From Spain's colorful capital to France's famed wine destination, with miles of Mediterranean coastline and French countryside in between, Bordeaux, France—as in the family of red wine—is only 124 miles (200 kilometers) from the Spanish border, making it a popular side trip from bustling Barcelona.
The two cities are 275 miles (444 kilometers) apart as the crow flies, but 393 miles (634 kilometers) by road. Driving from one to the other takes about six and a half hours and offers plenty of pretty scenery as well as fun stops along the way. For this reason, it's a common road trip and train route from Barcelona. While flying is the fastest mode of transportation, the journey is almost just as easy on the ground.
How to Get From Barcelona to Bordeaux
- Train: 6 hours, 30 minutes, starting at $86 (recommended)
- Bus: 8 hours, 45 minutes, starting at $20 (cheapest)
- Car: 6 hours, 393 miles (634 kilometers)
- Plane: 1 hour, 15 minutes, starting at $52 (fastest)
There is no direct train from Barcelona to Bordeaux, so stopping in either Narbonne or Toulouse, France, is common. One-way tickets start at $86 and can go up to $144, depending on how far in advance you book and when your trip is. There are several trips per day, so you can choose between leaving in the morning or at night.
With a quick transfer, the TGV (France's high-speed rail) takes about six and a half hours (slightly longer than what it would take to drive), although it can take up to 10 and a half hours if you choose a route with more stops, which many do because the ride is so beautiful.
The most direct route from Barcelona to Bordeaux goes right through Toulouse, famous for its redbrick buildings and space museum; the beach city of Perpignan; Figueres, home of the Salvador Dali Museum; and Girona, which you might recognize from HBO's Game of Thrones.
If you take a less direct route, you could travel through the Spanish Basque Country. The draw of this region is the fantastic Basque cuisine, particularly in the beach city of San Sebastian. A must-see in neighboring Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum, one of Spain's greatest modern art museums.
On the Spain side, there's Logroño, the capital of the Rioja wine region. Logroño has lots of wine bars and some great tapas places near the market and the cathedral. Taking this little detour will bring the total mileage up to 559 miles (900 kilometers), which is nearly double what the direct route is. You might find, however, that the wine is well worth the added distance.
The bus is typically the cheapest option, but it comes with a few drawbacks—namely the fact that it takes the longest. The bus from Barcelona Nord to Bordeaux City Centre takes about eight hours, 45 minutes and costs as low as $20 USD (about $45 maximum).
There are several services that run the route, including Blablabus, Comuto Pro, and FlixBus, and they leave from the Spanish capital several times per day. Like the train, you could always break the journey up by spending a night in Toulouse or stopping elsewhere along the way.
Traveling from Barcelona to Bordeaux by car takes between five hours, 45 minutes and eight hours, depending on what time of the day you travel (because rush hour in Barcelona can be downright painful). That's without stopping, which you'll absolutely be inclined to do once you discover what the route has to offer.
If you rent a car and head out with a few friends, the six-hour journey could turn out to be a blast, particularly if you take the long way around to Spain's Basque Country or the Rioja wine region along the way. Otherwise, the most direct route will take you on the B-10 out of Barcelona to the AP-7, which leads to the border of France. Then, you'll take the A-9 to Narbonne, where you'll get on the A-61, which turns into the A-62, leading you right into Bordeaux. Note that AP roads are toll roads.
Barcelona and Bordeaux are both equipped with international airports, even though Bordeaux-Mérignac gets only about 7 million passengers per year compared with Barcelona El Prat's 50 million. Flying direct takes only about one hour, 15 minutes and can actually cost less than the train.
According to Skyscanner, there are about 10 direct flights from Barcelona to Bordeaux per week. The cheapest times to fly are May through July and September through November, when you can get one-way tickets for as cheap as $38. Even the most expensive tickets (February is the priciest time) cost about $51, which is still cheaper than taking the train.
The flight takes about an hour and 15 minutes, but getting to the Barcelona Airport from the city center takes an additional 30 minutes, and getting from Bordeaux's airport to the center takes another 30 minutes. Several airlines fly directly between the cities, including easyJet and Iberia.
What to See in Bordeaux
There will be plenty to entertain you upon arriving in Bordeaux. Firstly—what you likely came for—there's the viticulture, which reigns in this region of the country. Begin your wine journey at the literal museum of wine, the Cité du Vin. Here, you'll find all sorts of exhibitions that will lead you through the history of Bordeaux winemaking, which is a necessary precursor to the wine tour you'll inevitably take. Many of the guided tours take tourists to the vineyards of Saint-Émilion, The Médoc, Canon Fronsac, Sauternes, and Graves.
If wine isn't your thing, the architecture and historical sights around the city are bound to keep you busy. Be sure to stop by Place de la Bourse, an 18th-century square; La Grosse Cloche, the historical town hall; the castle-like Porte Cailhau; the Esplanade des Quinconces; and, of course, the waterfront.