Whether your relocating to Spain permanently or taking a year out to live abroad, will determine for you how to move to Barcelona.
If you’re moving to Spain and bringing all your furniture and possessions you’ll need a reliable moving company. Travelling light for a shorter or unknown term means you can fly or even drive a car or van, depending on where you’re coming from. I’ve covered how to move here by plane, cross channel ferry and by driving.
Fly to Barcelona
Airlines with flights to Barcelona
Here are the main airlines that fly between the UK and other European countries into Barcelona:
Ferries to Spain
I moved from the United Kingdom and travelled by car, crossing the Channel with Brittany Ferries. The crossing was from Plymouth to Santander over night. Brittany Ferries have routes from Portsmouth and Plymouth that go to Santander and Bilbao. The also have a route from Cork in Ireland to Santander.
You can also take a much shorter ferry journey into France and then drive to Spain. I preferred to have a good night’s sleep on the ferry and then a shorter drive from Santander to Barcelona.
I recommend Brittany Ferries. The service was excellent, food was good, and the cabin was clean and comfortable. Moreover, everything ran to time. Return tickets can be much cheaper, but if you don’t use your return ticket you may be charged an additional amount.
Driving from Santander to Barcelona was easy; the most difficult part was arriving in busy Barcelona traffic at 7pm. It took about 8 hours including several stops along the way.
Taking the toll roads meant that the journey was free from heavy traffic. At the time of my journey the tolls cost about €40.
P&O no longer have ferries from the UK to Spain. The only option from the UK if you travel with P&O is to take the ferry to France and then drive.
French Motor Rail
SNCF have discontinued all motor rail trains from December 2019.
Drive to Barcelona
Driving to Barcelona from the UK, if you don’t take a ferry, you need to take the Eurotunnel:
Hire a Van and Do It Yourself
Van hire companies allow their vehicles to travel outside of the pick up country, but usually you have to return the van to the pick up point. That may not be a problem for you. However, there are now hire companies that let you do one way van hire and return the van to a depot in Spain (or vice versa).
VanRental.co.uk is a website which lists van hire companies that let you do one way trips in Europe. The site includes guides for drivers and van hire information for driving abroad.
Importing a car to Spain
You can bring your car to Spain and drive it here for up to six months without having to register it. After that period you must register the car with the local authority and pay Spanish road tax.
There is information on how to register your car or motorbike here: www.bcn.cat/hisenda (the site is in Castellano, Catalan and English). More details about bringing a car to Spain and driving in Spain can be found on my Barcelona transport page.
Using a removal company
Employing an international moving company is a necessity if you have furniture to move. Many specialise in removals to Spain.
It can take up to two weeks for your belongings to arrive at your new address in Barcelona. These companies usually run a container load every week or every two weeks over to Spain and back. Which means that if you don’t have enough belongings to fill a container, you can still use their service to move by sharing.
International & Spanish removal companies
Wisse Moving are an international moving company based just outside of Barcelona in Calella. They will move your belongings to any country, and have a regular weekly service between the UK and Spain. The offer part-loads, making smaller moves more affordable. Friends of mine used Wisse Moving for their move and gave them a good review.
Their website is in English, Catalan, Spanish and German: www.wissemoving.com
My move to Barcelona
The possessions that I needed to take with me determined how to move to Barcelona when I made my move. I tried to travel as light as possible. Most of my baggage was made up of work items and the car (an estate) was packed full of computer equipment and files.
Initially, my move to Barcelona was a temporary one, I planned to live here for one year working remotely. However, several years later I’m still here. I had help moving – from my brother who offered to drive me to Barcelona – and from a friend, who came along to help.
We travelled from Oxfordshire to Plymouth, where we took the Brittany ferry overnight to Santander. I can recommend this as a way to travel; you get a good night’s sleep (if you book a cabin), which prepares you for the drive ahead. There’s plenty to do onboard: there are several restaurants and bars, a casino, a swimming pool and even a cinema.
Accommodation in Barcelona
Before you arrive in Barcelona laden with all your worldly processions, you’ll need to find somewhere to live. This website gives info on both short term and long term rentals.
I run a property finding service in Barcelona, which, if you don’t speak Spanish, is extremely useful. Have your search for rental accommodation fully organised for you. You can read more about this service here: Barcelona property finder.