I’ve long lived in the lovely, romantic French capital Paris and the lively, sexy Catalan capital Barcelona — these are absolutely my favorite two cities in the world.
But how to travel between them? There are lots of websites that promise to sell you tickets between the two cities. A lot of them are terrible, some are functional, and a few are great.
For my own edification as well as for you, my dears, we’ve tested every worthwhile means of transport (going by bus, train, plane, and car/ride share) between Paris and Barcelona. We also ran extensive tests on the different booking platforms to see what would be the easiest ways to buy the cheapest tickets. It’s great for me since I make the Barcelona-Paris trip so often, but I’m hoping the research will be useful for you all too.
The Easy, Beautiful Choice: TGV Train
- The TGV (fast) train ride lasts just 6:48 minutes, which all things considered can be comparable to flight times when you factor in airport transportation and waits.
- If you book in advance it can be cheap at less than €50, though last-minute prices can be €100 or more.
- The train ride is smooth, beautiful, and far more comfortable than flying or taking a bus.
- We’ve tested all of the platforms extensively; the best for booking Barcelona-Paris trains is Trainline. (You can also book via SNCF Connect, but there are many website errors, especially for foreign users, and SNCF credit card issues.)
There are details on Barcelona-Paris trains and train booking below, including photos of the amenities and extensive tests of the booking platforms.
Sometimes a Bit Faster and Cheaper: BCN-PAR Flights
- Flying can be a bit cheaper than trains, depending on when you book (though be sure to factor in airport transportation costs, typically about €20 combined for public transport.
- It is fastest at 1:40 to 1:50 flight time (though not much faster than the TGV fast train when you factor in the time spent waiting at and going to the airports, especially if you choose Paris Beauvais).
- If you choose to fly, be aware of the baggage limits and extra baggage charges that the airlines impose. Carry-on bag sizes are in some cases smaller than you may be used to.
- The best booking engine for Barcelona-Paris flights in our tests was Skyscanner. It was the most likely search engine to accurately show all of the budget flight options connecting Barcelona and Paris side-by-side, and to have accurate prices.
- The most uncomfortable and flagrantly annoying airline to serve Paris – Barcelona is Ryanair, dropping you in the boonies of Paris Beauvais, but it can be cheap. The more comfortable budget airlines on this route are Transavia and Vueling and they serve Paris Orly. Air France and Iberia offer pretty much the same with huge markups.
You can read further details on flying this route below, including why we had the most success with Skyscanner for cheaper tickets.
The Cheapest (Last-Minute) Booking Option, but the Longest Paris-Barcelona Trip: Bus
- This is generally the cheapest option when booking at the last minute.
- The trip lasts about 14 to 15 hours and serves Barcelona Nord station and Bercy Seine in Paris; both are centrally located.
- The best bus booking for Paris-Barcelona and Barcelona-Paris in our tests was: Trainline. In addition to the full range of bus options, it offers some smart bus+train options, especially if you want to save money and see a French town or two along the way.
There are further details on Paris-Barcelona buses below, including why we recommend bus over rideshare for this route.
- How We Researched the Barcelona-to-Paris Booking Platforms
- Our Favorite Option: The Paris-Barcelona TGV Train
- The Cheapest Flights Between Paris and Barcelona
- Taking the Bus Between Barcelona and Paris
- A Hitchhiking Alternative for Going From Paris to Barcelona: Rideshare
- Notes on the Other Booking Platforms that Offer Barcelona-Paris
- Wrap-Up: And the Best Ways to Go Between Paris and Barcelona Are...
Update History of This Article
How We Researched the Barcelona-to-Paris Booking Platforms
I have taken these various means of transport between the two cities myself many times, am fluent in the languages of these lands, and adore train travel in Europe in general.
In terms of the booking options, here’s what we tested:
- The best and cheapest tickets for plane, train, bus, and carpooling/rideshare.
- Four different tests per route from various IP locations, inside and outside Europe — this is because some platforms unfortunately charge premiums to those in the United States, for example. We tested on dates both in the near future and a few months out.
- All of the major booking platforms that cover this route. Some of them we tested more than once, say for both bus and train tickets. This meant 44 tests per trip day/time we were seeking.
All of this meant nearly 200 tests of the possible ways to travel between Barcelona and Paris, all manually, entering in the info and clicking through the stupid ads and popups to the final payment screen to find out what the last-minute add-on charges would be.
We selected reasonable routes and focused on finding the cheapest tickets for those routes, mainly for travel during the daytime. We noted down the error messages that made some sites unusable under certain conditions.
Our Favorite Option: The Paris-Barcelona TGV Train
Rocket past small French towns and lakes, the Pyrenees, and a bit of Mediterranean Sea before alighting in the city center of Paris or Barcelona. Stops on the way are Girona, Figueres, Perpignan, and Montpelier. The views are not as spectacular as those in specialized trains in the Swiss Alps, for example, but they are nevertheless quite lovely and worthwhile. The video below gives an idea of some of the views, starting at 2:41.
Practical Information for TGV Train Trips
The TGV fast trains that serve Paris and Barcelona are double-deckers and go up to 200 mph / 320 kph.
First versus second class
There are four seats in a row, two on each side, in second class and three seats in first class with pairs and solitary seats. There is not a huge difference between the two classes in terms of comfort, but the price difference is sometimes not that great either.
The entire fast train trip takes approximately 6 hours and 45 minutes from city center (Gare de Lyon in Paris) to city center (Sants Estació in Barcelona). Compare this to 5-6 hours total flying when you include the transportation to the airports and lines and such, and 15 hours and 15 minutes minimum by bus.
It is possible for trains to get delayed, particularly on the Spanish side in my experience due to technical issues, or on the French side due to strikes. Generally, though, this is a reliable form of transport, especially compared to flights and buses.
There are restrooms between the cars that are relatively spacious and accessible, with an outlet for plugging in a shaver, a toilet, and a sink with non-potable water. The toilets are well separated from the seating areas and smell is not an issue. Generally they are cleaner than you’d expect and in good working order — if not there are more in the next car over.
There is WiFi on these trains but sometimes it doesn’t work, especially on the Spanish/Catalan side of the border.
Seat Power Sockets
There are full, working two-prong European style power sockets at each seat in both first and second class; these are not the USB-type charge points that could load malware onto your phone.
We recommend always carrying a universal travel plug adapter with USB for travel, which can help you with any plug you might encounter, including those on French TGV trains like this.
You can take as much as you can reasonably carry on the train — nobody is checking their weight. Your bags may go through an X-ray scanner before boarding for security. There are luggage racks at the end and in the middle of train cars where you can leave large items, and overhead bins and space under the seats for carry-ons. See here if you’re taking a pet on the train for how to go about that.
How to Book Paris-Barcelona TGV Train Tickets
There are dozens of sites where you can book train tickets from Barcelona to Paris. The top of these in our 200-some tests for Barcelona-Paris tickets was Trainline:
- The interface is straightforward and free of ads and tacky add-ons for travel insurance and hotels.
- The site actually works, unlike the official Renfe and SNCF sites, which often produce errors, especially if you’re booking from outside of Europe.
- If you’re transferring on from Paris or Barcelona to other parts of France, Spain, or Catalonia, or taking the Eurostar on from/to Paris, Trainline is by far the smartest platform for finding combinations of tickets at the best prices, and the most convenient routes. It’s as simple as entering your origin and final destinations in the search box. You’ll get your tickets all at once, instead of having to buy separately for Spain and for France, for example.
- Trainline’s customer service and returns are much simpler than the SNCF or Renfe themselves (though you’re subject to the same return conditions).
My only complaint about Trainline is that it tacks on a booking fee on the final screen. Trainline varies this fee according to where you’re searching from and what route; it was never over 5% in our Barcelona-Paris tests from various countries, making it generally work out cheaper than the other third-party platforms.
Search Paris-Barcelona on Trainline
Tickets can also be booked without any commission through the buggy, terrible Spanish train operator’s website (Renfe.com) and through the slightly less buggy French Train operator’s site (SNCF Connect). Of those two, the SNCF’s site is definitely better, and it’s the only site that allows you to search for the cheapest tickets across several weeks if you have flexible dates. And the SNCF has slightly fewer website books and translation errors than with Renfe. You can also search SNCF Connect first, see what you want, and then buy on Trainline if the SNCF site gives you payment issues or glitches.
Search Paris-Barcelona on SNCF Connect
We tested dozens of other platforms too, you can read about them for this route below.
The Cheapest Flights Between Paris and Barcelona
The easiest and most consistent way we found to search through all of the Paris-Barcelona flight options and get the best price was with SkyScanner. (Though generally the other options we tested were good too, and we detail them all later in this article.) SkyScanner gives you a complete comparison of the budget airlines covering this route, and can also help you select the cheapest day to fly — whether sometime this month or this year.
With SkyScanner, you can fine-tune your search in ways that can be useful for Barcelona and Paris flights, for example if you want to avoid awful Ryanair or Beauvais airport, you simply deselect those options on the left and they disappear from your search results. There is also an option to show only flights with (slightly) less carbon emissions. Depending on the flight you can book directly with SkyScanner or you’ll be redirected to the airline or another booking website.
Search Paris-Barcelona Skyscanner
The special runner-up and also definitely worth searching was a surprise for us: eDreams. For Barcelona / Paris flights, in a few cases it found really incredible direct flight deals that we couldn’t get to anywhere else. Its booking fees, unfortunately, only appear on the last screen, but they are low.
About The Budget Airlines You’ll Take
The cheapest Barcelona / Paris flights in our tests in were the following three airlines:
Transavia: This is a Dutch budget airline, and a subsidiary of Air France-KLM. It serves Paris-Orly airport and Barcelona airport. Not terrible.
Vueling: Vueling is a Spanish budget airline, and part of the same airlines group as Iberia. (You buy the same Vueling tickets but pay a lot more on Iberia’s website!) Vueling serves Barcelona Airport Terminal 1 and both Orly and Charles de Gaulle airports in Paris.
Vueling recently delayed a trip I had booked by five hours due to “mechanical problems” as reported by the pilot, and refused to respond to my requests for compensation as per EU rules. This is apparently a pattern for them; the Guardian suggests not using the airline.
Ryanair: The Irish budget airline with rock-bottom prices that nevertheless often finds sneaky ways to cost more than the others. There are endless screens to click through with add-ons when making your purchase and when printing your ticket. Getting to Beauvais airport costs more and takes longer than other Parisian airports. And there are in-flight ads that are very distracting when you’d like to read, for example. But… Ryanair is cheap!
There are other companies that serve this route but that cost a lot more, and there are of course indirect options too, which take much longer and cost a lot more. Avoid them.
Flight Time between Paris and Barcelona — Factoring in Ground Transport to Airports
The flight time between Paris and Barcelona is just under two hours, usually marketed as 1:40 or 1:50.
So while flying is the fastest way to go, you do need to then factor in the the hour or two of airport lines and baggage waits on both ends. And the 0:45 to 1:15 in public transport to/from Barcelona Airport from the city center (20-30 minutes by taxi without traffic). And the 1-2 hours in transport to Paris airports (Orly, Charles de Gaulle, or, worst, Beauvais). Parisian traffic at rush hour can sometimes make the airport bus transport options much worse.
Taking the Bus Between Barcelona and Paris
The main options for getting between Paris and Barcelona by bus are BlaBla Bus and Flixbus. Both offer pretty comparable experiences; the bus prices for both between Barcelona and Paris are generally 30-40 euros, whether or not you buy at the last minute. So for those who don’t plan ahead at all, this is by far the cheapest option.
The routes can vary a bit and the direct routes are generally 14 to 15 hours, or a bit more.
The Best & Cheapest Way to Book Bus Tickets
The best way to compare all bus routes from Paris to Barcelona at once is the same as for train routes: Trainline. Use that bus link or else click on “coach” after you run your search. The purchase process is straightforward and there is no booking fee for bus tickets on Trainline. The platform tends to give you the quickest access to the best direct bus routes and throws a few even cheaper and more circuitius options in as well for travel between Catalonia and Paris.
Another great thing is that you can search for combo bus-train tickets that are sometimes a great deal; for example it may work out economical to take a bus through the Catalan side of the trip and a fast train in France from there. Trainline’s search results will suggest this if you look at train options.
Paris-Barcelona Buses on Trainline
There are other, almost-as-great booking options for European buses that worked great for Barcelona to Paris and that also don’t charge fees; we discuss them below.
Barcelona and Paris Bus Stations
Both BlaBlaBus and Flixbus leave from and arrive in Barcelona Nord station, which is a 20-minute walk from the city center, in a relaxed mainly residential area near a park. The Arc de Triomf metro is close by, which has suburban trains as well and plenty of city bus lines.
The BlaBlaBus route makes stops in Perpignan, Toulouse, Limoges, Châteauroux, and Orléans.
Both BlaBlaBus and Flixbus start and end at Bercy Seine in Paris, not far from the Paris Gare de Lyon station and across the river from the François Mitterand Library. This is well served by metro, bus, and rental bike systems.
About the Bus Operators Serving Barcelona/Paris
BlaBlaBus was formerly OuiBus and is still using the later domain for sales at last check. It was also formerly iDBUS, and is owned by the French national rail company SNCF. Its buses cover a large part of Europe. Flixbus is a German company serving Europe and the United States. You can book at both of those websites directly, but Trainline mentioned above is nicer since it compares all of the routes side-by-side and costs the same — it doesn’t charge any extra fee. Flixbus tacks on a payment fee on the final screen.
Luggage Restrictions for BlaBlaBus and Flixbus
BlaBlaBus allows you to stow two larger items of luggage under the bus whose length, width and depth total 2 meters or less, and weigh 20 kg. max. Strollers don’t count. Hand luggage must fit in overhead bins or under the seat in front of you.
Flixbus allows you to take one item of luggage with maximum dimensions of 80x50x30 cm, weighing 20 kg in total and one item of hand luggage measuring 42x30x18cm and weighing 7 kg. Additional checked luggage costs €3.99 per piece.
Both Flixbus and BlaBlaBus offer air conditioning, plug sockets, free WiFi, and small on-board toilets that are more suitable for an emergency — wait for a stop if possible.
A Hitchhiking Alternative for Going From Paris to Barcelona: Rideshare
As usual, the advice for hitchhikers is to get out of the the city center first by public transport, then befriend people at petrol stations in the outskirts of Paris and likewise outside of Barcelona. There is a popular alternative, however, especially in France: rideshare. It is organized beforehand with typically someone who happens to be driving the same route and wants to recoup some costs by sharing. It can be fun to meet other people in the car, usually.
Blablacar is the popular site for organizing these long-distance rideshares, and can be a convenient way to get around certain parts of Europe, especially when searching at the last minute (1-3 days before your trip). The site is reliable and safe, and harnesses user reviews of each other to ensure best behavior on all sides.
That said for Barcelona-Paris there are not a lot of options for rideshare and when there are, they are more expensive (around €80 last we looked), much more than taking a bus. If you do want to do a rideshare, however, try searching for a ride from Paris to Toulouse and then from Toulouse to Barcelona as two separate trips. In my experience, you’re much more likely to find that then going straight through from Paris to Barcelona (though this is possible).
We link to the co.uk version of Blablacar above, which is in English but shows prices only in pounds. You can try the Spanish or the French versions of the site if you speak those languages (but note that they all show the same rideshare options though).
Notes on the Other Booking Platforms that Offer Barcelona-Paris
What are the various types of booking websites?
Some of the sites below are OTAs, or Online Travel Agencies, and directly allow you to book from their sites.
Others are the actual travel providers themselves, such as the bus company or train company. The official national train company sites can be a bit dysfunctional; the bus sites work well but of course don’t allow you to compare between other companies. Airlines do sometimes show you fares for certain competing airlines.
Finally there are metasearch engines that search between various sites, but don’t actually sell you the tickets. They usually redirect you to one of the types of sites above.
The Other Booking Websites We Tested for Barcelona-Paris Train, Plane, and Bus Booking
Some of these sites were nearly as good as our top pick above, and we’re keeping on eye on them to use in the future, or for other routes. And some of these sites are simply terrible.
Generally the OTAs and metasearch engines pull their list of prices dynamically from the operators, and thus have the same prices as the operators at any given time. The key questions are whether they have access to the full range of bus, train, and flight companies, whether they point you towards the best results, and whether they tack on fees.
Alsa (bus company): This Spanish transport company shows results on its search page for Paris-Barcelona bus routes, but we consistently got error messages at the payment page. (The routes wholly within Spain appear to work fine.) It appears to be an unsuccessful attempt to sell tickets for some other companies’ buses.
Air France (airline): Air France has a number of direct flights daily to Barcelona to and from Paris Charles de Gaulle, and they’re a lot more expensive, and I suppose prestigious, than the budget airlines. Ultimately you’re still going to get crammed into a metal tube for two hours, so I don’t see the point of paying extra, personally. The site also sells Transavia tickets to Barcelona.
BlaBlaCar (rideshare and bus company): We discussed the rideshare feature above, but this site can also be used for booking buses on BlaBlaBus. It redirects to OuiBus for actual booking. There’s no real reason to use this site for buses.
BlaBlaBus: See the section on this bus operator above.
Busbud (bus metasearch engine): A truly wonderful site for buses around the world, and a good option (though not our favorite) for bus booking some places like Brazil. For Barcelona-Paris trips, it shows both Flixbus and BlaBlaBus options clearly along with their luggage restrictions. It accepts Google Pay, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club, and Union Pay, and has an easy booking process without trying to tack on extra. There seems to be a small built-in markup in the price.
Busradar (bus and some trains metasearch engine): This platform tries to do a lot of things but doesn’t carry it off so well. There are both bus and train options between Paris and Barcelona, and it shows a ton of them all together in a big list that’s difficult to parse. The list includes very expensive and roundabout trips that no one would take. It redirects to other sites to purchase.
CheckMyBus (bus metasearch engine): This site is rather dysfunctional for Paris/Barcelona trips and gives some incorrect information at that link. The search shows Flixbus and BlaBlaBus results and redirects to another site for purchase where the costs can be more than originally indicated.
ComparaBus (bus, train, and flight metasearch engine): This site offers buses plus train routes through the SNCF and a flight search through SkyScanner. There is an enormous list of search results, with no effort to show the best or cheapest routes at the top. The English site has bits in French, like the name of the Barcelona train station. It redirects to other sites already mentioned here for booking so there’s no real reason not to use those other, better sites themselves. There is a side-by-side display of bus/train/plane results but Omio does that better.
eDreams (flight OTA): One of our flight recommendations, above.
Eurolines (bus company): Eurolines long ran a Barcelona/Paris route but it is now part of Flixbus. Their website now just redirects you to Flixbus when you run a search for this route.
Expedia (flight OTA): Generally found good flight options but lacked Ryanair and tacked on a few percent extra to the price compared to other sites.
Flixbus (bus company): See above for information about the company. The website tacks on a small booking fee if you book through them; we think our top pick for bus booking is better.
Getbybus (bus metasearch engine): Oddly, this doesn’t show bus names in the search results but interestingly it does show customer reviews of the bus companies, with average star ratings. It redirects to other sites for purchases. We had a couple of issues in our tests with the prices in search results being slightly off from the final prices.
Google Flights (flight metasearch engine): This site is near the top for booking flights, and never a bad thing to check for general world travel. But for Barcelona to Paris or vice-versa in our tests, Google Flights sometimes missed cheap Ryanair options. It generally redirects to the actual airline for booking, but sometimes this redirect didn’t work and we had to search all over again. Most frustratingly, it not infrequently shows very cheap flight deals that, when you go to book, don’t actually exist.
Gopili (bus, train, and flight metasearch engine): This site is clumsy and sometimes shows incorrect information and pricing. Sometimes there is a jumble of currencies — sometimes this seemed to be the cause for Barcelona-Paris buses appearing more expensive than elsewhere. It redirects to other sites for purchases.
Iberia: Iberia sells exactly the same Barcelona-Paris tickets as its sister Vueling, but at a significant markup. Absolutely avoid this site.
Kayak (flight metasearch engine): This site searches a number of other booking sites that are not so good for Europe and lack Ryanair. It redirects to those other sites for booking.
Kiwi (bus, train, and flight metasearch engine): I love this site for the promise it holds for free travellers and nomads like myself, with its wonderful nomad search function. However the options for buses and trains between Paris and Barcelona were frankly stupid compared to those offered by our top pick — long and odd bus-train combo routes that leave you at Charles de Gaulle airport, for example. My research assistant had trouble getting the site to work in some cases, and “hated” it. There is no booking fee for buses.
Kombo (bus and train OTA): This site offers some very long and indirect routes between Barcelona and Paris for very cheap, as well as the normal results. It doesn’t offer trains inside of Spain so the results are less complete than our top pick. Booking is direct on the site.
Momondo (flight metasearch engine): This site tied in some of our tests in finding the cheapest flights, but in others didn’t do as well. It redirects to other sites to make purchases, and in some cases not well and we had to enter our search requirements all over again.
Omio (bus, train, and flight OTA): This cleanly designed and very functional site clearly shows the best options side-by-side, making it easy to compare without much hassle. It was our favorite site for seeing all modes of transport at once. But that said, there are slightly higher booking fees than our top picks, so you’ll end up paying a buck or two more with this site. And we spotted a few errors, such as a “second-cheapest option” actually being cheaper than the “cheapest”. Like our top pick site, it shows many of the important train options for this route, like first class and discount cards.
SNCF Connect (train and bus operator): This is the official site of the French train company, and as noted above it’s got errors that do not make it even our favorite train booking platform for France. But it can be useful in some cases, especially for comparing across different travel dates, and there is no booking fee.
Ouibus: Now BlaBlaBus, see above.
RailEurope (bus and train OTA): This site, formerly Loco2 and now owned by the SNCF, is one of the best and we’ve sometimes used recommended it. It should not be confused with RailEurope-World.com. For our Barcelona/Paris searches, it often didn’t show bus routes and we got error messages in trying to get to the booking pages for train routes that were cheap — and probably not available. This site has in the past been useful but either it’s falling or not working well for this particular route. It doesn’t have as complete of routing options and bus/train combo options as Trainline. Its booking fee is £4.95 / €5.95 / $5.95 euro/pound/dollar per total basket purchase, so that can work out slightly cheaper than Trainline, especially if you’re buying a lot of tickets or expensive last-minute tickets. See our full comparison of RailEurope and Trainline.
RailEurope-World (bus and train OTA): This site has previously been the SNCF’s way to market its tickets to the entire world. It’s superfluous and overpriced, though not as bad as it used to be.
Renfe (Spain’s national rail company): The Renfe website is badly translated and full of errors, and only the best choice for booking intra-Spain train tickets in a handful of specific situations. I can’t think of a reason to use it for booking your ticket for Paris. In our tests it worked most of the time and had the same prices and tickets as other sites, but you do need to understand some Spanish, even on the English version of the site.
Rome2Rio (bus, train, and flight OTA and metasearch engine): This site can be useful for some parts of the world for understanding a variety of transport options all on a single search screen. But for Paris/Barcelona trips it’s not the best way to book. There is a bit more of a markup than with the other sites we recommend in both the booking fee and exchange rates it gives. The results pages attempt to provide some of the same information I’m giving you in this article, but they’re seemingly written by a robot, and not surprisingly some of the information is wrong and bizarre. Plus, the robo-scrivner lacks my wit, and ability to take a verbal dump all over lesser websites.
Skiplagged (flight metasearch engine): This site was originally intended to aid in the practice of “skip lagging”, or buying a flight with transfers but then not taking the second leg. Sometimes this can be cheaper than a second flight. But this is highly unlikely to be true in European routes that have budget airlines competing to offer low prices, such as Paris-Barcelona. In our tests, this site never found the cheapest flight.
Skyscanner (flight metasearch engine and OTA): Our top pick for flights, see above.
Trainline: Our favorite for buses and trains, see above.
Trenes.com (train OTA): Offers Paris-Barcelona train tickets. The website is laughably translated into English, and adds on a high booking fee.
Wrap-Up: And the Best Ways to Go Between Paris and Barcelona Are…
For comfort and the convenience of arriving in the city center, it’s hard to beat the TGV between Paris and Barcelona. The best place to book that is generally Trainline.
For super-cheap travel at the very last minute, go by overnight bus on Flixbus or BlaBlaBus, both of which you can also search for on Trainline.
If you must fly, there are a number of budget airlines, and you can search them all at once on Skyscanner.
Finally, I highly recommend knowing a bit of informal French gestures, car noises, and slang to amuse yourself around Paris. And likewise, please don’t be one of those tourists who doesn’t even know that Catalan exists; learning just a couple of key playful phrases in Catalan will do wonders to impress the locals.
Art by the inimitable Johanna Thomé de Souza.
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