Getting to Barcelona
Posted by edux127 on November 15, 2006
Arrival to Barcelona by air
Barcelona’s airport is 12km southwest of the city at El Prat de Llobregat, was built when the city was a much less popular destination, and is now expanding to cope with the strain. The airport is linked to the city by regular and direct train or bus services. The train (6am-10.40pm; journey time 30min; 2 weekdays, 2.30 weekends and public holidays; info on 934 811 299) runs every thirty minutes to Sants Estació and – more usefully if you’re staying in the Barri Gòtic – continues to the station at Plaça de Catalunya and on to Arc de Triomf, with the exception of the very last train which terminates in Sants. Buy your ticket from the automatic vending machine at the platform (you don’t need the exact change) or at the ticket office. There’s also a very useful Aerobús service (Mon-Fri 5.30am-11pm, Sat & Sun 6am-11.30pm; 3) which leaves every fifteen minutes from outside both terminals, stopping in the city at Plaça d’Espanya, Gran Via (at c/Comte d’Urgell), Plaça Universitat, Plaça de Catalunya (in front of El Corte Inglés) and Passeig de Gràcia (at c/la Diputació) – this takes around thirty minutes to reach Plaça de Catalunya, though allow longer in the rush hour.
There is a second bus connection from the airport that’s not as convenient but does run throughout the night at irregular intervals: bus #EN, leaving at 10.15pm, 11.25pm, 12.30am, 1.35am and 2.40am for Plaça d’Espanya (just south of Sants Estació).
A taxi from the airport costs roughly 20.50 to Sants Estació, and 21-22.50 to somewhere more central in the old town. There’s a list of current prices posted inside the airport near the baggage reclamation area.
There’s an information office in each terminal of the airport, as well as exchange facilities and car rental offices
Arrival to Barcelona by Train
The main station for national and some international arrivals is Sants Estació , west of the centre. Again, there are exchange, information and car rental offices here, as well as a hotel booking service (see “Accommodation”), a police station, left-luggage facilities (approximately 4am-midnight), and telephone and fax outlets. From Sants, it’s easiest to take the metro into the centre; line 3 runs direct to Liceu for the Ramblas.
Estació de França , next to the Parc de la Ciutadella, east of the centre, handles many of the long-distance arrivals and departures: essentially, this means Talgo services from Madrid, Sevilla and Malaga, intercity services from other major Spanish cities, and international trains from Paris, Zürich, Milan and Geneva. Some trains stop at both Sants and França – check the timetable first. From França either take the metro (line 4) from nearby Barceloneta or simply walk into the Barri Gòtic, up Via Laietana and into c/Jaume I.
Other possible arrival points by train are the stations at Plaça de Catalunya , at the top of the Ramblas (for trains from coastal towns north of the city, the airport, Lleida, and towns on the Puigcerdà-Vic line); Plaça d’Espanya (FGC trains from Montserrat and Manresa); and Passeig de Gràcia (trains from Port Bou/Girona).
At the time of writing, the city’s new AVE (high velocity) train link with Madrid and France is being planned. The projected completion date is 2004, but this seems unlikely, given that in early 2001 the Generalitat, the city and the Spanish government were still wrangling over the route which the train would take into and through the city
Arrival to Barcelona by bus
The main bus terminal, used by most long-distance and provincial buses, is the Estació del Nord on Avda Vilanova (main entrance on c/Ali-Bei), three blocks north of the Parc de la Ciutadella (nearest metro, Arc de Triomf, a 5min walk away). There’s a bus information desk on the ground floor, with the ticket offices above at street level. In addition, some intercity and international departures also leave from the smaller station behind Sants Estació at Plaça Joan Peiró (Metro Sants Estació or Plaça de Sants).
Arrival to Barcelona by ferry
Ferries from the Balearics dock at the Estació Marítima at the bottom of the Ramblas. There are daily services from Palma (Mallorca) and several times weekly from Ibiza and Menorca. From the ferry terminal you’re only a short walk from Plaça Portal de la Pau at the bottom of the Ramblas; nearest metro , Drassanes.
Arrival to Barcelona by car
Coming into Barcelona along any one of the autopistes , head for the Cinturó Littoral, the southern half of the city’s ring road. Following signs for the Port will take you towards the main exit for old town, “Port Vell”. There are many indoor car parks in the city centre, and the public ones are linked to display boards which indicate where there are free spaces. Convenient as it may be, parking in one of these is rather expensive (usually about €15 for 24 hours), and you will likely want to park in the street, which is free , apart from the blue meter-zones in the central section of the Eixample. Street parking is permitted in most areas with the exception of nearly all of the old town, but it can be tough to find spaces, particularly in older areas like Gràcia, and be aware that car crime is rife (see “Trouble and the Police”). Don’t be tempted to double-park or leave your car in loading zones – the cost of being towed can exceed €120, and no mercy is shown to foreign-plated vehicles.