Cheeky Ryanair! Although they do fly to the city of Barcelona, they bill their flights to Girona as "Girona (Barcelona)" even though it is more than an hour's drive down the motorway to the larger city. Just as well my flights were cheap as the return coach fare to Barcelona costs Euro12 per adult single and Euro21 return. Girona Airport is situated 103 Kilometres north of Barcelona (approximately 64 miles).
In fact, the airport bills itself as "Girona - Costa Brava" and, indeed, many of the passengers on our flight did not board the coach to Barcelona but appeared to be picking up hire cars to head for resorts on the coast. (Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar are nearby). Budget and economy airlines from across Europe use this airport from fifty-five airports. Holiday charters use the airport too.
The airport terminal building was spacious, clean and light and airy. The only negative was the lack of seating outside of eating spaces. The cafe-bar and the self-service restaurant both had plenty of seating but if you don't want to buy something to eat or drink the alternative seating was inadequate and the amount of seating at each gate was pitiful. On a positive practical note, the airport facilities used by passengers are all on one level, so good news for wheelchair users or families with pushchairs.
The self-service restaurant serves sandwiches, snacks and pastries as well as a range of hot meals (these were mostly being eaten by Spanish people while the Brits ate junk!). We just had drinks (alcohol is served) and found the prices very reasonable given the location. There was also a small cafe-bar which was almost empty, no doubt because it was hidden away at the opposite end of the terminal building to the main restaurant. Although the airport was reasonably busy we had no trouble getting a table and the staff were busy clearing tables and replenishing food all the time.
There were two shops selling the usual alcohol, cigarettes, fragrances and other gift items; the one beside the restaurant was much larger and had a better selection of items although they are part of the same group. As we were traveling with cabin baggage we hadn't been able to buy any alcohol in town so we took the opportunity to buy a couple of bottles after security and found the prices were, again, quite favourable. Another shop sells book and papers (some in English) and a selection of Spanish food items and speciality (read sangria) drinks. Variety pack of chorizo anyone?
As we had checked in on-line I can't comment on this aspect of the airport but I did notice that there were virtually no queues at the check in desks when we passed though this section of the airport. However, neither were there any holiday charter flights departing around the same time as us so the airport could potentially be a lot busier in the height of summer. Security clearance was a breeze and the staff worked well to make sure people were prepared to go through. (I can't believe there are still some people who don't know they have to take their coat off!)
On arrival at the airport I noticed a car hire office, an accommodation booking service and a tourist information desk. Tickets for the coach service to Girona are bought from a kiosk beside the coach departure point. If you have done your research and have bought a Barcelona Card in advance you can collect this from the information desk at the airport; if you have one you can get a discount on the coach fare. The timetabling of the coach coincides with flight arrivals which makes perfect sense; you may have another hour of traveling but at least you leave straightaway so don't dawdle on arrival! The coach stops only at the main bus station "Estancia del Norte" in the centre of Barcelona.
Other destinations are served by buses from the airport, including Girona of course and the city centre is only about ten or fifteen minutes from the airport. If you arrive late and don't want to continue your journey straightaway, there are several hotels at or near the airport.
Although we were quite tired by the time we finally got to our destination we really didn't mind the extra journey too much as we had paid so little for our flights and we were fully aware of the distance the airport is from the city of Barcelona. In future we plan to fly to Girona again but with the intention of exploring Girona instead. As we are not shoppers and we are happy to sit with a book we don't need much in the way of entertainment so we found the facilities of Girona Airport perfectly adequate. You won't find familiar chains of fast food restaurants or childrens' play areas at this airport and for that reason I can see some travelers might think it's not that great but self-reliant independent travelers will find it is a clean and well run airport - even if it's not really near Barcelona at all!
I will post a separate piece on getting between the airport and Barcelona