A question visitors often ask is, ‘How long does it take to get into 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 walking and the shuttle.
What visitors really need to know is how long it really takes to get to the city centre after landing.
Realistically the total time from touch-down at Terminal 1 to city centre is between 90 minutes and 2 hours 15 minutes.
Last week, Tuesday, May 22nd, I flew into Terminal 1 and kept an account of the actual times taken 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.
Taxi-ing to Finger
Time: 3 minutes.
Disembarkation and walking via Immigration to Baggage Claim
Seatbelt light off at 7.49pm — arrival al at Baggage Claim 8.15pm.
Time: 26 minutes.
Elapsed time: 30 minutes.
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 15/20 minutes for clearance.
Retrieved my bag at 8.42pm
Time: 27 minutes.
Elapsed time: 57 minutes.
Arrivals and walking to Shuttle Bus Stop
Arrived at the stop for the Shuttle Bus at 8.45pm — exactly 1 hour after touchdown.
Time: 3 minutes.
Elapsed time: 1 hour.
When I arrived a shuttle bus was loading and I could have squeezed myself onto it.
I chose instead to take the next bus which departed at 8.52pm. This made no difference to the overall travel time.
Shuttle Bus to Terminal 2
Wait time: 5 minutes
Arrived at Terminal 2 at 8.59pm.
Journey time: 7 minutes.
Elapsed time: 1 hour 17 minutes.
Terminal 2 to RENFE rail terminal
Walk, escalator, walk across bridge and down stairs, through ticket barrier to platform.
Journey time: 4 minutes.
Elapsed time: 1 hour 21 minutes.
RENFE Rodalies train
Train departed at 9.08pm and arrived at Estació Sants at 9.30pm.
Wait time: 5 minutes.
Journey time: 22 minutes
Elapsed time: 1 hour 48 minutes.
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).
The train was held up for 2 minutes at a junction between the Airport and Bellvitge.
Transfer from RENFE to Metro
Time: Elevator from rail platform and walk to Metro L5 (Blue) - direction: Vall d’Hebron: 5 minutes.
Elapsed time: 1 hour 53 minutes.
Some visitors had difficulties at the ticket barrier and caused about 2 minutes delay.
Line 5 (Blue) Estacio Sants to Verdaguer.
Wait time: 1 minute.
Took metro from Sants at 9.36pm arrived at Verdaguer at 9.42pm.
Time: 6 minutes.
Elapsed time: 2 hours.
Add walk 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.
In sum I would politely suggest you plan on a minimum travel time from touchdown 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 fifty times and know how to move in, around and out of the departure and arrival areas at all three 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 don’t like Terminal 1 — the walking distances between plane and arrivals, alleviated only in part by moving walkways, are considerable.
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€.
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 12.38pm. 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.