Barcelona International Airport Guide

Departing to Barcelona

Due to its increasing popularity as a weekend break and holiday destination in the past decade or so, Barcelona International Airport (Code: BCN) has seen a large number of low-cost airlines fly into its runways in recent years. EasyJet, Ryanair and Vueling all operate busy schedules from El Prat (the airport’s ‘other’ name due to the proximity to the town El Prat del Llobregat).

Long haul operators such as American Airlines, British Airways and Air Canada also have flights here – making this the 9th busiest in Europe - as do of, of course, Iberia, Spain's national airline. It’s also a common hub for flights to the Canary or Balearic Islands and is Spain’s second busiest airport after Madrid-Barajas.

Sitting just eight miles southwest of the popular and colourful city of Barcelona – the capital of Catalonia – BCN enjoys a lot of through traffic; 35 million passengers in 2012 and the only major airline in Spain to record an increase on the previous year (it actually has capacity for 55 million passengers and a planned 90 operations an hour). As a result there are a number of cafes, restaurants, gift and tourist shops in Terminal One where waiting travellers can mill around. There are a few outlets in Terminal Two as well but by far the majority of passengers can be found in Terminal One where 70 per cent of the flights operate from. This terminal is relatively new, having opened in 2009 following a redevelopment of the airport to accommodate the 1992 Olympics. Today there are a total of 268 check-in desks and 64 boarding gates.

IATA Airport Code: BCN

ICAO Airport Code: LEBL

UTC/GMT: +1 Hour (+2 Hours in Summer)

Rental Cars

Both Terminals One and Two (near arrivals) offer a variety of car rental firms – five in total. It’s worth remembering that drink driving laws are tougher in Spain than the UK and many other European countries and because of this it’s advisable not to touch a drop of alcohol if you intend hiring a car. The seat belt law (both front and back) also applies and special restraining systems are necessary for those under a certain height (135 cm tall).

Airport Transfers & Shuttle Services

A free shuttle bus (identified by its green colour) allows passengers to move freely and quickly between Terminals One and Two at the airport every seven minutes. The Terminals themselves are around ten minutes apart and the bus runs 24 hours a day.

Buses

Such is the tourist traffic here that buses travel to and from the Terminals 24 hours a day. These are both local buses into Plaza Espana and Plaza Catalunya (every 20 minutes or so and costing just 1.40 Euro) and buses to other cities in Catalonia and throughout Spain. The airport bus Rapid Aerobus to Barcelona takes 40 minutes and costs around 10 Euro. It runs more regularly than local buses, arriving and dropping off every five minutes.

Trains

Trains run from Terminal Two and directions to the station can be found in the Arrivals hall. The actual train location is opposite Lufthansa and Spanair check in desks via a bridge and a three minute walk.

The RENFE trains aren’t expensive and the fares differ depending on which zone into Barcelona you intend to stop in – at which point you can pick up the Metro line direct into the city centre.

Taxis

Taxi ranks can be accessed outside both terminal buildings and there are usually plenty so you shouldn’t have too long to wait for another to come along. The cars tend to be black and yellow. Official airport taxis will carry a maximum of just four people.

Expect to pay at least 25 Euros getting to and from the airport and a further 1 Euro for large items of luggage. Taxis are cheaper between 8am and 10pm during the week.

Shopping and eating

Those who have an hour or two prior to their flight shouldn’t have too much of a hard time killing time hanging around in Terminal One as there’s so much to do in terms of catering and shopping. All the big Spanish fashion brands such as Desigual, Mango, Zara and Caroline Herrera are in situ and there are two duty free outlets to browse through. There’s also a spa on the second floor where are a range of beauty treatments are on offer such as hairdressing, pedicures etc. There are sweet and chocolate shops of course, and even Barcelona FC has a presence – such is the demand for its shirts from tourists.

There’s a much more restrictive selection of shops in Terminal Two. Passengers will still be able to buy gifts and get access to duty free but forget the fashion shopping and extensive browsing. 

You’re pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to eating at Terminal One with more than 20 outlets to choose from including a Haagen Dazs Ice Cream shop, McDonalds and Fresh and Ready where you can buy a sandwich or roll to take onboard. There are plenty of Italian eateries in particular, as well as Spanish tapas counters, Portuguese food and numerous coffee shops. The majority of the outlets are near the escalator on Departures. 

There are around seven eating establishments to choose from in Departures at Terminal Two (but don’t expect a great choice if you’re starving on arrival at Terminal Two as there’s only one outlet).

Information

Help can be obtained at specially sited Information Desks in both Terminals where staff wearing green jackets can be found. There are also other kiosks dotted around the terminals.

Those wishing to seek out exactly what Barcelona – and Spain as a whole – has to offer can look for the Tourist Information facilities near the train station in Terminal One. You’ll also find a selection of tour operators and travel agencies in Terminal Two – most of whom are open Monday to Sunday.

Lockers and left luggage

Storing luggage at the office in Terminal One costs from 4.50 Euros for a small locker to 5.80 Euros for a large version. Maximum length of luggage stay is 30 days, at which point items are sent to a warehouse and daily charges will incur (in addition to the cost of transfer).

Lost items can be picked up on the ground floor of Terminal One between 8am and 10pm.

Other Facilities

These days it seems everyone wants to know whether they can access the internet on their smart phones or iPads. There is WiFi (26 different points where it can be picked up in Terminal One and at a couple of points in the VIP lounge at Terminal Two).  You can also find internet booths at various locations throughout the airport and at Terminal One in particular.

You can find access to medical staff on the first floor at Terminal One while there are also various pharmacies in both Terminals (third floor on Terminal One and ground floor at Terminal Two).

A multi-denominational chapel sits on the ground floor at Terminal Two.

Hotels

There are no hotels actually on site, but plenty of good places to stay nearby. In addition the centre of Barcelona is only a 20 to 30 minute taxi ride away (depending on the time of day) and there are numerous overnight options there. Many of the hotels nearer the airport are for business travellers and those embarking on long-distance connecting flights, but all have reasonable facilities and a room can be reserved online.

Check out the best prices for Barcelona Hotels.

View our dedicated BCN Hotels Page.

Parking

Considering the amount of traffic Barcelona International Airport deals with on a daily basis there would have to be plenty of parking provision. There are in fact eight major car parks with 19,679 parking spaces in total – 10,900 of those are at Terminal One while the remaining bays are reserved for Terminal Two car parking. Passengers can be rest-assured that all car parks come armed with security patrols.

A long stay car park near Terminal One has provision for 995 vehicles. It can be accessed from both terminals via a free shuttle bus.

Air passengers planning on returning within four days often aim for car parking at Terminal One – the building can be accessed by means of a footbridge. There’s also an open-air car park nearby which is good for hourly stays or pick-ups and drop-offs in particular. 

At Terminal Two the PA car park building is idea for drop-offs or pick-ups and short stays. There is a further car park, called the PC, and just a few minutes from Terminal Two. 

The open-air car parking provision for Terminal Two is also good for short stays and hourly stays and has passenger collection or drop-off points in from of all areas A, B and C at Terminal Two.

For business passengers in a hurry to catch important work meetings there is also a corporate aviation terminal car park which is so close to the runways that it’s possible to get to a designated plane in just over five minutes.

For a price Barcelona International Airport offers a VIP parking service where an attendant will meet with a passenger at the terminal then take the vehicle away and park it. In the intervening time while the passenger is travelling and depending on the level of service paid for, the attendant may wash the car and change the oil, fill the tank up with petrol etc.

Conference and Business

Those rushing from one destination to another on business can be confident that Barcelona International Airport does offer business facilities in the form of a Business Centre complete with internet access, printing and fax facilities, as well as a handful of meeting rooms in Terminal 2B should the need arise.

Lounges

Those who wish to travel in style can take advantage of a total of four VIP lounges at Barcelona Airport. Three are in Terminal One and the fourth in Terminal Two. All have a three hour limit. Business passengers can use the lounges without charge whereas tourists will have to pay for entry and to use their facilities such as newspapers and magazines, tea and coffee, WiFi, television and telephone (some of the facilities will result in an additional cost).

Banks

There are banking facilities (La Caixa) in both Terminals One and Two. These open from 7.30am to 10pm and 7.30am to 8.30pm respectively. Both terminals also have ATM machines and foreign exchange outlets.

Passengers with special needs

The new Terminal One building was built specifically with disabled needs in mind and to this end the facility boasts a total of 49 moving walkways, 26 mechanical ramps, 48 escalators and 125 lifts. There are also a number of meeting points where staff will provide assistance. 

Terminal Two has up to 12 different meeting points and staff on hand to help with luggage and transportation to and from your destination. The airport does ask that passengers with special needs contact them to notify them of their requirements prior to arrival to allow them to prepare in advance.

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