Probably you will reach Barcelona by plane, so you will arrive in the El Prat airport. It is very close to the city (around 15km) and it has different type of transportation that will make it very easy for you to reach the city center. The first you need to know is to which terminal you arrive. The airport has two terminals, the T1 is the newest and biggest one, but you can also arrive in the T2 (most of the lowcost companies arrive here, like RyanAir and EasyJet). Even though the T1 is the newest, it is also the worst connected, but it is not bad connected anyway.
The easiest way is to get a taxi and give him/her the address you want to go. The taxis in Barcelona are easy to recognise because they are yellow and black. They use taximeter, so they can not scam you if you use the official ones. But anyway it is the most expensive transport (specially for just one person). You can find 4 types of rates depending on if there is a festivity, or if it is at night, but I will detail the general prices:
Barcelona’s airport – Plaza Catalunya
Week days: 26 € approx.
Festivities, weekends and nights: 30 € approx.
Barcelona’s airport – Plaza Espanya
Week days: 23 €. approx.
Festivities, weekends and nights: 26 € aprox.
If your apartment/residence/hotel is located away from plaza Catalunya, you need to add around 5-10€ to those prices. Maximum you should arrive to your destination for 40-45€.
For further information with detailed rates, etc:
Probably the most comfortable and fastest way from T1 if you don’t want to take a Taxi is using the Express Bus of the airport (known as AEROBUS). This bus is a specific line that takes you from the airport to Plaza España and Plaza Catalunya, stopping just in a few places, so it is very fast. You can reach Plaza España in 15-20 minutes and Plaza Catalunya in 25-30 minutes.
It costs 5,90€ and it has place to put your luggage. It comes very often every 5/10 minutes, so you won’t have to wait long and you could also pay inside the bus with cash.
Once you get to Plaza España or Plaza Catalunya, you can use the subway to reach your destination, or even taking a taxi there (so you skip the 20€ rate just to exit or entering the airport).
It is the most RECOMMENDED OPTION specially if you arrive in the T1.
REGULAR BUS (46, L77, L99, N16, N17, PR1, PR2, PR3)
It is the cheapest option (valid also with T-10 or single tickets of the TMB), it is NOT RECOMMENDED unless you are going to stay in Prat de Llobregat. It stops a lot and it takes around 45 minutes just to get to Plaza España.
In 2016 Barcelona opened a new Metro line connecting the city center with the airport. This was very necessary and it took a few years to get it. To be honest it is quite slow and it is useful only in case you need to go near to one of its stations.
It takes around 35 minutes to Collblanc and Zona Universitaria, which are the only two stops in the city center. It is not so cheap comparing to the Aerobus, it costs 4,50 €.
Train was the first an only option of fast public transport for a long time. The problem is that it was built a long time ago, before the construction of the new T1, so it only reaches the T2 (old Barcelona’s airport). If you land on T2 is the best option (good price and fast), unless you need to go to Plaza España (in this case it is better to take the Aerobus). The train stops in the main center spots of Barcelona, including Sants Estació, Passeig de Gràcia and Clot. All of these stations have connections with the main Metro lines and arrives in 19 and 32 minutes (to Sants and Clot). It can be used with the card TMB, which is the cheapest option. We recommend you to buy a T-10 card (valid for 10 runs for 9,95 €, so every run is 0,95 €) and you can also use it to move around Barcelona (in Metro and Bus).
The main disadvantage of the train is the frequency (every 30 minutes) and also the fact that it only departs from the T2. Does this mean you can not use it from the T1? NO. It exists a shuttle (free bus) that connects T1 with T2 (around 5-10 minutes by bus), so you could take the train from there.
You can also consider the option of a private transport arranged by the accommodation or place you are staying in. They can pick you up for similar prices as taxis. It can be useful, but it is not official transport, so would be better to set the conditions before your arrival. We recommend NOT to accept any private car in the airport (it it not common).