Barcelona to Granada - train or plane?
September 27, 2010 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Seeking feedback on travel between Barcelona and Granada - short plane v. long train trip...

Ms. Pops and I will be abroad for a couple weeks in Spain in November. At some point I need to get from Barcelona to Granada and am having a tough time making a decision. Option A is a quick flight, which I am concerned about because of (not necessarily rationally):
> foreign airline safety
> epic hassle at the airport with being a foreign traveller
> getting to and from airports in our respective cities
The advantage of course that it is relatively quick and cheap.

Option B is a night train. The disadvantage of this is primarily arriving in Granada after spending a night on a train and feeling wrecked. But on the other hand, never having done it, I can't say if the train is relatively smooth and makes few stops, or if it is a relic from decades past and tends to be three hours late a la Amtrak.

So I would welcome any and all feedback.
posted by docpops to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know about Granada but the train to Barcelona Airport from Barcelona Sants station takes about 30 minutes and costs 3 Euros. Also, airports are pretty simple: approach ticket desk, present passport, say "Granada", and get handed a boarding pass by someone who probably speaks English very well.
posted by chrillsicka at 7:52 AM on September 27, 2010

Don't compare European trains with Amtrak. In Europe trains are a viable form of transport. They're modern, clean, comfortable (if a little short on leg room) and the cast majority are perfectly on time.

It looks like there are eight stops between those two stations on an overnight trip. So roughly one stop per hour, with a typical stop being between 2 and 5 minutes.

For more info, go here. Click 'Welcome' in the menu for English. Enter your stations. Search. Click on the link for the relevant journey to see the timetable.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:57 AM on September 27, 2010

If you'll be there a few weeks and have the time, consider driving. It's not that tough and it would enable you to see some other cities en route and experience communities that do not orient their economies around tourism.
posted by carmicha at 7:58 AM on September 27, 2010

I love trains, but you are overestimating the hassle of the plane trip. That's what I would do for a trip of this length.

RENFE runs very nice modern high-speed AVE trains from Barcelona to almost Granada. Their other trains are pretty nice too.
posted by grouse at 8:01 AM on September 27, 2010

I have taken the reverse route, and I chose the train. If I remember correctly, the airport is not that close to Granada. Maybe a bus ran? I don't remember. The train station was a pretty short bus ride from where I was staying in Granada, though. I found a ticket for a sleeping berth for something a little under 40euro, and just slept the whole trip. It was really easy and non-stressful and I wish I could travel everywhere that way.

I don't know which airline you are thinking of, but I've taken RyanAir a few times. I love the cheapness, but it's generally pretty annoying. It's never the closest, easiest airport, you can only take one bag including a purse, and it's crowded and hectic. I never had any trouble, it's just irritating.
posted by sepviva at 8:24 AM on September 27, 2010

Best answer: the airport is not that close to Granada

no it isn't, but it is a tiny little airport and presents a minimum of hassle.

so your points
> foreign airline safety

Really? Iberia is most def a first world airline, as is anyone else operating within Spain.

> epic hassle at the airport with being a foreign traveller
They won't even notice you are a foreigner (I mean they will, but no one is going to care about an internal flight). Domestic flights in Europe are much less of a hassle then in the US. Much less

> getting to and from airports in our respective cities
BCN is a very easy taxi ride, and an only slightly less easy train ride. Granada take a cab- compared to Barcelona it is not an easy city to drive around in.

The AVE could be fun, but bear in mind you are going to go from BCN to Antequera (which 5.5 hours) and then connect to a second train from from Antequera to Granada. That seems to be faster then AVE - BCN-MAD and then an Express Regular Speed train to Granada.

I personally would fly, almost def wouldn't take the trenhotel, would contemplate the AVE option if I was intrigued by high speed rail.
posted by JPD at 8:43 AM on September 27, 2010

And yes - it is nothing remotely like Amtrak. If you've never take a train in Europe (and aren't going from Saville or Barcelona to Madrid at some point during your trip) I would take the AVE option.
posted by JPD at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: I appreciate the feedback. Apologies if I came across a little like the proverbial Ugly American. My rail days in Europe are numerous, but only in Italy and Germany, and the last time I was in Spain was 25 years ago and the trains were a bit more ponderous. It sounds like the airport option is not a big deal. Appreciate the feedback so far. Will also consider a 1 way car rental back to BCN at the end of the trip if anyone has insights.
posted by docpops at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: JPD - your AVE suggestion to Antequera is an excellent one. Thanks.
posted by docpops at 9:48 AM on September 27, 2010

be careful though - Antequera has two train stations - unfortunately the vast majority of trains stop at a different station then the AVE.
posted by JPD at 9:58 AM on September 27, 2010

I've flown it. Spanair (Spain's domestic airline) is exactly like any airline you'd fly in the states, maybe better. Totally straightforward.
posted by judith at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: JPD - are you saying that connecting to Granada could be from a different station, and therefore to allow extra time?
posted by docpops at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2010

no (well maybe) - there are trains that go from the AVE station to Granada, but if you just put Antequera in the Renfe search engine it returns the main renfe station in town as well as the Antequera-Santa Ana station.
posted by JPD at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2010

I recently took a Renfe overnight from Barcelona to Zurich and it was actually pretty fun. If you've never done it, I'd recommend it for the experience, but only if you get a private car.

One other thing to be aware of is that Barcelona has two major stations: Sants and de França. If you're leaving from Estació de França you should be aware that both their locker facilities and cafeteria and closed (as of two weeks ago). We ended up putting our luggage at Sants and taking the train between the two but it was a bit of a hassle and an unpleasant surprise.
posted by Cogito at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2010

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