Public transport in Barcelona operates on paper tickets with magnetic strips. There are also plastic contactless cards, but they are personal and only advisable if you are a resident. As a tourist who uses public transport, you always need a valid paper ticket with you.
Paper tickets give you the right to access and use public transport, and they constitute a legal contract between you and the operator. Keep the ticket with you at all times, as only the ticket (and not a payment receipt nor a picture of it) grants you travelling rights. Once a ticket runs out of trips and becomes unusable, keep it until you have completed your final trip!
If staff asks you to show a valid ticket at any point of your trip and you’re unable to do so, you’ll have to pay a €100 fine. If you’re unable to pay on the spot, your details may be shared with the local authorities so that they can send you the fine.
Types of tickets
A single ticket is valid for one operator only and costs 2.40€ (for 1 zone). I do not recommend that you buy one of these. To start with, it is not integrated, meaning that they are only valid for one operator (check examples 1 and 2). Secondly, it’s expensive. See examples below:
I want to travel from Sarrià station to Arc de Triomf station, so I plan to take the FGC metro service to Pl. Catalunya and then the L1 Metro line to Arc de Triomf. This will not work with a single ticket, because it has been purchased at a FGC station, and therefore it will not work in the transferring station (which is operated by TMB). Gates will simply not open.
I want to travel from Pl. Espanya to the Pedralbes Monastery, so I plan to take the L3 Metro line and then the V5 bus line. Here, the single ticket will actually work, because TMB operates both the L3 Metro line and the V5 bus line.
You see? Single tickets are a bad idea: they’re expensive, not integrated, and valid for one operator only. Instead, if you buy an integrated ticket, you will pay less, use any service you like, and even transfer through them without any extra cost.
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So, let’s get straight to the point. You want an ATM integrated ticket. ATM is the God-blessed organization that integrated different operators into the same system. Unlike single-operator tickets, ATM tickets are green and they look like this. There are plenty of integrated tickets, but if you’re a tourist, you should consider the following:
T-casual (10 trips in 1 ticket for 1 traveller)
T-casual gives you 10 integrated trips for 11.35€ (30% off due to the temporary reduction: 7.95€). In other words: 1.14€ per trip, plus this is an integrated ticket, so you can take any service and operator you wish, and even transfer through them during the same trip.
T-casual can only be used by 1 traveller at a time. You can still share it amongst other people, as long as you don’t plan to travel at the same time (check T-familiar for that).
Attention: don’t try to use T-casual as if it were a multi-member ticket. If Mary gets through the gate with a T-casual and then gives the card to James, the gates won’t open when he inserts the ticket.
T-familiar (8 trips in 1 ticket, for more than 1 traveller)
T-familiar gives you 8 integrated trips for 10.00€ (this title doesn’t have temporary fee reduction). This means 1.25€ per ticket, so it is slighlty more expensive than T-casual. Then, why would you choose T-familiar instead of T-casual? Mainly, because T-familiar is multi-personal. This means that 4 people, for example, can group together and use one T-familiar simultaneously.
The process is very simple: Mary inserts the ticket in the machine, the doors open, Mary collects the ticket and goes through the gates. Mary then gives the ticket to James, who’s still waiting on the other side of the gates. James enters the same way and then gives it to Carl, etc. T-familiar is particularly good for 4 people to make a return trip. Despite its name, you don’t need to be members of the same family to use a T-familiar.
There are other tickets, but they are less attractive for tourists.
If you are staying for more than 2 weeks, you might be interested in purchasing the T-usual, which gives you a full month of unlimited travel for 40€ (50% off with the temporary reduction, so 20€ until the end of 2022), plus trips to and from the airport (remember, T-casual and T-familiar do not include trips from/to the airport, you can read my page about airport travel). In case you are interested in unlimited travel but you only stay in Barcelona for 2-5 days, you might be interested in the Hola Barcelona travel card. It gives you unlimited travel for the amount of days you choose. However, it’s pricey. A 5-day Hola Barcelona card costs 38€, whilst you can buy a T-usual (valid for 30 days) for 40€. Read my post about whether it’s a good deal or not.
If you’re a student staying here for at least three months and you use public transport daily, I strongly suggest that you buy the T-jove ticket, as it grants you 90 days of unlimited travel for 80€ (50% off with the temporary reduction, so 40€). However, even if you are living in Barcelona, T-casual is an adequate ticket if you only use public transport occasionally (say 4 or 5 times per week).
If you make 30 trips per month, purchasing 3 T-casuals is cheaper than a T-usual. If you make 40 or more trips per month, a T-usual is cheaper than 4 T-casuals.
Finally, if you’re a large group (say, 25 people) and you plan to use public transport a few times, you can consider T-grup. It gives you 70 trips within a 30-day period, for 1.135€ per trip. Obviously, it’s a multi-member ticket, so all the group would be sharing the same paper ticket.
Validating your ticket
Once you validate a ticket, you have a period of 1h 15 minutes to finish your trip. During this time, you can transfer between different operators. You need to validate your ticket again, but don’t worry: you won’t be using a new trip. More info on integration.
Access control gates
Owning a valid ticket is not enough to be a legal traveler. You need to validate it before starting your trip. Always keep your ticket with you during the whole duration of your trip, even if it’s a single ticket.
- Most train stations have access control gates. When you go through any access gate and you are granted access to the station, your ticket is already validated: you’re good to go. If a train station does not have access control, you will see a validation machine inside the station, and you’re required to validate your ticket before jumping on a train.
- When you jump into a bus or a tramway, you won’t see any control access gates. On the bus, you enter through the front door, and there is a validation machine right on the entrance. You have to validate your ticket when you enter the bus, and the driver will usually monitor this. On the tram, you’ll find validation machines scattered all around the interior. You don’t have to validate again when you leave.
What happens when I validate?
- In case you have a ticket with a limited amount of trips (like a single ticket or a T-casual), a small display on the access gates will display the amount of trips left that you still have. You can also see this information printed on the back of your ticket (see picture on the right).
- In case you have a ticket with unlimited trips for a given period of time (like a T-usual), the machine will simply acknowledge the validity of your ticket and let you go through. The same will happen if you use a ticket with a limited amount of trips but you are transferring; it will simply acknowledge the previous validation (provided that it took place less than 1h 15 minutes ago) and the doors will open.
- If your ticket is not valid (because it contains no trips or because it’s damaged), the validation machine will produce a long beep. Doors will remain closed. If you’re on a bus and the driver has already started the journey, wait until the next stop and step out of the bus or buy a ticket from the driver.
Remember to always validate your ticket. If you enter a train, a bus or a tramway and you didn’t have to pull the card out of your wallet, you probably missed something. If they catch you with a non-validated ticket, you will have to pay a €100 fine, even if you have a valid ticket with you.
How much you pay depends on travel distance. Stations are grouped in zones. You pay depending on how many zones you go across. The entire city of Barcelona is within Zone 1, so most users can rely on 1-zone tickets for most of their trips. You can find an official list of cities and towns here.
All prices shown in this webpage are based on 1-zone tickets. Planning on travelling to other towns? Then take a look at Travelling outside of Barcelona
Kids aged 0-3 don’t pay any fee to use public transport.
You can apply for a free T-16 ticket as long as:
- You are 4-16.
- You are resident in Barcelona or any of the municipalities in the ATM.
Children aged 4-16 who cannot use a T-16 will need the same ticket as an adult.
Travelling outside of Barcelona
Prices shown in this page are for 1-zone tickets. Zone 1 includes the entire city of Barcelona and some nearby towns, like L’Hospitalet, Badalona and Sant Adrià.
If you plan to visit other cities during your stay in Barcelona, you will need multi-zone tickets. As a general rule, all tickets shown on this page have multi-zone versions. Prices increase for each zone added to the list. You can find all prices in this document.