Once you’ve made the decision to visit the Costa Brava, it’s important to understand how to get there. It is possible to fly directly to the Girona airport, but many travelers arrive at Barcelona airport. The best way to explore the Costa Brava is to rent a car at Barcelona airport and to drive. But, if that is not an option, it is possible to train or bus as well. Here we walk through how to travel from Barcelona to Costa Brava, including how to take the Barcelona to Girona train, and how to the Barcelona to Costa Brava bus.
Get Recommendations for the top Things to do in the Costa Brava
Flying to the Costa Brava
There are two main airports that service the Costa Brava. The easiest way to get to the Costa Brava from an international destination is to fly either to Barcelona-El Prat (BCN Airport) or Girona Airport (GRO Airport). The Girona Airport is also referred to as the Barcelona Girona Airport, particularly by Ryan Air, or the Costa Brava airport.
Girona offers a small international airport with connections, predominantly on Ryan Air, from destinations around Europe. From the airport, a taxi to the city center costs about €20-25. Or, there is a direct Girona airport bus that runs to the Girona train station for only €3, which takes about 30 minutes. Departures leave Girona airport, generally, based on the Ryan Air schedule. It’s very straightforward to travel from the Girona airport to Girona. Girona airport transfers are easy by bus or taxi. What is more complicated is how to travel from Barcelona to Girona by train.
BCN Airport – Barcelona to Costa Brava
Barcelona-El Prat is the primary gateway for international travelers. If renting a car at the airport, Girona is about 90 minutes away. Without a car, traveling from Barcelona to Costa Brava is a little less direct. There are buses that connect Barcelona-El Prat to Girona, and other destinations within the Costa Brava. Otherwise, it’s possible to train to Girona, but it is not direct.
The airport offers two terminals. Terminal 1 is the larger, more modern terminal, and services most of the arrivals and departures to the US, Asia, and the Middle East. It also services arrivals from within Europe. Terminal 2 is smaller, and services more of the low-cost airlines, including Ryan Air, Norwegian Air, and Easy Jet. To plan travel from Barcelona to Costa Brava from the airport ahead of time, it helps to know which terminal the airline is serviced by.
Barcelona Transfer Options – Barcelona to Costa Brava
There are a few ways to travel from Barcelona to Girona when flying into BCN Airport. There are both trains and buses. In order to travel on the Barcelona to Girona train, this first step is to transfer from Barcelona airport to the Barcelona Sants train station, in the Barcelona city center.
Training From Barcelona Airport to Girona – Terminal 2
From Terminal 2, it’s possible to take a train to Barcelona Sants, in the center of the city. The R2 North Line train runs every 20-30 minutes and costs €4.20 one way. From Barcelona Sants, it’s an easy transfer to the AVE-TGV or one of the regional trains.
Training From Barcelona Airport to Girona – Terminal 2
From Terminal 1, there are two train options. The first involves the free airport shuttle bus, which connects Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Once at Terminal 2, follow the directions above, to take the R2 train to Barcelona Sants. Although the shuttle bus runs every few minutes, the terminals are not as close as you think. The shuttle bus adds about 20 minutes on to the journey.
From Terminal 1, it’s also possible to take the Barcelona Metro to Barcelona Sants. Follow the Metro signs once out of baggage claim and customs. The train is not direct and requires one change. The station where a change is required has one elevator to transport baggage. Otherwise, it is a series of a half-dozen escalators to change trains. But, by taking this route, there is no need to take the shuttle bus to Terminal 2. It probably takes the same amount of time as the first option.
Barcelona – Girona Spain
Both Girona and Figueres have high-speed train stations that service the AVE-TGV trains that run through Spain and France. The Barcelona to Girona train is only 38 minutes on the high-speed train. Or, local Barcelona to Girona trains take about 90 minutes. Girona is also accessible to cities in France, and Paris is only a six-hour journey. The high-speed Barcelona to Figueres train is only an additional 12 minutes, making Barcelona to Figueres take only 50 minutes by the AVE-TGV trains. All of these trains run from the Barcelona Sants station, the link to the Barcelona airport.
Tickets for the high-speed train start at €9. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time, and some are refundable. It can be difficult to time an arrival from Barcelona-El Prat to Barcelona Sants station ahead of time. Flights are delayed, and baggage arrival generally takes between 30 and 45 minutes. If purchasing train tickets ahead of time, purchase a refundable ticket, which can be refunded up to five minutes before departure using the Trainline website or app.
It’s also possible to purchase tickets at Barcelona Sants station for the next departure. Last minute tickets often are more expensive, generally between €16 and €32. The trains from Barcelona depart every 30 to 60 minutes, but some are high speed and some are local. The last train from Barcelona Sants to Girona departs around 9:40 pm.
Plan ahead for your return to the airport by purchasing your return ticket online at least a week in advance to secure the lower pricing. Just a note, there are fewer train options for travelers arriving or departing on a Sunday, particularly in the morning.
Buses From Barcelona Airport to Girona City
The combination of shuttles buses, local trains, and high-speed trains is the quickest public transport option available, with total journey times between 90 minutes and two hours, depending on connection times. But, if traveling with a good amount of luggage, if totally jet-lagged, or if looking for an option that does not involve so many connections, there are buses that travel from Barcelona-El Prat to the Girona train station, and to cities along the Costa Brava.
The two most relevant Airport Bus Barcelona companies are Sagalés and Sarbus.
The Sagalés Airport Line departs from BCN Airport Terminal 1, downstairs. The bus leaves from “andanes” or lanes, 10, 11, or 12. Or, it’s possible to pick up the bus at Terminal 2. The bus is number 602 and costs €19 one way. It’s possible to purchase tickets ahead of time, or from the driver on the bus. The bus runs every 90 minutes or so, and takes between two and a half hours to almost three hours to reach Girona. The last bus is just after 10 pm.
The bus stops at several stations in Barcelona city center before starting the journey to Girona, which is why the trip takes so long. This journey is longer, but more direct than the trains. It might also depend on the flight arrival time. If the next bus is not for another hour or more, then the trains might be a better option. The return trip from Girona to Barcelona El Prat is a bit quicker, with fewer stops. The bus arrives and departs at the Girona bus station, which is underneath the train station.
Buses from Barcelona to Costa Brava
Sarbus, operated by Moventis, offers options beyond Girona to individual destinations along the Costa Brava. It’s a great option if you don’t plan to rent a car, but want to travel along the coast. They operate to more than a dozen destinations, as far north as Cadaqués. Pricing and times depend on the destination. But schedules are suspended to many destinations during the winter months. The bus can be picked up from either Terminal 1, downstairs, or Terminal 2.
Taxi from BCN Airport to Barcelona Sants
It’s also, obviously, possible to hire a taxi from Barcelona-El Prat to Barcelona Sants to connect to the Barcelona to Girona train. The drive can take between 15 and 25 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs about €25-30. This is the easiest and quickest, but not the cheapest, option. This is also your best option if arriving in the evening to Barcelona-El Prat as the last train to Girona departs at 9:40 pm. If arriving after 9 pm, the only option to Girona is the 10 pm Sagalés Airport Line bus. After 10 pm, it’s a night spent in Barcelona.
Girona to Barcelona Airport
It’s a lot less stressful to travel from Girona to Barcelona Airport, or from the Costa Brava to Barcelona. It’s easier to plan around a departure from Barcelona than it is an airport arrival. The train to Barcelona leaves from either Girona or Figueres and can be booked ahead of time using Trainline. Again, the Girona to Barcelona train can be either the high-speed AVE-TGV, or the local, so watch for the total journey time before booking. It can range from 38 minutes to over 90 minutes. Once at Barcelona Sants, you can buy tickets for the local R2 train from the machines in the center of the Barcelona train station. The train from Barcelona to the airport leaves every 20-30 minutes from tracks 9 or 10.
The airport bus also connects Girona airport to Barcelona. The bus leaves from the Girona train station, and stops at Girona airport before continuing to Barcelona city, and then onto Barcelona airport.
The Girona Train Station
Both the train and bus leave from the Girona train station, which is about a ten-minute walk from Barri Vell, or Girona Old Town. The Girona train station is also a great place to pick up a rental car from all of the major car rental companies. The Girona bus station was recently moved from outside of the train station to underground. There are two parts to the Girona train station. The main station in the “front” is for local trains. There is a newer station “behind.” This newer Girona train station includes the departures for the high-speed trains to Barcelona or to France. The Girona bus station is located downstairs as well.
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