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Travel to Barcelona

Flying to Barcelona

Numerous airlines offer direct flights from the UK to Barcelona, including British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Ryanair and easyJet. American Airlines, Delta and United operate direct flights from the USA. As Barcelona is an extremely popular summer destination, travel to Barcelona is most expensive from June to September. Cheap flights to Barcelona are available during the winter.

Flight times

From London - 2 hours; New York - 8 hours; Los Angeles - 14 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 7 hours 40 minutes; Sydney - 23 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Road conditions in Barcelona are generally good, but be aware of steep and narrow mountain and countryside roads. Traffic drives on the right and the minimum driving age is 18. Speed limits are 120kph (74mph) on motorways, 100kph (62mph) on other major roads and 50kph (31mph) within towns, unless otherwise stated.

A valid driving licence and third-party insurance are required to drive in Spain. National licences from EU countries are accepted, although drivers are advised to obtain an International Driving Permit. A Green Card is strongly recommended for all visitors, although it is not compulsory if bringing your car from another EU country.

You can obtain motoring information from the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya (RACC) (tel: +34 902 452 452; www.racc.es).

Emergency breakdown services

RACC (tel: 902 156 156, in Spain).

Alternatively you can contact the Ayuda en Carretera, run by the Guardia Civil, via the roadside SOS telephones located on both sides of the carriageway at 2km (1.2-mile) intervals.

Routes

Barcelona is well connected to the rest of Spain and Europe by a network of motorways. The AP7 motorway is the main route to Barcelona from France, which is approximately two hours away. In the opposite direction, Valencia is less than four hours’ drive away and Alicantefive hours. The A2 heads inland towards Zaragoza in the west and continues to Madrid. The A19 hugs the coast for a short distance to the northeast of the city.

Coaches

Eurolines (tel: +34 93 367 4400; www.eurolines.es) uses Estació Autobuses de Sants, situated next to the Central-Sants railway station, Carrer Viriato, although services to France also stop at Estació del Nord, Avinguda Vilanova. Most long-distance coaches from other parts of Spain operate from the Estació del Nord. There are Eurolines services to major European cities, including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Prague and Rome. ALSA (www.alsa.es) is Spain's biggest national coach operator, with services throughout the country.

Time to city

From Montpellier - 3 hours 15 minutes; Zaragoza - 3 hours; Valencia - 3 hours 30 minutes; Madrid - 6 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Train travel in Spain is generally comfortable, punctual and fast, although it is more expensive than other modes of transportation in Spain.

The main railway station in Barcelona is the Estació Central-Sants, Plaça del Països Catalans, serving national and international destinations as well as suburban routes.

The Spanish rail network connects Barcelona to the rest of Spain, with regular trains to Valencia, Madrid, Girona and Tarragona. The high-speed AVE rail service links Barcelona with the French TGV network.

Operators

RENFE (tel: +34 902 320 320; www.renfe.com) operates the Spanish rail network, which covers the majority of the country. The operator manages all routes in Spain, from suburban trains (Cercanías) to international rail services. RENFE serves all major Spanish cities including Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia, as well as other European destinations in France  and Portugal.

The quickest way to reach Barcelona by train from the UK is to take the Eurostar from London to Paris and the TGV from Paris to Barcelona.

Journey times

From Madrid - 2 hours 30 minutes; Montpellier - 3 hours; Paris - 6 hours 15 minutes.

Travel by boat

Located a short walk from the city centre, the Port de Barcelona, run by Autoritat Portuària de Barcelona (tel: +34 93 298 6000; www.portdebarcelona.es) is a major Mediterranean maritime destination and an important Mediterranean cruise centre, with seven passenger terminals.

Ferry operators

Ferries to Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza depart from the Estació Marítima Balears (tel: +34 93 295 9100), situated at Moll de Sant Bertran.

Acciona Trasmediterránea (tel: +34 902 454 645; www.trasmediterranea.es) runs a popular service to Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza in the Balearic Islands. 

Grimaldi Lines (tel: +39 081 496 444, in Italy; www.grimaldi-lines.com) operates ferries between Barcelona and Savona, Livorno, Porto Torres (Sardinia) and Civitavecchia (for Rome) in Italy.

Grandi Navi Veloci (tel: +39 010 209 4591, in Italy; www.gnv.it) runs a ferry between Barcelona and Genoa, Italy.

Nearest port

Barcelona.

Transfer

The cruise terminals are 400m away from city bus and metro stops. Shuttle buses run from all the port terminals to the Columbus monument and the Drassanes metro station (Line 3). Taxis also provide transportation to the city centre.

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City Highlight: Barcelona

Ask anyone who has been to Barcelona about the city and you are likely to get a big smile and hear the so-clichéd-but-so-true words, “I love Barcelona!”

Featured Hotels

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Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I

Surrounded by major attractions like Camp Nou stadium and the Barcelona Polo Club, the 5-star Juan Carlos is simple yet comfortable. The 432 rooms, including 37 luxury suites, offer panoramic city and sea views. A tranquil patio restaurant, overlooking the hotel garden and pool, is just one of several dining areas and also features a wine lounge. Leisure facilities include a first-class health and fitness club and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

El Palace Hotel

Despite changes of name and management, El Palace Hotel (formerly the Ritz) has maintained all the elegance and grandeur that has made it a by-word for glamour since its opening in 1919. Huge chandeliers, opulent fabrics and a luxurious ambience throughout make it the preferred choice of the rich and famous. The bedrooms are handsomely decorated, with unusual marble bathrooms modelled on ancient Roman spas. The Bluesman Cocktail Bar is ideal for pre-prandial drinks followed by dinner in one of the two restaurants.

Hotel España

Designed by one of the leading lights of the Modernista school of architects, Domenèch i Muntaner, and once patronised by the likes of Dalí, the 2-star España enjoys a privileged location close to La Rambla and the Liceu. Some rooms are better than others, but major compensations include Ramón Casa's striking mural depicting underwater scenes and the elaborate craftsmanship in the splendid typical Catalan dining rooms. The 90 bedrooms are fully equipped; private rooms and a patio garden for meetings and celebrations are also available. It is also one of the few central establishments with parking facilities.

Hotel Praktik Garden

With affordable rates and quality accommodation, Hotel Praktik Garden introduces a new concept midway between a budget hostel and a contemporary hotel. Decked out in white-washed walls, slick lines and retro furnishing, this Barcelona hotel provides the technology and comforts budget travellers look for. Housed in a historical building from the Modernist age, the hotel stands in a quiet area, five minutes away from the city centre by foot. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms and public areas.

Hotel Peninsular

Located in a narrow street near the Liceu opera house and built on the site of a former convent, the Peninsular is one of the oldest hotels in Barcelona. Rooms are simple and clean, although not all have their own bathroom facilities. Full of interesting architectural detail, such as the dining room's Moorish-inspired arches, the real pièce de résistance is the wonderful interior balcony. Adorned with hanging plants and wicker tables and chairs, it has a serene, almost oriental atmosphere. Booking well in advance (approximately three months) is usually necessary.

El Jardí Hotel

This small-scale, 2-star hotel is a perennially popular budget option, full of character and original features. Located in the busy hub of Barcelona's old quarter, attractions are within short walking distance. Overlooking the shady, café-lined Plaça Sant Josep Oriols and the classic gothic architecture of the medieval church of Santa Maria del Pi, the Jardí is pretty much unbeatable in terms of price and location. All rooms are en-suite.