It’s that time of the year again.. it’s EIBTM time! EIBTM has always been my favourite industry trade show: it’s an event that’s close to my heart, I always find value in their networking and educational activities, and it takes place in my hometown, Barcelona! If you’re travelling to EIBTM next week, don’t miss my tips to make the most of your trip. Be it the first time you visit the city, or your 20th, I believe you’ll find something interesting here!
At the airport:
Barcelona’s airport is quite large but modern and efficient. It’s easy to find your way around, security lines are quite quick (I’ve never had to wait for longer than 6 or 7 minutes) and there are many services that you can use. If you’re on a budget, I recommend eating at Pans & Company. The shop is located behind Burberry’s (at the left of Zara) and has many sandwiches, salads and pastries that are good and much cheaper than at the other airport restaurants. If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you may like the new Illy shop with the famous Italian coffee and some food. The bar is located next to the A gates (on the left side of the terminal, usually a bit far from most departure gates).
If you have time to spare, I recommend having a look at Natura shop, it’s got interesting presents and souvenirs. Finally, the wifi is available for free but only for 15 minutes, and the signal is rather poor (for better quality, you may use Skype credit for example, or a subscription service like Boingo). If you, like me, spend time working at the airport, know that in El Prat it’s hard to find sockets, so bring the batteries charged!
Getting to the city:
When you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or the Aerobus to the centre (a return ticket costs 10,20€). It leaves every 5 minutes or so from both terminal 1 and 2 (during off-peak times there is less frequency). You get to the final destination, Plaça Catalunya (Barcelona’s main square) in around 30 minutes, but it stops at a couple of places before too.
One word of caution here: beware of taxis.. even the licensed ones (which are the ones you’ll find at the airport’s taxi stop). If they know you’re a tourist, they may take you on a lounger route! It’s happened to me a few times (I don’t have a strong Spanish accent, so people often think I’m a foreigner). The way to avoid this is to check in advance what’s the quickest way to your destination (perhaps ask your hotel, or ask me!) and tell the driver that’s the way you want to go. And don’t let them fool you! Having said this, most taxi drivers are nice people. Also, beware that not all taxis have credit card terminals, so if you don’t have cash, ask in advance if you can pay by card (or ask the driver to stop at an ATM machine, I do that often!).
Getting around the city and to EIBTM:
Taxis in Barcelona are not expensive (if they don’t take you on a longer route than necessary!) but if you’re going to be using the metro (which it’s quite efficient) or public transport in general, I recommend you buy a ticket with 10 trips (called T-10). You can buy them at any metro or train station (but not on buses, for example). Bear in mind that the closest station to EIBTM (Fira Gran Via 2) is not a metro station but a train station (from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat). You can take the train at Plaça Espanya, there you’ll see plenty of signs to EIBTM. The same T-10 allows you to take both the metro and the train.
The weather is quite mild, but depending on the year it can be much warmer or colder, especially now that the weather is all over the place (just 2 weeks ago people were still going to the beach, while now we’re wearing winter jackets!). It doesn’t rain much, but you should bring an umbrella just in case.
If you’re into running and jogging, the 3 most popular public spaces to go to are the Diagonal avenue (especially towards the two ends), the Montjuic mountain and the beach (especially the Mar Bella or Vila Olimpica beaches).
Places to visit off the beaten path:
There are many events parallel to EIBTM, but if you want to do something on your own, you can try going to Rambla del Poblenou for a real Ramblas feel (the original “Las Ramblas” is the biggest tourist trap in Barcelona). Here I recommend going to Can Recasens, a favourite between locals: stunning venue and delicious (and quite cheap) food. However, I strongly recommend you to book in advance. Also, beware that they do 2 shifts for dinner: at 9pm and at 11pm, so you can only go at those times. Just in case you don’t know yet, Spaniards tend to have dinner quite late, from 9pm onwards. But it’s such a touristic city that you won’t have problems having dinner earlier, in most restaurants.
Something I also recommend you to do is going to Mirablau (for coffee or cocktails) or Mirabé (for dinner). They are next to each other, sitting on top of the Tibidabo mountain, and both offer breathtaking views of Barcelona.
Another option is to try the new El Nacional, in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia (the well-known boulevard filled with luxury shops). It is a huge venue with different spaces that offer all kinds of options to eat and drink quality Spanish food. The place is strikingly beautiful too. However, the queues to have dinner may be long (I waited for over 30 minutes).
If you are looking for Spanish tapas, there are obviously many places to choose from but I usually go to a chain called Taller de Tapas, there are quite a few in the main areas. One of the most acclaimed restaurant for tapas is “Cal Pep” in El Born (a beautiful district not far from the centre), but it is extremely busy (and closed on Sundays), so be aware (it’s a bit pricey too).
A nice experience is to have a cup of hot chocolate with churros at one of the cafes in Petritxol street, a small street parallel to Las Ramblas. All cafes are quite similar, just choose the one you like the most!
The Sagrada Familia may be very touristic, but it is worth paying a visit if you’ve never been (and if you have, maybe too, as it may have changed!). Finally, if you have half a day left, you may want to visit Sitges, a picturesque coastal town just 30 minutes away from Barcelona (you have to take the Renfe train at Estacio de Sants station). It is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
If you have any questions or would like other tips, please ask me! And if you do visit some of these places, please share your experience here.
See you at EIBTM!