The good news for all those people who still want to travel, despite the credit crunch, is that it really has never been easier to get to Barcelona. Remaining a highly popular destination for short breaks, longer holidays, stag and hen parties or simply football weekends, the Catalan city is now comfortably reachable by planes, boats and trains – even cars, if you want.
Of course, the vast majority of people coming to the city arrive in Barcelona by plane. The redevelopment of El Prat, the city’s main airport, and the astonishing impact of so-called ‘budget’ airlines really helped develop Barcelona’s popularity and now some lower cost airlines also fly into both Girona – to the east – and Reus – to the west. Both these airports, although some way out of Barcelona, have reasonable transport links into the city. From Girona there is an airport bus running into the main bus station, Estació d’Autobusos, Barcelona Nord, which takes about 90 minutes and costs around 12. From Reus, the time and cost of the journey are more or less the same but the destination is the Barcelona Sants station, which has excellent links with the rest of the city.
If you’re actually arriving at El Prat, then there are good, direct bus links with the Aerobus, a train from the airport’s own station and, of course, taxis or hire cars.
Barcelona has excellent railway connections with many parts of Europe – helped enormously by the introduction of the extremely popular AVE – the high speed link with Madrid – which will be extended into France in the next couple of years. There are already direct links with cities such as Paris, Milan and Zurich. Most of the international, national and regional trains terminate at the Barcelona Sants station.
Although perhaps not as popular as it once was, the international bus route to Barcelona remains strong – mainly because of its low cost, although, of course, the quality of bus used has also improved noticeably in recent years. Most of the national and international connections are made at the Barcelona Nord bus station, although, again, the Sants station is quite busy.
The development of the road systems in both France and Spain has meant that many people now decide to drive down to Barcelona. Just 150 kms from the French border, there is a direct connection between the AP-7, N-II and C-32 Barcelona motorways and the French roads. The busy and popular Autopista Mediterranean Motorway, the AP-7, has made access by car so much more straightforward.
It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that driving in the city centre can be quite stressful and parking there is both limited and rather expensive – 3 an hour is quite common now and you could even get charged 25 – 35 for a day. If you find accommodation with free or cheap parking, though, then driving might be an enjoyable option for you to consider.
Finally, one of the most rapidly developing methods of getting to Barcelona is by sea. Always a busy port, Barcelona is now the leading cruise ship destination in the Mediterranean and many cruises either begin or end here. Additionally, there are regular ferry connections with the Balearic Islands as well as ports in Italy and North Africa. Some people, of course, decide to sail here in their own yacht – again, the facilities having improved substantially in recent times.
Whether your preferred means of transport is by land, sea or air, the one thing you can be certain of is that Barcelona will be well worth the journey – however you decide to travel.
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