Take the train from London to Barcelona? Why not? Whether you hate airports, or you have big luggage, or you just fancy taking the scenic route, a train journey through France to get to Barcelona is a great way to get from London to Spain.
Instinctively, you'd think flying would be much quicker. But bear in mind that London St Pancreas is a central train station and London's airports (apart from Heathrow and the little-used City Airport) are not. With transport to the airport and check-in time - plus transfer from Barcelona airport to the city center - you might find it's not much quicker to fly.
It is possible to take the train all the way from London to Barcelona with just one change. If continuing to Madrid, you'll need to take a separate service from Barcelona to Madrid.
By Train: Two Routes
There are no direct trains, but there are two ways you can get there with a single change:
- Change in Paris: Total travel time: 8h45 (plus changing train stations in Paris)
- Change in Marseilles: Total travel time: 11h
France-Spain Rail Pass
If you plan on visiting multiple cities in France and Spain, making a number of train journeys in each country, you may want to consider getting the Eurail France-Spain Pass, which gives you up to ten days of train travel in Spain and France for a very reasonable price. As French train tickets cost more than Spanish ones, the more journeys you make in France, the better value you'll find the Eurail pass.
London to Barcelona via Paris
Taking the train via Paris has two advantages over the Marseilles route. It's a bit quicker, and Paris! However, if you're planning on traveling straight through without visiting Paris, bear in my you need to change train stations.
- London St Pancras to Paris Gare de Nord by Eurostar: 2h15
- Paris Gare de Nord to Paris Gare de Lyon: 30m You will need to travel by public transport between these two stations. Why not break up the journey by staying the night in Paris?
- Paris Gare de Lyon to Barcelona Sants: 6h30
- Total travel time: 8h45
London to Barcelona via Marseilles
This route takes a little longer than going via Paris, but it doesn't require changing train stations. The London to Marseille service is seasonal and doesn't run in November, January, February, March, or June.
- London St Pancras to Marseilles Saint Charles: 6h30
- Marseilles Saint Charles to Barcelona Sants: 4h30
- Total travel time: 11 hours
You can then take the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid.