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. 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.
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. The train is one of the fastest ways and also the most scenic, but tickets can get expensive unless you book far out in advance. The bus is usually the cheapest option and it doesn't take much longer than the train. If you want to explore cities along the way or travel to beaches outside of Valencia, renting a car is the best way to go. And while there are direct flights from Barcelona, flying generally ends up being more hassle than it's worth.
How to Get from Barcelona to Valencia
|2 hours, 40 minutes||from $18||Arriving quickly and comfortably|
|Bus||4 hours||from $6||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||3 hours, 30 minutes||220 miles (354 km)||Exploring the area|
|Flight||1 hour||from $25|
The train ride from Barcelona to Valencia winds along the coast for a large duration of the trip, with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean out of the left-side windows. Tickets can be purchased directly from Spain's national rail service, Renfe, or from RailEurope. The latter charges a convenience fee and doesn't show all train options, but it may be easier to use for international travelers.
If you're purchasing tickets from Renfe's website, there's an almost overwhelming number of daily options from Barcelona to Valencia, but the two direct trains are called "Euromed" or "Talgo." The Euromed train is faster and gets passengers to Valencia in just under three hours, while the Talgo train has many more stops and takes almost four hours. The price of each train depends on demand and what time you're departing, but tickets for both trains get more expensive as the travel date gets closer, so reserve your seats as early as possible.
The Talgo train arrives at Valencia's primary train station, Estació del Nord, while the Euromed train arrives at the newer Joaquín Sorolla station. Both are located in the city center and you can walk from one to the other, although if you arrive at the newer station, it's worth visiting the Estació del Nord just to gaze at its impressive Art Noveau architecture.
Even though the train is the most comfortable and fastest option, it isn't always the most affordable, especially when making last-minute plans. Fortunately, the two cities are close enough that the bus ride isn't unbearably long, and tickets can be as cheap as $6. However, bus tickets also get more expensive as demand goes up, so same-day trips or journeys during holidays—especially Valencia's biggest festival, las fallas, in March—will jump up in price. Still, it's almost always the more economical option compared to the train.
Look at bus schedules and buy tickets from Spain's biggest company, Alsa. There are several daily direct options between these two coastal cities, so if you're flexible with your departure time you can usually find a deal. Buses leave Barcelona either from the centrally-located Sants or Nord train stations, as well as the airport, so be aware of your pick-up stop before purchasing. All buses arrive at the main Valencia Bus Station, which is about a 30-minute walk from the city center or 15 minutes on the metro.
While arguably the most expensive option, renting a car and driving yourself from Barcelona to Valencia provides the most flexibility to your itinerary. The 354-kilometer (220-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.
Vueling and Iberia both offer direct flights between Barcelona and Valencia, and because Vueling is a low-cost airline it can sometimes be one of the most affordable options. At only one hour of flight of time it's ostensibly the fastest way to travel from one city to the other, but once you factor in travel time to and from the airports, checking in, going through security, and waiting at your gate, flying likely ends up being the slowest method of transport. Plus, with few daily direct flights you have limited options on when you can leave. Overall, flying is your worst option for travel between these cities. If you choose the train or bus, it's less time, more scenic, and better for the environment.
What to See in Valencia
As with many Spanish cities, the majority of the most important sites are all within walking distance of each other and concentrated around the Old City neighborhood. Historic buildings include the Valencia Cathedral and La Lonja de la Seda, a 15th-century silk exchange and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Without a doubt, Valencia's most iconic attraction is the colossal City of Arts and Sciences, a staggeringly ultra-modern building that houses a museum, planetarium, botanical garden, theater, and its prized oceanarium. Once you've sufficiently explored the city, head down to the water and soak up some sun on one of Valencia's famous beaches. People around the world think of paella as Spain's national dish, but in reality, its Valencia's dish. Order a platter to share with friends for lunch and follow it up with the city's signature cocktail, agua de Valencia, a potent mix of orange juice, cava, vodka, and gin.