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Barcelona Airport: Everything You Need to Know

Barcelona Airport: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re coming or going, the sprawling Barcelona El Prat airport (Airport code: BCN) is well-equipped to get you where you’re headed. It’s Spain’s second-largest airport and one of the busiest in the Mediterranean.

Travelers can expect plenty of helpful options as they make their way into Barcelona. For those headed elsewhere, the airport’s two terminals are set with amenities and lounges to help pass the time ahead of your departing flight.

Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain, so you can expect crowds at this popular airport that services the city as well as the surrounding Costa Brava towns. If you are spending time in Barcelona, don’t miss out on exploring our Barcelona itinerary, top food tours in Barcelona, and our list of the best free things to do in Barcelona.

Arriving at Barcelona Airport

Whether you are arriving at Barcelona Airport domestically or internationally, you will have a slightly different arrival experience. It also depends on whether you are arriving from a country within the Schengen or outside of the Schengen.

Domestic Flight

Travelers headed to Barcelona from a domestic airport like Madrid Airport, Valencia Airport, or from within the Schengen Zone will have a smooth exit from El Prat. After departing the aircraft, proceed to the baggage claim area if necessary. This is where you’ll find signs pointing towards private and public transport into Barcelona, along with rental car companies and airport parking.

Any travelers transiting through Barcelona Airport will not need to exit and return through security. Simply make your way to the appropriate gate and await your onward flight.

International Flight

If you’re coming to Barcelona from outside of the Schengen Zone on an international flight, you’ll have to clear customs before you reach the baggage area. As you are traveling into the Schengen Zone for the first time on your adventure, you’ll need your passport handy so it can be stamped.

Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and more can travel into Spain and throughout the Schengen Zone without a visa. However, at the time of writing, these citizens will require an ETIAS entry authorization from May 2025 onwards. Upon arrival, travelers will have up to 90 days to explore Barcelona, Spain, and the wider Schengen Zone.

Travelers who are not on the visa exempt list (you can check here), will need to apply and be approved before they depart for Barcelona.

entrance to the barcelona airport with entry in english and spanish.

Barcelona Airport is easy enough to navigate, despite being one of the busiest airports in all of Europe.

Is there Wi-Fi at Barcelona Airport?

Yes, there is Wi-Fi at Barcelona Airport. Whether you’re seeking information for your car rental, hotel check-in, or bus ticket into the city, you’ll be able to scroll through your phone or laptop using the airport internet.

However, the availability of the Wi-Fi changes depending on which terminal you are in. Barcelona’s El Prat airport has a modern Terminal 1 and an older Terminal 2. You’ll find free public internet throughout Terminal 1.

Your options are more restricted at Terminal 2, however. This terminal is split into three sections: A, B, and C. You’ll be able to connect to the Wi-Fi in a handful of public areas, such as cafes, bars and restaurants.

The free service requires watching an advertisement before surfing the web and has limited download speeds. This is a good option for travelers who simply need to send messages to family or sort through their emails.

If you want to stream live sports or watch your favorite TV show while at Barcelona Airport, we suggest paying for the premium service. The fee is just shy of 5 Euros for 24 hours and provides users with speeds of up to 20 Mbps.

How to get from Barcelona Airport to Barcelona, Spain?

At 13km (8 miles) from the city center, Barcelona Airport provides easy access to Spain’s second-biggest city. There are four main modes of transport out of El Prat: train, bus, metro, and taxi (plus Uber).

Each takes between 20-40 minutes to arrive in the heart of Barcelona and provides an option for all budgets. Let’s explore further.

Bus

El Prat’s Aerobus is an express shuttle that takes travelers from both Terminal 1 and 2B into downtown Barcelona. With the Aerobus name splashed along the vehicle, they’re impossible to miss.

At the terminal stops, you’ll find a large blue machine where you can purchase your ticket. You can also purchase your tickets online and ahead of time here.

The Aerobus runs 24 hours at arrives every 5 to 10 minutes at Terminal 1 and every 10 minutes at Terminal 2. A one-way ticket costs you €6.75 and a return ticket will be €11.65.

The transport takes travelers to two major sections in Barcelona: Plaça España and Plaça de Catalunya. These take 25 and 35 minutes, respectively.

If you or a member of your traveling crew require a wheelchair, the Aerobus has a wide ramp. You’ll also find free Wi-Fi and USB charging ports onboard.
Train

Running approximately every 30 minutes, the RENFE Train from Barcelona Airport is a simple way to get downtown quickly. The station can be found at Terminal 2B. Those arriving at Terminal 1 will need to catch a free shuttle from the terminal to the station.

The trains run from just before 6am until around 11.30pm. Outside of these hours, we recommend either a taxi or the Aerobus. A single trip ticket costs €4.60. However, we recommend purchasing a T-Casual ticket. This is €11.35 but provides fantastic value. This ticket is valid for 10 trips on Barcelona’s metro, bus and train systems.

There are some drawbacks to choosing the train over a taxi or Aerobus. There is limited luggage space and as the train combines with city routes, it can get crowded, with many users having to stand.

man standing in front of departure screens at an airport with chairs full of people sitting waiting.

Everything you need at an airport is available at El Prat.

Metro

Barcelona’s metro system has two stops at El Prat airport. The L9 Sud stops at both Terminal 1 and outside Terminal 2. This service departs approximately every 7 minutes from 5am to midnight.

A single ticket costs €5.15 and cannot be combined with a train ticket such as the T-Casual. For extra value, travelers can purchase a Hola Barcelona Travel Pass.

This covers 48, 72, 96, and 120 hours of unlimited rides on the city’s metro, bus, urban and regional railways, trams, and funiculars.

While the metro can be handy, especially for those in Terminal 1, it’s not the most efficient way to get downtown. Travelers will have to transfer to a secondary line to reach Barcelona’s major downtown districts.

Taxi/Uber

The fastest way to get from Barcelona Airport to Barcelona is via taxi. From both terminals, you’ll find a taxi rank full of official black and yellow taxi cabs. Depending on traffic, it’ll take around 20 minutes to get into the city with fares ranging from €30-50 plus airport fees.

Uber is available from the airport, however, taxis are heavily favored here. So you can expect a longer wait time to get an Uber compared to a taxi and the rates tend to be similar overall.

airplane with the hall attached to the door for loading passengers.

Give yourself enough time to get to your gate, especially if you plan to check a bag before your flight.

Renting a Car at Barcelona Airport

Another way to leave the airport, make your way into the city, and, of course, explore the wider region, is to rent a car at Barcelona Airport. Renting a car in Spain is straightforward and affordable. Travelers will need to possess a valid driver’s license that has been in use for at least 12 months.

If you have an EU or UK driver’s license, you can drive in Spain without an International Driving Permit. Drivers from outside this region will require an IDP to pair with their valid home country’s driver’s license.

Read our tips for driving in Spain if it’s your first time hiring a car in the country.

Other requirements include a debit or credit card to put on file, plus your passport for identification. Travelers under 25 may also receive a higher rental price than older drivers. All rental cars in Spain require insurance. Be aware of this, as it may not be included in your initial advertised price.

At El Prat airport, you’ll find several rental car companies, including Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz, and Sol-Mar. All companies have an office at Terminal 1, Terminal 2B, and 2C.

Keep in mind, if you don’t plan on exploring much beyond Barcelona, you’re best to make use of the city’s good public transport. Parking in Barcelona can be difficult. There is limited accommodation with parking in the inner city and traffic can slow you down significantly.

Best way to get to Barcelona Airport

As discussed above, there are four main ways to get between Barcelona and El Prat airport. Especially for when you depart Barcelona, how you get to the airport will often be determined by the time you have.

Private transport and taxis are the fastest way to get to the airport. But they’re also the most expensive. Trains are quick and relatively cheap, although you’ll need to stick to the posted schedule. If you prefer to save money, take the slow route and jump onboard the Aerobus.

Barcelona Airport Hotels

Are you landing late, or have an early flight? Why not consider some of the handful of Barcelona Airport hotels? Barcelona Airport Hotel and Hotel Barcelona Aeropuerto are the two closest destinations. Each offers 4-star accommodations with breakfast options, on-site bars, and restaurants.

Travelers on a budget can consider the Ibis Budget Aeropuerto or the Airhostel. Both are close to the airport and have access to bus and metro systems.

However, for unparalleled airport access, you can’t beat Sleep & Fly. This hotel is set within Terminal 1. You can sleep here and wake up at the airport ahead of your flight.

Passengers in transit can also rent a room from 3 to 6 hours to get some much-needed shut-eye between each flight. Keep in mind, that this will require going through customs and security.

entrance to Barcelona Airport from the runway.

Barcelona Airport as viewed from the runway.

Parking at Barcelona Airport

There are ample parking spaces at Barcelona Airport, with about 24,000 spots spread between Terminal 1 and 2. They are mostly split into two sections, short and long-term parking.

For the short term, head to AENA Car Park at T1 or T2. Both are around 100m from the terminal. The AENA Long Stay Car Park is for long-term travelers and is shared by both terminals. The car park is a few minutes away from the airport and offers a free shuttle to all terminals.

Security Times at Barcelona Airport

It’s recommended that travelers arrive for non-Schengen flights 3 hours before departure and two hours for other flights. Barcelona Airport is smaller than other major European airports so it doesn’t get as chaotic as some destinations. But it’s always best to play it safe. Security times tend to range between 20 and 30 minutes.

If you want to save on time or you’re running late for your flight, there are Fast Lanes at Barcelona Airport. This lane provides preferential access through security checkpoints and it can be booked up to an hour before departure. The Fast Lane exists in all parts of the airport except for Terminal 2A.

Airlines in Terminal 1

These are the airlines that fly into and out of terminal 1 at Barcelona Airport.

Adria Airways, Aegean Airlines, Aeroflot, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air Algerie, Air Baltic, Air Berlin, Air Canada, Air China, Air Europa , Air France, Air Nostrum, Alitalia, American Airlines, Arkia Israel Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca, BA Cityflyer, British Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Czech Airlines, Delta Airlines, EgyptAir, El Al , Emirates, Estonian, Finnair, Iberia, Israir, KLM, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Niki Lufthart, Qatar Royal Jordanian, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, TAP Portugal, Tarom, Tunisair, Turkish Airlines, Ukraine International Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Vueling.

Airlines in Terminal 2

If you are flying with one of these airlines, you are likely to be using terminal 2 at Barcelona Airport.

Aer Lingus, Air Arabia, Belavia, Blue Air, Bulgaria Air, Gambia Bird, Jet2.com, Metrojet, Monarch Airlines, Orbest, Orenair, Pegasus Air, Rossiya-Russian Airlines, Transaero Airlines, Ural Airlines, UTair Airlines, Vim Airlines, Easyjet, Germanwings, Luxair, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair, Sky Work, SmartWings, Transavia.com, Wizz Air.

man standing in front of boards at the airport.

Barcelona Airport El Prat.

Amenities in Terminal 1

Terminal 1 opened in 2009 and is notably more modern than its sister terminal. Upon entry, you’ll find the La Plaza and Sky Center. This offers a range of shopping and restaurants spread through public and ticketed sections.

Once you’ve made it past security, more options become apparent. There are chain restaurants such as Lizarran for tapas and Mcdonald’s. There are also plenty of cafes and bars, including Caffe di Fiore and Medas Beer.

Amenities in Terminal 2

You’ll find fewer options spread through A, B, and C sections of Terminal 2. They all, however, have a Caffe di Fiore for some pre-departure treats and caffeine. Terminals 2A and 2B have more options, including Pans & Company and Fresh and Ready. These are more hearty destinations with sandwich options.

Getting Between Terminals at Barcelona El Prat

It’s fairly simple for you to travel between terminals if necessary. El Prat has a free shuttle that transports travelers from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 A, B, and C. This runs every 5 to 10 minutes depending on the time of day and takes up to 10 minutes to arrive at your chosen terminal.

It should be noted that using the free shuttle requires you to pass back through customs and security. So be sure to include this when figuring out how much time is required between flights.

Those in Terminal 2 wishing to make their way between A, B, and C sections can use the shuttle. You can avoid leaving the boarding area and thus not have to go through customs again by walking. It’s approximately a two-minute walk from A to B and a five-minute walk from B to C.

plane on the tarmac with the sun setting.

Flying into Barcelona Airport.

Lounges at Barcelona Airport

There are five total lounges at Barcelona Airport, four in Terminal 1 and one in Terminal 2. But don’t worry, you don’t need any special flight ticket or some elevated airline membership to enjoy this VIP experience.

Using LoungePass or Priority Pass, you can purchase access to a lounge and enjoy their services at a modest cost. Each member of your party must have a pass and a same-day plane ticket as all lounges are found beyond security.

Those flying business and first class will have complimentary access to a lounge at Barcelona Airport.

So why use a lounge? Well, aside from enjoying some peace in a chaotic place, it’s the perfect way to pass the time before a flight. Enjoy some refreshing beverages, light snacks, and internet access. You may also find workstations, showers, and kid’s play areas.

Drinking Water at Barcelona Airport

There are drinking fountains at all terminals at Barcelona Airport. Although you won’t find them as consistently distributed compared to other major airports around the world.

Luggage Storage at Barcelona Airport

There is luggage storage at Barcelona Airport. You’ll find these lockers at Terminal 1 only. There are small and large lockers which cost €4.50 and €5.80 respectively per 24 hours. You can rent a locker for up to 30 days.

Other options can be found in the city. These can be located and booked online at Vertoe and Stasher.