When making the journey by train from Barcelona to Tarragona there is a choice between travelling on:
The Euromed services now no longer call at the main city centre station in Tarragona.
As they now take a high speed route, they call instead at Camp De Tarragona station, which is located to the north of the city.
When taking trains from Barcelona to Tarragona avoid the AVE trains to Camp De Tarragona as that station is some distance from the city centre.
These trains referred to below are calling at Tarragona station, which is has a very convenient location, only a 5 - 10 min walk from the heart of the city.
A choice of train services from Barcelona to central Tarragona:
When making a train journey from Barcelona to central Tarragona you have a choice between taking
(1) these IC trains (the Euromed services no longer call at this central Tarragona station)
(2) the alternative, more frequent Regional Express trains.
The differences between the two services can be summarised as:
If you want to save the bother of having to buy tickets at the station, you can book ANY of the journeys by these IC trains online.
In contrast, only some of the departures by the Regional Express trains can be booked on the Renfe website.
One of the quirks of the Renfe online ticket booking service, is that it doesn't usually sell tickets for journeys by Regional Express trains, but this Barcelona to Tarragona route is an exception.
Though these IC trains are always the more expensive option, but if you can book at least a couple of weeks ahead, the difference in the ticket price can only be a few €s.
The biggest tick in the box for taking these IC trains is that the tickets include a complimentary seat reservation.
In contrast seat reservations are not available on the alternative Regional Express trains, even if you do book them online; and they can be very busy trains, particularly in the summer.
These IC trains are also more comfortable, so overall you'll have a more pleasant journey if you opt to take these trains.
Departing from Barcelona:
Final Destination: Sevilla or Alacant or Cartagena or Muricia or Valencia
At Barcelona Sants station these IC trains depart from vias (platforms/tracks) 11 - 12.
A negative of taking these trains is that you should aim to be at Barcelona Sants a minimum of 20 mins before departure, in order to allow time to pass through the usual boarding procedure for taking Spanish express trains.
You won't have to allow this extra time if you take those, more frequent, Regional Express trains.
The first IC train of the day also departs from Barcelona Franca station.
In contrast all of the alternative Regional Express trains commence their journeys at Barcelona Franca station and then call at Passeig De Gracia station before they call at Barcelona Sants.
5 or 6 x trains per day
Book early and save: Yes
Online bookings open: 2 months ahead
If you can book tickets more than a couple of weeks ahead, the ticket prices for these IC trains are similar to the alternative Regional Express trains.
Also the tick in the box for taking these IC trains is that your ticket includes the seat reservation
In contrast seats cannot be reserved on the slower Regional Express trains and spare seats can be hard to find on those Regional Express trains; particularly if you'll be heading to Tarragona from Barcelona Sants.
Though if you'll be booking tickets last minute at the station, then these IC services will be more than twice the price of the Regional Express trains.
Rail Pass Users:
Avoid these trains and take the Regional Express trains instead.
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Departing from Barcelona:
Final Destination: Tortosa; Reus, Lerida (others)
These Regional trains commence their journeys at Barcelona Franca station and then call at Passeig DeGracia station before they call at Barcelona Sants
Seats can't be reserved on these trains and in the summer, the morning departures in particular, tend to be very busy trains.
So avoid boarding these trains at Sants, if you do so, seats can't be guaranteed.
At Barcelona Sants station these Regional Express trains depart from vias (platforms/tracks) 9 - 10.
A negative of taking those alternative Talgo trains is that you should aim to be at Barcelona Sants a minimum of 20 mins before departure, in order to allow time to pass through the usual boarding procedure for taking Spanish express trains.
You won't have to allow this extra time if you take these Regional Express trains.
1 - 3 x trains per hour
Book early and save: No
Tickets for journeys by Regional Express trains aren't normally sold online on the Renfe (Spain's national rail operator) website, but SOME of these trains to Tarragona are an exception to that rule.
You won't save any money by booking the tickets online, but you will save the time and stress of trying to book tickets against the clock at the stations in Barcelona.
The most popular departures tend to be the ones that are available online.
Though you won't be guaranteeing seats by booking in advance online, reservations aren't available on these Regional Express trains.
However, you can also compare prices online with the alternative express trains IC trains between Barcelona and Tarragona.
If you won't typically be booking at least a week or two ahead, you can save around €10 by taking these trains instead of those IC trains.
If you will be booking tickets last minute at the station you'll save more than 50% by taking these trains.
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