How to move around Catalan capital in comfort and almost for free? See our 7 taxi rules!
Yellow and black colour scheme of Barcelona taxis seems like a perfect mix of London’s black cabs and New York’s yellow taxis. They are a nice way to get from point A to point B. But there are a few things which you might want to know before you get into one of those.
1. Mind the price
Comparing to London or New York, Barcelona taxis are cheap: average trip within central Barcelona will rarely cost you over 10 EUR. For 15-20 EUR you can cross the city from south to north (considering there are no traffic jams, of course).
All taxis have a meter, so when you get in just make sure it’s on, to avoid any confusion later. Also in each taxi, there is a sticker with prices and any extras. You can check the official tariffs for 2017 here. Many taxis will accept cards (including contactless – i.e. Apple Pay too!), Hailo Pay, but it’s best to have cash just in case card machine doesn’t work. If you order a taxi via an app, you are fine and just need to have your phone working to accept the charge at the end of the trip (with MyTaxi, for example).
One important thing to keep in mind: when you order a taxi via a taxi-hailing app or by phone, the price of your ride is only estimated by not guaranteed. Once I was quoted 50 euros, but was charged 90 euros at the end of the trip… So check the meter during the trip and for long drives out of Barcelona consider trains or buses.
You can calculate the estimated price of your taxi journey here: http://taxi.amb.cat/en/usuari/calcula-la-teva-ruta/versio-web
There is also an official app called ‘Taxi Barcelona/Calcula la Ruta’ which allows you to get the estimated price of your journey.
2. Know your route
Check the route on the map and ideally tell/show the driver what streets you want him to take. Almost every time I take a taxi in Barcelona, I am being asked how I want to get to my destination. It makes me feel like I am the local here, and the driver is an expat, who arrived here only recently and doesn’t know the city well. Oh wait, it’s the other way around!… Also be prepared to literally explain the way to a taxi driver, especially if you are going off the beaten track. Taxi drivers in Barcelona are good but not as good as London taxi drivers. Many Barcelona drivers use GPS to calculate the route and will drive according to their GPS’ directions. If they don’t have a GPS they might ask you which exit to take on a roundabout, for example. It happened to me more than once. I was frantically checking Google Maps, trying to answer driver’s question. He found the house in the end, but it left me with many questions about the service which I want to call a ‘taxi’.
3. Watch the road or better watch Google Maps, to make sure the driver is not taking you in the opposite direction
On my way home from the airport, taxi driver passed by my destination and was speeding further east through the city. Since Barcelona has many one-way streets, I thought he was looking for the right street to make a turn. A few blocks down, I raised an alarm. The driver apologized, claiming that he thought my house was on the other end of the loooog street. But he didn’t stop the meter… Oh well…
4. Watch out for rain and football matches
Although there are over 10,000 taxis in Barcelona when it rains they all hide (presumably at bars). Usual 3-5 min wait for an available car, becomes 20-30 minutes wait! Same thing happens when there is a football match in town. Once I was ‘lucky’ trying to call a taxi when it was raining, while there was a football match!… I decided to walk.
5. Be ready for taxi’s arrival!
Barcelona taxi drivers are lightning fast: they are not going to wait for you if you ordered a cab via app/phone and are not coming out within 2-3 minutes. They will just leave and cancel the trip! I learned it the hard way and now I am the first one downstairs, tracking driver’s movement via taxi app. I understand, for them time is money and I am sometimes a bit slow… 🙂
6. Save money by ordering taxi via taxi-hailing apps
There is no Uber in Barcelona, but there are other taxi-hailing apps, most of them use only official taxis (for example, MyTaxi) and hence all that I wrote above applies to them. There is an exception to this which is Cabify. It uses spacious cars (Toyota Avensis) with free water, magazines, mobile chargers and wifi, smartly dressed drivers and executive service. No matter what app you choose, the cars normally arrive within 3-5 minutes, you can also pre-book and specify what car you want, for how many people, etc. You can also get a free credit of 5-6 EUR for your first trip with each of the apps, by using promo codes below. The other advantage of the taxi app is that they accept all types of cards, including Amex.
Cabify 6 euros promo code: DMITRYD1
MyTaxi 5 euros promo code: DMITRYDRO.
The promotional credit can only be applied towards the cost of your first trip.
7. Talk to your driver!
Like in any other city, Barcelona taxi drivers are fun to chat with. One of my favorite drivers always plays classical music radio in his car. The other one teaches me Spanish. They speak many languages and will tell you a lot of peculiar facts. For example, the other day I was told that local government is not issuing new taxi diver licenses, and the only way to get one is to buy existing one from a retiring taxi driver. The cost? Mind boggling 150,000 euros!
What’s your taxi experience in Barcelona?