University life : Practical Information
Barcelona El Prat international airport has two terminals, T1 and T2, connected by shuttle buses running every 8 minutes. The airport is 18 km south of the city and is served by more than 100 airlines linking the city with 200 destinations worldwide. If you arrive by plane, there are several ways of getting from the airport to the city:
- Aerobús . Fast bus service connecting the two terminals with Barcelona city centre (25–35 minutes), end stop Plaça Catalunya. Aerobús T1 serves terminal T1 and Aerobús A2 serves terminal T2. They run every day from 5.30 am to 1.00 am.
- Train. Rodalies de Catalunya R-2 Nord (Catalan Suburban Railways R-2 North) connects terminal T2 with Barcelona Sants central railway station (19 minutes), Passeig de Gràcia station (26 minutes) and El Clot-Aragó station (30 minutes). It runs every day from 6.00 am to 11.30 pm.
By train or car
The city of Barcelona has excellent road and rail connections to the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe.
- Road. If you are coming by private vehicle, you can find the latest traffic information on the Servei Català de Trànsit (Catalan Traffic Service) or the Dirección General de Tráfico (Spanish Traffic Authority) websites (in Catalan and Spanish, respectively). The city is also served by several regular coach routes. Barcelona’s main bus station is Barcelona Nord and there is a smaller bus station at Fabra i Puig. A few routes run out of Sants central railway station.
- Rail: Renfe (Spanish Railways)
Getting around Barcelona
Every city has its emblematic buildings or points of reference that help you get your bearings. The main point of reference in Barcelona is Plaça de Catalunya, at the top of the old city (Ciutat Vella). The city is divided into 10 districts, which are, in turn, divided into neighbourhoods (barris).
The Ciutat Vella district includes the neighbourhoods at the heart of the city: El Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter), La Ribera and El Raval, together with the traditional fishing neighbourhood, La Barceloneta. Surrounding the old city, the Eixample district spreads out from Barcelona’s former city walls. Like an open-air architecture museum, this expanse, which began to be built up during the Industrial Revolution, eventually absorbed neighbouring towns, which became city districts, including Gràcia, Sarrià-Sant Gervasi, Sant Andreu and Horta, among others.
The neighbourhoods of Vila Olímpica and Poblenou, in the Sant Martí district, together with La Barceloneta, are on the city’s seafront, which includes 4 kilometres of beaches.
The city has a comprehensive, highly efficient public transport network with several means of transport that will get you anywhere in the city and also take you out to the neighbouring municipalities in the greater metropolitan area. The integrated fare system allows you to use the same ticket on all public transport.
- Metro. The metro has 8 lines and 140 stations covering almost the entire city. This is the fastest means of public transport. Two new lines are also under construction to link up with Barcelona El Prat airport.
- Bus. Over 100 routes connect the city’s different neighbourhoods and link Barcelona with neighbouring municipalities in the greater metropolitan area. At night, major routes are covered by night buses: NitBus.
- Tram. Barcelona has 6 tram routes connecting Barcelona with other municipalities in the metropolitan area. The Trambaix connects the district of Les Corts with the towns of Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Joan Despí, Sant Just Desvern and Esplugues de Llobregat. The Trambesòs connects the Sant Martí district with the towns of Sant Adrià de Besòs and Badalona, and also links UPF’s Ciutadella and Poblenou campuses in just 10 minutes.
- Bicing. Bicing is an urban transport system based on shared bicycles. Simple, practical and environmentally friendly, it is a good way to get around the city. There are over 400 stations and 6,000 bicycles, with stations at all UPF campuses. To use this public transport system, you must have a Spanish National Identity Number (DNI) or Foreigner Identity Number (NIE).
- FGC (Catalan Railways). FGC operates 14 lines, three of which complement the Barcelona metro system. The remaining lines connect Barcelona with other towns and cities in the metropolitan area and beyond.
- Rodalies (Catalan Suburban Railways). Rodalies operates 8 railway lines connecting Barcelona with the metropolitan area and beyond.
The city also has an extensive fleet of taxis. Barcelona cabs are black with yellow doors. You can hail a cab on the street (free taxis show a green light) or go to one of the 24-hour taxi stands.
Calendar of holidays and hours kept in Barcelona
There are several bank holidays in the year. Some of them are celebrated throughout Spain, others throughout Catalonia and some only in Barcelona. They are all shown on the UPF Academic Calendar.
Spain keeps somewhat different hours from the rest of Europe:
- Meals. Meals are generally taken later than in other parts of Europe. Breakfast is normally eaten between 9 and 11 am (and is often more of a mid-morning coffee break at a bar near work), lunch between 2 and 4 pm and dinner between 9 and 10 pm, although restaurants have more flexible hours.
- Business hours. Most establishments open from Monday to Saturday and close on Sunday, although small shops often close on Saturday afternoons as well. As a general rule, departments stores, shopping centres and large shops do not close at midday, whereas municipal marketplaces and small shops tend to close between 2 and 5 pm (with slight variations).
- Working hours. The working day usually begins between 8 and 9 am. The lunch break often consists of an hour or so taken sometime between 1.30 and 4 pm. Work usually ends between 6 and 7.30 pm.
Cost of living
You may find Barcelona more expensive or cheaper than your country of origin. To help you plan your stay, we have made up a table with approximate monthly expenses, which will vary depending on the neighbourhood you choose to live in, the kind of housing you pick and your lifestyle.
|Item||Room in a shared flat||Room in a student hall of residence|
Banks and credit cards
The banking system conforms to international standards and the city has an extensive network of bank branches and cash machines. Credit cards are widely used and are accepted in most shops, restaurants, etc.
To open a bank account you need to have a NIE or TIE (Foreigner Identity Number or Card).
If you are staying for an extended period of time, you should consider opening a bank account in Spain. There is a Banco Santander office on the Ciutadella campus (at the entrance to UPF’s Roger de Llúria building).
Before leaving your home country, you should check with your bank about their fees for using your credit or debit card abroad, as well as money transfer terms and conditions.
Increasing numbers of bars and restaurants are offering customers a free Wi-Fi connection. Barcelona also has a public Wi-Fi network open to everyone (Barcelona Wi-Fi) comprising over 400 connection points at city facilities or in public spaces. You do not need to register beforehand.
You will have access to the eduroam network during your stay.
Tips for keeping safe
Barcelona is a modern, cosmopolitan city with over a million and a half inhabitants. Like any other large city, central areas, especially those popular with tourists, can be the riskiest, basically due to the presence of pickpockets and street hawkers. Pickpockets often use ruses and scams to try and distract you, such as telling you that you have a stain on your clothes or trying to sell you flowers. Be aware.
The main advice is to use your common sense and always keep an eye on your things. When you’re in a bar or restaurant, never lose sight of your personal belongings.
If you are the victim of a robbery, you can ask any police officer for help or call the emergency number 112.
Useful telephone numbers
There is an all-encompassing number that can be used for any type of emergency: 112. In addition, you can also call the citizen information lines run by Barcelona City Council (010) and the Catalan Government (012).