Getting to Barcelona
Arriving by plane, train or automobile…
By Duncan Rhodes
Before you read up on all the awesome things to do in Barcelona, you’ve got to find out how to get here first… here are some pointers for newbie travellers.
Barcelona is served by El Prat Airport, situated 10km southwest of the city centre. The efficient and affordable Aerobus runs every 5-10 mins and takes about half an hour to reach the centre, whilst both trains and the metro also run into town.
The major carriers from the UK are Iberia, British Airways and BMI, whilst cheap airlines Easyjet, Vueling, Jet2, BMI Baby, as well as the infamous Ryanair, all fly to Barcelona too. Whilst the latter do have direct flights to El Prat, they might also deposit you a hundred odd kilometres down the road in either Reus or Girona Airport. Inconvenient but not the end of the world. Check the links for travel advice.
If you’re travelling from the US try Iberia, Continental or Delta for direct flights or prepare to change at Madrid.
As you might expect Barcelona is well connected by rail to the Spanish capital Madrid (around 8 trains a day, journey time 2.5hrs), as well as Valencia down the road (16 trains a day, approx. 4.5 hours). A ticket to Madrid is expensive however (around 120 euros) and a cheaper option for those on a budget is the overnight train, which also saves a night in a hostel.
If you’re a backpacker on your way to or from France trains connect to Montpellier, via Perpignan on a daily basis. Timetables can be checked at RENFE.
By Bus / Coach
Arriving or departing by bus or coach brings the traveller a wealth of options, normally well-priced, if a trifle slow and uncomfortable vs. arriving by train. Check out Alsa’s website, the Spanish partner of Eurolines for tickets to Paris, Portugal or even Morocco. Domestic options abound. Head to the Estacio del Nord for all intercity travel.
If you fancy being the star of your very own road movie, and you have a long attention span, driving to Barcelona is possible from the UK or Europe. The French border is 188km away, about an hour and forty minutes drive on the freeway (120 kmph speed limit).
You can reach Barcelona by ferry from Genoa (three times a week, journey time 18hrs) whilst hedonists can travel to and from Palma (Majorca) and Ibiza from Barcelona’s port. Tickets aren’t cheap however, with a one-way trip to the latter costing over 100 Euros at last count.