in zone 4 of the TMB map so a T10 will cost €34.45. With this ticket you can (for example) catch the train to Plaça de Catalunya then catch the metro from there to your final destination within Barcelona and it counts as one journey.

      Reply
      1. MARK

        Hi richard,
        Thank’s alot. You have always helped me to get useful information by your obvios and nice answers.
        Good luck.

        Reply
  11. MARK

    Hi Richard, I would like to know wether GRANOLLERS is covered by HOLA BCN card or not. If it is not, please let me know that which way is the best economical way to transfer between this area and Barcelona centre.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Mark,

      Granollers is in transport zone 3 so you can’t use the Hola BCN! travel pass which is only valid within zone 1.

      The R2 commuter train line runs from Granollers centre to Passeig de Gràcia, a single ticket will cost €3,40. Timetables here.

      If you will be making the trip frequently it may work out cheaper to purchase a bonotren (more info here) or if you will be connecting to the metro then maybe a 3 zone T10. (More information and prices here)

      Alternatively the bus company Sagalés run several bus routes between Barcelona and Granollers. Timetables and prices here.

      Reply
  12. Alex Clay

    Hello Richard,

    We are a large group of about 18 people and are arriving in Gate 1 Barcelona Airport. We will be staying in the area of Eixample. Which ticket would you recommend for us?
    Also we were thinking about doing a day trip to PortAventura Water Park one day..

    Thanks in advance for your response!!

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Alex,

      For that size of group I think that the best bet is to go to the airport taxi rank and catch 3 taxis. Six seater taxis are fairly common in Barcelona.

      There’s no need to book, just go to the taxi rank and ask the taxi warden whether there are any 6 seater taxis available.

      Depending on where you are staying in the Eixample the fare will work out at about €6 per person (it’s a pretty large neighbourhood so prices will vary).

      Alternatively you could save a bit of money by taking public transport, which is best will depend on where you are staying exactly, more info here.

      I’m not an expert on PortAventura but RENFE (the Spanish train company) sell combined tickets which include the train and entrance to the park for €47 for adults and €40 for children. More info here. Timetables here. It’s not the fastest way to get there but the train basically works out being free.

      Reply
  13. Mah

    Hi Richard,
    Two adults arriving friday 11:00am going from airport to sant cugat(near volpellers train station) staying for 3 day.
    what’s the best option for daily trips to the city centre etc – the T-10 card or the 3 day “Hola BCN?”.
    Many thanks

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Mah,

      Sant Cugat is in ATM transport zone 2 so you won’t be able to use the Hola Barcelona travel pass to get there because it is only valid for zone 1.

      I’d suggest that you purchase a 2 zone T10 which you can use to get from the airport to your hotel and then to transfer from your hotel to the city centre each day.

      Then purchase a 1 zone travel pass as needed for traveling within the city. That way you won’t consume the 2 zone card unnecessarily for shorter trips.

      Remember that the T10 ticket can be shared between the two of you, just pass it through the ticket barrier once per person.

      To get to your hotel from the airport: Take the train from T2 to Passeig de Gràcia train station. Then the metro (green line L4) from there to Plaça de Catalunya (one stop). Then take the FGC train (lines S2 or S55) to Volpelleres. This whole journey counts as one trip on the T10.

      More info. about the airport train here

      Reply
  14. Sedat Yildirim

    Hi Guys

    I would appreciate your help regarding Barcelona transportation a lot. We are arriving next week and staying nearby Montmelo. To be precise ibis Barcelona Montmelo Granollers, would HOla BCN card cover R2 train from airport to Montmelo as well? is Montmelo in Zone 1? I can’t really understand precisely. Many thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Sedat,

      Montmeló is in zone 2 and Granollers is in zone 3 so unfortunately they aren’t covered by the Hola BCN travel pass.

      Reply
  15. Alex

    hi
    we are staying at Novotel Sant Joan despi for 5 days
    what’s the best option for daily trips to the city centre etc – the T-10 card or the 5 day “Hola BCN?”
    (i assume we only need zone 1 on the t-10?)
    what’s the best option for getting from Airport (terminal 2B) to the hotel ?

    thanks
    Alex

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Alex,

      Although Sant Joan Despi isn’t exactly central it’s still in TMB transport zone one so you can use either a 1 zone T10 or the HolaBCN travel pass.

      To decide which is the best way to get from the airport to your hotel you have to choose between fast or cheap.

      The fastest option is a taxi which will take about half an hour and cost a little under 30€.

      Cheapest way is public transport, the most convenient of which would be the L77 bus which stops near your hotel.

      From your hotel to the city centre you have the L78 bus and the T3 tram nearby.

      My rule of thumb for choosing between the T10 and the HolaBCN travel pass is that if you think you will be doing 6 journeys or more per day then the HolaBCN is worth it.

      This year the deal changed slightly because the days are now periods of 24 hours from first use instead of calendar days which makes it better value than before.

      To be honest, when staying for 5 days, if you plan your days logically I doubt that you’ll need to use public transport that much.

      The thing that the HolaBCN card has in it’s favour if you decide to take the L77 from the airport is that you can purchase it online and collect it from the Barcelona Tourist information office in T2B (Next to the black horse statue) whereas the only place at terminal T2 where you can purchase the T10 is at the train station.

      Reply
      1. Sumi

        Hi Richard,

        Can I buy the T10 on arrival at the airport ? We are flying in from London, and it seems T10 is the best cheapest option.

        Our apartment is on Carrer Sant Pere Mártir, 46 Barcelona Spain. We plan to use that Sunday to bring our son to the beach . Then Mon Tues just around town. Wed back to airport early morning.

        Many thanks

        Reply
        1. Richard Post author

          Hi Sumi,

          Yes, you can purchase the T10 at Barcelona airport.

          Either from the ticket machines in the airport train station at terminal T2 or from the tobacconist at terminal T1.

          Reply
  16. maddie

    Two adults arriving sunday 3pm going from airport to la ramblas staying until friday morning, then returning to the airport. What is the best value transport option for our stay. Last year we took the bus then metro to our hotel in El Raval and walked everywhere. All advice welcome. Many thanks

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Maddie,

      As you will have found out the last time you were here, Barcelona’s a great city for walking. Since you are staying for 5 days I’d suggest you buy a 1 Zone T10 card and use a combination of the public transport system and walking.

      The T10 allows 10 combined journeys (i.e. if you take a train then change to the metro it counts as one journey) on Barcelona’s metro, tram, bus and local commuter trains. You can share one T10 between 2 people by passing it through the ticket barrier once for each of you. Then when it runs out just buy another one. As mentioned in the article, the Zone 1 covers all of Barcelona plus some other towns like Badalona. If you want to visit other towns like Girona for example (one of my favourite day trips) then you’ll need to buy a separate ticket.

      In order to be able to give you the best possible advice for how to get to your hotel, I need to know which airport terminal you will arrive at and the exact location of your hotel since La Rambla is about a mile long. Bear in mind that the T10 mentioned above is not valid for the L9 sud metro from the airport but is valid for the airport train.

      This post about how to get from Barcelona airport to the city centre should help you decide. If not post back with your hotel and terminal details and I’ll give you some more specific advice.

      Have a great time in Barcelona.

      Reply
  17. Ara

    There are 11 travelers traveling in June arriving in Barcelona around 7:30pm. We will need to get to our apartment I believe located near the gothic quarters. What is the best ticket to purchase? Should we go by train or bus. During our stay, we may need bus tickets as well.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Ara,

      It’s impossible to give you a good recommendation as to which is the best mode of transport without knowing where you will be staying. The Gothic Quarter is quite a large area, some parts are best reached by train / metro, others by aerobus.

      In general, for large groups taxis are a good option because they aren’t expensive when shared between four or five people. A taxi from the airport to the gothic quarter will cost about €30. Although most taxis at the airport seat 4 people there are some 5 or 6 seaters available. Ask the taxi marshal to call two for you.

      Let me know the address of your accommodation and which airport terminal you arrive at and I’ll give you some more ideas.

      For transport while in Barcelona. Most locals use the T10 travel card which covers metro, bus and urban trains. The 1 Zone T10 costs €9.95 for 10 journeys and can be shared between several people. This works out at less than half the price of purchasing single tickets for each journey.

      If you think that you will be using the metro / bus a lot then you could purchase a Hola BCN! transport pass. This works out cheaper than the T10 if you will be using the bus / metro more than 6 times per day.

      Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hello M. Swann,

      You’re absolutely right.

      The surprising thing is that if you look closely at the 2 maps you will see that the zones on the RENFE “rodalies” train map aren’t the same as the zones on the TMB map. This means that although for most local train journeys you should buy a RENFE ticket, in some cases it works out cheaper to buy a TMB travel card.

      Thanks for your comment and happy travels

      Reply

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