Heading to Paris and Barcelona? Here’s how to travel between these 2 fab cities.
In case you haven’t heard, 2020 is the year that I’ve made a pledge not to fly.
Yes, that’s right, a travel blogger not taking a single flight for a whole year!
If that sounds a) totally crazy and b) like professional suicide to you, then stay tuned, because, fingers crossed, I’m about to prove to you that it’s neither of those things!
And one of the main ways I’m going to attempt to do this (and fingers crossed it works) is by writing posts about the actual journeys I make, that is the physical movements around the globe, as well as the destinations I explore at the end of those journeys.
Because when you’re not flying, sometimes things aren’t as simple as A to B.
Or rather they are simple, but there’s just more choices and less information, which makes them appear harder.
And so, in this vein, here’s my second journey instalment, which continues to track me as I make my way across western Europe.
Yes in this episode, I’m going to show you how to travel from Paris to Barcelona without flying and, in particular, how I did it…
- How I Plan to Travel Without Flying + 5 Tips to Help You Do the Same
- How to Visit Paris on a Budget
- Everything You Need to Know About Catching the Ferry from Spain to Morocco
My journey from Paris to Barcelona was kindly sponsored by Flixbus and my luggage storage in Barcelona was kindly sponsored by LuggageHero, but as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
How to Travel to Paris + Where to Stay
The first thing you have to do if you want to travel from Paris to Barcelona by bus or train is, of course, get to Paris!
Depending where you’re coming from initially, there’s a million options for this, so I can’t go into them all here.
However, if you’re coming from London like me, check out this post I wrote about how to travel from London to Paris by bus – you’ll be amazed by how cheap and easy it is, trust me!
Once in Paris, spending a few days to take in this incredible city is always worth it.
This card can be a great money saver if you want to hit a hardcore number of sights in the city and tick, tick, tick on that bucket list.
Learn if the Paris Pass is worth it for you in my post that includes a full price comparison on what you could save.
And if you’re looking for places to stay in Paris, then I highly recommend the area around Gare Du Nord.
A little out of the epi-centre of Paris, prices here tend to be lower, but the transport links are excellent because Gare Du Nord is a great hub for both city-wide as well as national and international links.
And right by Gare Du Nord is St Christopher’s Inn, an absolute classic on the Paris backpacker scene.
Check out my full review of this top budget accommodation option here.
Paris to Barcelona by Train
So first up, I’m going to tackle the Paris to Barcelona by train option.
This is actually pretty straightforward as there are a number of direct services operated by Renfe and SNCF that take between 6 and 7 hours.
With prices starting from around £75 / 85 euros / 95 USD, this isn’t the cheapest choice, but it is a lovely scenic and comfortable way to make the journey between 2 of Europe’s most popular tourist cities.
Ways to make this journey cheaper include using a price comparison site, like Trainline, which can compare multiple journeys on this route for you, allowing to quickly see the departure and arrival times that suit, as well as journey lengths and prices.
Another way to keep costs down on this trip to is take the overnight train, which will save you a night’s accommodation and allow you to spend a wonderful day exploring Paris, before waking up with an epic day in Barcelona stretching ahead of you.
The night service leaves Paris around 10pm and arrives in Barcelona around 12pm, with a change in Perpignan around 11am. Prices starting from roughly £80 / 87 euros / 95 USD.
In general, trains from Paris to Barcelona generally leave from Paris Austerlitz or Gare de Lyon station and arrive into Barcelona Sants.
Staying near-ish to either, of both, of these stations will also help save you money, as you won’t need to pay so much for a journey to and from the station and can just leave your luggage in your accommodation (free of charge) before and after check out.
Whichever you look at it, trains aren’t the cheapest option, but they are very comfortable, fast, modern and convenient.
There’s none of the hassle of airport security and the whole experience is much more relaxed and pleasant allowing you to watch the scenery whizz past you.
And whizz it does, because one thing trains are, is quick!
Yes, the direct highspeed rail service between Barcelona and Paris certainly rivals flight times if you include the hours before you have to check in, as well as the time you need to get to and from the airports, which lie much further out of the cities than the train stations.
The train from Paris to Barcelona is also electric, meaning it’s super low on the carbon footprint scale as far as travel goes.
Paris to Barcelona By Bus
If you don’t like the look of the prices of those train tickets however, then don’t write-off travelling from Paris to Barcelona overland, because there’s still at least one more option.
And that is the bus.
Now don’t flinch, because long-distance bus travel in Europe has come a long way of late and you can actually enjoy a very straight-forward, comfortable and efficient ride this way.
Indeed, this is exactly the route I took to travel from Paris to Barcelona overnight for just £30 / 35 Euros / $40 USD.
I travelled with Flixbus, who are well-known for their great prices, and booked online in advance via their website too for the best deal.
And don’t forget, because this was overnight, I also saved on the price of a night’s accommodation.
Bargain or what!
The bus left from central Paris at 7pm and we arrived into Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (which is the main tourist area) at 10am – talk about a door to door service… and we were on time!
There were a few stops enroute (namely Paris Orly Airport, Orleans, Bourges, Clemont-Ferrand and Perpignan) but as people mostly got off at these places, rather than on, it meant the bus only got emptier as the journey progressed and the stops actually provided us with a nice chance to stretch our legs if we wanted.
If you couldn’t wait for the stops, then a toilet onboard could be used and charging points by the seats were a welcome addition too I can tell you!
Main bags could be stored by the bus, while hand luggage could easily be stored above my seat, meaning plenty of legroom… plus the seats reclined too!
This Flixbus service left from Bercy Seine station in Paris.
Certainly not the nicest station – so don’t arrive here too early, 20 minutes before your departure is fine – there is, however, a waiting room and toilets if you need.
I advise bringing all the snack and water you want with you, as there aren’t any shops or cafes in this station.
Things the Barcelona side were much better however, as we arrived into Barcelona Nord station, which is a beautiful historic station in the middle of the tourist district.
Clean and comfortable with plenty of toilets and cafes nearby, this is a great spot for those looking to get into or out of the city quickly.
The Flixbus journey I made from Paris to Barcelona far outshone my expectations and the safe driving, plus the amount of sleep I got, coupled with the excellent price, only added to the great experience!
I’ll definitely be using their services again in Europe, primarily because they offer such brilliant value for those looking not to fly.
I also love the Flixbus app, which you can download for free, because it stores your tickets electronically (less printing, paper waste and things to carry), gives information about your service (including the stops and times), details luggage allowances, tells you exactly where to catch the bus from and gives you live info about when it’s due.
All this helps a lot when you are trying to navigate overland travel in foreign countries with language differences.
If you’re interested in checking out Paris to Barcelona bus routes, then I highly recommend looking at Flixbus.
You can check prices, routes and book tickets directly through their website here.
Arriving into Barcelona in the morning with Flixbus then gives you a full day to explore this city, which is ideal!
And as you’ll arrive into the tourist heart of it, even better and quicker!
If you’re staying overnight, I suggest booking a hostel near the Barcelona North station to save time and transport fees; the newly opened and great-looking Ant Hostel is one such suggestion – you can easily walk here from the station.
Alternatively, VRBO can be a great option for grabbing a super accommodation deal in the expensive central districts of Barcelona, especially if you’re travelling as a couple, family or larger group.
Check out this top-rated and stylish example, which sleeps up to 5 people across 3 bedrooms at some amazing rates!
Otherwise, if you’re wanting something more private as a solo or pair of travellers, then this beautifully designed and affordable family-run guesthouse, right by La Sagrada Familia, is another top option.
If you’ve got a travel connection taking you out of Barcelona in the afternoon or evening, like I did, then you can still explore the city… and without having to lug your gear around.
Enter LuggageHero, the great app-based company I’ve just discovered.
Using them to store my bags safely and securely in Barcelona meant I could enjoy strolling the city for a few hours without being weighed down with luggage.
Literally an absolute game-changer, LuggageHero has storage facilities in hundreds of cities around the world and hundreds of places within each city.
Simply use the app to find the nearest to you (there’s likely to be a lot) and then whittle down your choice based on opening times and reviews.
Prices generally start from around 1 Euro per hour per bag and never exceed 8 euros in a 24 hour period.
Payment is done securely by entering your card details into the app and there’s a handy timer facility that allows you to note exactly when you dropped off and collected your bags, meaning you don’t pay a cent more than you’re meant to.
I absolutely loved this service and will definitely be using it a lot more from now on, especially with my flight free adventures.
Being able to securely leave your bags for a day, between connections, offers a super convenient way to see more of this world as a traveller, for less!
If you’re in Barcelona for less than 24 hours, then don’t forget to check out my tips for visiting Barcelona in just a day too!
If you plan to sightsee a lot, then I’d consider buying a Barcelona Pass to keep your costs down.
Don’t Forget These Things for Your Paris to Barcelona Overland Trip
#1 Travel Insurance
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
#2 Anti-Bacterial Wipes
Always a godsend when it comes to bus or train travel, especially when toilets without paper or sticky snack fingers prove regular obstacles!
#3 Travel Pillow
I’ve spoken about this briefly above, and perhaps I’m preaching to the converted, but I just joined the travel pillow crew and am already cursing that I didn’t do so earlier!
Literally a game changer for bus and train travel, this one – which is exactly like mine – offers memory foam, a washable cover and a high-sided design to stop neck ache.
#4 Eye Mask and Eye Plugs
I’d never travel anywhere without these guys any more, especially when taking an overnight bus or train and you’ll always find a set in my hand luggage (and a spare in my backpack).
This silk eye mask from Alaska Bear is a particular favourite.
Go on, treat yourself too!
#5 Travel Hammock
Again a new investment for my flight-free travels this year, a travel foot hammock, which allows you to suspend your legs higher, therefore reducing the risk of DVT and increasing the chance of you sleeping well, is genius!
#6 Compression Socks
And while we’re on the subject of DVT, if you’re travelling for long hours by bus or train and not moving much, compression socksare probably something you need to consider for health protection.
Mine are always with me!
#7 Metal Water Bottle
Tap water is drinkable in both France and Spain, so save yourself a few euros and help reduce the amount of plastic waste in the world by investing in a metal water bottle that will allow you to refill at every tap and have enough water for the journey.
#8 Travel Wrap
I love a scarf at the best of times, but these travel wraps from Sholdit have an extra benefit – they contain a secret security pocket that always allows you to safely and securely store your valuables.
Ideal for overland travel where bags and phones and passports and tickets can easily become misplaced in the fumble to get on and off trains or buses quickly, knowing that everything is safe and close at hand (even when you’re asleep) is brilliant.
#9 Travel Blanket
Even though the Flixbus service I used between Barcelona and Paris was warm and comfortable, sometimes we all want to be a bit snug on our journey and a thin travel blanket that packs up compactly into your bag is the way to go.
Check out this great option if you’re looking for ideas.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So that’s my guide on how to travel from Barcelona to Paris by bus or train.
It really is so easy and quick to do it, that I actually preferred my overland adventure to flying – it definitely invested a sense of adventure back into the proceedings of travelling this well-trodden route too.
Are you planning to go between these 2 cities by land as well?
Let me know your plans, or any questions you have, in the comments below…