Fastest journey10hr 10m
Travelling by train from London to Barcelona became so much easier with the launch of the new high-speed rail service from Paris to Barcelona. Most travellers opt to leave London just after nine in the morning, reaching Barcelona in the evening with a journey time of just over 10 hrs - not bad for a trip of 1570 km (that's just a shade under 1000 miles). During the peak summer season in 2018, there will be a later departure too, also routing via Paris and reaching Barcelona late evening. On certain days - but not in winter - there is a good alternative route from London to Barcelona with one easy change of train in Lyon. It's no quicker than the Paris route, but it saves the hassle of having to change stations in Paris.
The most frequently booked route starts by taking a Eurostar from London to Paris, where you’ll need to change stations from the Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon. There you’ll board the TGV for Barcelona. There's quite some drama in a journey which tracks south through France, skirts the Mediterranean coast and then tunnels under the Pyrenees to reach Catalonia.
This journey opens for booking about 120 days in advance, and that's when you'll find the cheapest tickets. If getting a good deal is important to you, do book early. If you need to book at short notice, you may find that by shifting one or two days (forward or back), you can secure a much better deal. This is a route where fares can vary a lot from day to day.
London to Paris
Board a Eurostar service from London to Paris. There are upwards of 15 trains to Paris from London each day with departures at least hourly from the beautifully restored station at St Pancras in London. The fastest trains speed to Paris in just 2 hrs 16 mins, with slower services taking up to 20 mins longer to reach the Gare du Nord in Paris. The first part of the journey from London sweeps through Thameside landscapes and rural Kent to reach the Channel Tunnel. Little more than an hour after leaving London you'll already be in northern France, tracking south through Flanders fields towards Paris.
Remember to factor in at least half an hour for Eurostar's airline-style baggage check prior to boarding your train. There is a luggage and body scan and you'll be asked to show your passport. There are no restrictions on taking liquids on board Eurostar trains.
Paris interchange: Paris Nord to Paris Lyon
When you alight from the train at Gare du Nord look for signs to the Metro and RER. Once you've bought a ticket follow the signs to 'RER D', direction 'Melun' or 'Malesherbes'. So long as you're heading in the right direction, all the trains on this line stop at Gare de Lyon. The actual train journey takes around 10 mins with just one stop on the way at Châtelet-les-Halles. Upon alighting from the RER train at Gare de Lyon, follow the signs to the mainline station. The signs read 'Accès aux trains Grandes Lignes'. The whole journey from the concourse at Gare du Nord to the mainline departure platforms at Gare de Lyon will normally take about 40 mins but we recommend leaving at least 50 mins.
If you are arriving at Gare du Nord from London, bear in mind that you can buy Paris Métro tickets at the Eurostar terminal at St. Pancras and on board the Eurostar train. Similarly, passengers arriving at the Gare du Nord on Thalys trains from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands can buy Metro tickets on the train (at the Thalys Bar). Although universally referred to as Métro tickets, they are in fact valid on RER trains too.
Paris to Barcelona
Direct TGV trains to Barcelona leave Paris two to four times per day. The frequency is higher in summer than winter. The TGVs to Barcelona leave from the Gare de Lyon in Paris. In Barcelona they terminate at Sants station. This journey is focused on speed, so there are not a lot of stops along the way - from six to ten depending on which train you take. All trains stop at the historic cities of Montpellier, Perpignan and Girona. There is some very fine scenery along the way too. Early on in the journey, you sweep through Burgundy vineyards, and later on there are engaging views of the coastal landscapes of Languedoc. After the stop at Perpignan, the train speeds south towards the Pyrenees, before diving under the mountains in the Perthus Tunnel.
If you worry that six and half hours if a long time to spend on one train, fear not! This rates as one of favourite high-speed routes. You can relax and gaze out of the window and, from to time, wander along to the bistro for a coffee or a snack. The direct services from Paris to Barcelona are all operated by French TGV trains. But it's a joint venture with Spanish rail operator Renfe, so you find a dash of Spanish style combining with French flair on this international route.
Other journeys to Barcelona View all journeys to Barcelona
- From Agde from £36.50
- From Cambridge from £151.80
- From Nice from £52.50
- From Castellón de la Plana from £11.50
- From Santander from £68.00