Transport to Barcelona
The Barcelona airport is only about 12–14 km away from the centre of Barcelona. It has two terminals:
- 1 T1. It is the newer terminal hosting all arrivals and departures of Spanish carriers Iberia, Vueling and Air Europa, as well as all other Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance members.
- 2 T2. It is the older terminal. It is mainly used by low-fare and charter airlines, and some non-allied carriers. There are 3 sections there: T2A, T2B, and T2C. T2C is used exclusively by EasyJet, all other airlines use T2B. T2A is not in use for scheduled traffic as of 2014. Notably the building features a mural by Joan Miró.
Please be aware that you can check in for your flight only at the respective terminal T1 or T2, and since they are 7 kilometres apart and there is little information available at the train station and bus stops, it’s good to know which terminal you need before arriving at the airport. AENA provides information about the allocation of airlines to terminals.
Due to its popularity as a tourist destination, Barcelona Airport sees many direct intercontinental flights. All three major US carriers (American Airlines, Delta and United) fly directly to Barcelona, as do Canadian airlines Air Canada Rouge and Air Transat. Local flag carriers fly to Buenos Aires and Bogota. On the Asian front, Singapore Airlines has a direct connection from Singapore, obviously, while Emirates sends a whole Boeing 777 or Airbus A380 from their hub in Dubai and Qatar Airways competes with a direct connection to theirs in Doha. You can continue from either of those to destinations across Asia, as well as to Australia.
Barcelona rivals Madrid for the number of intra-European connections, with many flag carriers serving both. Barcelona is also one of the European airports best served from the countries of the former Soviet Union (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan etc.), with direct flights to even less frequented airports, operated mostly by local carriers from those countries. There are also many connections to countries of North Africa.
Low-fare carriers operating connections to Barcelona include Vueling, Norwegian and Ryanair, who all have bases there and offer a wide network of connections across Europe. EasyJet does not have aircraft based in Barcelona, but flies there from most of their other bases in Western Europe, while WizzAir provides connections to Eastern European countries.
Germanwings flies from every major German city (with connections to Lufthansa and other Star Alliance flights) and Transavia to Paris and airports in the Netherlands (where you can connect to AirFrance-KLM flights). Monarch and Jet2 complement that with flights from airports in the UK. There are also many charter flights to Barcelona, especially in high season, for which you can increasingly buy tickets independently of a package holiday you may not wish to take.
Since February 2016, L9S runs from both terminals to the very south edge of Barcelona. Trains run every 7 minutes but there is no direct connection to the city centre nor any Barcelona highlight, so you should sum up the 25-30 minute trip to an interchange, 5 more minutes for changing lines as L9S runs very deep underground, and at least 15-20 more minutes to get to the city centre. You should expect an hour ride from most of the city.
For further aggravating things, metro have a special fare for both airport stations: 4,50€ single fare, no 10 ticket travelcards (T-10) allowed at all. Beware, if you reach the airport coming from Barcelona with the wrong ticket, you’ll be forced to pay the full fare regardless of whatever you’ve already paid. Travelling by metro between terminals also costs 4,50€ while there is a free bus connection between T1 and T2.
So, unless you’re going to the Fira, the metro is your worst option as it’ll be more expensive and slower. And even if you’re going to Fira, you might consider taking the train for just one stop and then change to L9S, as doing that way you can use T-10 travelcards and you’ll end up paying just 0,99€ for the trip.
R2 Nord suburban train service (departures 05:42-23:38 every 30 minutes) connects terminal T2B with the Barcelona centre: Barcelona Sants station (travel time is 22 minutes to the airport), Passeig de Gràcia station (27 min), El Clot-Aragó station (30 min). It is generally a cheaper and, sometimes, a faster option to reach the airport.
NB: Do not confuse it with R2 and R2 Sud trains, which do not have a stop at the airport. Also this service does not terminate at Estació de França as R2 Sud does, instead it goes through the center of Barcelona and into the suburbs, so it is important to know at which station you should get off.
- 3 Aeropuerto (train station). The airport train station has facilities for disabled people: escalators, lifts, etc.
It is quite counterintuitive, but the newer and busier T1 does not have a direct railway connection to the city. To get a train from T1 you first need to reach T2B by an airport shuttle bus (runs every 5-10 minutes), so plan for an extra 15 minutes of travel.
The airport is inside zone 1 of Integrated Fare System (see Barcelona’s Get around). You can buy a single-ride on the R2 Nord to and from the airport, however, if you buy a multi-ride pass to use during your stay , then this pass allows you to ride the R2 Nord to and from the airport.
- Line #46 (Plaza España – Airport). This bus line runs every 20 minutes from either of terminals (downstairs at T1) via El Prat de Llobregat to Plaça Espanya. The journey takes 35–45 minutes.
- Aerobus. A shuttle bus service between Barcelona Airport (terminals 1 & 2) and Barcelona’s city center: all along Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes to Plaça Catalunya, city center (beside El Corte Inglés). Buses depart every 5–10 minutes dependings of the terminal. A journey takes aprox. 35 minutes. The buses are adapted for persons with reduced mobility (PRM) and dispose over a wide space especially designed for luggage, also offer free wifi on board and they give you a Free Barcelona map with the purchase of your ticket. Buses are heavily air-conditioned in the summer: have something extra to wear during the journey. Single €5.90, return €10.20; cash, credit card, or online.
- Line A1 (Terminal 1). to: 05:00-00:30; from: 05:35-01:05.
- Line A2 (Terminal 2). to: 05:00-00:30; from: 06:00-01:00.
- Nitbús lines N16, N17 (Plaza Catalunya (Ronda Universidad) – Airport) (N17 is for T1, N16 is for T2; the later one terminates at Castelldefels!). 22.00-05.00 every 20 min. Aerobuses stop running at midnight, but you can catch a Nitbús night bus service instead. The ride from Plaça Catalunya to Airport El Prat takes about 40–50 minutes). The buses stop at several important points of the city on its route: Plaça Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Plaça Universitat and Plaça Catalunya.
- Line PR1 (El Prat de Llobregat – Airport) (to the railway station at El Prat de Llobregat).
- Line L77 (Airport – Sant Boi – Cornellà). Rapid bus connecting the airport with the Sant Boi station (L8, FGC lines to Martorell, Igualada and Manresa, including Montserrat) and Cornellà Centre (Metro L5, tramway and Renfe R4) 2,15€ single fare, 0,99€ if paid with T-10 travelcard.
Travelling by taxi is a convenient, but expensive, way to get from the airport to the city centre, especially if you have a family or a lot of luggage.
You will find a taxi rank outside any of the main terminal exits Terminal 1 (T1) or Terminal 2 (and of the 3 buildings of Terminal 2 – T2A, T2B or T2C). Look for the sign pointing to the nearest taxi rank. The taxis operate all night and there are several hundred of them so you don’t have to worry about not being able to catch a cab.
The journey to the city centre will take you between 25 to 40 minutes depending on road conditions. If you are travelling from Terminal 1 rather than Terminal 2, this will add an extra 4 km to your journey and take approximately 5 minutes more. Children under the age of 12 must be seated in the back seat of the car and supervised so that they do not distract the driver. Eating, drinking and smoking are not permitted during the ride, even if the driver and passenger agree otherwise. The taxi is required to admit blind passengers accompanied by seeing eye dogs (Law of the Parliament of Catalonia 10/1993).
If you have special needs (i.e. wheelchair, special luggage, travelling 5 or 6 people) is better to book in advance your taxi from Barcelona Airport to your destination. There are a lot of local companies that provide pre-payed booking services. You can see the list at Institut Metropolità del Taxi website, Barcelona Tourism Bureau, myDriver Barcelona Private Airport Taxi Book Taxi Barcelona website.
Expect to pay (by normal traffic conditions in a workday) around €30.00 for the journey into the centre from T2 and €40.00 for your journey from T1. There will also be an additional surcharge charge for each bag you’re carrying and additional surcharge for Barcelona Cruise Port destination. You’ll find the rates displayed inside the cab. Final price will depend on time and road conditions.
All official Barcelona taxis are black and yellow. The taxi service in Barcelona is generally very good, clean and reliable.
- Parking. There a number of options with different tariff plans. The airport’s web site advises to save time and money and book online.
T1 and T2 are linked by a free shuttle bus (every 5 to 10 minutes). So, if, for example, you arrive at T1 and wish to take the train to the city centre, you need to transfer on one of those buses (travel time 12-15 minutes).
The bus has 4 stops: T1 Departures (at the 3rd floor), T1 Arrivals (at the ground floor), T2B and T2C.
There is a separate shuttle bus which connects the both terminals with a long stay parking area.
T1 is modern and fresh, while T2 buildings are reportedly poorly conditioned in some places.
Eat and drink
- Cafes, pre-security check. Limited options, sub-standard fare. Food at Ars is awful and not cheap. Pans & Company have almost no hot meals. For more options in Terminal 1 go to 3rd floor: better food and restaurants, but more expensive.
- Cafes, post-security check. Numerous options, all close at around some time between 10PM and 11PM.
- Duty-free shops. Open from 6/6:30AM to 9:30PM (few to 10PM). Shops are numerous and some are hard to find elsewhere in the city. After security check, most shops are before the passport control; there are only one or two afterwards.
- Tax-free shopping refund. Office closes at 10PM without compromises. After that time checks can be processed only by mail: complete your tax-free forms with your passport data and addresses, have them stamped by the customs office (a window next to arrivals gate door; they don’t ask to see your purchases); put them into the envelope you were given in the shop—and wait for several months.
- WiFi, toll-free: 900 866 080, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Available throughout the airport, operated by KubiWireless 30 minutes for free.
- 4 Airport infomation T1 (in the centre of the arrivals (floor 1) at the tip of the triangular pavilion opposite to the arrivals zone exit).
- 5 Tourist infomation T1 (at the arrivals (floor 1), on the left of the arrivals zone exit).
- Left luggage. The deposits are located at the both terminals. €6/item of normal luggage up to 2h, then €10/item for each extra 24h; discounts for leaving 4 bags and more.
- 6 Left luggage T1 (from the arrivals at floor 1 via a passage in the centre towards the parkings, then follow “Left luggage” (Consigna) signs towards a lobby at the ground floor), ☎932 971 213. 24/7.
- Left luggage T2 (Section B, floor 0, Check-in hall), ☎ 932 971 272. 6:00-22:00.
- Air Rooms Barcelona (Terminal 1, land area at the Business Centre, next to the Barcelona-Madrid corridor), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 9 rooms and 1 suite are available either for overnight stay or for day use (3-6h, 10:00-18:00)
The nearest hotels are located at the town of El Prat de Llobregat and Zona Franca of Barcelona near the port.