Updated: Feb 25, 2019
Barcelona is a relatively large city. It's the 6th most populated city in Europe, with the city portion holding a bit over 1.6 million people. It's a place full of movement, history, and wonder (don't even get me started on the food!).
For me, I have a language barrier as I do not speak Spanish or Catalonian. That makes for a decent amount of nerves in regards to getting around quickly and safely but also cost effectively. Here are some of the methods that I used to get around, and some thoughts around each.
This is by far the most common and quick way to get around, and taxis are everywhere. Right before I arrived there was a strike in regards to Uber drivers, so at the time of writing this, Uber is not really a solid option. The app that the Taxi drivers use is called MyTaxi, and it makes booking a car a breeze. It's self explanatory in use, but one thing to keep in mind is you need an internet connection.
What I would do is book the car while I had WiFi at the hotel or at a restaurant/cafe/shop/etc. Then when it came time to pay, instead of using the app (I often had no connection at my destination), I would pay with cash or card.
All taxis carry around a card reader, some are not thrilled to use it as it is slow (especially for Americans who have to sign as opposed to the common European pin option), but they still have it.
*A note that tipping isn't really a thing in Barcelona, so when you do, they are surprised. This is true for all services that we are typically used to tipping for in the states.
I played a show in Barcelona at El Cafe Rock and Roll, so when I had my gear, a taxi was ideal. If I didn't have any heavy bags or anything with me, I probably would take one of the options below.
Caution: Keep an eye on the way they go, especially if they don't speak english. That barrier makes them flag you as an idiot, and they will take silly/long ways to rack up the bill. The assumption is that Americans have more money than brains, so just stay aware.
Conclusion: Taxis are easy and quick. You will end up spending a lot if you use them to get everywhere. Watch that you aren't being taken advantage of. Having some euros to pay quickly may not be a bad idea.
Pedal Bike / Electric Bike
This was my preferred quick method as opposed to a taxi. You are exposed to the elements I suppose, but the weather in Barcelona is generally amazing.
There are bike stations all over the city, and it's a very bike friendly place. Designated lanes are all over the roadways, but also they don't seem to be an issue if you take them on sidewalks either. Many of the crossing signals actually show an image of a person and a bike both.
I used an app called Scoot to find electric, pedal assisted bikes, and they were just fun. I would say they went about 15-20mph easily, and the few instances of an incline where made easier to get up. Being a big sweaty guy, it's nice to get around quick, still get some exercise, but not arrive at my destination a gross mess.
Caution: People aren't really scared to be "in the way" in Barcelona. So don't expect anyone to deviate from their path just because you are bigger than them. Keep an eye on cars too, they could care less.
Conclusion: A great way to get around quick, still be able to see things close. It's pretty cheap. You will need some sort of internet connection if you are using a service like Scoot where an app is involved.
Scooters, small motorcycles, and the like are all over the place! With the weather being so nice in general and fuel being expensive, these are a popular option with locals.
There are places that you can rent them, but the ones I approached need me to have a European drivers license, so alas I stuck with my badass electric bicycle.
The Best Way!!
There is no doubt in my mind this is the best way to get around the city. Sure it takes longer, but that is the point.
Maybe if I was going to work I would want to take something faster, but that's not the point if you want to explore. Barcelona has so many small side streets, nooks and crannies, and amazing architecture, food, and culture to soak up. Walking around was when I got to see the most.
The city is extremely friendly to foot traffic, and you can get anywhere easily. My favorite day was the second to last. I was walking with a friend to a market, Mercat Boqueria Barcelona, which I suggest checking out, and we passed little cafes, odd shops, and a huge number of dogs (everyone walks their dogs and it's great and cute and perfect). On our way there we passed an old complex of stone buildings. It turned out to be the Old Hospital de la Santa Creu that I believe is now a university. We decided to cut through the courtyards and explore a bit. It was full of heavy orange trees, twisting plants, stone constructs, and very few people. Tucked into a corner was a outdoor cafe, El Jardi, and it was perfect. We never would have found it any other way than by foot.
The number of little stories like that is large, and so is the list of things you would miss if you zipped around the city in convenience.
Caution: A sad truth is that there are pick-pocketers. They are clever and you may think it would never happen to you, but stay sharp. Also because of the number of dogs, watch out for the little presents that they leave around.
Conclusion: I can't say enough, that this is the best way to travel around the city. You get to experience everything on a very personal level. Plus it's good for you and free!!
I had the chance to go out on a sailboat with my friends from PrimeImage Media. Of course this isn't a way to get around the city, but if you have the chance to get out on the Mediterranean, it's an amazing view of the city and a relaxing way to experience something new.
I did get a little motion sick about halfway through, but if you stand, look at the horizon (or flat landscape in the distance) and maybe eat something light, like chips (crisps), it goes away.
Caution: Don't fall overboard.
Conclusion: Expensive, but beautiful. If I wasn't invited by friends, I probably would have never gone (and I am very glad that I did).
If you want to know more about what I did in Barcelona, you can check out these.
Any good stories or tips from traveling in Barcelona? Drop them in the comments. Any questions for me? You can do the same.
Ben Gage is a songwriter from Akron, OH.
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