Uncovering Europe's best budget hotels since 2001.
By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—Barcelona‘s main international airport, El Prat, is one of the cushiest I have ever been in. It has elegant Spanish and Catalan shops, tasty cafes serving up strong espresso and sweet croissants, and an openness to it that makes wandering around or running to catch a connecting flight fairly easy.
Unlike the surreal terminals of Charles de Gaulle (Paris) or the more bland, almost spooky hallways in John F. Kennedy airport (New York City), the Barcelona airport just makes sense…well, almost. There are still a few things you will want to know before you head to El Prat airport.
First of all, there are two terminals at El Prat, and they are not close to each other. One is old; one is brand-new. You need to check your ticket or call ahead to find out what terminal you are departing from, that is, T1 or T2. If not, you might find yourself making the long bus ride between terminals, which is free, but this ride will take a good 20 minutes if not more.
How to get to the airport also takes some planning. You have three options: a taxi, the airport shuttle bus and the train.
A taxi is the quickest choice and if you have to catch a plane during the wee, small hours of the morning, this will be your best bet because public transport won’t be operating. But, this option will obviously not be the Cheapo bet. A taxi from central Barcelona to the airport will set you back about €30 or more.
The airport shuttle bus, or Aerobus, is my preferred form of transport to and from El Prat. The bus costs €5 and leaves from Plaza Cataluña, Plaza España and a few other key spots throughout the city. Make sure you get on the bus that corresponds to your departure terminal. There is one bus that goes to T1 and another that goes to T2. At the time of this writing the T’s and ‘Aerobus’ were both painted boldly on the side of the buses.
Aerobuses depart every six to 15 minutes, and drop travelers off directly in front of their terminal. These buses are also easy to catch when you come out of the airport. The buses start running (from the center of town) at 5:30 a.m. and keep running until 10:20 p.m. It takes about an hour to get from central Barcelona to El Prat.
Cheapo tip: You will want to watch your bag on the Aerobus, as this is a place where many jet-lagged tourists do get pick-pocketed.
For more information including schedules and routes, visit the Aerobus official site.
In addition to the Aerobus shuttle, there’s also a city bus that runs from city center to the airport. The #46 bus will get you to El Prat, however, it doesn’t run as often as the Aerobus, which makes it less convenient. You’ll save €3 if you take the #46 instead of the Aerobus, though. For more info, go here.
Finally, the RENFE train (not the metro) is another option. I don’t like to take this train much because it does not go directly to the El Prat terminals, but the train departs from the easily accessed Passeig de Gracia (among others) and if you’re staying near here, the RENFE could be a great option. Just remember that taking this train requires lugging your bags a bit further and takes longer. RENFE starts running at 5 a.m. and ceases at 11 p.m.
Remember, getting to and from the airport should take anywhere from 30 minutes (in a cab in the early morning) to over an hour. Make sure you give yourself enough time, especially if you are taking the train.