Road travel in Spain | Driving in Barcelona

Driving in Barcelona and surrounding areas

Barcelona Like all other major cities, Barcelona has a lot of traffic. However, since the 1992 Olympic Games driving around the city and the surrounding areas has improved considerably, especially on the Ronda Litoral and the Ronda de Dalt ring roads. On the other hand, the layout of the roads in Barcelona which form a grid helps your orientation when driving around the city. Drivers in Barcelona tend to be more patient than in other parts of Spain and they pay more attention to road signs as well. In general cars don't usually turn into a street if they are in the middle lane and they hardly ever park next to someone who has double parked. There are a lot of car parks in Barcelona so you shouldn't have any problems finding a parking. Once inside the city you can move around on foot, by bike, bus or underground. What may strike you is the number of small mopeds that there are, it often feels like it is the city with the highest number of mopeds in the world.





The Ronda de Dalt and the Ronda Litoral
: These two semi ring roads form a circle around Barcelona with access to most of the city's suburban neighbourhoods. There are two important entrances to the city. One to the south and one to the north. The Northern entrance is called the Nudo de la Tinitat and this is where all the important roads and motorways enter the city (the Maresme, Girona-Costa Brava-France Sabadell-Terrasa Manresa routes). The Southern entrance is where all traffic travelling up from the Mediterranean coast enters the city (Castelldefels or from Tarragona) and it is also where traffic from the interior of Spain (Lerida-Zaragoza-Madrid etc) enters the city. Both entrances are connected the cities two major ring roads. Once you are near Barcelona you need to decide whether you want to use the Ronda de Dalt or the Ronda Litoral to enter the city regardless of whether you are entering the city from the North or from the South.

  • Ronda de Dalt or B-20: This runs around the Northern part of the city. You get to it from the Nus de la Trinitat or Avenida. From the Meridiana or on the A-7 or C-68 (Gerona, Costa Brava, France) or on the A-19-Badalona-El Maresme or on the A-58 and C-58 (Sabadell-Terrassa-Manresa). It has exits to all the city's Northern neighbourhoods: Horta, Paseo del Valle Hebrón (Velodrome and Hospital del Valle Hebrón), la Rovira tunnel, San Gervasio, calle Balmes/Plaza Molina, the Esplugas road (Pedralbes-Sarriá-San Gervasio), Anglí-Paseo Bonanova street, from exits 8 and 9 you get to the Vallvidrera tunnel (there are pay tolls here) this takes you to the Sant Cugat-Cerdanyola Autonomous University and the Technology park. You also get to the Avenida Diagonal, where you enter or leave from the AP-7 Tarragona-Valencia or the A-2 to Lerida-Zaragoza or the AP-7 to Montmeló-El Papiol-Girona-France. Furthermore, you can get to the Rondas from the Castelldefels dual carriageway. For more details see this map.

  • Ronda Litoral or B-10: This takes you to: Nus de la Trinitat-Plaça les Glories-Gran Via, Bon Pastor, Sant Adriá del Besós, Sant Coloma de Gramanet, Plaça Pau Vila, Poblanou, (Forum, Avenida Icaria-Villa Olimpica), Barceloneta /Via Layetana, Ciutat Vella, the Port, Montjuic-Fira-Gran Via, the industrial park, (the Castelldefels dual carriageway,airport), Avenida Diagonal (AP-7 Tarragona-Valencia or the A- Lerida-Zaragoza-Madrid. For more details see this map.

If you enter the Barcelona or on the Avenida Diagonal coming from the AP-7 Tarragona or the A-2 Lerida-Zaragoza or the AP-7 Montmeló-El Papiol-Girona-Francie or roads coming from the South it is quite easy because all along this central road that cuts through the middle of the city you can take one of the roads that run perpendicular to reach many of Barcelona's neighbourhoods: to the North of the Diagonal: Les Corts, Sarriá.San Gervasi, Gracia, Horta-Guinardó.and to the South of the Diagonal: Eixample, Ciutat Vella, Sants-Montjuic, Sant Martí.

If you enter Barcelona on the Gran Vía coming from the Castelldefels dual carriageway (the airport route), you will cross the city from North to South. Driving along the Gran Via, you will get to the A-19 Badalona-El Maresme exit. You also have the chance of joining the Rondas from the North. From the Ronda you have access to the following roads the A-7 Gerona-France, the C-68 -Granollers-Puigcerda and the C-58 Sabadell-Terrassa-Manresa...

Traffic and Driving in Barcelona city
The area around Ensanche or l'Eixample: This is the most central area in Barcelona, just below the Diagonal and above the Gran Vía. From the Plaza de las Glorias to the Plaza de España and the Plaza Frances. The streets form a grid and it is easy to find your way around them. You shouldn't encounter many problems finding a parking space given that there are car parks on every street in this part of the city.
The main road that crosses the city from the North to the South diagonally is the Avenida Diagonal. From the North you reach the Diagonal from the Avenida Meridiana and from the South from the AP-7 Tarragona-Valencia or the A- Lérida-Zaragoza-Madrid.
Calle Aragón is parallel to the Diagonal and crosses it in the middle. It is 5 blocks to the South of the Diagonal. From the North you get to it from the Avenida Meridiana and from the South the Plaza de España, GranVia-autovia de Castelldefels, the Airport road.
The Gran Via, which begins in the Plaza de las Glorias and the entrance to the Maresme-Badalona dual carriageway, crosses the city parallel to the other 2. Leaving from the South, like the Calle Aragón, the Plaza de España, Gran Via, the Industrial Park, the Castelldefels dual carriageway, the Airport road...
The following are just some of the perpendicular streets that cross the city from East to West: Muntaner, Aribau, Balmes, Rambla Cataluña, Paseo de Gracia, Pº San Juan…
The Barrio Gótico: This area is a bit more difficult to drive around. The streets are irregular and narrow and it is very difficult to park in this area. There are car parks in: Plaza de la Catedral, Moll de la Fusta, Plaza de Cataluña and Plaza de Sant Jaume. The Cathedral, Townhall, Palau de la Generalitat, The Picasso Museum, the Basílica de Santa María del Mar, Plaza Real, Plaza del Pino, The Marés Museum, Iglesia de la Mercé are all located within this part of the city. If you want to visit this area the best thing is to park your car in a car park and explore on foot. There are 2 important streets that go down from the Plaza de Cataluña to the sea. They are: Via Layetana and the Ramblas however there aren't any car parks here. There is a car park on Calle Hospital, behind the Mercado de la Boquería (a large food market) just off the Ramblas about halfway down.
The Port and Moll de la Fusta: There is a large car park below the Moll de la Fusta and parallel to the Ronda Litoral. If you are staying in the centre of the city the best thing to do is to arrive using the Ronda Litoral and leave your car in the Moll de la Fusta or Cathedral car parks, going up the Vía Layetana. This is where the Marina, Barceloneta, Statue of Colón, les Dressanes (Atarazanas), the Maremagnum and the Aquarium are located. Nearby you have the Ciudadela Park with a Zoo, the Museum of Modern Art, the Zoology Museum located in the Tres Dragones castle and the Geology Museum all of which you can get to easily - there is a large car park here.
The Olympic Port and the surrounding area: You can get here directly from the Ronda Litoral. Coming from the centre of Barcelona, you need to go down the Via Layetana and take the Avenida Icaria which takes you directly to the Olympic Port. You shouldn't encounter any problems parking because there is a large car park here.
The Pedralbes, Bonanova, Sarriá-San Gervasio areas: These are residential areas with quite a lot of traffic. They are easy to get to by car but once there you may experience problems finding a place to park. You have direct access to these areas from the Ronda de Dalt (click here for map). You connect with the Eixample from the Calle Balmes, going up until you reach the Avenida del Tibidabo. You also get to the Plaza Bonanova/Paseo San Gervasio, Calle Muntaner. You can join Calle Balmes or Calle Muntaner from the Gran Viá or Calle Aragón or the Avendia Diagonal. The Paseo San Gervasio-Paseo Esplugas-Av-Pedralbes also goes around the city parallel to the Ronda. It is basically the same road but with different names. The ESADE, Pedralbes Palace, the Dexeus Clinic, the Planas Clinic and the Corachán Clinic are located here. The Via Augusta takes you from the Diagonal to Sarriá-San Gervasio and ends in the Vallvidrera tunnel which takes you to Sant Cugat-Autonomous University and the Technological Park.

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