In addition to being the venue for numerous fairs, events and congresses of great international prestige, the Catalan capital has consolidated in recent years as one of the most attractive destinations in Europe in the professional field. In fact, Barcelona is the sixth preferred city for business, the seventh for e-business, the seventh most entrepreneurial city in Europe and, according to a recent study by the British organization Nesta, the fourth most innovative city in the world.
Nevertheless, to the undeniable magnetism of Barcelona for investors, companies and start-ups, should be added an excellent climate, its privileged location between the sea and the mountains, its inexhaustible architectural heritage, its wide range of leisure activities and its delicious gastronomy, among many other attractions that explain why it is one of the most visited cities in Europe.
If you also have to travel for business to Barcelona, below we summarize some of the aspects that you should not lose of sight to make your stay in Barcelona simply perfect.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN BARCELONA
Although its extension is rather modest – the municipality barely reaches 100 km2 -Barcelona treasures a wide range of buildings and monuments spanning more than two millennia since its foundation, around the year 14 B.C.
In this section, the reference is made to the interesting remains from Roman times, including the ancient buildings of the former colony of Barcino, in the basement of the Plaza del Rei; the imposing columns of the Temple of Augustus in Paradís Street; some Roman domūs or open-air necropolis of Plaza Vila de Madrid.
From the medieval period, it is possible to contemplate the old Jewish quarter or Call, some examples of romantic architecture – such as the church of the monastery of Sant Pau del Camp in the Raval district – or the three most important Gothic buildings in the city: the cathedral, the church of Pi and the basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, the imposing XIV century temple that inspired the bestselling novel The cathedral of the sea. In the section of Gothic civil art, one should visit the majestic Tinell Hall.
In any case, if for some reason the Catalan capital stands out it is for the footprint left by modernism in its streets and avenues. No doubt, who exemplified the splendor of this style was the great Antoni Gaudí, an architect of such jewels as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera,
Casa Batlló, Palau Güell, Park Güell or Casa Vicens, buildings that are part of the list of World Heritage by UNESCO. A distinction that also share two other modernist gems of Barcelona are the Hospital de Sant Pau and the Palau de la Música Catalana, bearing the signature of Lluis Domenech i Montaner.
Another must-see is the Montjuic mountain, an area that was urbanized for the 1929 International Exhibition. Among its points of interest, it is worth mentioning the Spanish Village, an enclosure that gathers samples of popular architecture from all over Spain, crafts workshops, restaurants, nightclubs and even a flamenco tablao, the Magic Fountain, the scene of incredible light and sound shows, the Olympic Ring, numerous museums and the Montjuic castle, from where it is possible to see incomparable views of Barcelona.
Of course, you also should not miss stopping by the always lively Ramblas, which are part of the sentimental imagination of the local population, and that end in the port of Barcelona and the iconic statue of Columbus. The same goes for the inexhaustible museum offer of the city, which includes the Picasso Museum, the Joan Miró Foundation, El Born Cultural and Memory Center, the Museum of the F.C. Barcelona or the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC), the depository of the most important Romanesque painting collection in the world.
FAIRS AND EVENTS IN BARCELONA
Despite the inexhaustible list of monuments that Barcelona holds, much of its magnetism as a business city lies in its enormous and growing role as an organizer of events and congresses. Thus, according to the report of American Express, the Catalan capital is the third European city most demanded to hold conferences and business meetings.
Without a doubt, the most important annual event is the Mobile World Congress, the biggest event in the mobile phone industry, which is usually attended by the leading international gurus in the field of new technologies.
In any case, the exhibition center Fira de Barcelona, in the Montjuic mountain, hosts many other events of great significance. It is enough to mention the International Auto Show, a biennial event that brings together the major vehicle manufacturers; Alimentaria Barcelona, which brings together at the end of April key players in the field of food; the Comic Fair, which takes place annually in spring; the Nautical Fair, which opens in October at Port Vell, and the Manga Fair, which is on time to meet with its many fans every last weekend in October.
Nor it diminishes its performing arts programming with the Festival Grec as a spearhead (it takes place during June and July). In the musical section, one could refer to Primavera Sound, which takes place between the end of May and the beginning of June, and the International Festival of Advanced Music (Sònar), which takes place in mid-June, and that is dedicated to electronic music . In turn, the celebrations of Mercè, patron of the city, before or after September 24, also bring some of the most important soloists and musical groups in the national scene.
Other popular parties of interest are the celebrations of Gràcia, which are held on the third week of August, and those of Sants, which begin a week later. In both cases, the most important streets in both neighborhoods look stunning decorated by their own neighbors.
Finally, we must not forget that Barcelona and its surroundings also host the best events in the world of sport, such as the Grand Prix F-1 and motorcycling, the World Championship or the tennis tournament Open Banc Sabadell Trofeo Conde de Godó, the oldest in Spain, included in the ATP World Tour 500.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS IN BARCELONA
Catalan gastronomy and Mediterranean cuisine reach their maximum expression in Barcelona, where it is possible to taste the creations of some Michelin-starred chefs. The list includes from Martín Berasategui, responsible for the first restaurant with three stars in Barcelona, the Lasarte, to Sergi Arola, at the Hotel Arts, or Jordi Cruz, in Àbac, not forgetting Carme Ruscalleda, responsible for Moments, at the Mandarin Oriental hotel. Also, from Barcelona, it is possible to easily get by train to its Sant Pol restaurant, in the small coastal town of Sant Pol de Mar, awarded with three Michelin stars.
Anyway, the huge range of bars and restaurants in Barcelona – in 2016 there were 7,400 restaurants, concentrated mostly in the district of Eixample – has many other legendary venues.
One of them is the restaurant Els Quatre Gats, a centenary corner of the Gothic quarter frequented by writers, musicians and painters of international fame, such as Rubén Darío, Antoni Gaudí, Isaac Albéniz, Enric Granados or Pablo Picasso. It is said that this last one owes a couple of cafes in another of the culinary references of Barcelona: the 7 Portes, opened in 1836, and whose delicious Catalan cuisine specialties also were tasted by such figures as Federico García Lorca, Salvador Dalí, Gabriel García Márquez, Maria Callas, Orson Welles and Woody Allen.
However, the oldest in this area is Can Culleretes, it is the oldest restaurant in Catalonia and second in Spain, according to the Guiness Book of Records (it was opened in 1786).
To this list should be added the seafood restaurants that dot Joan de Borbón boulevard, in the traditional fishing district of Barceloneta.
However, if you are looking for incomparable views, nothing better than having dinner or a drink on the terrace of one of the hotels that open their doors on Paseo de Gràcia, or in the W Barcelona hotel, famous for its unmistakable sail-shaped silhouette, and located on the beach. Montjuic mountain also has two other restaurants of category that offer panoramic views from the heights: the Xalet and Miramar.
However, any corner of the city is perfect for tasting traditional tapas or the indefectible pa amb tomàquet, one of the starlets of Catalan gastronomy.
And one last tip: when it comes to sipping a cocktail, it’s worth getting up to the Torre Rosa, an old Indian house with a beautiful garden and perfectly connected to the center by bus, subway or suburban Renfe train.
USEFUL APPS TO VISIT BARCELONA
On trips to an avant-garde and innovative city like Barcelona – that even has its own technological district, the 22@, located in Poblenou neighborhood, where there are also the apartments of Lugaris-, you could not miss the applications for mobile phones that help you get to know the city. Below, we mention, in alphabetical order, the 10 apps on Barcelona indispensable for any visitor, available for both Apple and Android devices.
• AMB Taxi Barcelona. Abuses are over: with this app, jointly developed by the Barcelona City Council and the Autoridad Metropolitana del Transporte (AMB), the user will be able to know how much it costs approximately a taxi ride between two specific points.
• 22@Barcelona, the district of innovation. This official audioguide of more than an hour reviews the history of an old industrial district that in the last two decades has become a hotbed of technological companies and start-ups of great international projection. You can listen to it in Spanish, Catalan, English and French.
• Barcelona Official Guide. It is an interactive application that brings the city’s tourist offer to the user. In addition, it is multilingual, as it is available in Spanish, English, French, German and Italian.
• Barcelona Metro Walks. This official audioguide proposes seven itineraries organized by proximity and easily accessible by public transport. Available in Spanish, Catalan and English.
• Barcelona Restaurants. The official guide to restaurants in Barcelona, prepared by Turisme de Barcelona, is now available in app format. With it, the foodies will have access
to a selection of 170 gastronomic establishments with an excellent value for money. As in the previous case, it is a multilingual edition in Spanish, Catalan, English, French and Mandarin.
• Barcelona Then and Now. This unique app shows in images how the Catalan capital has evolved in the last century, and compares old photos of the main places of interest with its current equivalent.
• La Barcelona de Gaudí. It offers an audio guide of more than an hour about 11 of the most important constructions that Antoni Gaudí bequeathed to the city. In this case, it can be used in Spanish, Catalan, English and French.
• La Barcelona Medieval. This mobile application offers a journey in time to take the traveler to the XII century, and that reveals the main Romanesque and Gothic buildings of the Catalan capital. It is in Spanish, Catalan, English and French.
• mTrip. In addition to providing information on monuments, it allows you to create personalized tourist itineraries. Its price is 4,99 euros.
• TMB App. The application of the consortium Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona is perfect for calculating the shortest route by public transport (in metro, bus, tram, train) between two points of the city and the various municipalities in the metropolitan area. Also, you can check schedules, frequency, routes …