Barcelona is one of the cities that you must visit in Spain. We loved the architecture, art, and of course, the food. When you travel to Barcelona, you want a reasonably priced and efficient way to get from BCN to the city. Luckily, there are quite a few options. When we traveled to BCN, we took the Barcelona Aerobus. Let me explain why I think it’s the best way to get from Barcelona Airport to the city center, which is about 11 miles.
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Why You Should Take the Aerobus from Barcelona Airport
Sometimes when visiting a city for the first time, I shy away from taking public transportation at the airport because I am not sure how safe, clean, or easy it will be. After the journey, I just want to get to my hotel and set down my bags. Many people were recommending the Aerobus in Barcelona, so I decided to give it a try. Let me tell you why it is the best transportation option from BCN.
- Frequency – The Aerobus runs from 5 am until 1 am. Buses are every 5 to 10 minutes for terminal T1, or every 10 to 20 minutes for terminals T2B and T2C. (Note: If you need to get to Barcelona from the airport outside of these hours, you can try the night bus – lines N16 and N17).
- Price – While it might not be the cheapest option, it’s hard to complain when it costs €5.90 per person (or €10.20 round-trip). Kids under 4 can ride free. It costs less than bus options from JFK airport or Heathrow in London.
- Easy with bags – The biggest pro for me was how easy it was to take the bus with our luggage. It was the start of a 10-day trip so I had my large (and heavy) suitcase. (I know I need to be better about packing light!) You don’t have huge steps to go up and there was plenty of storage space on the luggage rack.
- Adapted for people with reduced mobility – After my experience traveling with my leg brace, I know how important accessibility can be. The buses have wheelchair ramps. Additionally, wheelchair users can travel in their chairs in the reserved area. There are seatbelts to secure the chair and user. There is also the option to travel with the wheelchair folded and placed in the luggage area.
- Free Wifi – The bus has free wifi which can be a lifesaver if you don’t have an international cell plan.
- USB Chargers – It’s nice that the bus also has USB chargers. Depending on what type of plane you arrived on, you may be needing an extra charge!
- The ride is only 35 minutes – It’s an express bus, so it is efficient. There are not many stops so you get to the city quickly.
- TV channel with practical information about Barcelona – They have a tv on the bus to provide some entertainment and information you might need during your visit to Barcelona.
- Stops in important places – On the way to the city, the bus stops at Plaza de Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Plaza de la Universitat, and Plaza Catalunya. It was especially convenient for us since our hotel was a few minutes walk from Plaza Catalunya.
- Clean – I was impressed with the cleanliness of the Aerobus. It seemed like a brand new bus. These buses are what first class would look like if you had first class on a commuter bus.
- Goes to both terminals – There are buses for each airport terminal, so no unnecessary stops or “scenic” tour of the airport. When you head back to the airport make sure that you choose the bus that goes to the right one.
- It’s easy to get tickets – You can buy tickets online, at a machine at the airport, or on the bus.
Click here to buy your Aerobus tickets. Tickets bought online are valid for up to one year.
Why You Might Not Want to take the Barcelona Aerobus
I do think that the Aerobus is the best option to get to the Barcelona City Center from the airport. However, there are some cases, where you might want to take another method of transport.
- You are traveling with a large group (i.e. 5 people). Since the Aerobus charges per person, it may be more cost effective to take a taxi, car service, or uber. Note that most taxis are only licensed to carry 4 passengers, so you will need to get one of the van taxis or an uber xl.
- You have a tight budget and minimal luggage. If you want to save a few euros, you can use public transportation. I will go into the different options further below.
- You have purchased a transport pass. Since the Aerobus is not included in any of the transport passes, you may want to utilize one of the options that is part of the pass that you purchased. Keep reading for more information on the different pass options.
Other Transportation Options from BCN Airport
Like most airports, there are several transportation options at BCN. The most expensive options are to take a taxi, uber, or car service. It’s not bad option if you are traveling with others as you can split the cost and it is usually the fastest way.
You can book your taxi or car service in advance with Suntransfers so you don’t have to wait in line. Their prices include any tolls and gratuities, plus you can cancel for free up to 48 in advance. If your flight is delayed, you don’t have to worry about additional charges because it also includes unlimited waiting time.
If you are on a budget, there are a few public transportation options you can consider. These will save you some money compared to the Aerobus, but it may take longer. It also won’t be as easy to take your luggage.
TMB Airport Bus 46 to Barcelona City Center
In addition to the Aerobus Airport bus, there is a regular city bus (number 46) that goes from the Barcelona Airport to the city center. You can catch it outside either terminal and depending on the traffic, it will bring you to Plaça d’Espanya in 30 to 55 minutes. To reach another part of the city, switch to the metro and buy a separate ticket.
The 46 Bus is cheaper than the Aerobus but space for your luggage is non-existent and it has more stops. It also only runs about twice an hour from about 5 am to midnight. Outside these hours use the night bus – lines N16 and N17
Like other TMB Buses, the 46 Bus is fully accessible. There is a ramp onto the bus and designated space wheelchairs.
The TMB busses are also included in the Hola Barcelona Transport Card and the Barcelona Pass if you buy the transport card option. TMB bus 46 tickets can be purchased on the bus for €2.15 one way.
Renfe Train to Barcelona City Center
You can also take the train to travel from Barcelona Airport to the city center. The R2 train runs every 30 minutes from the train station at Terminal T2B. In the city, it stops at Clot, Passeig de Gràcia, or Barcelona Sants Estacio.
A ticket to Passeig de Gràcia costs €4,10 for the journey. You can switch to the metro to go to other locations in Barcelona, but you will have to get another ticket.
Note: If you are arriving or departing from T1, take one of the free shuttle buses that run between the train station and T1.
I don’t like that the train only runs twice an hour and you may have to also pay for a metro ticket. It is quick once you get on the train as you can make it to the city center in 20-30 minutes. Also, the train only operates from 6 am to 11 pm.
Airport Metro to Barcelona City Center
The L9 Metro will take you from the airport to the Barcelona center. It has stops at both terminals. This line does not go directly to Plaça de Catalunya, Estacion Sants, or Plaça España. Depending on your final destination, you might need to transfer to another metro line.
The Barcelona metro runs from 5 am to midnight Sunday through Thursday, until 2 am on Fridays, and 24 hours on Saturday. Outside these hours, the night bus is the best public transportation option from BCN airport.
Tickets for the trip are €4.60 and you need to buy a special “Airport ticket” as other tickets or discount cards are not valid for the journey to and from the Airport. The savings over the Aerobus is small, so I don’t think the hassle of the Metro is worth it.
Barcelona Transit Passes
If you plan on exploring Barcelona during your visit, a transit card could be a smart investment. Some of the Barcelona airport transit options are included with the cards, so it’s important to think about what makes sense before you arrive. Let me tell you about the different Barcelona transport pass options.
Hola Barcelona Travel Pass
The Hola Barcelona Travel Pass includes unlimited travel around the city for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours (from the first time you use it). You’ll be able to use any tram, bus (except for night buses) and metro line operated by the Metropolitan Transport System (TMB), the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) city network and RENFE suburban trains.
The card can be used for the journey from Barcelona Airport on the 46 Bus or RENFE train. The Aerobus and the airport metro are not included in the Hola Barcelona Travel Pass. You can buy the card at the tourist information offices at the two terminals or save 5% by purchasing the travel pass online here.
The Barcelona Card includes admission to many of the city’s top attraction. In some cases, it lets you skip the line. It also includes transportation from Barcelona airport on the metro or train. The card is valid for either 72, 96, or 120 hours. You can get a 10% discount by purchasing online and then pick it up at the airport. Get more information about the Barcelona Card here.
Barcelona Pass Transport Options
Similar to the Barcelona Card, the Barcelona Pass is a way to save money and still see a lot at the same time. (Click here for more information about the Barcelona Pass.) When you buy the Barcelona Pass, there is the option to add a travel card which includes Barcelona Metro, FGC, TMB buses, and the RENFE train to and from Barcelona main airport. This travel card can be used to get from the Barcelona airport to the city center but not on the Aerobus or Metro.
Keep in mind that using the Barcelona Pass travel card to travel to the city center from the airport will activate the Pass. So, I would only recommend using this option if you arrive in the morning and plan to do more sightseeing that day. The Barcelona pass operates on a calendar day rather than 24-hour day basis. For example, if you bought a three-day pass and activated it at 8 pm at night, then you would have the rest of that night and two additional days to use the pass.
BCN Aerobus is the Best Option
That’s a rundown of the different ways you can travel to the city center from Barcelona Airport. Be sure to also download my free printable travel checklist to help you get organized before your trip. When we visited Barcelona we took the Aerobus and I will take it again next time I visit. It was fast, cheap, and easy, even with our luggage. What do you think is the best way to get from BCN to the city?
Expert Tips for Getting from Barcelona–El Prat Airport to the City Center
- The cheapest way to travel from the airport is TMB Bus, but it may be difficult depending on how much luggage you have.
- If you buy one of the Barcelona tourist passes, it may cover your transportation to and from BCN airport.
- You can also buy the Hola Barcelona Pass which covers many forms of public transportation like the tram, bus (except for night buses) and metro line operated by the Metropolitan Transport System (TMB), the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) city network and RENFE suburban trains.
- We enjoyed the Aerobus because it was easy, clean, and comfortable even with a lot of luggage. Click here to get more information.
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