Located along the eastern coast of Spain, the port cities of Valencia and Barcelona—two of the country's most populous metropolitan regions—are within a few hours of one another by bus, car, train, or flight. If you're planning your trip to Spain and would like to add both of these large cities to your itinerary, there are several ways you can do it.
However, since it takes between three and five hours to get from Barcelona to Valencia, you'll want to plan more than a day trip if you want to get the most out of both locations. Depending on which way you go, you'll have the chance to enjoy beautiful sights during your transit, but choosing which transportation method is right for you depends on what you want to do on your trip to Spain.
While the AVE high-speed train is the fastest, you'll miss a lot of the coast you can see from the bus, and it's more expensive, too. Alternatively, flying will get you between the cities faster, but due to the time you'll spend getting to the airport in Barcelona, waiting for your flight, and getting your luggage in Valencia, the process winds up being the slowest option overall.
Suggested Itineraries: Driving or Taking the High-Speed Train
If money is no object, the most obvious choice for being able to choose your own adventure is to rent a car and take the coastal route directly down from Barcelona to Valencia. Although car rentals can be expensive (and require an International Driver's License), you can add stops in places like Tarragona along the way—which no other option allows you to do.
Alternatively, you could tour all three of Spain's largest cities (Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia) by taking the high-speed train to Madrid first. That way, you can spend a night in Spain's capital before continuing on another super-fast train to Valencia, and you can even add a stop on the way in Cuenca, which is home to the famous hanging houses.
Three Hours by Train
Traveling around eastern Spain is best by train, and Barcelona to Valencia is a leg on this big three suggested itinerary. Depending on which Rail Europe service you use—Euromed, Talgo, or Regional Express—it will take between three and three and a half hours to travel from Barcelona to Valencia by train.
Valencia-bound trains depart from Barcelona Sants station, multiple times per day, and the first departure on weekdays is typically 7 a.m. You can book train tickets online, while on the train, or at the station's service kiosk if you arrive at least 10 minutes from your train's departure time.
Four Hours (With Wait Time) by Plane
Due to the size and population of both cities—as well as all the inter-city commerce and business partnerships—there are multiple daily flights between Barcelona to Valencia; if booked well enough in advance, traveling by airplane can actually be the cheapest option for getting from one to the other.
While you'll only be in the air for between 45 and 70 minutes, the time it takes to get through all the processing at both airports will slow down your trip considerably. However, this option is good if you have a lot of luggage and will be continuing on your adventures after visiting Valencia (as opposed to returning back to a temporary sublet in Barcelona).
Four and a Half Hours by Bus
There are regular buses throughout the day between Barcelona and Valencia, and the journey usually takes around four hours and 30 minutes each way. Buses from Barcelona to Valencia depart from both Sants and Nord bus stations. You can book bus tickets in Spain online at no extra charge, and then all you need to do is pay with a credit card and print out the e-ticket.
Five Hours by Car (With Stops)
While arguably the most expensive option, renting a car and driving yourself from Barcelona to Valencia provides the most flexibility to your itinerary. The 351-kilometer (218-mile) drive along AP-7 takes about three hours and 45 minutes, but if you want to add a quick stop for dinner or to take in the scenery, you could easily add extra hours onto your trip.
Alternatively, you can also take the winding inland roads across Spain to Valencia instead of driving down the toll road along the coast, which will also add between one and two hours to your overall travel time. Consider adding a stop in Tarragona, where the oldest Roman ruins in the country call home.