Updated Apr 21 2020
Through the extensive railway network, you can get to Barcelona by train from almost anywhere in Spain and, from many cities, you can also do so with the AVE, the Spanish high speed train. Although it is not the most common way to get to Barcelona, given the long distance and the clear advantages, especially if you compare it with the shorter journey time and cheaper prices in most cases when you go by plane, it is also possible to get to Barcelona by train from several cities in Europe. And it is that the train is, together with the Ferry, the bus or private transport (car, van or motorcycle), the means of transport used by people who are afraid of flying. It goes without saying that, depending on the city and country from which you are going to travel from to Barcelona, whether from Spain or, above all, from Europe, the number of trains and connections needed to get to Barcelona will vary. In the case of Europe, the cities where it is most convenient to travel by train to, or from, Barcelona are probably Paris and Milan.
The train stations in Barcelona
(For short, medium and long distance travel)
The most important train stations
Estació de Sants (Sants Station)
Estació de França (França Station)
Estació de La Sagrera (La Sagrera Station)
Of all these, Sants Station is the most important in Barcelona and through which the city connects with most medium and long distance destinations, such as different cities in Spain as well as some European cities. When the works to make La Sagrera Station fully operational are completed, it will share the limelight with Sants Station and it is expected that, over the years, it will become the main train station for long-distance train journeys.
França Station or Francia Station, known in Catalan as Estació de França, is the second most important station in terms of medium and long distance journeys, while Plaça Catalunya Station is mostly used for journeys on RENFE commuter lines (called Rodalies in Catalan). Obviously, there are many more train stations in Barcelona (Gràcia, Arc de Triomf, El Clot, etc.) for short or even medium distance journeys but they do not have the status of a main station.
Time of train journeys to and from Barcelona
Train journey times vary considerably depending on the type of train used. Thanks to the AVE (Alta Velocidad Española. In english, Spanish High-Speed), the time taken to travel by train to Barcelona from several cities in the rest of Spain has been substantially reduced, and it is often able to compete with the plane (a clear example is the Madrid-Barcelona route). It is important to note that the price, of course, increases considerably if you choose to buy tickets for the AVE (the Spanish high speed train).
Journey time from Spanish cities
Valencia – Barcelona: approx. 3 hours
Zaragoza – Barcelona: approx. 1 hour
Bilbao – Barcelona: approx. 6 hours
Sevilla – Barcelona: approx. 5 and a half hours
Journey time from European cities
Toulouse – Barcelona: 3 hours and 45 mins.
Milan – Barcelona: 21 hours.
Rome – Barcelona: approx. 23 and a half hours.
Berlín – Barcelona: 20 horas (aprox.)
Cologne – Barcelona: 14 horas (aprox.)
Although London is pretty far from Barcelona and, on top of that, with the theoretical handicap of it being on an island, it is possible to get from London (St. Pancras Station) to Barcelona (Sants Station) by train in just 10 hours. In addition, you only need to make one connection, specifically in Paris (Paris Nord station). So, for those of you who have a certain fear of flying, travelling by train from London to Barcelona is a very useful option.