Greentraveller's Guide to taking the train from London St Pancras International Railway Station to Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona, the proud Mediterranean metropolis, is a city of many faces: from the gracious avenues of Gracia with their chic boutiques, to the atmospheric, winding lanes of the Barri Gotic, the city’s patchwork of neighbourhoods entices visitors with their distinct characters. Its cultural offer includes the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell, as well as Miró and Picasso museums, these are complimented by any number of hole-in-the-wall bars to enjoy tapas and drinks with the locals. Part beach resort and party town, part art collection, sprinkled liberally with the modernista masterpieces of Gaudi and other architects, Barcelona is a city to see, eat, drink, explore, and enjoy.
Journey Time: from 10 hours 10 minutes
Sample timetable: Depart London 10.24am, arrive Barcelona 9.46pm
Transfer: Paris Gare du Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon
Frequency of Departures: 15/day
Carbon emissions: 7kg (flight would be 180kg)*
Car hire at Barcelona Sants Railway Station: Yes
What's the journey like?
It is possible to travel from London to Barcelona in a day by train. You have to change stations in Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon, which can take about half an hour on the Paris RER line (it's only two stops, though we recommend you leave at least 50 minutes for the entire transfer - you have about an hour and a half to get the connection, though you could get an earlier train and spent a bit more time in Paris, e.g. have lunch at the wonderful Train Bleu Restaurant in Gare de Lyon). See our guide to How to transfer between train stations across Paris. At Gare de Lyon, you board a TGV high speed train to 'Barcelona Sants' station.
Stopover hotels to break the journey in Paris
If you want to break the journey and stay overnight to see a bit more of Paris while you're travelling through, there are lots of lovely places to stay near both Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon. Here are some examples of hotels that are conveniently near these stations:
Miss your connection in Paris?
Don’t panic. Railteam’s ‘Hop on the Next Available Train’ service means that if you have missed your connection between high speed trains because of a delay on the preceding leg of your journey, you’ll automatically be put on the next available high-speed train. NB Remember to get your ticket stamped by your Train Manager. Whenever you’re connecting, always remember to validate your onward train ticket at the machine on the platform before departing (these are often coloured yellow).
On arrival at Barcelona Sants station
Benvingut a Barcelona! Bienvenido a Barcelona! Barcelona-Sants station is to the south-west of Barcelona's city centre, which is on lines 3 and 5 of the metro, as well as suburban train routes. There are plenty of hotels close to the station, see: Hotels near to Barcelona Sants train station.
NB there are two other train stations in Barcelona: Barcelona- Estació de França, on the edge of the old town, to the east of the centre, which is on line four of the metro, and is a terminus for some suburban train lines; and Barcelona-Passeig de Gràcia, just north of the centre, on the main Passeig de Gràcia boulevard, which is on lines two, three, and four of the metro, plus suburban rail lines. Bus services are available from all three train termini.
Getting around Barcelona
The easiest mode of transport for visitors in Barcelona is the metro, which consists of eight colour coded lines – take a look at the metro network map. The metro is supplemented by three suburban rail lines, part of the wider Catalan rail network (FGC), they are of limited use to visitors unless you are making trips outside of the city; the city also boasts two modern tram lines. In addition, there is of course a network of buses covering both the city and metropolitan area of Barcelona – like the metro, they are run by TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona), you can access a map and bus route timetables on the TMB website (information in English).
A range of different fares and passes for the public transport network is available; the TMB information offers full Barcelona transport ticket and fare information. Additionally, Hola BCN travel cards give unlimited travel for periods of between one and five days across Barcelona; and the Barcelona card offers unlimited travel plus free entry and discounts at many major attractions in the city.
If you prefer to stay out in the open air, you could travel around Barcelona by bike – the city has a network of segregated cycle lanes, and the official tourism website recommends bike rental providers. As with many major European cities, Barcelona has a bike sharing scheme, where you can pick up a bike at a docking station near the start of your journey and return it to another station at your destination.
A bit about Barcelona
Barcelona is the largest city and capital of Catalonia. The Catalans are a proud people. Proud of their language, history, cuisine, wine, their natural and cultural heritage. It’s no surprise: there’s so much to be proud of in this extraordinarily diverse land. That love of the region translates not just into a warm welcome for visitors, encouraged to explore the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of the cities, mountains and coasts. It’s also reflected in a respect for the environment: Catalonia has been designated the first whole-region Unesco Biosphere Destination, reflecting its dedication to sustainable tourism, along with sites including Barcelona, Sitges and the Terres de l’Ebre. From the Pyrenees in the north to bird-bustling wetlands in the south, dramatic gorges and vine-striped highlands and sandy shores, the range of activities, culture and cuisine is astonishing. For information about where to travel in Catalonia, see our Green Traveller's Guide to Catalonia.
(tickets provided by RailEurope)