So, we’ve been in Granada for a while now and we thought it would be useful to you if we backed up a bit and talked about our trip from Barcelona to Granada by train.
Normally, something like this is pretty straight-forward and we wouldn’t dedicate a whole post to it, but it was such an interesting and fun trip that we thought you might like to hear about it.
In addition, we have a few tips for you if you happen to be planning a similar trip from Barcelona to Granada.
Barcelona to Granada by Train: Getting Tickets
If you have a European credit card getting tickets is pretty straight-forward. Just go to the Renfre website (English -more like Spanglish- version). Once there, just purchase your ticket as you would on any other website.
However, if you have a U.S./Canadian credit card, you might have problems with the Renfre website due to differences in credit card security standards between North America and Europe. We actually had quite a difficult time trying to purchase tickets before we discovered an alternative method.
This is also our first tip for train travel in Spain:
Loco2 is a UK-based website through which you can purchase and download/print train tickets for almost anywhere in western Europe. They charge an additional small fee for your tickets, but we didn’t have any problems with our U.S. credit cards on their site. All in all, well worth the fee to save us the frustration – and it’s all in English!
So, we purchased our tickets from them well in advance. It’s worth to note that tickets become available roughly 2 months before travel and they sell quickly! In order to make sure you get a seat, I recommend that you buy early. You will receive the tickets via email, so just print them and you’ll be all set.
Barcelona to Granada by Train: The Train Station
With tickets in hand, it was time to head to the train station. Now, since we had mastered the metro system in Barcelona, we were tempted to take the L3 to get there. At the last minute, however, we decided to take a cab.
This is our second tip:
While the L3 (and L5) metro lines run to the Barcelona Sants train station, trying to get your luggage on and off of the metro is, at best, a major inconvenience. Unless, you are traveling very light, spring for the cab ride to the train station. It’s well worth it. We were going from Gracia neighborhood and the cab fair was around 12 Euros.
OK, once we arrived at the Barcelona Sants train station, it was fairly easy to find our way to the departing trains. There are adequate signs and, if you need them, maps located around the station.
Two small tips for the train station:
- There are no cafes or restaurants in the departure area; so, if you plan on grabbing something to eat before hopping on the train, do it before you go past the security gate.
- The public bathrooms in the station require you to pay 50 Cents to use them – make sure you have a few coins with you. On the plus side, you get a ticket you can use to re-enter the bathrooms. So, you might be able to just pay one time and share.
Barcelona to Granada by Train: The Train
Our departure time was getting near so we decided to go straight to the train. The signs were really clear and it was easy to find our assigned car (as printed on our tickets). Once inside we stowed our bags in the luggage rack and took our seats. Note that seats are assigned, so look for the number on your ticket (plaza #).
Now, at this point we became very impressed with Spanish efficiency as the train left EXACTLY on time. Coming from Puerto Rico where everything runs on island time, we found this quite refreshing.
The train ride, itself, was slightly over 6 hours and we reached speeds of up to 300km/h (185mph). However, the ride was smooth and quiet. The seats were comfortable and offered electrical outlets to let us plug in our computers/phones. The only thing missing was internet. We shared out a hot spot from my phone to get around that particular hurdle.
There was a dining car available. But the menu was comprised of drinks, sandwiches, and bagged snacks.
This brings us to our last tip:
Bring snacks with you. It’s not like an airplane where you can’t bring liquids or food with you. Take a trip to the supermarket and pickup some snacks before you leave. You will not only get what you want, you will probably also save some money in the process.
Oh, and if you’re thinking about taking pictures of the countryside from the train, you’d better have a good camera. At 300 km/h, everything is just a blur as it whizzes by…
Barcelona to Granada by Train: Switch to a Bus?
So, this is where we became a little less impressed with Spanish efficiency. At a little station called Antequera – Santa Ana you have to get off the train and board a bus.
We didn’t know it at the time, but the reason you have to do this is because Renfe started improving the track between Bobadilla and Granada last year to accommodate the newer, high-speed trains. The project was only supposed to take “a few months”. However, it’s been going on for more than a year at the time of this writing and it is still not finished.
(Of course, depending on when you are reading this, the work may be done and there will be no need to switch to a bus.)
The bus ride was pleasant enough and only took about 90 minutes. We were dropped off at the bus station in Granada. From there, it was really easy to flag down a cab for a ride to our apartment.
All in all, the trip took about 8 1/2 hours from start to finish. A full day to be sure but not an exhausting one.
So, if you’re ever planning on traveling from Barcelona to Granada (and maybe back) we would highly recommend you take the train. It’s less hassle (and cheaper) than flying and you get to have a wonderful experience at the same time.