Barcelona Airport Travel Guide: How to Get Through El Prat Like a Pro

Barcelona Airport lies just 12km southwest of the city of Barcelona next to El Prat de Llobregat. It is Spain’s 2nd busiest airport after Madrid with almost 35 million annual passengers passing through its terminals. Such is the importance of Barcelona as a major European city that both national carriers and popular budget airlines provide services to the Catalan capital.

When booking flights to Barcelona be well aware that some budget airlines misleadingly make reference to “Barcelona (Girona)”. This is not the same airport as Barcelona El Prat. It is located just outside the city of Girona which is around 90km north of Barcelona.

Barcelona Airport: El Prat

When travelling through Barcelona airport be sure to check your booking details to be sure that you know whether you are arriving at/departing from the newer Terminal 1 (T1) or the original Terminal 2 (T2). Terminal 1 handles mostly domestic and Schengen flights whilst Terminal 2 is for international flights. The two terminals are well connected by a frequent shuttle bus.

Transport From Barcelona Airport to the City Centre

Barcelona Airport Bus (Aerobús)

The A1 Aerobús service connects Terminal 1 with the city centre at Plaça de Catalunya via Plaça d’Espanya with two other stops on the way. The service operates every 10 minutes from around 6am through until 1am the next day.

The A2 Aerobús offers the same service from Terminal 2 (T2) with departures every 8-15 minutes. This is a great service for getting into the city centre. The trip takes about 40 minutes but varies according to traffic conditions. You can buy your ticket from the driver as you get on the bus. To check timetables, routes and latest price please refer to the Aerobús website.

There is also a public bus (route 46) operating between the airport and Plaça d’Espanya (the timetable is on the Barcelona Metropolitan Transport Website). Throughout the night you can use bus route N17 between both airport terminals and Plaça de Catalunya.

Local RENFE Trains

The RENFE R2 Nord train runs between the airport’s terminal 2 (T2) and Macanet/Massanes to the north of Barcelona with stops at Estació Sants and Passeig de Gràcia. There is a free shuttle bus (Bustransit) that connects with terminal 1 (T1). Trains run daily every 30 minutes with the last service at about 11.30pm and it takes about 25 minutes to Passeig de Gràcia. From either of these two RENFE stations you can join the Barcelona metro system to continue your journey.

RENFE train services in Spain

It’s better value to buy a T-10 multiple journey ticket rather than a single one or buy a Barcelona Discount Card which includes RENFE train transfers between the airport and city.

Barcelona Airport Taxis

There is generally no shortage of taxis available to and from the centre and it’s a half-hour ride.  Make sure the meter is on at the start of the journey and be aware that various supplements will be added on to the price the meter shows once you reach your destination. These include supplements for entering the airport area and for placing any pieces of baggage in the boot. Drivers are within their rights to add on these supplements. You can expect to pay around €30 to city centre hotels.

Barcelona Airport Transport

Barcelona Metro Network

The orange Barcelona Metro line L9 Sud is an automated train line which connects Barcelona’s airport terminals to the city centre. Unfortunately, the L9 Sud line does not include major transit stations such as Estació Sants, Plaça España or Plaça de Catalunya so it isn’t an ideal form of transport from Barcelona Airport for most new arrivals. It also has a bad reputation for pickpockets targeting tourists on the journey.

Barcelona Airport Hotels

Strictly speaking there are no hotels located within the immediate Barcelona airport boundaries. The most popular places to stay tend to be near the Barcelona Sants Estació de Sants Railway Station and Plaça d’Espanya in the city. These locations offer easy access to the airport by bus, train and taxi. An alternative that I found very good value the last time I had an early flight out of Barcelona is the Sallés Hotel Ciutat del Prat at El Prat de Llobregat which is only a few minutes from the terminals and offers free shuttle buses throughout the day.

Ciutat del Prat Hotel (0.5km)
The 4 star Ciutat del Prat Hotel is a modern hotel with spacious, comfortable bedrooms. It is a good choice for leisure and business as it offers gym facilities, an indoor swimming pool and a sauna and jacuzzi. It also has a bar and restaurant and or those guests wishing to visit Barcelona city centre there is a bus stop right outside the hotel.

Barcelona Alfa Aeropuerto (2 km)
The Best Western Alfa Aeropuerto Hotel is a modern 4 star hotel located just 2 km from the airport. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle bus service between the hotel and the airport for the convenience of its guests. Other facilities include an indoor pool, a steam room and a billiards table.

Barcelona Airport Hotel (1.2km)
This modern 4 star hotel is located close to Barcelona’s Prat Airport. Ideal choice for business travellers with all the facilities you’d expect from such a hotel.

If you don’t want to stay in an airport hotel but still want easy proximity to the airport then you’d be well advised to look for a place to stay near Barcelona Sants railway station. RENFE trains to and from the airport pass through Sants. The 4-star Expo Hotel is a popular choice along with the Abba Sants and the AC Hotel Sants all of which offer easy access to Estació de Sants.

If your flight departure isn’t at the crack of dawn then you’ll have no great problem getting back from Barcelona back to the airport. Many city hotels provide airport transfers.

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