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Getting Around

How long from Barcelona Airport to City Centre?

28th May 2018
Airport Terminal 1 transit options

Visitors often ask, ‘How long does it take to get to the city centre from the Airport?’

The short answer is usually, ‘About 30 minutes’.

However, this doesn’t account for time spent in immigration, baggage claim, orientation, and wandering around trying to make sense of it all after a long flight.

What you need to know is how long does it really take to get to the city centre after landing.

Realistically, the total time from touch-down at Terminal 1 to city centre is between 1 hour 45 minutes and 2 hours 15 minutes


On Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018, I flew into Terminal 1 and kept a log of the actual times for each aspect of the journey. So, what follows is not a guesstimate, but actual timings based on real experience of how long it takes to travel from Terminal 1 to the city centre. 

Hope you find it useful when planning your arrival.

Touch down


Taxi-ing to Finger

Time:  4 minutes.

Disembarkation and walking via Immigration to Baggage Claim 

Seatbelt light off at 7.49pm. 

Walk Time: 26 minutes

Arrival al at Baggage Claim: 8.15pm.

Elapsed time: 30 minutes.

Baggage Claim

Retrieved bag at  8.42pm

Wait Time: 27 minutes.

Elapsed time: 57 minutes.

Walking to Shuttle Bus Stop

Walk Time: 3 minutes. Arrived at the stop for the Shuttle Bus at 8.45pm — exactly 1 hour after touchdown.

Elapsed time: 1 hour.

Airport Shuttle Bus to Terminal 2

Wait time: 5 minutes

Journey time: 9 minutes.

Arrived at Terminal 2 at 8.59pm.

Elapsed time: 1 hour 17 minutes.

Terminal 2 Shuttle Bus Stop to RENFE rail terminal

Walk Time: 4 minutes: Escalator, across bridge and down stairs, through ticket barrier to platform.

Elapsed time: 1 hour 21 minutes.

RENFE Rodalies train

Wait time: 5 minutes.

Train departed at 9.08pm and arrived at Estació Sants at 9.30pm.

Journey time: 22 minutes

Elapsed time: 1 hour 48 minutes.

Transfer from RENFE to Metro

Walk Time: 5 minutes: Elevator from rail platform to Metro L5 (Blue) - direction: Vall d’Hebron

Elapsed time: 1 hour 53 minutes.


Line 5 (Blue) Estacio Sants to Verdaguer.

Wait time: 1 minute.

Metro from Sants at 9.36pm arrived at Verdaguer at 9.42pm.

Journey Time: 6 minutes.

Elapsed time: 2 hours.

Walk Time to apartment: 5 minutes.

TOTAL ELAPSED TIME: 2 hours and 5 minutes.

Airport to City Centre Transit Options

There are several ways of getting from the Airport to the city centre:


RENFE Rodalies train.

Metro Line 9 Sur.


Bus 46. 

Nit bus.


In sum I would politely suggest you plan on a minimum travel time from touchdown at Terminal 1 to city centre of 1 hour and 45 minutes by whichever means of transport you decide to use. 

I have travelled in and out of Barcelona airport more than sixty times and know how to move in, around and about the departure and arrival areas at all four passenger areas. You’ll likely want to add on some orientation time.

I was travelling alone — experience suggests that transit times are always a little quicker when travelling solo. If travelling as a couple or family or in a group you’ll likely want add on some discussion/orientation/restroom time.

I was travelling with a small, cabin-sized case — if travelling with two or more bags and a carry-on bag, or with an extra-large suitcase, then you may want to avoid the metro leg of the journey as getting the bags through the older ticket barriers and up and down a considerable number of steps can be very tiresome.

I usually fly via Terminal 2 but over the past few years I have used Terminal 1 Arrivals & Departures at least 12 times.

I do not like Terminal 1 — the walking distances between plane and arrivals, alleviated only in part by moving walkways, are considerable.

I had a T-10 travel ticket so I did not have to spend time purchasing a ticket from a machine. You may want to factor in another 5 minutes to buy a T-10. (You can purchase a T-10 at the tobacco kiosk in Terminal 1 Arrivals or at the RENFE rail terminal).

Although I landed at Terminal 1 I elected to use the train from Terminal 2, via the Airport Shuttle, to connect with the Metro — the total cost of the journey using a T-10 is only 1,02€.

It was a relatively quiet arrival time; it may have been a different experience if arriving between 8am and 12noon.

I am a EU citizen. I could have scanned my passport, however, as there were no lines I chose to present my passport to a border official. 

Friends visiting from the States have not reported any hold ups at immigration — but, if arriving from outwith the EU it may be a good plan to allow 10/15 minutes for clearance.

The RENFE train was held up for 2 minutes at a junction between the Airport and Bellvitge.

Total scheduled travel time using train, or combined train and metro from station to station is only 28 minutes — whereas the total journey time is nearer 2 hours.

Trains depart from the airport at 8 minutes and 38 minutes past the hour (apart from the first train in the morning which departs at 5.42am) and the last train of the day is at 11.38pm. So, you may have a possible wait time at the station of up to 28 minutes. If you do have to wait for the next train you could always buy a drink and/or snack at the café-bar — it is considerably cheaper than similar establishments in Arrivals and Departures.

If I had taken a taxi from Terminal 1 I would probably have arrived home at around 9.25pm so could have saved approximately 25 minutes of the total journey time, but it would have cost approximately 30€. I saved 28,98€ — so each minute of the journey could have cost around 1,16€.

I could have taken Metro Line 9 Sur (Gold) and changed at Collblanc to Line 5 (Blue). This journey costs 4,10€ one-way and would have taken about 45 minutes. So, I could, in theory, have been home for around 9.35pm — about 12 minutes earlier than using the train and metro combination. (If your hotel/apartment accommodation is in Pedralbes or Les Corts you may very well want to consider taking Metro Line 9 Sur (Gold)).

I used the RENFE train to Estació Sants — where you can change to Line 3 (Green) and Line 5 (Blue) metro.

TIP: If you're staying in, near or around Poble Sec or El Raval you could take the RENFE train as far as Sants and transfer to Metro Green line (L3) — Poble Sec or Paral·lel to your accommodation. 

TIP: If you're staying in, near or around la Sagrada Familia then you could take Line 5 (Blue) metro from Sants

TIP: If you are going to be staying in, near or around Plaça Catalunya and Eixample Dreta you could take the RENFE train to Passeig de Gràcia and walk a few blocks or take a taxi. 

TIP: If you are staying in, near or around Born you could take the train to Passeig de Gràcia, get off and then wait on the same platform for a train to Estació de França — wait time is between 5 and 30 minutes and journey time: 10 minutes.

Here's a link to the RENFE Rodalies schedule in English: RODALIES.

And here's a link to the current Metro map: METRO.

Good luck with your arrival and transit from the airport to the city.

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Getting Around

How to use the T-10 travel ticket in Barcelona

17th February 2016

One of the many wonderful aspects of life in Barcelona is the public transport network.

If visiting from the United States or the UK you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how clean, comfortable, convenient and reliable the local transport network is.

The quantity and quality of passenger information, in Spanish, Catalan and English (and some French) is very good. 

The best way to get around the city is to use public transport.

One of the first things to do after arriving in the city is to buy a T-10 integrated transport ticket — it will save you a ton of money and a lot of hassle. 

In a previous post I explained why you should consider buying a T-10 ticket when visiting Barcelona. I also told you where you can buy a T-10.

However, partly as a resuIt of a friend’s mishaps during a recent visit to Barcelona, I’ve since realised that I overlooked to tell you HOW to use the T-10.

I use a T-10 at least twice, sometimes  five or six times every day during the working week. It really is quite simple, however, I can understand how visitors from an area without an integrated transport system could feel a little daunted by the process.

So, here’s a guide to using the mighty T-10.

How to use the T-10 on the Metro (subway), local trains (RENFE Rodalies/Cercanias and FGC) and Funiculars:

First, buy your ticket.

There are not many staffed ticket offices where you can buy a ticket, and if you haven’t already purchased your T-10 at a tobacconists, newsagent or news kiosk (street newsstand) (some bakeries and other shops also sell T-10s) you will have to use a machine in a Metro station or at a Tram stop — these machines will be marked with the TMB logo (as in the photo below). You can also buy a T-10 at ticket machines at RENFE (Spanish national rail service) rail stations (these machines are coloured grey) and at FGC (Catalan national rail service) rail stations — these machines are coloured orange.

There are also a few ticket machines near bus stops on Diagonal, however these machines only accept credit/debit cards, and are so few and far between that they are not worth your time looking for.

  • Search the touchscreen for the T-10 ticket icon.
  • In the bottom right corner of the screen you’ll see four flag icons indicating which languages are available: Catalan, Spanish, English and French. Tap the union jack for English.
  • Tap the T-10 ticket icon.
  • The screen will change and show you the current price (10,20€) and give you the option of buying multiple tickets by tapping the + symbol on the left of the screen.
  • You are also able to change the Zone by using the + and symbols on the right of the screen.
  • Make sure you have the correct quantity and Zone and tap Confirm in the bottom left of the screen, or Cancel in the bottom right of the screen if you have made a mistake.
  • The screen will change and show you the total cost of the  the ticket(s) and how much you have to pay in red.

These three images illustrate the above:

English T-10

TMB no 50€




Insert coins in the vertical slot above the screen, or insert a note (bill) up to the value of 20€ in the horizontal slot to the right of the screen, or if buying more than two T-10s, multiple notes/bills. (Please note: As at writing most machines do not accept 50€ notes/bills).

The most frequent cause of first-time users’ frustration is incorrectly inserting notes/bills.


When inserting notes/bills be careful to place the note the correct way up as shown in the graphic above the slot.


The machine will issue change and deposit your ticket in the tray below the screen. You’re good to go.


  • Find the T-10 icon on the touchscreen.
  • Tap the T-10 icon.
  • Select how many tickets you require and which Zone you require using the + symbols.
  • Place  your card in the horizontal slot to the right of the touchscreen.
  • The machine will read your card and accept or deny  it.
  • Then, on the card reader screen you will see the instruction to enter your PIN number using the keypad and the OK button, marked with a green tag in the bottom right of the keypad.
  • Then, all being well, you will see a message on the card reader screen,”Mastercard (or whatever your card name is) XXXX with the amount that has been paid.
  • Then, you will see the instruction ‘Extregui’ telling you to extract your card. Remove your card.
  • The machine will deposit your ticket in the tray below the touchscreen.

IMPORTANT: Remember to remove your card. The machine does not emit any audible warning, as do ATMs, if you leave the card in the slot. If you do inadvertently leave your card in the machine then after 30 seconds or so the machine will swallow your card. If this happens the only way to retrieve your card is to go to the TMB customer services office in Diagonal metro station the following day. Station staff do not have any way of opening the machines — they can only be opened by cash collection staff.

Ok, so you’ve got your ticket…now, how to use it.

There are 3 types of ticket barriers:

  • Turnstiles: These are the most common.
  • Plexiglass doors: These are usually found in recently built or refurbished stations.
  • Extra-wide plexiglass access points: For people in wheelchairs or electric buggies and people with child buggies or bicycles and/or lots of luggage.


  • Place your T-10 the correct way up (i.e. printed with T-10 and green icons) with the white arrow in the bottom left corner pointing toward the slot.
  • Retrieve your T-10 from the slot at the back of the machine.
  • Pass through the turnstile to your RIGHT as indicated by the black arrow in the photo below.

TMB, Barcelona metro turnstilePlexiglass doors

  • Place your T-10 face up (i.e. printed with T-10 and green icons) and with the white arrow in the bottom left corner pointing toward the yellow plastic horizontal slot.
  • Retrieve your T-10 from the pop-up slot.
  • Pass through the plexiglass doors to your LEFT as indicated by the two illuminated green arrows in the photo below.



You’re on your way…now go find your platform/track.

How to use the T-10 on the bus network:

  • Buy your T-10 as above. Bus drivers cannot sell you a T-10 — they can only sell a senzill (single/one-way) ticket (2.20€).
  • Get on the bus at the front of the bus, NOT the middle nor the back. Having said, that the newer articulated (‘bendy’) busses do allow passengers to enter the bus using the middle door. These busses have middle doors with a flashing green button, similar to the buttons on many Metro carriages.
  • Say ‘Hola’ to the driver and smile or nod.
  • As you file along the gangway you’ll immediately see two ticket machines — one on your left and one on your right. Be aware that the newer articulated (‘bendy’) busses have three ticket machines.
  • Insert your T-10 with the white arrow pointing downwards into the red slot at the top of the machine.
  • The machine will make a sound and tell you how many rides you have left and your ticket will pop up.
  • Remove your ticket, put it somewhere safe and find a seat, or shuffle along the bus.
  • IF your ticket is used-up or defective the machine will make a loud intermittent beep. This is when you panic, frisk yourself for another T-10, realise you don’t have one, and before you can decide to backtrack and get off the bus the doors are already closed and the bus is on its way to the next stop. Oh no! 
  • IF this is the case — choose an appropriate moment, dip into your pocket and find 2,20€ in change and pay the driver for a single/one-way ticket.
  • Say thank you/gràcies to the driver and take deep breath of relief — they have just saved you from a potential fine of 100€.

[Remember — a T-10 is a multi-person ticket. So, if you have no rides left on your T-10, and travelling with a friend, you could always ask to use their ticket.]

 Here’s a photo of a ticket machine on a bus: 



How to use the T-10 on a tram:

  • Buy your T-10 from a machine as described above, or from a machine at the stop.
  • Board the tram.
  • Find a machine (very similar to the machines on a bus) which are attached to poles near every door
  • Insert your ticket in the slot with the white arrow pointing downwards.
  • The machine will make a sound (described as a ‘bip’ in the helpful information).
  • That’s it…you’re on your way.


Transfers and duration of travel:

You need to know that you can use the T-10 to switch between various modes of transport on your route for up to 1 hour and 15 minutes and it counts as a single journey/ride.

However, be aware that you can only use 3 different modes of transport, e.g. bus, metro, train, or metro — train — funicular, or train — metro — tram etc.

For example, you could take a barrio bus (local public mini-bus) to connect with a regular bus to connect with the metro to then connect with a tram, i.e bus—metro—tram.  If you do all that in one hour and fifteen minutes from the start of your journey it only debits your ticket by one journey. However, note that once you leave the metro system you will have to use another journey when re-entering the metro.

IMPORTANT: Keep your ticket flat. If the ticket gets bent or torn then it will likely not work. You can take your damaged ticket to a TMB Customer Services office (in Diagonal, La Sagrera and Universitat metro stations) and they will issue you with another ticket. You could also ask at an office in a metro station — if you’re patient and polite the staff can, though they are not obliged to, issue you with a new ticket with the correct number of journeys.


Visiting Barcelona? What you need know about the T-10 in Barcelona.

TMB: The T-10

TMB: Customer Services.

TMB: Metro and Tram map

TMB: Bus map

TMB: H & V network Bus map.


Enjoy getting around Barcelona

Getting Around

Visiting Barcelona? What you need know about the T-10 in Barcelona.

16th July 2015


One of the many wonderful and undersung aspects of Barcelona is the public transport network.

If visiting from the United States or the UK you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how clean, comfortable, convenient and reliable the local transport network is.

The best way to get around the city is to use public transport.

One of the first things to do after arriving in the city is to buy a T-10 integrated transport ticket.

Think of it as your magic key to unlocking the city.


Because you’ll save a ton of money, save yourself a lot of time and hassle, and get to visit many more places and enjoy many more experiences.


  • 10,20€ (for Zone 1)

Where to buy:

You can buy a T-10 [tay-dee-eth] from tobacconists, newspaper kiosks and newsagents, as well as all metro (subway) stations and all the main rail stations.

The touch screen ticket machines at metro and rail stations are easily navigated and accept cash (but, in many cases, NOT notes/bills larger than 20€) and most debit and credit cards.

They’re pretty reliable — I’ve only twice (in 14 years) had a problem with them — and I use a T-10 at least twice, sometimes  five or six times every day during the working week.

Should you have a problem you can press a panic button and speak with someone who will help you. In larger metro and rail stations there will be staff around to help you.

Here’s what you need to know:

You need to know that the T-10 is a multipersonmulti-use ticket, which means one person can use the ticket 10 times or 10 people can use it once, and every variation in between.

You need to know that a T-10 ticket is valid for travel on:

  • Busses, including night busses
  • The Metro
  • Local trains run by FGC, the Catalan public railway system
  • Local trains, known as Rodalies (or Cercanias in Spanish) run by RENFE, the Spanish national rail system
  • Trams
  • And two funiculars.


You need to know that the T-10 is NOT valid for:

ZONES: Continue Reading…

Getting Around

How to get your bearings as you explore Vila de Gràcia in Barcelona

4th June 2015

 Educated monkey calculators and compasses as displayed at Vinçon.


Well done, you’ve arrived ready to explore Vila de Gràcia. Congratulate yourself on your good judgement.

  • If you arrived via metro Line 3 and alighted at Fontana you are now at the junction of Gran de Gràcia and Carrer d’Asturies. If you alighted at Lesseps you will be very near the junction of Gran de Gràcia with Traveserra de Dalt.
  • If you arrived via metro Line 4 at Joanic you will be at the junction of Carrer Pi i Maragall with Carrer de l’Escorial.
  • If you arrived by FGC train you’ll be on Via Augusta, in, or very close to Plaça de Gal·la Placidia, and very near the junction with Traveserra de Gràcia.
  • If you arrived by the 22, 24 or V17 bus you will be on Gran de Gràcia.
  • If you arrived on the V15 bus you’ll be on Via Augusta.
  • If you arrived on the 55 bus you’ll be at the junction of Passeig de Sant Joan and Traveserra de Gràcia.
  • If you arrived on foot, by bike, or fell from the skies — well, you could be anywhere, but not so very far from somewhere.


First thing to understand is that although most maps seem to show Gràcia as being North of the city centre, because most maps situate the city as being between the mountain (usually at the top of the map) and the sea (usually at the bottom of the map) Gràcia is really north-west of the city centre.

Not that important, unless you’re using a compass to navigate around the city, but useful to know.

Second thing to note is that some maps confuse the barrio of Gràcia, i.e. what used to be the township of Gràcia, with the political district of Gràcia. So, for example, I live in Eixample Dreta but reside in the political district of Gràcia.

Again, not that important, but something to be aware of when consulting some maps, especially maps produced by the Ajuntament (City Hall).

IMPORTANT: Older maps and guidebooks will show a square called Plaça de Rius i Taulet. This square, the main town square, is now known as Plaça de la Vila.


For our purposes, Gràcia’s boundaries can be defined as Carrer Còrsega and Avinguda Diagonal Continue Reading…

Getting Around

6 ways of getting to Vila de Gràcia in Barcelona

28th May 2015

How can you not explore a neighbourhood with streets called Danger, Liberty, Fraternity, and squares called John Lennon and Revolution?

Hot spots

You’ve probably come across articles, or heard friends talk about the cool bars, excellent affordable restaurants, bodegas, chic shops, cinemas, music venues, markets and lovely squares amid a warren of  narrow streets in a barrio called Gràcia.

Warm words

Much of what’s written and said is true — Vila de Gràcia is a fascinating area at any time of day or night, every day of the week.
You may very well want to put at least one visit to Gràcia on your itinerary.

 But where is this fabled land? And, how do I get there? Continue Reading…