A unique in depth, independent guide to travelling to and from Barcelona by train and using the primary stations in Barcelona.
Why go to Barccelona
Wikipedia guide to Barcelona
The primary rail station in the city is Barcelona Sants
Location of Sants Station
Sants station on Google Maps
Sants station to the west of the city centre is virtually entirely underground but escalators link the platforms to the main concourse, from where the other platforms and exits, including the bus station and taxi rank, can be accessed.
Sants is on Metro line M3.
Long distance Train Departures
All LONG DISTANCE ONLY train departures from Barcelona are listed on the D-Bahn online timetable HERE .
Click here for the ThereByTrain.com guide to using the D-Bahn timetable.
Trains TO Barcelona
Click the cities below for summaries of trains to Barcelona from these popular destinations (times correct until December 14th 2012):
The high speed line from France to Barcelona is now open There are now direct high speed trains between Barcelona and Paris, Avignon, Lyon, Marseilles, Montpellier, Nimes; Narbonne; Perpignan, Toulouse and Valence; more details are available on our news page.
Now that the high speed line is fully open, the overnight Elipsos (ELP) overnight train, named the 'Joan Miro' beteeen Paris and Barcelona has now been discontinued!.
Local Train Departures
The local (commuter) trains are know by the brand name 'Rodiales'.
Not all local 'Rodiales' trains in Barcelona are listed on the online D-Bahn timetable, this includes ALL local trains between the city center and the airport and between the city center and the popular resort town, Sitges, plus the majority of the direct trains between Franca and Sants stations.
Times for all these local 'Rodiales' trains are available
Note that these Rodiales trains call at multiple stations in the city centre including (Franca - connections to/from the Elipsos overnight trains); (Sants - connections to/from other long distance trains to/from Barcelona) and either/or Passeig De Gracia and Placa De Catalunya stations which are closer to the city centre.
The following long distance trains arrive at/depart from Barcelona Sants:
- AVE trains from/to Madrid, Zaragoza, Malaga and Seville
- An AVE FS train to/from Marseilles that also calls at Avignon (TGV)
- An AVE FS train to/from Toulouse
- TGV FS trains to/from Paris (Gare De Lyon) and Lyon (Part Dieu) some of which also call at Valence (TGV).
- ALV trains to Zaragoza, San Sebastian, Hendaye and Bilbao
- ALS trains from/to Valencia and Alicante
- EM trains from/to Valencia and Alicante
- NOW DISCONTINUED - The daily TLG 2000 train from/to Perpignan, Narbonne, Beziers, Nimes and Montpellier T
- Regional trains from/to Tarragona, Reuss, Castello, Figueras, Girona, Port Bou and the French borders town of Cerbere and La Tour De Carol.
- MD trains from/to Figueras and Girona
- The nightly ESL train /from/to Madrid
- T-Hot overnight trains from/to A Coruna, Santiagio de Compostela and Vigo
Click here for a map of Barcelona’s Metro/local train system.
Many of the local train services Rodalies in the Barcelona area are not operated by the national train operator RENFE. These include local trains on line ‘R2 SUD’ which links Barcelona and the popular resort town of Sitges take trains from Sants, Franca or Passeig Di Gracia stations which have ‘St Vicenc de Calders as the final destination.
As they are not operated by RENFE the Rodiales trains don't appear on many online timetables, schedules for them are only available locally.
City Centre Links
Frequent local trains also run between Sants and both Passeig De Gracia and Catalunya stations, which are closer to the city centre. Passeig De Gracia has connections to Metro Lines L1, L2 and L4, Catalunya stations has links to Metro Lines L1, L3, L6 and L7
Sants is served by Metro Lines 5 and 3. Line 3 has a station at Catalunya which is in the heart of the city, but it can be quicker to take one of the local trains that run between Sants and Catalunya. The line L3 platforms are some distance from the entrance to the Metro at Sants station, be prepared to be walking along underground passage ways for five minutes.
For quick access to La Rambla take Line 3 to Liceu.
Now that the high speed line between Barcelona and Perpignan in France is now (at last) being used by international high speed TGV FS and AVE FS trains, there are now just two options to decide between when travelling between Barcelona and France by train.
The two options are ; (1) take a direct high speed train; or (2) make connections between local/regional cross border trains - (at Cerbére when travelling from Barcelona, at Port Bou when travelling to Barcelona).
There are now only two options because both the international Talgo train that operated between Barcelona and Montpellier and the overnight train between Barcelona and Paris (the 'Joan Miro) have both now been discontinued..
There are now direct high speed trains in both directions between Barcelona (Sants) and France on four routes:
- Barcelona - Paris (Gare De Lyon) (2 x TGV FS trains per day)
- Barcelona - Lyon (Part Dieu) (1 x TGV FS train
- Barcelona - Avignon (TGV) - Marseilles (St Charles) (1 x AVE FS train per day)
- Barcelona - Toulouse (Matabiau (1 x AVE FS train per day)
There are plans to increase the number of direct trains at a later date in 2014, but these won't be happening until at least March 29th.
The TGV trains are French double deck high speed trains, while the AVE trains are Spanish high speed trains. ThereByTrain has used the unofficial brand names TGV FS and AVE FS to distinguish these cross border international trains from domestic TGV and AVE train services.
The distinction particularly matters to rail pass users, as special supplements have now been introduced that are compulsory for those travelling with Eurail or InterRail on these direct high speed international trains from/to Barcelona.
The supplements are unusual, as they vary according to the distance travelled and aren't set at fixed rate. For example a user of a 2nd class Eurail or InterRail pass will now have to pay a supplement of 25.60 to travel between Barcelona and Paris, but only 6.60 euros to travel between Barcelona and Perpignan.
Rail pass users who want to avoid those supplements and other travellers who want to enjoy the more scenic coastal route can still use local cross border trains and connections to travel between Barcelona and France.
However, ThereByTrain's advice is that you'll need to be particularly determined to save money or particularly keen to see the scenery to use this option.
That is because the connections between Spanish and French local/regional trains on either side of the border tend to be inconvenient and can involve long waiting time between trains - particularly when travelling from France to Barcelona.
From Barcelona (Sants) there are infrequent direct trains, on which reservations aren't an option (so rail pass users don't have to pay a supplement) across the border to Cerbere in France. At Cerbere there are trains that travel up the Mediterranean Coast as far as Avignon.
From France there is a sparse service of French local/regional trains, that cross the border terminate at the Spanish border town, Port Bou. From Port Bou there are more frequent local/regional trains to Barcelona that can't be reserved, but the connections in this direction seem to be intended to frustrate travellers. On two of the potential connections at Port Bou, the train to Barcelona is timed to depart only 2 mins after the train from France is due to arrive, but if the train from France is delayed then the Spanish train won't wait.
Not taking the direct high speed trains is of course also much slower. The travel time by high speed train between Barcelona and Montpellier is now typically only 3hrs, but taking a combination of regional trains will take at least twice as long, approximately 6hrs and 15mins.
The local 'Rodalies' train network also includes the frequent local trains between central Barcelona and El Prat airport on line R2 which is distinct from line R2 Sud.
To The Airport
From Passeig Di Gracia station in the city centre, or from Sants, take trains with ‘Aeroporto’ as the destination.
Line R2 trains operate every 30 mins throughout the day and the journey time is approximately 20 mins
At El Prat Airport the station is adjacent to Terminal 2, a shuttle bus operates between Terminal 1 and the station.
To The City Centre
When travelling from the airport leave the train at Sants if you're connecting to a long distance RENFE train or have a final destination on Metro Line L3.
Remain on the train to Passeig Di Gracia for the city centre and Metro Lines L1, L2 and L4.
Franca station on Google Maps
Barcelona Franca is the station used by the Elipsos ELP
overnight trains that run to/from Barcelona and Paris, Italy and Switzerland. Many international passengers therefore arrive at Franca station, which is particularly convenient for the harbour and beach areas of the city, while the city centre can be accessed on Metro Line 4 which operates from the adjacent Barceloneta station
Barcelona Franca is a simple station to navigate as it is a terminus station on one level and offers step free access to taxis and the city.
To travel between Franca and Sants stations by Metro two changes of train at Passeig de Gracia and Rocafort stations are required, so the simplest connection (particularly for those with luggage) is to take a local Rodiales train between the two stations which operate every 30 minutes during the day – direction ‘St Vincenc De Calders. these trains are not listed on the D-Bahn timetable
To avoid the pitfalls of transferring between the two stations in Barcelona, passengers may find it more convenient to change to/from the international trains that serve Franca at the station in Girona, which has regular trains to/from Sants station for those making onward connections by train from Barcelona.