This post describes the transport options available for getting from Barcelona Airport to the city. Which one is best for you depends on several factors including; arrival time, number of people in your party, which area of the city you are staying in and your budget.
Please note that the information in this post refers to Barcelona Airport, also known as Barcelona El Prat or simply BCN (the airport’s IATA location code). If you arrive at Girona – Costa Brava or Reus airports, you should read this post.
In a hurry?
The Aerobús express bus service from Barcelona airport to the city centre takes approximately thirty minutes. Buses operate twenty-four hours a day, with departures every five to ten minutes from both terminals.
For other locations within Barcelona, the airport train or metro typically take between forty-five minutes and an hour and a quarter. You can save money by purchasing a travel card or sightseeing pass.
A taxi from the airport to Plaça de Catalunya will take thirty minutes and cost approximately €30.
Keep reading for more information…
Barcelona Airport Taxi
A taxi from Barcelona airport to central Barcelona takes about 30 minutes and costs around €35.
All Barcelona taxis are metered; the exact price depends on a combination of distance and the time taken for the journey. There are supplements for airport pickups and journeys after 8 pm or on weekends.
There are taxi ranks outside both terminals (T1 and T2)
Terminal 1 Taxi Rank
As you leave the baggage reclaim area, you will come to a metal barrier where people wait to meet arrivals. You will see a large “TAXI” sign and a door leading to the ramp down to the taxi rank (see photo).
Usually, a uniformed attendant at the bottom of the ramp will tell you which of the waiting taxis to take.
Terminal 2 Taxi Rank
Terminal 2 is divided into three sections A, B, and C. Taxis wait on the road directly outside section B.
As you come out of baggage claim, you will see signs directing you to the Taxi Rank.
Please note that if you are arriving early evening on a weekday, the journey may take longer due to heavy after-work traffic entering the city.
Aerobús (Express airport bus)
The Aerobús is a fast bus service between the airport and Plaça de Catalunya.
The Aerobús runs twenty-four hours a day with departures every 5 or 10 minutes from 5:30 am until 1 am. From 1 am to 5:30 am, there are buses every twenty or thirty minutes. The fare is €5.90 one-way or €10.20 return.
The journey takes approximately 30 minutes from Barcelona airport to the city centre. There is free Wi-Fi onboard so you can let your family and friends know that you have arrived safely, update your Facebook status or do some last-minute trip planning.
Tickets can be purchased from vending machines at the stops (Airport and Pl. Catalunya only) or online in advance. Tickets purchased online are valid for one year from the date of purchase.
The buses stop at Plaça de Espanya, Gran Via (near the Urgel metro station), Plaça de la Universitat and Plaça de Catalunya.
To the Aerobus from Terminal 1
As you leave the baggage claim area, go straight ahead so that you pass between the taxi ramp and the “Caffe de Fiorre” coffee bar.
There’s a large sign which guides you to the ramps down to the buses. (Shown in the photo at the start of this article).
To the Aerobus from Terminal 2
The Aerobus stop at Terminal 2 is directly outside the arrivals hall of Terminal 2B (used by budget airlines including RyanAir, Jet2 and Monarch).
There’s also a second Aerobus stop outside T2C (used exclusively by easyJet). Turn right as you come out of the arrivals hall. The Aerobus stop is approximately 20 metres from the terminal building.
The Aerobús is NOT covered by TMB tickets or travel cards such as the T-casual or Hola Barcelona!.
Barcelona Airport Metro
Barcelona airport metro (L9 sud) runs from both airport terminals to the south-west of the city and has 15 stops:
Airport T1, Airport T2, Mas Blau, Parc Nou, Cèntric, El Prat Estació, Les Moreres, Mercabarna, Parc Logístic, Fira, Europa-Fira, Can Tries-Gornal, Torrassa, Collblanc, Zona Universitaria.
The metro departs every 7 minutes (more frequently at peak times) from 5 am to midnight Monday to Thursday, 5 am to 2 am on Fridays, and non-stop from 5 am Saturday to midnight on Sunday.
Standard single trip metro tickets and the T-casual travel card CAN NOT be used on the airport metro. Instead, there is a special airport ticket which costs €5.15.
You can save money by purchasing a Hola Barcelona Travel Card, which offers unlimited travel on the metro, commuter trains, trams and TMB buses.
The L9 sud metro from Barcelona airport doesn’t connect directly to the city centre. Most visitors will have to transfer to another line at either Torrassa (L1) or Collblanc (L5), and you may have to make more than one change to get to your hotel. Depending on where you are staying, the journey will typically take between one hour and an hour and a quarter.
Mobile World Congress participants will be interested to know that the journey time by metro from the airport to the congress takes 22 minutes.
To the Metro from Terminal 1
As you leave the baggage claim area, go straight ahead so that you pass between the taxi ramp and the “Caffe de Fiorre” coffee bar. Keep walking straight ahead, and you will see red metro signs above the escalator, which leads down to the underground metro station (see photo above).
To the Metro from Terminal 2
The metro stop at terminal 2 is located underground next to the train station. Follow the directions given above, and when you arrive at the train station, you will see the entrance to the metro to the left.
Barcelona Airport Train
Trains run every 30 minutes from the airport train station, which is located at Terminal 2.
The journey time is around 20 to 25 minutes, depending on which of Barcelona’s train stations you choose to get off at. The first train is at 5:42 am, and the last departs at 11:38 pm.
Depending on where you are staying, you may have to transfer from the airport train to the metro. If your flight lands at terminal two, you can expect the journey to take between forty-five minutes and an hour.
Check the R2 airport train timetable here.
Tip: If you purchase a T-casual multi-trip ticket, you can combine the airport train with the metro and bus as one journey for €1.13 (the T-casual costs €11.33 for ten journeys).
A single train ticket from the airport to the city centre costs €4.60 and doesn’t allow you to transfer to other modes of transport.
Alternatively, you can purchase a Hola Barcelona Transport Pass, which gives unlimited travel on the metro, TMB buses, trams and commuter trains within zone 1 (including the airport train and metro).
To the Train Station from Terminal 1
There is a free shuttle bus that runs from terminal 1 to terminal 2. The journey takes under ten minutes, but you should allow about 15 to 20 minutes in total to get from terminal T1 to the train station.
As you leave the baggage reclaim, walk straight ahead so that you pass between the taxi ramp and the Caffe de Fiorre coffee bar. You will then see a sign which guides you to the ramps down to the buses. For the shuttle bus, it is best to take the ramp down to the right (just before the Europcar car rental desk).
On arrival at terminal 2, you should follow the green line painted on the ground. As you enter the terminal building, turn back on yourself and go up the escalators. You then walk for a couple of minutes along the covered bridge which leads to the train station. There are also lifts available.
Train tickets can be purchased from the machines on the right-hand side as you enter the station. The machines accept credit cards or cash (Euros).
To the Train Station from Terminal 2
There’s a covered bridge linking terminal 2B to the train station. If you arrive at terminal T2B, turn left as you exit baggage claim and follow the signs to the train station. There’s a yellow line on the ground which leads to the escalator up to the covered bridge. From T2A, turn right as you leave baggage claim and follow the signs to the train station. Allow 5 minutes to walk from baggage claim to the train station. Terminal 2C is easyJet departures only.
Which Barcelona Train Station ?
The airport train stops at the following train stations in Barcelona:
- El Prat de Llobregat
- Barcelona Sants
- Passeig de Gracia
- El Clot – Aragó
Which station you should choose when travelling from Barcelona airport to the city centre depends on where you are staying:
Barcelona Sants – This station is close to Plaça Espanya and Montjuic and connects to metro lines L5 and L3. It is also Barcelona’s main train station with AVE, long-distance, middle distance and commuter trains serving all of Spain.
Passeig de Gràcia – This station is the closest to the centre of Barcelona (Plaça de Catalunya and the Gothic Quarter) and connects with metro lines L2, L3 and L4.
El Clot-Aragó – This train station is convenient for Poblenou, Clot and the northernmost part of the Eixample (especially if you plan to take a taxi from the train station to your hotel). It connects with metro lines L1 and L2 and some local train lines.
Going to the Airport
Barcelona El Prat Airport is the last stop on the line – Aeroport
Barcelona Airport Bus
From 5 am to 11:50 pm, bus number 46 runs from both airport terminals to Plaça d’Espanya.
Unless you have already purchased a T-casual or Hola Barcelona Travel Card, the journey costs €2.40.
This is slightly cheaper than the Aerobus but has the disadvantages of being slower, less frequent (2 per hour) and not having a dedicated space for luggage.
Unfortunately, the only places where you can purchase a T-casual at Barcelona airport are at the train station at terminal T2 or the tobacconist outside terminal T1.
The Night Bus
If you are on a very tight budget and arrive in Barcelona after the metro has stopped running, you could take the night bus.
Bus route N16 takes you from T1 and N17 from T2 to the city centre.
The fare is €2.40, and buses depart every 20 minutes.
I do not recommend the night bus unless you are staying near Plaça de Catalunya or one of the other stops on route. If you have to connect to another night bus, your total journey time could be very long.
Other Public Bus Routes
Several rideshare companies operate in Barcelona although local bylaws stipulate that you must book the journey from the airport at least fifteen minutes in advance.
Uber operates in Barcelona using regular taxis, and the cost of the journey is calculated by the taximeter. Although I do use Uber in other cities, in this case, I think it makes more sense to catch a cab from the taxi rank.
Cabify is available in Barcelona but local bylaws require that you reserve the journey at least 15 minutes before travelling.
Lyft doesn’t currently operate in Barcelona.
If you prefer to have someone waiting for you when your flight arrives, then you may like to pre-arrange a private transfer with Book Taxi Barcelona.
By booking your transfer in advance, you benefit from a fixed fare which is paid up-front via Paypal or credit card. Your driver will then track your flight and wait for you in the arrivals area holding a board with your name on it.
They also offer additional services such as bag drops, children’s booster seats, minibuses and vehicles adapted to carry electric wheelchairs or scooters, as well as private transfers to/from the cruise port and other cities nearby.
There are several car hire companies at Barcelona airport including Europcar, Avis and Hertz.
I do not recommend hiring a car to get to your hotel. A car will be of little use during your stay in the city. Even if you plan to spend a night in Barcelona and then leave the next morning, I would still recommend that you pick up your hire car on the day you depart.
Measures to prevent Coronavirus transmission
The following rules are in place to help reduce Coronavirus transmission
- Face masks must be worn in public places including the airport, taxis and public transport
- Bus tickets can NOT be purchased from the driver
- Passengers are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines
Which To Choose?
There is really no single best way to get from the airport to Barcelona city centre.
Which is best for you depends on things like budget, time of arrival, where you will be staying, how many people are travelling in your group, how much luggage you are carrying and personal preference.
- Staying near Plaça de Catalunya, Plaça de la Universitat or Plaça de Espanya? Take the Aerobús.
- Staying anywhere else in the city and without too much luggage? Take the train and/or metro.
- Arriving late at night/in a hurry/bulky or heavy luggage/prefer to be dropped right in front of your hotel? Take a Taxi.
All prices and fares mentioned in this post were checked and updated in January 2021.
More information about Barcelona airport here
If you have any questions let me know in the comments section below.