There are six solid options from Barcelona airport to the city centre.
For this reason many tourists arrive in the city in complete confusion, so let’s clear things up a bit by breaking down the transfer choices and all their pros and cons.
Remember – if you can’t decide what to take then write me with your lodging information in the comments below and I’ll be quick with a suggestion!
Let’s leave the airport behind and start our holiday, shall we?
How to Get From Barcelona Airport to City Centre
First off let’s get oriented.
There are typically three airports reaching Barcelona but today we’re talking about the biggest (44 million passengers) and closest (12 km from the city centre): El Prat (BCN).
You can expect to take about 30 minutes to one hour to get central from Barcelona Airport.
Prices range from €2.20 to €35.00.
Tourist Discount Passes for Airport Transport
To save money I recommend buying a tourist discount pass with airport transport included.
There are two tourist discount passes that include unlimited transport + your airport connection: the Hola Bcn and the Barcelona Card.
- The Hola Barcelona Card gives you unlimited transport from €6.84 a day.
- The Barcelona Card gives you unlimited transport + a ton of attractions from €9.00 a day.
Buying Tourist Discount Passes Online
It is strongly recommended to buy these passes from home to get a 10% online discount on both the Barcelona Card or a 5% savings on the Hola Barcelona Card.
For buying links and an in-depth explanation of the passes click the button below:
Pickup Points + Refunds
The pickup point for the Barcelona Card is at the Barcelona Turisme window right outside arrivals.
If you can’t make it during these hours you’ll have to pick the tickets up at Plaça Catalunya.
If you change your mind just let the Tourism Office know in advance and they’ll refund your money. To do this simply mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Hola Barcelona Card it’s even simpler:
- Open your email and the get the voucher number from the purchase receipt.
- Take the voucher number to any city metro station (airport included).
- Insert the voucher number at the red ticket machines.
- Collect your Hola Barcelona Card.
- Use it!
Barcelona Airport to City Centre Options
I call this the fast bus because it takes only 35 minutes.
It’s super convenient because one leaves for the city centre every 5 minutes and its long operating hours cover every flight. The first bus leaves at 5:30 am and the last at 1:05 am from both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 (including Terminal 2C with EasyJet).
It’s impossible to miss – just walk outside either terminal and see the classic blue Aerobus logo.
Aerobus tickets are only €5.90 one way (€10.20 return).
Many tourists have spoken to me about the advantages of Aerobus like:
- High price-quality ratio.
- Free WiFi aboard.
- 6 USB plugins per bus for charging access.
- CCTV for maximum luggage security.
- Spaciousness due to frequency/passenger caps.
- Wheelchair access + reserved disabled seating.
- It terminates in Barcelona’s most central point: Plaça de Catalunya.
- Children under 4 go free.
Tickets are bought directly online – just make your purchase then show a printed or mobile copy aboard the bus.
You can buy your advance tickets and support this blog by buying using the button below.
Be sure to check the Aerobus Facebook account for any news regarding strikes, road closures, event/marathon interruptions etc.
You can also get return Aerobus tickets buying the super-saving Barcelona City Pass.
With this pass you also get line-skipping entrance to Sagrada Familia and Park Guell plus a ride on the famous Bus Turistic. On top of this you get 20% discounts on virtually any of Barcelona’s attractions.
If you’ve got all of the above planned it makes no sense not to save the time and money.
For more info on the City Pass click the button below:
- El Prat Airport
- Plaça Espanya
- Gran Via (at Calle Urgell, inbound)
- Carrer Sepulveda (at Calle Urgell, outbound)
- Plaça Universitat (only inbound)
- Plaça Catalunya (the most central point in Barcelona)
The driver normally shouts out the city centre stops above but it doesn’t hurt to ask them beforehand. You’re also free to press the buttons to select any stop.
Again the last stop is the unforgettable square Plaça de Catalunya, right near La Rambla.
Barcelona Airport to City Centre by Bus
I call this one the slow and cheap option.
If you’ve seen our list of city transport options you’ll know that the Barcelona airport bus is number 46 during the day and N16, N17, and N18 at night. They run less frequently than Aerobus at every 20 minutes and take longer to get to the city – a 50 minute trip.
You’ll find the Barcelona airport bus right outside the terminals. Just follow the signs.
The price is just €2.40 one way (€4.80 return).
The bus is included in the Barcelona Card and Hola Bcn discount cards.
Careful: You may end up having to take additional transport to get to your destination as the bus only arrives to Plaça Espanya (from here you can take the metro on to more central areas).
I only recommend taking the bus to the city centre under the following circumstances:
- You don’t feel like spending the extra €3.00 on the Aerobus.
- You don’t mind taking 30-60 more minutes for the trip.
- You have no problem standing in a crowded bus.
- Your hotel, Airbnb, or holiday apartments are in the city’s southwest (there are many stops).
CAREFUL: if you’re taking the airport bus using the discount cards mentioned you’ll need to buy them in advance online as they aren’t sold on board.
Drivers also won’t have change for large bills so please have something small at the ready.
Barcelona Airport to City Centre by Metro
From February 2016 the metro connects Barcelona with El Prat (line L9S).
I’ve done a little test run and wasn’t particularly convinced of the effectiveness.
The number one reason would be that it doesn’t stop anywhere in the city centre – for this reason it’s probably better for residents than for tourists. It also makes quite a few stops and as a result isn’t the swiftest of options.
Another very important con: a single ticket costs €5.15 and is pretty expensive – it’s not even valid on the classic T-Casual discount card.
If you absolutely have to take it remember that it’s included in the Hola Bcn and Barcelona Card.
When Should I take the Metro?
- If you’re staying near a metro stop on the green line between Zona Universitaria and Parallel.
- If you’re staying near the red line between Torrassa and Glories.
- If you’re staying anywhere along the orange line.
Where do I get the Metro?
From Terminal 1 it’s basically right outside the arrivals. At Terminal 2 you’ll need to walk about ten minutes outside the arrivals and you’ll find it near the overland train service. In both cases just follow the red M sign.
Important: if you buy a transport discount card directly at the airport it’ll cost you more than doing it online.
Barcelona Airport to City Centre Train
This option takes the same time as the Aerobus but departs every 30 minutes. It also has a more limited running time with the first train leaving for the city centre at 5:42 and the last at 23:38.
Trains run every half hour and the journey takes 30-40 minutes.
A single ticket costs €4.50.
I’d recommend taking the Barcelona train under the following circumstances:
- Your flight arrives in Terminal 2 before 10:30 pm.
- You’ve got accommodation near Sants Estacio, Passeig de Gracia, or El Clot-Arago.
- You’re in no rush and can afford waiting 30 minutes after getting bags etc.
- You don’t mind massive crowds.
Careful: If you arrive in Terminal 1 you’ll have to wait for a free shuttle to Terminal 2 before taking the train. They run every 5 minutes but this will easily add another 20 minutes to your trip.
The first return train leaves the city centre at Passeig de Gracia at 5:08 and the last at 23:07. For either direction please check the train times on the official Spanish railways website – I don’t wanna be blamed for a missed flight 😉
Again, the Barcelona airport train is valid with the Hola Bcn and Barcelona Card.
Advice: walk about 20 metres up the platform to the part that’s not covered to have a better chance at getting a seat.
Another tip: if you’re equidistant to both Sants Estació and Passeig de Gracia make sure you grab the Barcelona airport train at Passeig de Gracia.
Not only can you do some last minute photography at Casa Batllo and La Pedrera, but since it’s one stop ahead on the line your chances of getting a seat at peak times increase dramatically.
Barcelona Airport Private Transfer
If you’re travelling with a group of 12 or more people it’s a wise choice to book a private transfer service that will take you from the terminal to your accommodation.
I suggest grabbing a quote on the Suntransfer website for the best prices.
An example: if there are 8 adults, 3 children, and 1 infant the cost of a transfer from the airport to central Barcelona and vice versa costs around €120.00 euros (5 euros pp each way).
Suntransfer also has car seats for kids up to 4.
Barcelona Airport to City Centre by Taxi
It’s no secret the quickest transport from Barcelona airport is Barcelona’s yellow and black taxis.
Like most airports you’ll need to grab your airport taxi after waiting in a designated line. You won’t be able to hail them like on a normal street, but for added convenience you can also reserve them in advance:
I recommend you get a free airport taxi quote using Taxileader using the button below:
In both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 you’ll find taxi stands right outside after following the signs. There should be a designated worker wearing a fluorescent vest to show you to your car.
There is a minimum charge of €20.00 but you’ll pay €30.00 – €35.00 to get central (T1-T2)
You may encounter extra fees for baggage, late night rides, and rides on holiday. It’s recommended to familiarize yourself with these fees by reading the brochure on the back of the seat.
You can pay by card but it’s recommended to tell the driver in advance.
The maximum amount of passengers is 4. If you need taxis for a larger group call in advance at +34 933033033 – you’ll be charged a €4.30 van supplement.
For complaints and lost items make sure you ask for a receipt (un recibo).
Barcelona Airport to City Centre Ridesharing
With the onset of Uber and others I couldn’t ignore Barcelona’s ride-share app Free Now (formerly MyTaxi).
If you’re looking to get to the city centre fast with no hidden fees and no run arounds this is a highly recommended option. A typical Free Now tariff should run you about €27.00-€35.00.
The best part? You’ll pay even less signing up through my Free Now portal.
For a €5.00 discount on your first trip with Free Now simply insert the promo code ‘ashley.pil’ once you’ve downloaded the app.
Barcelona Luggage Storage
In both airport terminals (T1 and T2) you can take advantage of a left luggage storage service (consigna de equipajes in Spanish) to lighten the load.
In Terminal 1 luggage storage is in the hall on floor 0 (P0) known as La Plaza. It’s open 24-7, 365 days a year. Prices range from €6.00 for a 2 hour deposit up to €10.00 per 24 hours.
In Terminal 2 the luggage storage area is located right at check-in under the word Consigna.
Prices are the same as Terminal 1 but opening hours are from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Not keen on airport luggage storage?
It’s much cheaper to store your luggage in the city centre at Calle Estruc 36 – right off the city’s main square Plaça Catalunya.
Storage is available daily from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm with prices starting at €4.00 per day.
You can book this Barcelona luggage via the official Turisme Barcelona website clicking below:
There’s also another interesting offer at Stasher – here you’ll select your date, hour, and deposit duration and be given a map of the city and all the potential licensed partners to ‘stash’ your bag.
The service costs €5.00 for 24 hours.
If you use the code BCNHACKS you’ll get a 10% discount and I’ll also get a small commission that helps me keep this blog up and running! Everybody wins 🙂
Really Get on Board in the Comments Below
If you’re still not sure how to get from Barcelona airport to the city centre make sure you write me in the comments below with your hotel/hostel address and I’ll let you know the best way in!
Also don’t be afraid to join the airport discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.
And remember: for any other questions about your Barcelona vacation I am here so fire away.