Travel by airplane
Transatlantic flying time to Barcelona’s El Prat Airport averages about 7 hours and 30 minutes from New York’s JFK Airport. Other U.S. cities with direct flights to Barcelona are Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Newark, and Philadelphia. Flying from other cities in North America usually requires a connection.
Nonstop flights from London to Barcelona average 2 hours and 30 minutes. Flights from the United Kingdom to a number of destinations in Spain are frequent and offered at competitive fares, particularly on low-cost carriers such as Ryanair or easyJet. There are no direct flights to Barcelona or anywhere in Spain from Australia or New Zealand.
The best one-stop connections to fly from Sydney are via Dubai (14 hours, 30 minutes), with a layover, and then direct to Barcelona / El Prat (7 hours, 20 minutes).
Bilbao, Pamplona and San Sebastián all have small airports, and flights fly to each of them from Barcelona. Given the short distances involved, most people choose to go by train or car for travel between those cities.
Iberia operates a shuttle, the puente aereo, from 6:50 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. between Barcelona and Madrid; aircraft depart from Terminal 1 hourly, and more frequently in the morning and afternoon commuter hours. Flying time is around an hour and a half; given the time you need for airport transfers, many commuters now prefer the high-speed rail link between Barcelona's Estació de Sants and Madrid's Atocha Station (For information, see the section Train Travel). You do not need to book ahead for a shuttle flight; when you arrive at the airport, you can buy your tickets at the counter.
Charter flights with varying prices fly routinely from and into El Prat Airport. Top charter firms are NetJets, Global Jet Concept and Luxaviation.
Arriving three hours in advance for international flights is more than enough for Spanish security. Arriving fewer than 40 minutes in advance is no longer possible for either domestic or international flights.
Most of the connecting flights from the United States and Canada arriving in Spain pass through Madrid’s Barajas Airport (MAD) but the main gateway to Catalonia and other regions in this book is Spain’s second largest airport, Barcelona’s spectacular glass, steel and marble El Prat del Llobregat (BCN).
The second of the two terminals, the T1 terminal, which opened in 2009, is a sleek, state-of-the-art facility that uses solar panels for sustainable energy and offers a spa, fitness centre, restaurants and cafes and VIP lounges.
This airport is located approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of the center of Barcelona and is served by a number of international carriers, but Catalonia also has two other airports that handle passenger traffic, including charter flights.
Girona-Costa Brava Airport (GRO)
12½ km (8 miles) southwest of Girona, 90 km (56 miles) north of Barcelona and convenient to the resort towns of the Costa Brava. Bus and train connections from Girona to Barcelona are convenient and affordable, provided you have the time.
Reus Airport (REU)
110 km (68 miles) south of Barcelona and the gateway to the neighboring Tarragona, the theme park of Port Adventura and the beaches of the Costa Daurada. Both airports are considerably smaller than El Prat and offer basic services: a limited number of duty-free shops, restaurants and car rental services. Flights to and from major cities in Europe and Spain also fly to and from Bilbao’s Loiu (BIL) airport.
For information about airports in Spain, consult www.aena.es
Check first to see if you have an airport shuttle service at your hotel in Barcelona. If not, visitors usually get to the city by train, bus , taxi or rental car. The quickest and most convenient way to and from the airport is by taxi, although busses and trains are cheaper.
Taxi and Car
Official yellow booths are available at both airport terminals. Never get into a taxi that doesn’t have a meter and the driver’s ID card on the dashboard. As of 2017, all Barcelona taxi companies are required to carry a portable credit card machine.
The taxi fare from the airport to the city is €30–€35, depending on the traffic, the part of the city you are heading to and the amount of baggage you have (a surcharge of €3.10 for airport pick-ups / drop-offs and a surcharge of € 1 for each suitcase in the trunk). If you’re driving your own car, follow the signs to the Ciutat Centre, where you can enter the city along the Gran Vía. Follow the signs for Ronda Litoral for the port area. The journey to the city center can take 25–45 minutes, depending on the traffic.
If you need to get to the airport by car or taxi during rush hour, give yourself plenty of extra time, as the ring roads are likely to be crowded.
The Aerobus departs from Terminal 1 to Plaça de Catalunya every 10 minutes 5:35–7:20 a.m. and 10:25 a.m.–1:05 a.m. and every 5 minutes 7:30 a.m.–10:20 p.m.
From Plaça de Catalunya, the bus leaves every 5 or 10 minutes from 5 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. The fare is €5.90 one way and €10.20 round trip.
Aerobuses for terminals 1 and 2 pick up and drop off passengers at the same stops on the way, so if you’re outbound, make sure you ‘re on the track. Terminal 1 Aerobus A1 is two-tone white and dark blue; Terminal 2 Aerobus A2 is dark blue and yellow.
The only drawback of the train is that it's a 10-to 15-minute walk from your gate through Terminal 2 over the bridge. You get a shuttle bus from Terminal 1 to the station. Trains depart from the airport every 30 minutes between 5:42 a.m. and 11:38 p.m., stopping at Estació de Sants, taking the Arc de Triomf, then at Passeig de Gràcia and finally at El Clot – Aragó. Trains to the airport begin at 5:21 am from El Clot, stop at Passeig de Gràcia at 5:27 am, and Sants at 5:32 am.
The trip takes about half an hour, and the fare is €4.10. Perhaps the best deal is the T10 metro pass, which offers you free connections inside Barcelona plus nine more journeys, all for €9.95. If you take the train to or from the airport, add an extra hour.
Transfers between airports
To get to Girona Airport from Barcelona Airport by rail, you must first catch the RENFE rail leaving the airport and then change to Barcelona Sants Station.
From Barcelona Sants, you need to catch the Figueres train and get off at Girona, two stops before that. The travel time ranges between 38 minutes and 2 hours 10 minutes depending on the train route, at a cost of €11.25 for the quicker AVE and Avant trains. From there, you’ll have to take a 30-minute bus ride for €2.75 or a 17-minute taxi ride to the airport for about €25–€30. Enable yourself 30 minutes from Girona Renfe station to the airport.
Sagales operates the Barcelona Bus shuttle bus service between Girona Airport and El Prat (€17 one way or €27 round trip; valid for 30 days). The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. The timetables scheduled to coincide with RyanAir’s arrivals and departures in Girona are a little tortuous; please visit the Sagales website or call 902/130014 for bus details.