Changing trains in Barcelona
If you're traveling to Spain by train, you'll most likely pass through Barcelona. The main station in the city is Barcelona Sants, which serves high-speed and domestic mainline services as well as the suburban Rodalies network. If you need to take the Metro, you'll need to transfer to the adjacent Sants Estació station. Trains also connect to El Prat airport.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Rodalies vs Barcelona Metro
The Barcelona Metro is a network of urban trains, mostly underground, serving central Barcelona and its suburbs.The Rodalies network is a regional and commuter rail system, mostly overground, serving Cataluña and the Barcelona metropolitan area. The Rodalies is also sometimes referred to as Cercanías, which is the general name given to the commuter rail systems of Spain's major metropolitan areas. "Rodalies de Catalunya" is a name specific to Cataluña.
Most high-speed trains, including international services come into Barcelona Sants station, so it's the most likely place for travellers to change trains. Rodalies and Metro trains both depart from the Sants station complex, which includes Barcelona Sants railway station and Sants Estació Metro which is adjacent to (underground) the mainline station. Both are well sign-posted within the station.
Please note that neither the Metro or Rodalies networks can be booked online, but there are frequent trains seven days a week. So you can usually just buy a ticket and hop on the next train.
You can travel for free on some Rodalies/Cercanías trains if you have domestic AVE or Long Distance train tickets (any fare, route or class). Our Help guide Free transfers from Renfe - Combinado Cercanías has more info.
Connecting from Barcelona Sants
To Sants Estació Metro station
Connecting from Barcelona Sants to Sants Estació is an easy walk. It isn't even necessary to go outside the station, simply look for signs for the Metro and make your way down the escalator. There's an underground walk-way to the Metro station.
You can also enter the Metro station at street level, at Carrer de Numància, which is around 100m outside Barcelona Sants station.
To Barcelona (El Prat) airport
Barcelona airport is on the Rodalies "R2" line. The journey usually costs €4.10, and you can buy tickets on the day from the ticket office or ticketing machines at the station. The R2 service departs every 30 minutes for Terminal 2. If you are going to Terminal 1, there's a free shuttle bus which departs from Terminal 2. If you have an AVE or Long Distance domestic ticket this journey will be free of charge, since it's included in Renfe's free transfer scheme.
Connecting to Barcelona Sants
From Sants Estació Metro station
When you exit Sants Estació Metro station, look for signs to the exit (salida/sortida) for Barcelona Sants. You can take an escalator directly up into the ticket hall of Barcelona Sants station.
If you happen to take the wrong exit and end up at street level, the mainline station will be visible. Simply cross the road and walk to the main entrance. You can view the walking route on this map.
From Barcelona (El Prat) airport
Getting to Barcelona Sants station from the airport is easy. A single ticket on the R2 Rodalies line costs €4.10 and you can buy tickets on the day from the ticket office or ticketing machines at the station. Trains depart every 30 minutes from Terminal 2 and take around 20 minutes. If you arrive into Terminal 1 there is a free shuttle bus which will take you to the station at Terminal 2. If you have an AVE or Long Distance domestic ticket this journey will be free of charge, since it's included in Renfe's free transfer scheme.
Barcelona Metro map and route planner
If you need a route that isn't featured, the following resources may be helpful to plan your trip:
- Barcelona Rodalies map
- Barcelona Metro map
- CityMapper Barcelona
- Video guide to buying tickets from ticket machine
Buying Barcelona Metro tickets
From a machine
The simplest way to buy Metro tickets is from a machine at the station. The ticketing machines for the Metro are straightforward to use, with multiple languages supported. You can pay in cash (Euros) or card. The most popular ticket to buy is the T-10 travel ticket which is valid for travel on all buses, Metro services and almost all overground local rail (Rodalies) services. The main notable exceptions are the Aeroport T1 and Aeroport T2 metro stations.