How to Travel From Perpignan to Barcelona by Train, Bus, and Car

A city view of Perpignan, France

 Westend61 / Getty Images

The South of France, in all its natural splendor and carefree glory, has been known to tempt tourists from the bustling city of Barcelona and vice versa—most likely because the stretch between them is Spain's celebrated Costa Brava, a scenic and beachy Catalonian region. Perpignan, about 122 miles (196 kilometers) by road from Barcelona, is a good origin or destination. A gateway to the charming seaside destinations along France's Atlantic coast, Perpignan is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Barcelona but only an hour and a half on the train.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 1 hour, 20 minutes from $22 Traveling on a budget
Bus 2 hours, 30 minutes from $10 Arriving on a time crunch
Car 2 hours, 30 minutes 122 miles (196 kilometers) Exploring the local area

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Perpignan to Barcelona? 

The cheapest way to get from Perpignan, France, to Barcelona, Spain, is by bus. Fortunately, the bus takes only about as long as it would take to drive yourself, and tickets can cost as little as $10 if you book early enough and maintain flexibility with your travel times. FlixBus, Eurolines, ALSA, and BlaBlaBus all run this route several times per day, but FlixBus is more frequent and BlaBlaBus tends to be cheapest. Buses typically depart from Gare routière de Perpignan and arrive via Barcelona Nord. Some buses can take three or more hours, so check the trip duration before you book.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Perpignan to Barcelona? 

Spain's high-speed AVE train has created a quick and simple connection between Perpignan and Barcelona. The route actually begins in Paris, but stops along the South of France in Perpignan before continuing on to Girona, Figueres, and, ultimately, Barcelona. The Costa Brava cities of Girona and Figueres make for great stopovers or day trips from Perpignan, so travelers can make a whole day of the commute if they wish. The direct trip takes about an hour and 20 minutes and tickets cost as little as $22. According to Trainline, there are about three trains departing from Perpignan per day.

How Long Does It Take to Drive? 

The 122-mile (196-kilometer) drive from Perpignan to Barcelona takes roughly two and a half hours. The most direct route follows the AP-7 and A9 roads. Note that AP roads are toll roads, which ViaMichelin estimates to cost about $20 in total. Naturally, driving in Spain is most cost-effective when you can fill up a car with several people.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Barcelona? 

The weather is warm and welcoming in this part of Spain and France pretty much year-round, but summers draw dense crowds to the South of France and Costa Brava, which travelers would at least need to pass through to get from Perpignan to Barcelona. The best time to avoid said crowds are during the off-season or shoulder season, the latter of which is defined by May to June and September to October. Because Barcelona is a big city with big city-like traffic patterns, it would be wise to arrive outside of rush hour times.

What’s the Most Scenic Route to Barcelona? 

The most scenic route between Perpignan and Barcelona is, of course, the road the hugs the coast. While the highway is the most direct route, the coastal roads offer travelers actual views of the Atlantic Ocean, if they don't mind a longer trip. Instead of taking A9, you'll want to head west towards Collioure, Banyuls-sur-Mer, Cerbère, and Portbou just across the border. Then, you'll hit the stunningly rugged Costa Brava, where you can still pass through the tourist-centric cities of Girona and Figueres. This adds about 45 minutes onto the trip, making it roughly three hours and 15 minutes long.

Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Barcelona? 

Spain and France are both included in the Schengen Area—26 borderless countries in the European Union—through which U.S. passport holders can travel freely for up to 90 days at a time without a visa. Crossing the border is actually quick and painless; it's unlikely that your train or bus will even stop.

Random checks are, however, possible, and freedom of travel between the Schengen countries can be temporarily suspended in an emergency, which has happened in the past. Always carry a valid passport when crossing borders just in case. 

What Is There to Do in Barcelona? 

Barcelona, Spain, is known for its history and culture, its always-friendly Mediterranean climate, and delicious Catalan cuisine. The city's top sights include La Sagrada Familia, the regal Roman Catholic basilica that is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Park Güell on Carmel Hill, which is speckled with lush gardens and marvelous architecture by Antoni Gaudí. Gaudi also designed Casa Milà—"the stone quarry"—whose undulating facade beckons hordes of tourists. La Rambla is the street for souvenir shopping and café lunching. Mercado de La Boqueria, rather, is where one would go for unique and vibrant local foods.

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