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Getting from Barcelona el Prat Airport to Barcelona (and vice-versa)

Spain’s second largest city is also the second most popular entry point for travelers visiting Spain. If you’re flying from outside Europe, there is a high chance you will be arriving here, if not in Madrid. For those flying from other parts of Europe, cheap flights to Barcelona are abundant, especially with the high number of budget airlines that fly to Barcelona.
Next to Madrid Barajas, the Barcelona el Prat International Airport (BCN) is one of the busiest airports in Spain, with four terminals to accommodate the high air traffic. The airport is eight miles (13 kilometers) from Barcelona’s city center, and is accessible via various modes of transport.
Barcelona has an efficient underground metro system that stretches all across the city. Unfortunately, it does not connect the city center to the airport.  Allow around 30minutes to 1hour to get from the city center to the airport. Remember to take into consideration the possibility of traffic congestion.
Taking the Train from Barcelona el Prat Airport to downtown Barcelona
The RENFE train is the most popular option of getting from the Barcelona Airport to downtown Barcelona. The Estación de Cercanías Renfe (train station) is connected to the airport terminal, and is within a short walking distance. Trains leave every 30 minutes and take you straight to the city centre.
The train takes 17 minutes to Sants, and around 20 to 30 minutes to get to Plaza de Catalunya, Arc de Triomf and Clot-Arago. Each ticket costs 2.20euros. The first train leaves the airport at 6.13am and the last at 11.40pm. For trains that go to the airport, the first train leaves Sants stations at 5.43am and last at 10.16pm. For full schedule, refer to the RENFE official website.
Taking the Bus from Barcelona el Prat Airport to downtown Barcelona
Aerobuses are the cheapest and easiest way to get to and from the airport. The two Aerobuses bring you from the airport’s terminal straight to Plaza de Catalunya, stopping along Sepúlveda-Urgell, Plaza de España, Gran Via and Plaza Universitat. Aerobus A1 departs from Terminal One every 5 to 10 minutes, while Aerobus A2 leaves from Terminal Two every 10 to 20 minutes. The bus ticket costs 5 euros.
Alternatively, you can catch the public buses that depart from the bus stops at Terminals B and C. Only two buses serve the airport: Line 105 connects the airport to the El Prat district and leaves every 30 minutes. Line 106 only is a night bus that brings you straight to Plaza de España, it operates between 10.15pm and 3.50am – it  does not leave regularly, check the Barcelona bus website for the schedule. A basic bus ticket costs 1.05euro.
Taking the Taxi from Barcelona el Prat Airport to downtown Barcelona
The fastest way to get from the Barcelona city center to the El Prat airport or vice-versa is by taxi, undoubtedly it’s also the most costly way. There is a 5-euro surcharge to/from the airport, and further supplements on weekends or holidays. There is an  extra charge of 0.90 euros per suitcase. Taxi fares can cost between 15 to 30 euros to get from the airport to downtown Madrid, depending on traffic and hour of travel.
Try to avoid getting a cab from touts who approach you, they might not be licensed taxi drivers. There should be plenty of taxis waiting in line outside the arrival hall. Taxi drivers in Spain are generally trustworthy and always use the taxi meter.
Hiring Rental Cars from Barcelona el Prat Airport to downtown Barcelona
There are numerous car rental companies at the Barcelona el Prat Airport, namely Hertz, Europcar, Argus, AutoEuro and Avis. To cut cost, it would be best to reserve a car in advance.
Hiring a car in Spain is one of the best ways to see the country, and starting your journey at Barcelona is idyllic. Although Barcelona is a big city, in both scale and density, it is less hectic and much better laid-out than Madrid. Roads in Barcelona are wider and traffic less congested than the country’s capital. It shouldn’t be a problem navigating the streets with your rented car, as long as you’re comfortable.
It is also possible to pick up the car at Barcelona Airport and drop it off in another city just before leaving the country. Most international car rental companies like Hertz and Avis allow that with an extra charge.

Arrived in Barcelona? Find out more on things to do in Barcelona and recommended day trips from Barcelona.
Photo credit: Flickr photos by R.Duran, ImageLink and luipermom.