This seems like a really stupid article to write, but after a couple of visits recently (one for a wine tour and the other a cousin I haven’t seen in awhile) I’ve realized that there is a very shitty mafia out there try to discourage people arriving at Barcelona’s El Prat Airport to take the train to the center. It drives me crazy to hear this as it’s incredibly easy. There’s a train from Terminal 2 (with a bus connection from Terminal 1) at 8 minutes past the hour and 38 minutes past the hour. It takes 20-25 minutes to the center depending on which station you get off at (Passeig de Gràcia is the one that’s actually in the center, not Sants) and it costs 4.10€ each way or 8€ round trip–buy a T-10 ticket if you’re a group and planning to go to Sitges or other places in Zone 4 as it’s massively cheaper. If you need to know more, check out the Rodalies schedule.
The arguments against this seem to be that it’s either inconvenient, expensive, or not safe. The first item, inconvenience is easily addressed as there is the illusion propagated by taxis drivers the world over that taking a taxi is always much faster. If it’s the middle of the night, that might be the case, but there is always, always traffic from the airport of Barcelona to the center and there is no way a taxi can beat the speed of the train.
Important to note in the taxi option is that upwards of 99% of them are crooks and they will be a great deal more expensive, costing a minimum of 25€ from the airport in the middle of the day and even more in what are deemed “night hours”. Also, they’ll charge an additional fee for each piece of luggage they put in the trunk and they won’t let you take the luggage in to the car to save money. There are honest taxi drivers out there. I found one, once, in Accra, Ghana who charged me the correct fare to go across town and drove like a perfect gentleman. Short of that, I have yet to find one who doesn’t try to weasel some exorbitant fare out of me or if not doing that, then expecting a large tip for just doing his job all-the-while blathering on about his backwards, conservative political views unless you’re lucky enough to get a Taxiste per la Independència which could almost be worth the fare as you’ll hear about the centuries old struggle of the Catalan people.
The more valid argument to not take the train would be the safety issue. There is indeed a chance that you will be pickpocketed on the train. It happened to me and I’m not a likely target, so I can only imagine how it would be for someone who immediately sticks out as a tourist. Of course all of these are crimes of opportunity and have nothing to do with the train at all. In fact, if you’re worried about losing your wallet or others items, don’t come to Barcelona at all. Petty crime runs rampant here and your chances of getting picked on Les Rambles, taking a photo of La Sagrada Familia, or sitting down for a meal at an outdoor terrace are even higher than that on the train. So, if this is the reason your hotel or whomever is telling you to not take the train, ignore it.
In picking up my Editor in Chief on Sunday morning at the airport and seeing various driver services with signs for English language and very American names I think there is one other reason people don’t take the train and that’s the VIP treatment. In lieu of providing better prices or service, many hotels or others in Barcelona often pick people up at the airport to give a sense of ease to visiting the city. Naturally, you’re paying for this and as I hope I’ve pointed out, it’s completely unnecessary and a waste of your time.
Yeah, there’s the bus too which is more frequent, but is more expensive and often gets snarled in traffic. The train is there, use it and love it.
Photo of the approach to Barcelona Airport by Elia Varela