We take a look at three ways to take the train to Spain from the UK to inspire your next train adventure.
The classic - high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona
Frequent and fast, the most obvious way to travel from the UK to Barcelona by train is via Paris. The high-speed, double-decker train from Paris to Barcelona takes just 6 hrs 20 mins and can be easily combined with a Eurostar from the UK.
The direct services depart twice a day year-round, increasing to three times daily in June and four in July and August. The summer timetable change gives additional options for travellers in the UK, making it possible to make the entire journey in one day from stations outside of London.
The trains are modern TGV Duplex which promise a comfortable ride as they travel south through historic cities of Montpellier, Perpignan and Girona. The journey south from Perpignan has good views of the Pyrenees. And keep your eyes peeled between Narbonne and Perpignan - the lakes (L'étang de l'Ayrolle) at the Narbonne Natural Park are home to a flamboyance of flamingos and the occasional skinny dipper.
Avoid Paris - London to Barcelona by train, via Lyon
Perhaps a more relaxing way to take the train to Spain is to hop on the direct Eurostar from London to Lyon and pick up an onward train to Barcelona. Though not possible every day of the week, this option means you can avoid changing trains in Paris.
The direct Eurostar runs three times a week off-season (April-June, September-October), and five times a week during July and August. It arrives at Lyon with plenty of time to change onto a high-speed train from Lyon to Barcelona, which departs every afternoon, year-round. The entire journey from London to Barcelona by this route takes around 11 hrs.
Travel overnight to Barcelona by rail, via Toulouse
Though some travellers are still mourning the loss of the Paris-Barcelona night train (it was discontinued in 2013), it is still possible to travel to Barcelona overnight. It’s a good choice for those starting their journey outside of London who might struggle to catch an early morning Eurostar.
For this option, you’ll leave London mid-afternoon, and have time for dinner in Paris before boarding the direct Intercités de Nuit night train from Paris to Toulouse which delivers you there bright and early the next day. Here, you’ll have time to grab a cup of coffee which you can enjoy with a view of the Pyrenees on board the once-daily train from Toulouse to Barcelona. The direct service takes just 3 hrs 15 mins, arriving in Barcelona mid-morning. Taking this route, the journey takes around 16 hrs.
For more ideas of where to visit in Spain and how to book, check our guides to trains to Spain.
5 day trips from Paris by train
There's no lack of inspiring locations just a short train ride away from Paris, so if you fancy a break from the city why not plan a day trip (or two).
Ooh la la, cheap French train tickets
The second summer sale for rail travel in France opens today, with tickets available for travel up to 28 August.