Travelling to and from the airport

Barcelona El Prat Airport (ICAO: LEBL, IATA: BCN) is a major hub and it’s very close to the city of Barcelona, only 15 km. Some private transport options include:

  • A taxi from the airport to the city centre will cost around 40€. Even if your hotel is close to the airport, there is a standard minimum fare for trips starting from the airport, so it’s definitely a pricey way to start your trip after landing. I would only recommend taking a taxi if your hotel is in a remote place or if your hotel provides one at a reduced cost.
  • There are many companies offering private and business shuttles from and to the airport. They are out of the scope of this guide.

I recommend that you use public transport, for the same reasons I explained in the Basics page. It’s cheap and sustainable!

In this guide, it has been explained that an integrated ticket allows you to take any mean of public transportation, as long as you stay within the zone limit of your ticket. Well, this does not apply if you travel to the airport. The airport is in Zone 1, but many operators won’t let you travel to the airport with their tickets. Take a look at the conclusion of this page.

Train

Barcelona Airport has two terminals, T1 and T2. Terminal 2 is the oldest and it has both a Metro and a Rodalies station, whereas Terminal 1 (the newest terminal) is only connected by Metro.

Metro

Metro arrived to the airport in 2014, but the whole line is not completed yet, so L9 will not really take you anywhere near the city centre. If you decide to take the Metro, you will have to transfer at Torrassa station from L9 to L1 to get to the city centre.

Because of this transfer, travelling with Metro from the Airport to Plaça Catalunya will take you no less than 45 minutes. However, Metro can be a competitive choice if you happen to travel to the city of El Prat or to Zona Universitària, as they are covered by L9.

A single ticket costs 5.15€. T-casual and T-familiar tickets are not valid to travel via Metro to the airport, but Hola Barcelona tourist travelcard is, as well as unlimited tickets (T-usual, T-jove, etc.).

Rodalies

Rodalies is a faster and more convenient way to travel to/from the airport, but it has the main disadvantage that it only runs from T2, and not from T1. A tunnel is being built to extend Rodalies from T2 to T1, but it’s not scheduled to be completed until 2022.

There is only one Rodalies service calling at the airport: the R2 Nord. Trains run every 30 minutes, approximately from 6:00 to 23:30, both on weekdays and weekends. Exact timetables can be found here. As you can see on the diagram above, any train departing from the airport will stop at Barcelona-Sants (Barcelona’s main railway station), in which you can link with Metro, Rodalies and High Speed trains, Barcelona Passeig de Gràcia (closest station to the old town, see image below) and Barcelona-Clot. A ride from the airport to Passeig de Gràcia will take 27 minutes and costs 4,60€. Any 1-zone integrated ticket (like T-casual or T-familiar) is valid to travel to/from the airport via Rodalies.

A Rodalies service (left) with a Regional train (right), calling at Passeig de Gràcia underground station.

What if you travel via T1 instead of T2? There is a free bus shuttle between T1 and T2 running every 10 minutes, so you can still land on T1 terminal, get the shuttle to T2 and then take the Rodalies service, but you should add some 30 minutes to your trip. That’s why many T1 travellers choose to travel by bus all the way to the city centre (next).

To reach the Rodalies station in Terminal 2, you need to follow the “Ferrocarril/Railway” sign, as shown in the picture below:

Ferrocarril/Railway sign in Barcelona Airport Terminal 2. Courtesy of Google Maps.

Bus

The main bus service running from Barcelona to the airport is called Aerobús.

Aerobús

Aerobús is the main bus shuttle service. It’s affordable (5.90€), frequent and punctual. Busses run every 15 minutes, approximately from 5 am to 23pm. There two Aerobús lines:

  • A1 line runs from Barcelona to Airport terminal 1.
  • A2 line runs from Barcelona to Airport terminal 2

Aerobús makes multiple stops in Barcelona (Pl. Espanya, Gran Via and Pl. Catalunya) so you have plenty of transfer options along your trip. You can find information in their official website. Bear in mind that:

  • Aerobús is not fare-integrated. You can only purchase a valid ticket from them.
  • Tickets should be purchased online beforehand (they accept debit and credit cards). Additionally, you can also pay directly to the driver, but only with cash.

Also, Aerobús is fairly fast. It is obviously affected by traffic conditions, but usually a complete trip takes 30 minutes for the A1 line and 45 minutes for the A2 line.

Urban bus

There are a couple of standard bus lines that finish their itinerary at the airport. When I say standard, I mean fare-integrated. They make dozens of stops between the airport and the city, so I do not suggest taking them unless you have plenty of time. You can consider line 46, which runs from the Airport to Pl. Espanya. On the positive side, your integrated ticket will work on these lines.

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong answer. There are multiple options to move from and to the airport, and you, as a customer, can choose whatever fits you best. Below you can find a comparative table between the most common transportation means:

Time to city centrePrice (single ticket)Fare-integratedStops at T1Stops at T2
Metro40 to 50 minutes.5.15€Yes, but not for T-casual nor T-familiar.Yes.Yes.
Rodalies25-35 minutes.4.60€Yes, for any integrated ticket.Not yet.Yes.
Aerobús25-40 minutes.5.90€No. Yes.Yes.
Taxi20-30 minutes.40€No.Yes.Yes.

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