Barcelona El Prat airport
Updated April 2016
Barcelona's main domestic and international airport, Barcelona-El Prat, is located near the municipality of El Prat de Llobregat, about 12 kilometres to the southeast of Barcelona's city centre. It is composed of two terminals, far apart, on opposite sides of the runways, but connected by frequent free shuttle-buses (from every 4 minutes from 8am to 8 pm, to every 7 minutes at other times, except during the night period from mid-night to 5 am when they run every 10 minutes).
Terminal 1 is the newest and serves most major and international airlines. It is also the base of Vueling, a low-cost carrier, which is now part of Iberia, the Spanish flag airline. The older Terminal 2, has been reserved for charter flights and other low-cost airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair.
Large baggage carts are available free of charge or coin deposit and can be found outside the terminals. Once inside the departure lounge, smaller carts designed for hand baggage are also provided freely.
Since mid-2015, both terminals offer unlimited free Wi-Fi, although connection is, sometimes, not the best. The provider is AenaFreeAirport or Kubi. You have to register, giving email and personal details, which are not checked... There is also a choice for a paid, faster, more secure connection.
Mobile charging stations
Both terminals have installed battery charging stations, where you can plug your phone or other small electronic gadgets, and leave them locked in a compartment, allowing you to do other things while the devices get their charge topped up. The cost is €1 for 30 minutes. They can be recognized as thin red pillars with 6 front compartments each.
Baggage storage is now available in both terminals. The items are handed over to an employee of the firm that runs the left-luggage office who issues a reclaim ticket.
The cost is €6 for up to 2 hours; or €10 for each 24 hours period, during the first week; as from the 8th day the cost is €7.14 per day, and from the 15th only €4.29. Bulky items like bicycles or surfboards pay €9, €15, €10.50, and €6 respectively. There are discounts for more than 4 pieces (25%); further discounts for 11 to 15 pieces (35%); and above that number:50%.
In Terminal 1, the office is located at ground level (Floor 0), in the car park building and to the right (facing the car park) of where most long distance buses stop. You should however access it directly from the Arrivals Concourse without going outside.
In Terminal 2 they are again situated at street level in the check-in hall of Zone B.
The service is available 24 hours a day in Terminal 1, and from 6am to 10pm in Terminal 2. If you need to collect the bags during the night it is advisable to leave them in Terminal 1 even if you arrive or depart from Terminal 2. There is a frequent, fast, free shuttle that connects both terminals.
Regretfully, neither terminal has a Post Office, although they both have post-boxes.
There are a number of hotels in the vicinity of the airport. Most offer a shuttle service, although a charge may apply. However, bear in mind that taxis taken at the airport have a minimum flat rate of €20 (with all extras included), irrespective of the length of the ride.
Our suggestion is the Tryp Barcelona Aeropuerto. It is near the airport and provides a free shuttle to and from the hotel. You can view their website here
There is NO departure tax. All taxes, if applicable, are already included in the cost of the tickets.
To get to the city there are basically four alternatives:
Since February 2016, a new line (L9 Sud) runs directly to/from the airport stopping at both terminals. At Terminal 1 the station is inside the building; while at T2 it is outside, near the railway station
They leave every 7/8 minutes and take approximately 30 minutes to reach the final stop at Zona Universitaria, from where you can connect to the L3 Metro line see fuller Metro map. A few minutes before the end, you may connect to: L5 at Collblanc; L1 at Torrassa; R5/R6 (blue line that ends at Plaça d'Espanya) at the new station Europa Fira. If these Metro lines are not convenient for your final destination, you should consider other options like the Aerobus (that has its first stop at Plaça d'Espanya), or the train that will take you from Terminal 2 to Sants or Passeig de Gràcia.
The single Metro Airport Ticket costs €4.50 and cannot be combined with the T-10 Metro tickets, although the T-Dia (day ticket), the Hola BCN, the Barcelona Card, and other variants are accepted. Even if you have credit in a T-10, do not use it, as you must buy the special Airport Ticket to travel from the airport to Barcelona (or vice-versa). They are available in the ticket vending machines at stations throughout the network.
If your are planning a 2-day visit, consider the Hola Barcelona card, which can be bought on-line with a 10% discount (€12.60), or at the full price of €14.00 from vending machines at stations. It includes travel to and from Barcelona that would have cost, otherwise, €9.00. For just the difference, €3.60, you have unlimited travel on all Barcelona public transport during the two days!
The Aerobus leaving every 5 minutes (or 10 to 20 during the night) is one of the more convenient choices. It goes to Plaça Catalunya and Plaça Espanya, with few stops along the way. The trip takes on average about 35 minutes. The cost is €5.90 for a single ticket and €10.20 for a return (providing you return within 9 days ). Baggage is taken inside the bus, which can get quite congested, and you may have to travel standing-up. They are, however, air-conditioned and otherwise comfortable.
Another advantage of the Aerobus is that you can now buy the tickets online and present the print-out to the driver.
The train station is connected by an aerial walkway to Terminal 2. Passengers using Terminal 1, must use the inter-terminal shuttle, which makes this alternative less attractive. The train service goes to Estacio Sants, Passeig de Gràcia, and continues to Maçanet-Massanes.
Due to the construction of a high-speed line, the normal train service has been replaced by the local R2-Nord line. It runs every 30 minutes and takes around 22 minutes to reach Sants station. Currently the first train departs from the airport at 5.42 and the last at 23.38. You can view the timetable and other stopping stations.
If your final destination is not one of the stations where the train stops, you can connect with the Metro, or take a bus or taxi outside. The cost is €4.10 for a single ticket. To continue on to the Metro or the bus you must buy a different ticket (or a multi-journey ticket, like the T-10) as the train tickets are not interchangeable with other modes of city transportation. However, the T-10 is acceptable for the train, and if you continue on by another form of city transportation (Metro, Bus, trams) within 75 minutes, you can use it as the same, single trip. As the T-10 is valid for 10 journeys and only costs €9.95 for Zone 1 (which includes the airport), this is the cheapest way to travel between the airport and the city, even if you only use it twice from and back to the airport and once in the city's public transport wasting the remaining seven journeys. Besides, the T-10 is a multi-person ticket: go through the barrier and pass it back to the next person in your party.
However, if you arrive in Terminal 1, you have to use the free shuttle bus to Terminal 2 (10-20 minutes, including wait), cross the bridge from Terminal 2 to the station (5 minutes), add the time spent on buying a ticket, and the possible 30-minute wait for the next train if you just miss one. This may make the train not a desirable option, even if it is the cheapest way to get to the centre. If arriving at the airport, there is a shuttle bus waiting to take you directly to Terminal 1.
A taxi to the centre of Barcelona costs between €25 and €35. For shorter distances, like local hotels, there is a minimum charge of €20 (with all exxtras included). For destinations further afield and outside Barcelona you should agree the fare with the driver unless the meter is to be used. Please, see the section on "Taxis and Buses" in our Barcelona webpage.
As you exit the Customs Hall and enter the public area, you will be faced with the Cafe de Fiore, one of three food and drink places located on that level. The others, Jamaica, and Lizarran, are at the opposite extremes of the same concourse. All three stay open around the clock. To the left of the Customs exit there is a snack and drinks vending machine, for those in a hurry to leave.
To the right of the Customs exit is the Oficina de Turismo, the tourist information office for Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia. The airport information desk is behind Café de Fiore.
There are a few shops in the area and some cash machines (ATMs) on both sides of the Café de Fiore, and further down past the Information Desk, on the right, on the wall of the Caixa bank.
There are currently two places where you can buy local Sim cards. Inside the “Audio, Video, and More” store, which displays a Vodafone logo on the outside; and at "Tienda del Viajero" (Travel Goods Store) located on the check-in Level, at the back, towards the left-hand corner. They sell the LycaMobile SIM card, costing from €10 with recharges from €5.
In Terminal 2 the same company operates as a Left-luggage facility (Consigna).
All check-in desks are on the upper floor. The facilities here are minimal when compared to what is available air-side. There are three fast-food places and a couple of shops (bookstore and pharmacy) hidden at the far end towards the right of the concourse.
There is a large Exchange desk in the middle of the concourse. Alternatively, you may find better rates in the Caixa bank in the Arrivals level, which is open from 7,30 until 22,00.
You can also exchange currencies inside the Departure Lounge: turn sharp left after descending the escalators after Security.
The processing of receipts and presentation of the respective purchases to the authorities takes place in the far-end, left corner of the check-in concourse. Cash refunds can be obtained once you go into the departure lounge, although it is claimed that you get a better deal (lower commission) if you go to the Caixa bank in the Arrivals level. The agencies dealing with refunds take anything between 10% and 14% commission, although in many cases the store works out in advance that same commission, deducts it from the total VAT paid and shows the Net value to be refunded. It is not a very big saving if you bear in mind that VAT in Spain, at present (June 2015) is 21% for most goods that you are likely to buy and take home, outside the European Union.
Global Blue deals only with refunds addressed to them.The Currency Exchange counter opposite deals with Premier, La Caixa, and Inova.They may refund part in Euros and part in the local currency of the destination, making a double profit with the exchange rate. La Caixa, in the Arrivals level, deals with all (except Global Blue) and refunds in Euros only.
If you prefer to have the refund sent to your credit card, there is a yellow post-box in the same area where you get your receipts validated.
The Terminal has three Lounges, all run by the same company: Sala Miro is in the non-Schengen zone; Colomer Lounge is dedicated to air-shuttle passengers on the Barcelona-Madrid route; and the Pau Casals Lounge in the main Schengen area.
Access is by airline invitation or by paying €25.50 (€13 for children 3-12 years old; free up to 2 years of age) allowing a maximum of 4 hours’ stay. Showers are available free of charge, but as towels will probably be needed there is a charge of €10 for a kit which includes also slippers, shampoo, and other shower accessories.
The lounges take advantage of the airport’s free Wi-Fi, with the negative result that it is only available for 30 minutes. Further use must be paid online to the airport provider. This, however, as you can read above, will be changing in the coming months when all airports in Spain will have unlimited free access to the Internet.
The Terminal has two large open-air smoking zones at each end of the Departure Lounge. As expected, smoking is forbidden inside the building.
Shopping and Catering
Once past Security and inside the Departure Lounge, Terminal 1 becomes a labyrinth of shops, from duty free to fashion, with catering outlets aplenty. Boutiques from well-known brands, live side by side with electronic, luggage, jewellery, beauty, and gifts shops, among others. On the catering side you will find eating places ranging from fast-food to gourmet restaurants.
The Terminal has three zones (A, B, and C, all on the save lower street level). The check-in desks and the arrivals area are on opposite sides of the long building but totally open from one end to the other, and therefore facilities of the Terminal before you pass Security are available to both arriving and departing passengers. The exception is Zone C used exclusively by Easyjet, which occupies a separate building, but once past Security it joins the common Departure Lounge.
There are three cafes in this public area along with a restaurant on the mezzanine floor. Most shops have migrated to the new Terminal, leaving the old with little more than a bookstore, come souvenir shop, along with rent-a-car and bus ticket desks. The airport and the Tourist Information desks are also present.
The processing of the paperwork related to the refund takes place at a small counter to the left of the Customs arrivals exit. Very long queues often occur (even longer that one hour!) prior to the departure of some charter flights at peak times. If you want to be sure of getting the receipts stamped, arrive as early as possible.
Regarding the amount of refund, please, read the comments in the same section above for Terminal 1.
If you want to receive the refund in cash, you should do it in the Caixa bank situated along the same wall on the other side of the Arrivals exit. Alternatively, you can do it in the departure lounge in one of the Tax-Free agencies (supposedly, by paying a bigger commission).
If you wish the refund to go directly to your credit card, place the envelope addressed to the Tax Free agency in the post box located in Terminal 2.
"La Caixa" provides currency exchange services. It is open open from 7,30 and closes at 20,30 in Terminal 2B.
Besides, ATMs are available 24 hours a day.
Eating and Shopping
Terminal 2 looks somewhat desolate after most businesses moved to the new Terminal. Nonetheless, the essential facilities remain, if in a lower, less attractive number. There are sufficient eating and drinking places, as well as duty-free, and other shops from fashion to electronics to dilute whatever money you managed to save.
Terminal 2 has a single Lounge, the “Canudas”, run by the same company as those in Terminal 1. It has the same tariff and offers the same facilities. Please, look above for details.