This post outlines the options available for getting from Barcelona airport to the city centre. 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 this information refers to Barcelona Airport, also known as Barcelona el Prat or simply BCN (the airport’s IATA location code). Some airlines misleadingly refer to Reus airport and Girona airport as Barcelona Reus and Barcelona Girona.
I’ll write about both of these airports in a separate article since they are NOT in Barcelona.
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 8pm or on weekends. You can get more information about the tariffs here. Check the duration and cost a taxi to your hotel with this online taxi route calculator.
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. In the area behind the barrier you will see a large “TAXI” sign and a door leading to the ramp down to the taxi rank (see photo).
There is normally a uniformed attendant at the bottom of the ramp who will tell you which of the waiting taxis to take.
Terminal 2 Taxi Rank
Terminal 2 is divided into 3 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.
Aerobus (Express airport bus)
The blue Aerobuses are a fast shuttle service between the airport and Plaça de Catalunya. Buses depart every 5 or 10 minutes from 5:35am until 1am (Terminal 1) or 6am until 1am (Terminal 2). The fare is €5.90 one-way or €10.20 return.
The journey takes approximately 35 minutes from Barcelona airport to the city centre and there is free Wi-Fi on board 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 the driver (cash only – no large notes), from vending machines at the stops (Airport and Pl. Catalunya only) or online in advance from the Aerobus website. 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. Route maps here.
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 is 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
There are Aerobus stops directly outside the arrivals hall of Terminal 2 (used by easyJet and Ryanair as well as some other budget airlines)
The Aerobus is NOT covered by TMB tickets or travel cards such as the T-casual or Hola Barcelona!.
It is however covered by the Barcelona City Pass which also includes skip the line entry to the Sagrada Familia, and Park Güell as well as the Hop on Hop off tour buses.
Trains run every 30 minutes from the train station 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.
Download 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 (ticket cost €11.33 for 10 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 which 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 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 then 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
Airport Metro (Underground)
Barcelona airport metro (L9 sud) runs from both airport terminals to the university in 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.
Trains depart 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.
Alternatively, you could purchase a Hola Barcelona! travel card which offers unlimited travel on Barcelona metro, commuter trains, trams and TMB buses from as little as €14.67 for 48 hours (online price).
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.
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.
During the day (from 5am to 11:50pm) bus number 46 runs from both airport terminals to Plaça d’Espanya. Unless you have already purchased a T-casual or Hola Barcelona! ticket, the journey costs €2.40.
This is a Little 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 that you can purchase a T-casual ticket at the airport are the train station at terminal T2 or at the tobacconist in terminal T1.
The Night Bus
If you are on a tight budget and arrive in Barcelona after the trains and Aerobus have finished then you could take the night bus.
The bus route N16 takes you from T1 and N17 from T2 to the city centre.
The fare is €2.40 and there are buses every 20 minutes.
I do not recommend the night bus unless you are staying near to Plaça de Catalunya or one of the other stops on route. If you arrive after the Metro has stopped running and have to connect to another night bus your total journey time could be very long.
When arriving at Barcelona late at night I prefer to spend the extra money on a Taxi.
Other Public Bus Routes
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 be waiting 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 the morning I would still recommend that you pick up your hire car on the day you depart.
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 Aerobus.
- Staying anywhere else in the city and without too much luggage? Take the train and/or metro.
- Arriving late/ 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 2020.
More information about Barcelona airport here