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Barcelona’s El Prat Airport Insider Guide: Navigate Like a Pro!

Updated on:  
October 21, 2021
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Chloe Lay
Chloe Lay
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Learn all about the Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN) because starting your trip lost in the airport is definitely not a great first impression of the beautiful city. From transportation, accommodations, to getting around, we're gonna cover it all. Keep reading!

Barcelona is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, probably best known for its beautiful gothic buildings and the incredible works of architect Antoni Gaudí. But if you’ve got a flight to or from Barcelona Airport, you’ll be wondering how to get around the airport itself. Lucky for you, we at Pilot are here to help. Check out this comprehensive guide to Barcelona Airport and make organizing your trip a breeze!

Where Is Barcelona Airport?

Barcelona’s airport, airport code BCN, is officially called the Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport, but most people refer to it as just El Prat. This international airport is located 15km (about 9 miles) to the southwest of central Barcelona. The airport has three runways and two terminals, and there’s a free shuttle to take you from one to the other.

Barcelona airport  arrivals terminal.
Photo by Anton Porsche on Unsplash

How to Get from El Prat Airport to Barcelona City Center

There are a number of ways you can reach central Barcelona. We recommend taking public transport, which is an easy and relatively cheap choice.

By Bus

Two official airport buses run from the airport to the center of the city—the Aerobus A1 and Aerobus A2. These run from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, respectively.

A ticket for either bus costs €5.90 for an adult single ticket (or €10.20 for a return), and a journey into the city will take around 35 minutes. Tickets are available onboard (make sure you have exact change!), from ticket machines in the terminal buildings, and online—probably the easiest option.

Several other buses run between the city and the airport, including the L99, L46, L77, PR1, PR2, and PR3, as well as night buses N17 and N18.

Tickets for these buses are cheaper since they’re not dedicated airport transfers, but that also means they take longer and can be very busy—they’re not ideal if you’re traveling with lots of luggage. Check out the bus timetables and prices and see what works best for you.

By Train

Another good option is to take the train directly from the airport into the city. The airport train station is located within Terminal 2, but you can take the free shuttle from Terminal 1 if you need to.

Once you’re at the airport’s train station, take the RENFE R2 Nord line and get off at Barcelona-Sants or Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia. Barcelona-Sants is the main station, but Passeig de Gràcia might be more convenient if you’re heading slightly further north in the city.

A one-way train ticket costs €4.60, or you can buy a T-Casual ticket, which costs €11.35 and is valid for 10 journeys on Barcelona’s public transportation.

By Metro

Barcelona also has an underground metro, and this is another way to get downtown from the airport. You’ll want to take the L9 orange line southward from the airport to get closer to the city center, then transfer to the L1, L3, or L5 (depending on your final destination). The L9 stops at both terminals every 7 minutes, so it’s pretty regular.

Barcelona metro from airport to downtown.
Photo by Rúben dos Santos on Unsplash

The metro journey will cost you €4.60, so it’s pretty similar to the buses and trains but will be less comfortable if you’re traveling with heavy bags.

By Taxi

If you are traveling with lots of luggage, a more comfortable option would be to take a taxi from the airport to the city center. There are taxi ranks outside both terminals, and outside the Barcelona-Madrid Corridor area.

A taxi should take between 20 and 40 minutes and will probably cost between €25 and €30. Taxi fares can change depending on the time of day, so bear this in mind before you get in.

Uber, Free Now, and Cabify all now run in Barcelona, so you can also use a ride-sharing app to get to the city center without any fuss.

Hotels Near El Prat Airport

There are some great places to stay in Barcelona, but many travelers choose to stay close to the airport, especially if they have an early flight home. There are plenty of hotels located very close to the airport, meaning you can practically roll straight out of bed and onto a plane!

Hotel Barcelona Aeropuerto by Meliá is just 2km from the airport and runs a free shuttle service to drop you off at the terminal. There’s also a 24-hour gym and a breakfast buffet, and prices start at around $100 per night.

The ibis Barcelona Aeropuerto Viladecans Hotel is another good choice. Prices start from around $68 for a one-night stay, but there is no dedicated shuttle to take you the 6km to the airport. Since you’ll have to take a taxi anyway, you may prefer to stay closer to the city center.

You may also prefer to stay in the Barcelona Airport Hotel, which does offer free airport transfers—as well as an outdoor pool! Prices can be very high at peak travel times, but if you travel off-peak and mid-week, you might find a room for $100 per night.

Can You Sleep in Barcelona Airport?

If your flight is delayed at the last minute and you find yourself in need of a place to sleep inside the airport, you have a few choices.

Sleep&Fly is a hotel service within the airport building itself that offers a 24-hour front desk and basic accommodation options. Unfortunately, if you’ve already gone through security and are waiting in the departures area, you won’t have any luck getting back through to this hotel, as it’s on the land side of the airport. It does, however, make a great option if you haven’t yet checked in. It also offers 30-minute use of a private shower for €20, making it a perfect option if you’ve slept elsewhere in the airport but want to freshen up!

If you aren’t able to make your way back to Sleep&Fly, we recommend heading to Gates U37–38 in Terminal 2, where you should find seats and benches with no armrests—this should mean you’re able to lie down.

Alternatively, borrow chairs from cafes and restaurants once they’ve closed for the night and make yourself a makeshift bed from these. 

Barcelona heart of the city with beautiful architectures.
Photo by Ken Cheung on Unsplash

Enjoy Your Stay in Barcelona!

Barcelona is a fantastic city with so much to do and see, from exploring the Sagrada Familia to ambling down Las Ramblas. Now that you know the ins and outs of El Prat Airport, you can get thinking about organizing your trip.

Check out our trip-planning app Pilot and you can close all your google docs travel planning tabs. We help you keep all the key info about your accommodation, transportation, and activities all in one place, without the hassle. Did I mention your friends can plan trips with you through Pilot? Try it out now!

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