If you’re going to Barcelona, there’s a high chance that you will use the city’s main airport – Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport. It’s the second busiest airport in Spain, just behind Madrid-Barajas, and the seventh busiest in all of Europe.
Here is a guide to Barcelona-El Prat Airport. We are looking into some basic knowledge such as terminals, connections and how much time you should set aside. We also look at transportation: What are the best ways to get from Barcelona Airport to the centre? Ultimately, you’ll also get a brief guide on what to do if you’re waiting inside the airport. Let’s get going!
Facts about the airport
For many years, El Prat has been the main airport of Barcelona. With a location just 14 kilometers away from the city centre, it is absolutely the easiest airport to travel to if you’re going to Barcelona.
The airport has two terminals – simply named Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 – and it is generally easy to figure out how it works. Terminal 1 is the newest of the two and has the most traffic. Most likely, you will use Terminal 1 as most popular airlines prefer using this. However, it is simple to switch between the two if needed – for example, if you have a layover.
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In 2018, Barcelona-El Prat Airport had just over 50 million passengers. It was a new record, so it is fair to assume that Barcelona is getting more visitors than ever before.
Almost all major European airlines have connections to and from Barcelona’s airport. The same can be said for many American airlines, along with several of the high-class Middle Eastern and Asian airlines. Europe’s low cost airlines also fly to Barcelona-El Prat, but be attentive: There are also flights to Girona airport, often marketed as another Barcelona airport, but a bit farther away. Usually, it is cheaper to fly to Girona than to Barcelona, and it is a nice airport too, but the travel time to and from the city becomes a lot longer. Therefore, many people naturally prefer going to the “central” airport in Barcelona.
From Barcelona Airport to the city centre
There are several ways to get from Barcelona Airport the the city centre.
The main ways are:
- Standard buses
- Local trains (Rodalies)
- Car rental
Since 2016, it has been possible to take the metro directly from the airport to the centre of Barcelona. You’ll most likely need to change metro lines at some point, since the airport line doesn’t go directly to the centre, but fortunately it is very easy to switch. Expect to pay around 5 euros for your ticket, and the transportation time will vary, depending on where you’re going and if you need to switch lines.
The best option is probably to take the aerobus. At least it is the fastest way, and you will be able to cover the distance in just 35 minutes. It costs 5.90 euros to take it, but 10.20 if you book a return ticket from the start. It leaves every five minutes and is active for most of the day: Starts at 5:30 am and stops at 1:05 am.
A normal bus will be the cheaper option. That way, you can go from Barcelona Airport to the centre for as little as 2.20 euros. If you have a Barcelona Card, it’s already included. It takes 50 minutes in total, and they depart every 20 minutes. Look for bus number 46 during the day and N16-18 during the night. One of the ALSA buses can also be an option.
Local trains, Rodalies (known as Cercanías in other parts of Spain), also cover the distance. It takes 30-40 minutes and costs 4.50 euros for a single ticket. Overall, a nice option too. But be aware that the operating hours are shorter, as the Rodalies stop driving around 23:30.
If you don’t mind paying 30 euros or more, simply take a taxi, and you can go straight to the door of your hotel, hostel or holiday apartment.
Car rental is the last option you have. If you are not only going to Barcelona, but also to other cities around the region, then you can absolutely rent a car. Obviously, it’s not smart to rent a car just to go from the airport to the centre, but if you also have other things to use it for, it might make sense.
Things to do in Barcelona-El Prat Airport
Grab a bite of food to eat in one of the many restaurants.
Go shopping for souvenirs, books, magazines, drinks, candy or whatever else you like.
Chill in a lounge and wait calmly for your flight with great pleasure.
Use the airport’s free unlimited Wi-Fi and surf the web as much as you’d like. Or make a video call with a friend or family member, telling how nice Barcelona is.
Get a massage.
Take a quick nap.
Be creative. There are plenty of things to do at the airport. So while most travelers feel a bit bored while waiting for flights, it doesn’t always have to be that way. The thing is that most activities in the airport cost money – particularly the shopping and the actual services that it has to offer. Still, it’s definitely not the worst airport to be in when it comes to activities. There will always be a couple of things to do.
Do you have any questions about Barcelona Airport or perhaps something to add? If so, write a comment below!
Initial photo: Mike McBey (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)