Most tourists who visit Barcelona land at Barcelona-Josep Taradellas Airport (El Prat Airport till recently), which is situated at 12 kilometers from the city center. There are two terminals at the airport, legacy airlines (Lufthansa, Air France, etc.) use Terminal 1 (known as T1, the new terminal), whereas flights operated by most low-cost companies arrive at Terminal 2 (T2), the old terminal. The first question visitors ask is how to get from Barcelona Airport to the city center, and fortunately there are several really cheap options. Actually, there are not many big cities in Europe, where you can get to the city center from the airport spending less than 1 euro on your trip. Herein, we tell you all the alternatives of going to Barcelona city center from the airport and the cost of each manner.
How to get to the city center from Barcelona Airport?
One of the cheapest forms of getting to Barcelona city center from the airport is by taking a train at the station situated just next to Terminal 2. If your flight arrives at Terminal 1 and you want to take the train, first you have to take a free shuttle bus that takes you to Terminal 2 in 10 minutes. From Terminal 2 you have to cross a long bridge to get to the train station.
Before getting on the train, we recommend you to buy a T10 ticket (instead of a single ticket), which is valid for 10 trips. In addition, in Barcelona the whole public transport system is integrated, which means that during 1 h and 15 minutes from validating your ticket you can change to any other means of public transport for free. Since the T10 ticket currently costs 9.95 euros, it means that your trip from Barcelona Airport to the city center will cost you less than 1 euro, even if you have to change then to a metro or a bus.
Trains leave from the airport every 30 minutes between 5.42 in the morning and 23.38 at night. If your flight arrives later than that, you will need another option, but as you will see below, you will still have budget options.
The best train stops to get off are Barcelona-Sants Estación, the main train station in Barcelona (the screen on the train shows Barna Sants), where you can change to metro line 3 (green line) and line 5 (blue line), and Barcelona-Passeig de Gracia (the closest stop the city center), where you can change to metro line 2 (purple line), line 3 (green line) and line 4 (yellow line). The train is quite fast and gets you to Barcelona Sants in 19 minutes or to Barcelona Passeig de Gracia in 27 minutes.
A more comfortable and somewhat more expensive way of getting to Barcelona city center from the airport is by taking the blue bus operated by a private company called Aerobús. These buses leave from directly in front of the terminal building and they leave very frequently (during most of the day, it gets full and it leaves immediately) towards Plaza Cataluña (the main square of Barcelona). The buses have number A1 and A2, depending on the terminal (logically A1 corresponds to Terminal 1), and you will have to remember this, if you plan to use these buses on the way back to the airport.
The trip takes 30-35 minutes to Plaza Cataluña, but before arriving there the bus also stops at Plaza España, Urgell and Plaza Universitat. Depending on your destination it might be convenient for you to get off at Plaza España (the bus arrives there in only 20 minutes from the airport), where you can take the metro, either line 1 (red line) or line 3 (green line).
Aerobús has a very comfortable and reliable service, and a trip costs 5.90 euros. There’s a designated area on the bus for your luggage. You can buy your ticket on the bus itself (don’t even try to pay with bills larger than 20 euros, since the latter will make the driver angry).
Aerobús operates buses between 5.30 in the morning and 1.00 at night.
If you arrive in Barcelona at night and you don’t feel like spending 30 euros on a taxi, you have the option of taking a night bus from Barcelona airport to the city center. From Terminal 1 you have to take bus N17, whereas from Terminal 2 you will have to get on bus N16. Both buses take you to Plaza Cataluña following a longer itinerary than the Aerobús, but since at night there’s not so much traffic on the roads, the trip should not last more than 50 minutes.
On the bus you can only purchase a single ticket which costs 2.15 euros, and this ticket does not let you change to another public transport. However, T10 tickets are also valid in these buses, therefore using them you can get to the city center from Barcelona airport spending less than 1 euros even at night. Both N16 and N17 leaves every 20 minutes.
During daytime, you have another inexpensive option, that is taking bus Nr. 46 which stops in front of both Terminal 1 and 2. This bus goes somewhat slower (making more stops) than the Aerobús service, but you can use them with your T10 ticket, and hence pay 1 euro for your trip. The bus terminates its route at Plaza España, where you can change to metro line 1 (red line) and line 3 (green line ).
A couple of years ago the new metro line 9 started working between the airport and Barcelona, nevertheless the works haven’t been finished completely, thus by metro you can only get to the suburbs of the city where you have to change to a metro line to continue your journey. Depending on your final destination, you have to change at Torrassa station to metro line 1 (red line), at Collblanc station to metro line 5 (blue line) or at Zona Universitaria to metro line 3 (green line).
Attention! For the metro line between the airport and the city center the T10 ticket is not valid. Instead, you have to buy a single airport ticket, which costs 4.50 euros. This ticket, in addition, does not let you change, hence when you get off, you will have to buy another single ticket or a T10 there to continue your trip. If you plan to use the metro service a lot in Barcelona, you can buy the touristic ¡Hola BCN! ticket (from 2 to 7 days), which includes the use of the airport metro service.
In our opinion, if your flight arrives at Terminal 2, there’s not so much sense in using the airport metro. You have to go through the same bridge, since the metro station is just next to the train station. From there you can travel by train using the T10 ticket, and hence spending less than 1 euro on your trip to the city center, whereas on the metro you need to spend 4.50 euros. The metro works with higher frequency (every 4-7 minutes), while there’s train only every half an hour, but the metro has much more stops and takes you to its final station (Zona Universitaria, quite far from the center) in 32 minutes, whereas the train leaves you in Sants Estación in only 19 minutes.
Nevertheless, if you arrive at Terminal 1, the metro can be reasonable option, since you can get on the metro at the terminal itself, while in order to travel by train, you have to take the shuttle bus and walk along the long bridge, hence if you just miss the train, your journey will become endless. In this case, it might be reasonable to take the metro to avoid a very long and uncomfortable journey.
By private transfer
The quickest form of getting to Barcelona city center from the airport is taking either taking a taxi (sometimes long queues and extra charge for luggage can be expected) or booking in advance your private transfer between the airport and your hotel.
We hope that this post will help you to choose the way to get from Barcelona Airport to the city center.
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