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.
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 €14.44 for 48 hours when purchased online. For longer stays 72, 96 and 120 hour versions are also available.
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?