Is there Uber in Barcelona? Yes, there is. However, it’s not the best means of getting around the Catalan capital.
In fact, that can be said of most Spanish cities. The availability of Uber in Spain is generally subject to change and doesn’t always provide the most reliable or cheapest service. This guide has tips for using Uber in Barcelona as well as alternatives to Uber in Barcelona.
Does Uber work in Barcelona?
Uber does exist in Barcelona. However, the ride-hailing app has historically caused a stir among Barcelonian taxi drivers and has been met with resistance and even organized protests from traditional cabbies.
Uber rides are not as widely available as you may be used to in other places. The prices are often higher than with a traditional taxi in Barcelona.
That being said, Uber in Barcelona remains legal. If you already have an account, do keep the app on your phone and refer to it as one of several options for getting around when needed.
If you don’t already have an Uber account, it’s still worth downloading the app ahead of travel.
However, you will appreciate installing one or two alternatives to Uber in Barcelona on your phone. It’s also a good idea to learn about using public transport and regular taxis in the city.
Best alternatives to Uber in Barcelona
Several other ride-hailing apps are superior to using Uber in Barcelona. Before running through these, let’s talk about public transport available in the city.
Public transportation in Barcelona
Barcelona has an extensive public transport system comprising metro, FGC rail, buses, and trams operated by TMB Barcelona. This is the most affordable means of getting around and serves the typical sites of a classic multi-day Barcelona itinerary.
The metro operates from 5 a.m. until around midnight during the week and until 2 a.m. on Fridays. It’s available all night on Saturdays and until midnight on Sundays.
There are over 80 bus routes in Barcelona. Buses tend to start their service around 4.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. and run until around 11 p.m. A night bus service called Nit Bus also covers part of the city.
Download the free travel app Citymapper before venturing out and about in Barcelona. This helps you find the fastest and cheapest means of exploring and demystifies the bus system. It works in most other Spanish cities too – and the Balearic Islands.
AMB Mobilitat is the official transport app for Barcelona. It’s not quite as user-friendly as Citymapper but having both installed won’t hurt.
Licensed taxis in Barcelona
Traditional taxi culture is alive and well in Barcelona. The city has 10,000 taxis in circulation, easily identified by their yellow and black livery. A green light on the car roof indicates that the taxi is available for hailing.
Among these, you will find two main firms.
- Taxi Ecològic is wholly made up of silent hybrid and electric vehicles. It’s possible to hop in at the official taxi ranks, hail them from the roadside, or book via the official app or website.
- Taxi Class is a more upscale affair with luxury eco-friendly Mercedes and Tesla vehicles. This firm is slightly more user-friendly for non-Spanish speakers. In addition to flagging available cars down, you can book a taxi via the website. Taxi Class is a preferred option for airport transfers.
The Spanish government regulates the prices of taxis in Barcelona and other major cities. While pricier than using Uber in Barcelona, they’re not astronomical.
Cost of taxis in Barcelona
Fares start with a minimum fee of a couple of Euros and then charge per kilometer on the meter. The meter should be visible at all times to the passengers so you can monitor it.
Barcelona taxis apply supplementary charges late at night, over public holidays, and when covering railway stations and cruise terminals. The driver should be able to provide you with an estimate before setting off.
At the time of writing, the minimum fare is €2.30 and the price per kilometer is €1.21 (daytime) and €1.45 (nighttime). All current taxi fares for Barcelona are published on the AMB website.
Paying for taxis in Barcelona
All taxis in Barcelona accept credit or debit card payments. It’s wise to have Euros in cash just in case of an issue paying. It’s not expected to tip a taxi driver in Barcelona.
However, if you wanted to round up the fare to the nearest Euro or leave the change – that’s your prerogative. It’s always nice to tip a driver who goes above and beyond or helps with heavy luggage.
Are taxis in Barcelona safe?
It’s safe to take a licensed taxi in Barcelona. Never take an unlicensed taxi. Licensed taxis will have all of the following features:
- Black and yellow livery.
- Taxi sign on top of the car: this is illuminated green when available.
- Taximeter on the dashboard.
- An identity card of the taxi driver is on the right corner of the front window.
- Taxi ID plate and taxi license number, and the registration number on the front board or left side.
On the whole, cab drivers in Barcelona are trustworthy. If you suspect that they are taking you on a detour to bump up the fare, do intervene. A quick glance at Google Maps can help you get a sense of the journey time. The flip side of this is that an old-timer may well know more than Google about faster routes or road closures that haven’t yet come up on the app.
Booking licensed taxis in Barcelona
However, you can also use the easier-to-navigate Free Now.
Free Now in Barcelona
Free Now (formerly MyTaxi and Hailo) is a more reliable alternative to using Uber in Barcelona.
This app works like Uber but it gives you the option to book a traditional “black cab” taxi or a private car known as a “ride”. A ride is basically the same as booking an Uber in Barcelona. Traditional taxis are driven by professional Barcelonian drivers with enhanced knowledge of the city. These will cost a few more euros.
When booking with Free Now you have the option to pay a fixed fare or go on the meter. It’s often cheaper to elect the meter but this will depend on the destination and traffic conditions.
As with Uber, you can save your payment details on the app and have payment collected that way.
Free Now also has a function for hiring an eScooter or eBike. It works on Apple and Android devices.
Cabify in Barcelona
Cabify was launched in 2011 in Spain. It is now prevalent throughout Latin America. It has a similar interface and pick-up system as Uber and allows you to see the cost before confirming a book.
Operating exactly the same as Uber, Cabify is one of the most commonly used alternatives to Uber in Barcelona. In fact, this is the go-to taxi app in all Spanish cities.
Cabify Classic is the standard tier. Other options include Cabify ASAP (for faster service), Cabify Plus (a more luxurious experience), Cabify Group, and Cabify Kids. These all tend to be slightly more expensive.
All Cabify rides are geolocated by the company headquarters in order to keep drivers and passengers safe. As well as being one of the most popular alternatives to Uber in Spain, Cabify is a greener way to travel. The firm offsets the CO₂ of every single trip and uses only electric motorcycles and scooters.
Cabify is compatible with Apple and Android devices.
Bolt in Barcelona
Estonian-founded Bolt is another ride-hail service available in Barcelona for Apple and Android smartphones. It works like Cabify and Uber and requires an account to be created ahead of use.
Again, rides are tiered. In addition to standard rides, you can hail Comfort, Executive, and XL Bolt taxis. Bolt lets riders pre-book a car up to three days in advance (in contrast to Uber who enable it up to 90 days).
Seeing as Cabify and Bolt are fairly similar, you only need to download one of these apps to sit alongside Uber. Considering that it’s linked to licensed taxi cabs as well as Uber-style drivers, Free Now is the best alternative to Uber in Barcelona.
Getting to and from the airport by Barcelona Uber or taxi
Barcelona El Prat Airport is located 8 miles (13 km) from the city center. It’s connected via the Aerobus express shuttle bus and the metro. The bus service is a better option.
Taxi is the fastest means of getting to and from Barcelona Airport. Both terminals have a taxi rank outside where you can hop in a licensed cab. The ride takes approximately 20-40 minutes and will cost in the region of €30-50 plus airport fees.
It’s also possible to hail an Uber, Bolt, Cabify, or Free Now taxi service from the airport. However, these are slower services and will not save you much money in the grand scheme of things.
Seeing as Barcelonian taxis are regulated and have a good safety rating, it makes more sense to use them.
Quick comparison of Barcelona Uber or taxi
- Cost: Prices are much the same although licensed taxis are often cheaper.
- Availability: Ride-share apps vary significantly but licensed taxis are always readily available and usually work out faster.
- Safety: Licensed taxis, Uber, and Uber alternatives are safe to use.
- Payments: Apps streamline payment. Licensed taxis should have credit/debit card facilities by law although these are sometimes not available.
- Language barrier: Using Uber in Barcelona is easier if you don’t speak Spanish. A lot of traditional taxi drivers do not speak English.
- Airport transfers: Opt for licensed taxis when arriving at Barcelona Airport. For return journeys, the ride-hailing apps are reasonably reliable as there are more vehicles in circulation in the city center. But, you will want a backup in case of availability issues or price hikes due to high demand.
Useful Spanish phrases for using taxis in Barcelona
If you do decide to use traditional taxis in Barcelona, there is no guarantee that your driver will speak English. However, if you have data or a Spanish SIM card on your phone this will make things easier to communicate via Google Maps and Google Translate.
Hotels are also able to help with ordering taxis.
The following phrases will help you navigate using taxis in Barcelona and other vacation destinations in Spain.
Necesito un taxi, por favor – I need a taxi, please
Ahora – Now
Mañana – Tomorrow
Esta noche – Tonight
A las X horas – At X o’clock
La dirección es… – The address is…
¿Cuánto costará? – How much will it cost?
¿Puedo pagar con tarjeta? – Can I pay with card?
Somos unas, dos, tres… personas – We are one, two, three… people
Quédese con el cambio – Keep the change
Gracias – Thank you
Of course, even if you can speak basic Spanish, it doesn’t guarantee that you will understand the answers. If your destination is off the beaten track, it’s probably best to check out Uber (and its alternatives) as a first resort.
Renting a car in Barcelona
The final alternative for getting around Barcelona is renting a car.
It makes very little sense to drive around the city. Spain’s number one travel destination is a walker’s dream – so many of the best and free things to do in Barcelona are walkable.
Meanwhile, public transport and taxis/Uber (and Uber alternatives) are there for larger distances and evenings.
However, it’s handy to have a vehicle if you fancy checking out the seaside towns in Costa Brava or partaking in independent day trips from Barcelona. These outings are also available as tours and/or via public transport.