Barcelona is the capital of Catalunya and second largest city in Spain. It is a principal business and tourist hub in the Mediterranean and is located some 1,250km south-west of Amsterdam.
Let’s look at the options for travel between Amsterdam and Barcelona by air, train and bus. Note that there have been some significant changes to service frequencies due to the ‘coronavirus’ measures.
1. Flights Amsterdam-Barcelona
Amsterdam-Barcelona is a well served air route with flights between Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) and Barcelona El Prat (BCN) taking around 2 hours 15 minutes. Flying is by far the quickest and easiest way to travel between the two cities.
As Spain and the Netherlands are members of the Schengen Zone agreement you do not need to go through a passport control check when travelling between Amsterdam and Barcelona.
It is possible to reach the city centre by rail from both Amsterdam and Barcelona airports.
Dutch airline KLM (Skyteam alliance) has 2-4x daily non-stop flights from Amsterdam to Barcelona using Boeing 737 aircraft or Cityhopper-branded Embraer 190s. Base fares start from €110 return though note that KLM has charges for checked luggage.
No frills airline Vueling (an Iberia partner owned by parent IAG) flies between Amsterdam and Barcelona up to 2x daily using Airbus A320s. Return fares start from around €100 including luggage fee.
Avios points redemptions are also possible for Vueling flights via the Iberia Plus program but not with British Airways Executive Club.
Transavia (a KLM no-frills subsidiary) flies 0-2x daily from Amsterdam to Barcelona with Boeing 737s – prices start from €100 return with checked luggage.
Barcelona is (normally) a very popular holiday destination for Dutch people, especially in the summer months – so if you plan to travel in July or August book your flights well in advance.
2. Amsterdam-Barcelona by Train
Whilst there is no direct rail service between Amsterdam and Barcelona, it is possible to travel by train from Amsterdam to Barcelona with a connection in Paris, France. This now requires an overnight stop in Paris as the frequency of the Paris-Barcelona TGV has been temporarily cut.
The Amsterdam-Barcelona rail journey comprises of 3 parts:
(1) A Thalys high speed train between Amsterdam Central and Paris Gare du Nord which takes 3 hours 17 minutes. Thalys normally runs 7-9x daily (weekdays), 4x daily (Saturdays) and 5-6x daily (Sundays). It stops at Schiphol, Rotterdam, Antwerp and Brussels. Note, Thalys is running a greatly reduced service at the moment.
(2) Overnight in Paris. By the way, the transfer across Paris between Gare du Nord and Gare de Lyon is achieved in about 30 minutes using the RER D line – it is just 2 stops. Alternatively you can take a taxi.
(3) A direct TGV duplex train between Paris Gare de Lyon and Barcelona Sants which takes about 6 1/2 hours. This currently departs Paris at 1014 and arrives in Barcelona at 1653. The train makes stops at Valence, Nîmes, Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Figueres and Girona.
It previously ran 2-4x daily so if the afternoon service is restored it would be possible again to do Amsterdam-Barcelona by train during the day.
There is an alternative Amsterdam-Barcelona route that is possible by day. Early in the morning you can travel to Brussels with the Intercity Brussels train. Then take a TGV train from Brussels to Lyon Part-Deux. From Lyon there is a Barcelona-bound train jointly-operated by Spanish and French Railways.
Barcelona-Amsterdam rail journey by day: It is still possible to travel Barcelona-Amsterdam during the day. Starting from Barcelona, you would take the 1010 Paris-bound TGV train which gets you into Gare de Lyon at 1646. Cross over to Paris Nord via RER or taxi for the 1920 Thalys to Amsterdam with arrival time 2244 – just under 12 1/2 hours in total.
Fares for the trip are made up of each component (Thalys + TGV). Thalys single fares between Amsterdam and Paris start at €35 (2nd class) or €79 (1st class) for the cheapest “Standard Mini” tariff.
TGV one-way fares for Paris-Barcelona are priced from €59 (2nd class) or €79 (1st class). To secure the lowest fares it is essential to book well in advance.
How to book online: Amsterdam-Paris Thalys tickets, Paris-Barcelona TGV tickets and Amsterdam-Barcelona through-tickets can be booked at the NS International site.
All ticket combinations can be booked at the TheTrainline site
3. Amsterdam-Barcelona by Coach
Coach services are running at very low timetable frequency at the moment.
Flixbus offers an irregular Amsterdam-Barcelona coach service with a change in Paris with one-way fares from €39. Journey times are 24-26 hours and the Flixbus stops are at Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Barcelona Nord bus station (Carrer d’Alí Bei).
Blablabus (formerly Ouibus) normally operates an Amsterdam-Barcelona coach service with a change at Paris Bercy – although no buses run currently. Tickets start at €49 and the journey time is around 24 hours with a 2 hour stop in Paris. It uses the same stops as Flixbus – Amsterdam Sloterdijk and Barcelona Nord bus station.
Also see: Amsterdam to Madrid travel options
This article was originally published in 2011 and has continuously been updated. Last update 13 April 2021.