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About CITY PASSES when visiting Barcelona...

I would like to warn would-be visitors about a "confusion" around the so-called city passes for the city of Barcelona:

Officially, the only city passes for the city of Barcelona are the ones sold by Turisme de Barcelona --the Barcelona Tourism Consortium-- a public company dependant of the Barcelona City Hall. Its URL address is http://bcnshop.barcelonaturisme.com and in their jargon they call these sort of passes "multitickets". These are the ones available at present.

There's yet another type of passes, sold by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) --the Barcelona Metropolitan Transport Authority-- aimed to those visitors interested in transportation only. The available passes are the called HolaBCN! -free transportation for a period of 2 days up to 5 days - and the Integrated Travel Cards that can also be interesting to visitors, being the T-10 travelcard the most popular and convenient: a multiperson card with 10 journeys for roughly 10€ (not in vain is the most used by Barcelonians themselves).

Lastly, the private company running one of the two hop-on-hop-off bus lines, Barcelona City Tour, has recently launched a card, called iventure, which offers discounts to some attractions, much like the Barcelona Card sold by Turisme de Barcelona above.

Around these, taking advantage of the popularity of Barcelona as a tourist destination, some resellers abroad (based mostly in the Netherlands and in Germany) have piggybacked on the above and are offering online "city passes" which in reality do not exist as such because it's simply a marketing name for the existing products mentioned earlier, obviously with an added fee for the middle-man. It's important to point out this is not to say they're not legal or they're a scam, but it's important to understand the whole background. It, however, adds confusion to the would-be visitors looking for a convenient "one-for-everything pass".

Posted by
2494 posts

Now, my two cents (a personal view!):

About the need for transportation...
Barcelona is not a small city but it's not huge either because she has no more room to grow on -it's limited by the sea on one side, a mountain-range which happens to be a protected natural area on the other, and two neighbouring cities which have side-by-side streets with Barcelona. Furthermore, despite there are interesting sites/attractions worth visiting across many areas of the city, the vast majority of visitors tend to stay in a few of them only as the concentration of such places makes it more convenient. Thus, despite having a modern, efficient and convenient public transportation network , with more than 115 bus lines, 20 metro/train lines, 6 tramway lines and over 13000 taxis, a typical visitor doesn't really need to use the public transportation network "that much". For this reason, the T-10 travelcards are such a convenient tool: 10 journeys for 10€ to be used only when needed, that is, mostly when moving from one "cluster" of sites/attractions to another. But again, Barcelona is a city really made for walking, not only we enjoy a mild climate all year long (few exceptions, though!) full of sunny days but she has also plenty of tree-lined boulevards and wide avenues as well as areas with quaint labyrinthic small streets and back-alleys to get lost in. Like we locals says, "there's always something interesting at a 10' walk from wherever you might be" so if you visit Barcelona and like to walk, prepare to meet Heaven.

About the one-for-all passes and 'discounts' for sites/attractions...
Obviously, each traveller has his/her own interests in mind so it's impossible to say how many sites/attractions or simply "options" are there in any city as something mundane for some can be of interest for others. However, it would be plausible to say that the city of Barcelona has +150 sites/attractions that generate interest for visitors. Among these, the top10 draw nearly 17 million visits every year (+3.2 million Sagrada Família, +2.5 Park Güell, +1.9 El Born Centre de Cultura i Memòria, +1.6 Aquarium, +1.5 FCB Museum, etc...). Note, however, that most of those are privately run, either by foundations or by companies, and each has its own policies (pricing, scheduling, etc), thus, and because they're always full, they have little interest in entering any one-for-all or discount schemes. So those discounts offered by the so-called city passes are either inexistent for the most popular or so ridiculous that they hardly pay for the cost of the pass if the visitor intent is to visit only the top sites.

This is not to say that city passes are not worth or useless, some people doesn't mind to overpay (sometimes handsomely, though!) for the convenience of not having to worry about getting tickets here and there and some passes are indeed interesting if you have very specific objectives in mind (ie. Articket which combines visits to 6 art museums in the city).

Yet, for the reasons stated above (and other), please keep this in mind:

1.) NO, there is no single pass for the top10 sites, neither for "the Gaudí sites"

2.) NO, there is no single pass that will allow you to "skip the lines".

3.) Do carefully your math before purchasing one of the so-called city passes as most times, a typical visitor doesn't really get money-for-value at the end of the day. See what sort of discounts you get to the attractions/sites YOU want to visit and balance it against the cost of the card. Don't be dazzled by the number of sites included, but pay attention to the benefits for the sites you are really going to be visiting.

Enjoy!

Posted by
55 posts

Enric thank you for this very clear and informative post.Does the T10 cover public transport to the airport?

Posted by
1701 posts

Enric makes some very fine points. I am an enormous fan of city passes and I buy them whenever I can. I love the freedom of feeling like, since I already paid for my pass, I might as well stop in at any random covered place, even for just a few minutes. For Barcelona, though, there was no viable option, other than the Art Ticket thing, which did not interest me as I tend to skip art museums. For Barcelona, I went ahead and pre-bought everything separately from each dedicated site. It just took me one evening and I was glad I had done it when we got there and saw the entry lines.