Most people arrive to Barcelona by plane. The most common airport is Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN), which is located about 30 minutes from the city center.
The airport is a busy hub, with two terminals and many, many shops. There is plenty of transportation to the city center including bus, train, subway, and taxi.
Now the question is: how to get from Barcelona airport to the city?
Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN)
Barcelona’s main airport is “Barcelona – El Prat” Airport (Code BCN), located about 13 km southwest from the city center.
From the airport, you can reach Barcelona easily by bus, subway, or train.
Barcelona El Prat airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 (New) and Terminal 2 (Old). The new Terminal services most flights (over 70% of the air traffic), while some of the low-cost carriers such as WizzAir fly from the old terminal.
Terminal 1 – The new and most popular terminal
The new terminal T1 is very fancy, designed by an internationally acclaimed Catalan architect named Ricardo Bofill, and it looks like a shopping center.
Most popular airlines fly to Terminal 1, including the Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling, Iberia, KLM, Emirates, Qatar, Lufthansa, Aeroflot, etc (list of all the airlines flying to Terminal 1).
Ryanair and other cheap carriers such as Wizzair fly from Terminal 2. Make sure you know where you fly from.
Terminal 2 – The old terminal, now mostly for low-cost flights
The old terminal T2 is more functional, and has two remarkable pieces of art: a massive mural by Joan Miro located on the exterior of the arrival section B, and a sculpture by Fernando Botero, on the interior of the arrival hall B.
The two terminals work independently and linked by subway and by a free shuttle bus.
The most convenient: Aerobus (5.90EUR)
The cheapest: by train (1EUR).
From Barcelona El Prat Airport to Barcelona city center by Aerobus
The Aerobus is the most convenient way to reach the city center from the Airport. It is an express urban bus, priced at 5.90EUR each way. One can buy the tickets in cash in the bus, or by card just in front of the Airport stop.
Related: Barcelona’s Top 10 Hostels
The Aerobus service connects the city center with each of the two terminals, but on different lines. So there is one bus going to Terminal 1 and one bus going to Terminal 2.
The Aerobus has a frequency of every 5 minutes to Terminal 1 (New) and every 10 minutes to Terminal 2 (Old). It’s comfortable, with WIFI, and place to put your luggage. Note: watch your belongings during the trip and especially while getting in and out!
From Barcelona El Prat to Barcelona city center by subway
In 2014 a new subway line connected the center of Barcelona with the two terminals of the Barcelona El Prat airport. It is a convenient but slow service, but it is pricey and the 10-journey city transport tickets are not valid for it.
For this reason, many still prefer the Aerobus (it’s an extra 3EUR, though) or the train (only every 20-30 minutes!).
From Barcelona El Prat to Barcelona city center by train
There is a train running from Barcelona’s Airport Terminal 2 to Barcelona’s center. This train is serviced by RENFE, and it only runs from Terminal 2 (old). You’ll need to take the bus connecting the two terminals if you arrive in Terminal 1 (new). The train’s itinerary stops in three useful stations:
This is Barcelona’s main train station, located on the west of the city. It connects to other train lines and subway lines L1 (red) and L3 (green). The ride to the airport takes 18 minutes.
Barcelona Passeig the Gracia:
This is a secondary train station located near the city center (a good 10-15 minute walk north from Pl Catalunya). It also connects to subway (L3 green, and L4 yellow, but the connection is a looong corridor). The ride to the airport takes 25 minutes.
Barcelona El Clot / Arago:
This is a secondary train station located on the east of the city, that connects with other train lines and subway (L1 red line). The ride to the airport takes 31 minutes.
From Barcelona El Prat to Barcelona city center by taxi
The truth is that a taxi ride to the center is somewhere about 28-32 EUR. That calculates to about 7-8EUR per head, which means that it might be a sensible choice if you are a small group.
Taxis are generally very honest but as you can imagine, some love to rip off tourists. There is a metered fare, so do not waste your time with people telling you to agree on a price.
Once in the city center
Barcelona is a quite compact city, and the most popular areas for a visitor are structured around the city center. You can find more info about Barcelona’s best neighborhoods here.
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