“ Tourist bus that runs in the Spanish city of Barcelona „
First of all I want to be clear this is a review of the Barcelona Bus Turistic ran by Barcelona Turisme. There is another bus service ran by Gray Line and I've noticed a few reviewers getting these two separate services mixed up.
I don't usually use 'hop-on hop-off' bus tours when I travel, but as we only had 2 full days in Barcelona and after reading many positive reviews of these buses being efficiently run, I decided to give it a go. I also thought it would be nice to see more of the city that you don't see when using the metro. As it was December, this meant it wasn't very busy. I've read that in the summer that whilst the service runs more frequently, there are often huge queues and fights for the top deck on the bus.
Firstly, if your planning on using the Bus Turistic then book online before you go. You get 10% off, and you just print off the confirmation then hand it to the rep when you get on the bus to get your tickets, earphones and discount book. Easy!
The map you receive details the three different lines that you can go on. There is a line which only runs in the summer as it covers the beaches in Barcelona, and understandably this area isn't as popular in winter. The first day we did the blue line. The bus was brilliant, and we got on/off at 3 different stops. Each time we never waited long at all for another bus. A few of the headphone sockets didn't work, but when you finally got one to work there was some information provided. It didn't provide indepth information, but it quite often didn't have the time as you whizzed by various places. I had a guide book anyway, so I'd read up on most places of interest. When stuck in traffic though you were made to listen to awful 'lift music.' I can't see why they can't play some local style music?
There is always a rep on the bus and the driver. Both of whom were always very friendly and welcoming you on the bus each time. The rep is quite happy to chat to passengers sat nearby about the city and give recommendations on places to see.
The second day we used the red line and got on/off a few times, though this time we seemed to wait quite a while for the next bus to come along. We decided to go on the blue line again that evening, see the city in the evening and all the christmas lights. We waited in Placa Catalunya for a bus for 25 mins, I appreciate it's not high season but it states buses run every 10-20 mins so this was slightly frustrating.
I would recommend the Turistic Bus, especially if your only in Barcelona for a short stay. To check out which major sights the lines cover, visit the official website: http://www.barcelonabusturistic.cat
I've never been keen on tourist buses and would often snigger at the frozen faces on the open top deck thinking how daft they look. Well I'm proud to say that I was recently one of those passengers and I enjoyed every minute of it. The Barcelona bus is without a doubt one of the best ways to get around the city and take in all the sights. At 20 euro for a 1 day pass or 27 euro for a 2 consecutive day pass it's well worth the money as you can hop in and hop off as many times as you like. Placa de Catalunya is the main place to start your journey and there are ticket booths where you buy your pass then simply jump on a bus. They pass each stop every 15-20 mins so you don't need to be hanging around long at all. The last bus left Placa de Catalunia at 7.30pm and continued round the route.
There are 2 main Barcelona bus routes which leave from Placa de Catalunya - a red route and a blue route. Each route passes by different attractions within the city and these are shown on a map given to you with all the stops shown on it. All the main sights such as Sagrada Familia, Camp Nou, Montjuic park, and Port Vale are included along with a great deal of others which you may never have heard of before. You are also supplied with free headphones which will tell you about what your seeing as you pass and you will be informed of what each stop is for. Each stop has the Barcelona bus marker in the ground so you'll be able to find your way back onto the bus no problem at all. You can switch between the red and blue routes as many times as you want and there is a green route (which was closed at the time I was there) which takes you along the sea front. There is no limit as to how many times you get on or off.
I found that the buses were a rapid way to get around and the stops are superbly placed letting you off right at the door of what you want to see. The top deck can get a little chilly in the winter so a hat, scarve and gloves are a good idea but I can imagine in the warm summer months this brings a welcome relief! Along with the bus driver, there is also a staff member on hand at the door to check your tickets but also to help with any questions you might have. They spoke fluent English as well as Spanish/Catalan and were very friendly. The bus headphones will narrate in numerous different languages too so they really are well catered for tourists.
I recently returned from Barcelona after a five day break there with my fiancee, and besides the fact that i absoloutely love Barcelona, this tour bus is a very worthwhile excursion choice, and a fantastic way to see what the city has to offer. I also thought it might be helpfull to keep people updated with prices, routes etc, as the only reviews on Dooyoo are a little old now, so here goes....
1 day ticket, including unlimited hop-on, hop-off Euro21
2 day ticket, including unlimited hop-on, hop-off Euro27
In my opinion, I would go for the two day ticket if you are planning on seeing a lot of the city, (and have the time) as there is a huge amount to get around to and see, and to be fair if you manage it in one day, you have obviously missed a hell of a lot.
Tickets can be purchased from the many tourist information boothes dotted around the city, and they can also be easily bought from the tour guides on board the busses as well, so dont panic if you suddenly decide you want to use one and havent got a ticket yet.
No matter the option you go for you will have the use of either two or three routes, depending on the time of year you visit.
The Blue (South) and Red (North) routes are in use throughout the year, and are closed for christmas day and new years day only.
The Green route, which is much smaller and runs along the coast as far as the Forum, is only open through from 3rd April until 27th September this year, and im sure the dates will be very similar next year.
The tour Busses run daily from 9am and the last services leave Placa de Catalunya at 9pm (which coincidentally is the start point and centre of the city as well)
There is also a night tour of the city's main sights, which must be pre booked and costs around Euro18, however i didnt do it so cant really vouch for it, although there are some really impressive sights that are very well presented and lit up at night so it might well be worth it.
What you get:
Well, firstly you get the use of the numerous busses, that run every 10 minutes or so from the 44 stops around the city. Next, you will get a guide book which is actually very informative, has a good map in it for locating the popular tourist hot spots, giving you a little background of them all to boot. You also get a large fold out map that is also very good for use when you arent on the bus, and also a lovely bright blue pair of headphones for use on board the busses (more about these in a bit).
Lastly you will get a discount voucher book, which is allegedly worth Euro180 (as in possible savings, not actual value).
Clean , modern busses, that are air conditioned downstairs, and upstairs, they are open topped. they are fitted with a mono tour guide sound system, that covers English, Spanish, Catalan, German, French, Japanese, Polish, Czech, Swiss, Italian, and Portugese. To use the system you simply plug in the free headphones and select the corresponding channel to the language you require.
The quality of the information is very good, and very well spoken and timed for the tour.
Each of the blue and red routes takes about an hour and a half to run full circle, and the green route about 40 minutes.
I wont list them all as i think they each deserve a review in their own right but the most popular and therfore busiest and most crowded are the following; The Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera, The Gothic Cathedral and Park Guell. In the evenings, the Magic fountains which are in front of the Royal palace at Placa d'Espanya are hugely popular and fill up for every performance (thousands of people), however this is one of the few truely free sights and is well worth seeing. The beaches are also very popular not only with tourists, but the local students as well.
I would reccommend that you allow at least 2-3 hours for each of them as you will probably have to queue to get in and they do have a lot to see at each.
If I am totally honest, I didnt go to Barcelona's Camp Nou, so I cant say how busy it was inside, but a lot of people did get off to see the ground...
Some of the Lesser busy sights, or rather the ones that seem less crowded are Mount Tibidabo, which has the Church of Jesus and the sacred heart, as well as the Funicular railway, and Tramvia Blau, not to mention a theme park on five floors (sounds strange i know). Poble Espanyol can be great in the early evening, as is the Monastir de Pedralbes. Another much overlooked sight is the Parc de la Ciutadella, which houses the Barcelona Zoo, which is also a great place. it has huge open green spaces and some lovely sights. Gracia is also a great place to just mooch about and soak up the local culture and architecture.
Although the tour bus is very clean and efficient, this is very much the New York of Spain, and full of tourists, so there is never an empty bus... and sometimes you will be sitting downstairs missing a lot of the sights. as they tower above the bus. This is something that im sure most people would expect, but none the less it is a negative aspect i thought warranted a mention, and also an opportunity for a tip.
If you want to avoid the crowds waiting to board the busses at laces like Placa de Catalunya, take a quick stroll to the MACBA-CCCB (or Museum d'Art) and board there.
I hope this gives you a better idea of what to expect in Barca, and hope anyone visiting after reading this is a little more wise for it!
I have often smiled, perhaps unkindly, when looking at these open-top buses for tourists in Edinburgh. There is something amusing about a bunch of tourists sitting on top of a bus getting a running commentary of the main sights
So, if there is something to this karma business, a few Barcelonans probably had a quiet chuckle at me sitting atop the Bus Turístic. Yes, even though I had always promised myself I would never be one of these tourists, it seemed the right thing to do in Barcelona
And let's face it, unlike in Edinburgh, we were unlikely to get wet!
You can buy a one or two day ticket. These are available on board the bus, at tourist offices or online (www.tmb.net).
It cost 18 for one day and 22 for two (consecutive) days for adults, and 11 and 14 respectively for children of 4 to 12 years old. Younger children go free.
This gives you unlimited access to two (three in summer) lines, stopping at 44 places of interest. You can get on and off as many times as you like. You will also be issued with a small information guide giving you brief information about every stop and more importantly, a handy discount voucher booklet giving you reduced entry to many visits. The trick is to remember to use it.
The two main lines covered by this company (the only two I will talk about as I didn't travel on the green line) cover different parts of Barcelona. They overlap for a few stops to allow travellers to switch easily. Following the advice given in our guide book, we bought the 2 day ticket, the first day being spent getting an overview of the city and finding our bearings, and the second to travel to places we wanted to visit. This way of proceeding held both benefits and disadvantages. The first day certainly did give us an idea of what the city had to offer and helped us decide the programme for the week. It also went a long way towards familiarising us with the layout of the place, as Barcelona is not particularly difficult to get around. But as we did both the blue and red line in that first day, we ended up spending about 4 hours on top of a bus, at the end of which we found we suffered from a very bad case of 'numb bum'. The second day, although only costing an extra 4 each, was not as useful as we had hoped, as the buses go around in loops, and you have to go right round before getting back to where you started.
Most people catch the bus on the Plaça de Catalunya, the city's nerve centre. Here you can get onto both the blue and red line. This can lead to lengthy queues to get on the buses, unless you get there early. The buses run between 9.00 - 9.30 am and 7.00 pm in winter, 8.00 pm in summer. If you start off a little late, my advice is to catch the bus from a different stop. They are easily identified once you have seen the eye symbol that is at each stop. The buses run every 5 minutes in the high season, falling to every 25 minutes in the winter.
On board, along with the driver, each bus has a guide who as well as selling passes, provides a running commentary in about 4 languages: Spanish, Catalan, English, and another, either French or German. They also make sure tourists are seated on the top deck, an important safety consideration. The guide's language skills are excellent, in what must be a very demanding task, switching constantly as they do from language to language. The commentary itself is pretty basic and changes from guide to guide. One guy was really quite funny. When one of the American tourists downstairs asked if Park Güell was worth visiting, he went off on a rant that sounded more like Basil Faulty doing stand-up than someone giving tourist advice. You had to be there I guess, but my husband and I were shaking with laughter upstairs. And he was right We would have been total idiots not to visit. All the guides we came across were very pleasant and helpful.
~The blue route~
I will not go through everything the buses take you to, just a few highlight.
<%> The 1992 Olympic Ring
<%> The Fundació Joan Miró houses in a striking building a very important collection of works by this challenging artist who could express his poetic universe through a huge variety of media, painting, sculpture, ceramic, tapestry
<%> La Ribera district, with the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Mar, a fine example of Catalan Gothic architecture, and the Museu Picasso, a must-see.
<%> The Barri Gòtic, the cradle of the city of Barcelona, with a wealth of Roman remains.
~The red route~
<%> This route takes you past several buildings by Antoni Gaudí, a modernista architect (the movement known as Art Nouveau elsewhere), and Barcelona's most famous son after Picasso. Barcelona could be called Gaudi city, so numerous are his legacies and so representative of the city. The high vantage point is a huge bonus to see some of the landmarks, such as the Sagrada Família (or 'Sangria Familia', as we overheard one tourist call it ), or the Park Güell, the Casa Batló and the Casa Milà (known as La Perdrera).
<%> The Nou Camp stadium, a must for any self-respecting football fan.
Despite feeling like such a tourist at the time, I am glad we started our stay in Barcelona the way we did, although with the benefit of hindsight, I would probably do things a bit differently, perhaps do one of the routes the first day, visiting one or two of the places on the way, and the other route the next day. If you had only quite a short stay, I don't think you would want to give more than half a day to sitting on top of a bus.
When on the gallery at the top of the bus, remember to sit down at all times. Not only could you fall overboard, but the bus also goes under a couple of very low tunnels which you don't see in advance. Remember to be prepared for the weather and have sun cream available, as the motion of the bus stops you realising just how hot the sun is, but also a warm top, as when the sun goes down or you are in a shaded avenue, it can get quite chilly.
Go on, be a tourist!