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.

One thing that a lot of people don’t realize 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 €4.20 whereas if you purchase a T10 card (10 journeys by bus, metro and train) the same journey on the same train will cost just €1.02.

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.

Important information about the L9 sud airport metro

In 2016 the L9 sud metro line was inaugurated, connecting Barcelona Airport (terminals T1 and T2) Barcelona city centre by metro.

Despite the fact that the entire line is within metro zone 1 (check map) neither the T10 nor the standard single metro ticket are valid for the airport metro stations. Instead you have to purchase a special Airport Ticket which costs €4.60 for a single journey and which is only valid for the metro*.

Because of this I don’t normally use the airport metro stations when travelling to or from the airport (more information here).

If you do decide to use the metro to get to and from the airport then you should think about purchasing a Hola Barcelona! travel pass which allows unlimited transport within zone 1 by metro, bus, train and tram and costs €14.25 for 48 hours when purchased online. For longer stays 72, 96 and 120 hour versions are also available.

Find out more about Barcelona sightseeing passes and discount cards

If you mistakenly use a standard single journey ticket or a T10 to travel to one of the airport metro stations you will have to purchase an airport ticket in order to be able to exit through the ticket barriers.

*Note: The T10 and standard single journey ticket are valid when travelling to or from any of the other stations on the L9 sud metro line. You only need the special airport metro ticket when boarding / alighting at the airport T1 or T2 stations.

So far I’ve only spotted 4 differences between the public transport zones on theTMB and RENFE maps. Have you found any that I’ve missed?

125 thoughts on “Understanding Barcelona’s Public Transport Zones

  1. Tomas

    Hey Richard!

    First thanks for a great article.

    I need your help. We are in Barcelona and have the Hola Barcelona Card. Is it possible to use it to go to Castelldefels? Or do we need to purchase a ticket?

    Best regards Tomas

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Tomas,

      Castelldefels is in zone 1 so you can use the Hola Barcelona pass.

      R2 and R2 sud trains from Barcelona stop at Castelldefels.

      Reply
  2. Joseph

    Hi Richard,

    I’ll be visiting Spain soon and staying in Mataro. Am I understanding the following correctly? In order to travel between Mataro and Barcelona I either need an ATM T-10 3-zone card (27,40 eur) or a Rodalies bonotren 10 viajes 4-zone card (28,25 eur).

    Furthermore, if I want to explore Barcelona using the metro, I should buy another separate ATM T-10 1-zone card.

    Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Joseph,

      That’s right. The other alternative would be to purchase single train tickets which cost €4.20 each.

      Remeber that, apart from being cheaper, the other advantage of the T-10 is that it allows you to transfer from the train to the metro as part of the same journey. This means that if, for example, you decide to visit the Sagrada Familia first thing, you could take the train from Mataró to Barcelona El Clot Aragó then transfer to the l2 metro to the Sagrada Familia all as part of one journey on your 3 zone T-10.

      As you have already realized, it works out cheaper if you purchase a separate 1 zone T-10 for moving around within Barcelona. The other alternative for travel within Barcelona, if you will be using public transport a lot, would be the HolaBCN! travel pass.

      Reply
  3. Brian

    Hello Richard,

    Please confirm that I can buy a T10 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children and travel from T2 Barcelona airport on R2N and change to Metro L4 for Bogatell at Passeig de Gràcia and this will count as 1 journey and 4 uses of the T10?

    With thanks,

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Brian,

      Yes, that is correct.

      The 1 zone T-10 can be shared by up to 10 people and allows you to transfer between different modes of transport up to 3 times within a single journey as long as the total journey time is no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes.

      Make sure you validate the ticket at the turnstiles once per person at the airport train station and then again when entering the metro station at Passeig de Gràcia.

      Reply
  4. Mary

    Hi, Richard.

    Could you, please, help me to figure out the ways I can travel from Barcelona to Calella and vice versa. T10 tickets of which zone do I need to buy? And can I use these tickets to travel to Calella from the El Prat airport?

    Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Mary,

      Calella is in transport zone 4, so you would need a 4 zone T-10 pass.

      The R1 train stops at Calella and at several stations in Barcelona including Plaça de Catalunya (the most central).

      To get to Calella from the airport, take the R2 Nord train from the train station at BCN terminal 2 to Barcelona El Clot Aragó train station then the R1 northbound from there to Calella.

      The train from the airport arrives at Barcelona El Clot Aragó platform 2, the R1 northbound departs from platform 4.

      Note that not all R1 trains go as far as Calella, some of them terminate at Mataró. In which case you just have to wait for the next R1 train going north from Mataró.

      Normally the trains which terminate at Mataró arrive at platform 4 and the ones which continue on to Calella stop at platform 1 but you should check the information screens at the station.

      Reply
  5. Merret

    Hi Richard so I need some help here we are traveling to Barcelona in the end of of July and we are staying for 3 or 4 days (haven’t decided yet) we are 4 adults and we are staying at the radha Hotel so which is better to get a a 50/30 tickets or T10+ 8 airport tckets for us all and we are trying to go many sightseeing like Sagrada Familia and I need to ask you which shops are clothes cheap over there or an out let
    One last thing can you tell me zone 1 in metro what stations does it cover so when I search for anything I know if this this station is covered in my ticket or not thanks again for your help

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Merret,

      Unfortunately, the T50/30 ticket can only be used by one person and it’s extremely unlikely that you will use public transport 50 times in 3 days! Realistically your choice will between the T10 (which can be shared) and the HolaBCN! pass.

      You don’t need to purchase an airport ticket because the fastest and most convenient way to get to that hotel (which is in Hospitalet) is by taking the number 46 bus. The special airport ticket is only needed for the airport metro stops.

      Unfortunately, you can’t purchase travel passes on the bus. If you choose to buy a T10 then you can either buy them at the airport train station (terminal 2) or from the tobacconist at terminal 1. The HolaBCN card can be bought at the Tourist information offices at the airport or in advance online (there’s a discount if you purchase online). More information here.

      The cheapest clothes shops I know of are a chain called Primark. Zara, Stradivarius and H&M are also quite cheap. If you are interested in outlet shopping then you might want to visit La Roca village which is outside of Barcelona but easily reached using the so-called shopping buses which depart from Passeig de Gràcia.

      The entire Barcelona metro system is within zone 1.

      Reply
  6. Vish

    Thanks for clearing that up. (So leaving that idea to the side!) What are your thoughts on travel tickets a family of 4 (staying in Castelldelfels for 12 days) travelling into Barcelona most days, staying on the beach in Castelldelfels for some of the time (and some other trips e.g. other local beaches)?

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Vish,

      Since you plan to tavel in to Barcelona most days then a 1 zone T70/30 would be good value for money. Having said that, it’s not that much cheaper than using several T10s so if your plans are likely to change it might be better to just purchase T10s as you go along.

      For the days that you travel to other beaches then you will have to check which zones they are in. In your first comment you mentioned Sitges, the best value way of getting from Catelldefels to Sitges and back will be a Bonotren 10 viatjes which will cost €21.75.

      By the way, just in case you haven’t noticed already. There are 2 train stations in Castelldefels: Castelldefels and Platja de Castelldefels which is near the beach. They’re both on the same line but not all trains stop at Platja de Castelldefels.

      Reply
      1. Vish

        That’s super advice! After being mistaken it does seem that the T70/30 May seem the best bet. Now it’s trying to decide on the add ons for sightseeing – the inclination to see as many sights as possible vs what we can do/restricted with the kids. Now to pick your brains again! Barcelona Card I think we may do the bus tour and go to sagrada familiar and park guell, and a couple of museums/galleries and zoo.
        Do you think the prebookings or Barcelona card worthwhile in this situation. And after all your help can we shout you a drink sometime!?

        Reply
        1. Richard Post author

          Hi Vish,

          Before deciding on which sightseeing pass you purchase I suggest you read this post. As you can see there are quite a few sightseeing passes available, which one is best depends on which sights you plan to see.

          You mentioned the Barcelona Card, which is one of the most comprehensive sightseeing passes.

          I’ve swapped the link which you included in your comment for a link to the official Barcelona Tourism website which sells it slightly cheaper than the site that you found.

          Before purchasing any sightseeing pass I recommend that you check the price of the individual tickets on the Barcelona Tourism website and then compare prices.

          The Barcelona Card includes free entry to a lot of museums and discounts at a lot of attractions and if you are planning to visit a lot of those sights it is good value.

          From what you said in your last comment, you’re not planning to visit that many places so I think that it will probably work out cheaper if you purchase individual tickets.

          Alternatively, you might want to purchase a Gaudi Pass for yourself and your partner and then individual tickets where necessary for your kids, both of whom are entitled to free entry to the Sagrada Familia, the older child will need a children’s ticket for Park Gúell and the Aquarium but I think you will find that the younger child will go free almost everywhere.

          Thanks for the offer of shouting me a drink! If you purchase your tickets through the links in this comment or from the ads which appear on the blog then I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you :-)

          Reply
  7. Vish

    Thanks for your prompt reply, I was looking at https://cercador.atm.cat/?lang=en#/products actually the T-mes fm/fn may be a better for duration. Ah, I didn’t take into consideration that it had to be a large family (only 2 kids here!), and also I wouldn’t know what UK accreditation there is to “prove” that we would be a large family (hypothetically).

    Regards

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Vish,

      You’re welcome, I don’t think that there is a similar acreditation in the UK for large or one parent families. The FM/FN passes are for Spanish residents who have the corresponding documentation.

      In Spain, families are issued with a document called the libro de familia which lists all members of the family unit. Large or one parent families can then apply for the relevant acreditation which gives additional discounts on certain services.

      Reply
  8. ana

    Hello,

    I am travelling to Barcelona and I was hoping you can help me. I have been reading about Hola BCN tickets as well as the T-10. I will be in Barcelona for a total of 5 days. How easy is it to get from the airport to Rekord hotel? Which tickets would you recommend on buying?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Ana,

      The Rekord hotel is pretty easy to get to.

      The easiest way would be to take a taxi.

      It’s also fairly easy to get to by public transport although you’ll need to change lines a couple of times or walk a bit.

      If arriving at terminal T2, the easiest way (least number of changes) is to catch the RENFE train, R2 nord to Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia then walk 3 blocks to Provença train station where you catch the FGC train to Muntaner (lines S1, S2, S6 or S7).

      The walk between train stations is through a scenic area and should take under 10 minutes. Alternatively you could take the metro from Passeig de Gràcia station two stops on the L3 line to Diagonal metro stop which is next to the Provença FGC station (there’s a short passageway which links them). This would save a bit of walking but, depending on connections, may end up taking longer.

      Both of these options are covered by the T-10 and Hola BCN! Travel passes.

      If you will be arriving at Terminal 1 then you could catch the free shuttle bus to terminal 2 then do the same as above but it would be easier to catch the L9 sud metro to Collblanc, followed by the L5 metro to Diagonal then the FGC train to Muntaner.

      This route is covered by the HolaBCN! Travel pas but is not covered by the T-10.

      The choice between the T-10 and the HolaBCN! travel cards comes down to how much you will use public transport.

      Generally speaking the break-even point is 6 journeys per day. Less than 6 then the T10 is cheaper, more than 6 then the HolaBCN! Is cheaper. When staying in Barcelona for 5 days, assuming you plan your days logically and don’t mind walking a bit then you probably won’t use more than 6 journeys per day.

      The only exception to this rule which may tip the balance in favour of the HolaBCN! is if you plan to use the L9sud metro from the airport which isn’t covered by the T-10 and costs €4.50.

      Reply
  9. Vish

    Hi Richard
    I would be grateful for your advice too. We (2 adults and 2 kids (7 and 4)) are flying into BCN and staying in Castelldelfels for 12 days. We intend to mix some beach, sightseeing (mainly in Barcelona) and day trips (e.g. to Sitges). Reading your post, I was thinking that we may get the Hola BCN 5 days and the Barcelona Card 5 days. But then I noticed the T-trimestre family ticket quarterly at a decent price (maybe a bit of an overkill for a 12 day stay!) and combining that with a Barcelona City Pass.
    Your thoughts much appreciated.
    Regards
    Vish

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Vish,

      Before going into details, could you let me know which T-trimestre family ticket you mean exactly? A link to where you read about it would be good.

      The reason I ask is that the only family T-trimestre I know of is the T-trimestre FM/FN which is a special ticket for one parent families and large families (3 children or more) and which requires you to have the relevant accreditation.

      Reply
      1. Vish

        Thanks for your prompt reply, I was looking at https://cercador.atm.cat/?lang=en#/products actually the T-mes fm/fn may be a better for duration. Ah, I didn’t take into consideration that it had to be a large family (only 2 kids here!), and also I wouldn’t know what UK accreditation there is to “prove” that we would be a large family (hypothetically).

        Regards

        Reply
  10. Kevin

    Hi, I’m travelling with my family – 2 adults and 2 children (ages 12&10). If I purchase a T10 card at BCN airport T2, for the trip from Barcelona Airport to Sants Station, will I be allowed to use the ticket for all family members? Would I just pass the ticket back to them to allow them to enter through the turnstile?

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Kevin,

      That’s correct, just pass the ticket back and the next person can use the T10.

      I’f you take a look at the back of the T10 you will see that the machine stamps the ticket once per person.

      The last digit of the number stamped by the machine is the number of journeys remaining.

      Reply
  11. Kate

    Hi !) could u help me please ?)I am totally confused with these differences with timetables ) I am traveling to Sitges and I am gonna visit Barcelona for three days . First I thought I need to buy 3 zone T10 ticket . And now I am realized that I need 4 zone if I want to go to Barcelona from Sitges on train? If I use only bus ,then I could buy 3 zone ticket ?

    Reply
    1. Richard Post author

      Hi Kate,

      Good news, you can use the 3 zone T10 on the train or the bus from Barcelona to Sitges (and vice versa).

      As explained above, the T10 is issued by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona and Sitges is in Zone 3 of their map.

      Reply
      1. Daniel

        Hi Richard. If I am coming from the Airport and going straight to Sitges (via Rodalies to El Prat de Llobregat station), would I need a special airport ticket to get to El Prat before using the normal T-10 Zone 3 to get to Sitges?

        Or does the T-10 cover all of it from the airport to sitges?

        Thanks a lot!
        (No worries if you don’t know the answer)
        :)

        Reply
        1. Richard Post author

          Hi Daniel,

          The 3 zone T10 covers the train from the airport to Sitges via El Prat de Llobregat.

          The special airport ticket is only needed if you use the metro from the airport, not for the train.

          Reply

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