As one of the International Congress & Convention Association's top 5 most popular congress cities, Barcelona hosts over 2,400 meetings and nearly 700,000 attendees each year. Its popularity starts with its accessibility. Though Spain's 2nd largest city is hemmed by mountains and the sea, Barcelona is far from unreachable. El Prat, the 2nd largest airport in Spain, welcomes over 30 million passengers to Barcelona each year, while Renfe's high-speed passenger trains link the city to major metropolitans across the country. Planners will find that Barcelona meeting planning is almost more of a joy than a task.
Upon arrival, visitors are happy to find a compact city that's easily explored by foot or aboard bus, tram or metro. In addition to serving top attractions and hotels, Barcelona's affordable public transportation network ferries guest to the city's key meeting venues, such as the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya and the Barcelona International Convention Center.
Located in Barcelona's key business district, the Palau's 35 meeting rooms range from intimate lounges to large banquet halls for up to 3,000 diners. Opened in 2004, the Barcelona International Convention Center is ideal for tradeshows, conferences and more. This state-of-the-art venue is ideal for Barcelona meeting planning as it offers modern technology and a convention area for over 10,000 guests.
Also welcoming conventions and conferences of all kinds is Fira de Barcelona, one of the most important meeting organizers in the country. Fira's exhibition space at Gran Via encompasses nearly 200,000 square meters spread among eight halls, making it one of the largest and most popular facilities in Europe. Meanwhile, the Montjuic fairgrounds host over 60 fairs and conventions each year. Its spaces range from a multi-use auditorium to conference rooms to an outdoor pavilion.
In addition to its traditional venues, Barcelona event planning options offer an unbeatable range of unique meeting facilities. The light-filled, spacious interior of the Richard Meier-designed Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, home to the city's most prized contemporary works, can host receptions of up to 700 people. The Casa Llotja de Mar, the historic seat of Catalan commerce, offers rooms that range from the state-of-the-art Salo del Ple lecture hall to the stunning Gothic Salo de Contractacions. Or, plan an event in one of famed architect Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces, Casa Batllo. Here, planners find over 3,000 square meters of flexible meeting space.
To really liven up Barcelona events and Barcelona meeting planning, nothing beats dinner and a show. Treat event guests to a night of authentic Spanish dance and cuisine at the Palacio del Flamenco. Its auditorium-dining hall is a great setting for up to 450 guests to enjoy some of best flamenco in Barcelona and a menu of regional favorites. Meanwhile, restaurants such as 7 Portes, El Chipirón and El Cangrejo Loco make it easy to keep the conversation flowing while guests dine on authentic tapas and Spanish wine.
A hub for finance, commerce, entertainment and international trade, Barcelona was one of the first in continental Europe to begin industrialization. Today, its leading industries include textiles, pharmaceutical, electronic, and information technology. Barcelona has a number of public universities, including the University of Barcelona, the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the Pompeu Fabra University.
Located on the Mediterranean coast, the city of Barcelona is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. It also takes the title of the 2nd largest city in Spain and the 11th most populous metropolitan in the European Union, thanks to its more than 3.1 million residents. Founded over 2,000 years ago, this popularity is well-deserved. A year-round mild climate, more than 50 museums and art galleries, unique shopping opportunities and savory Catalan cuisine have made Barcelona a top urban tourism destination for years.
Guests who want to take in all that Barcelona has to offer should start at La Rambla, Barcelona's most famous street. The 1.2-kilometer bustling avenue leads guests from the seaside Mirador de Colon to the Placa de Catalunya. Along the way, visitors encounter street musicians, painters, human statues, opera singers and attractions such as the famous Boqueria market and renowned opera house Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Taking a stroll through the streets is also one of the best ways to explore one of the city's biggest attractions: its architecture. Reflecting changes in style throughout the ages, Barcelona's architecture includes relics from the Medieval period, wonders of Catalan Art Nouveau and daring feats of modern-day design. The Gothic Quarter is home to remains of the Roman Wall that dates back to the city's first settlement. The Eixample district boasts one of the largest collections of Catalan Art Nouveau, seen in the creative designs of Josep Puig I Cadafalch and Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas.
Especially notable in Barcelona's architectural scene are the many works of Antoni Gaudí, who brought some of the most unique and stunning designs to the city. Explore his legacy at the Sagrada Família, Casa Vicens or Casa Batlló, all of which are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The most-visited cultural attraction in Spain, the Sagrada Família's Nativity façade, the only part of the church built under Gaudí's direction, is a striking representation of Jesus' early life, the flora and fauna of the Holy Land and more.
Also popular in the Catalonian capital are masterpieces of another kind: food. Ranging from local specitlities to international favorites to popular Spanish tapas, Barcelona's culinary delights make the most of the local flavors and ingredients. Among its more than 10,000 dining establishments, the city boasts a total of 17 Michelin stars. During the day, snack on walnut bread or boutique cured sausages at La Vinya del Senyor. Or, sample tapas from around the world at Comerç 24, such as the foie-gras and truffle hamburger representing America to the Italian crusty prawns with authentic Romesco sauce.
Once the sun sets, Barcelona's culinary creations really shine. Lobster tartare at Neichel Restaurant, suckling pig at Jean Luc Figueras, foie gras soup with lychis at Moo Restaurant, and roasted sea bass at Abac are among the many dishes not to be missed. At the iconic Restaurant 7 Portes, guests enjoy classic Catalan cuisine, including some of the city's best paella. Order a glass of Cava, or Catalan sparkling wine, to complement any meal; after all, considering all Barcelona has to offer, visitors will certainly have reason to celebrate with a toast.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
The weather in Barcelona is typical of a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and cool winters. August is usually quite hot and humid, with an average high of 29°C. January is the coldest month, with temperatures averaging 13°C. Boasting more mild temperatures, May, June, September and October are perhaps the best months to visit.
Palau De Congressos De Catalunya
Located in the Avenida Diagonal de Barcelona, the city's most important financial and business district, the Palau de Congressos de Catalunya is a prime Barcelona meeting facility to host meetings and events. Part of the Hotel Rey Juan Carlos I-Business and City Resort, the center boasts 35 halls and rooms, from intimate lounges to large-scale exhibition areas to banquet facilities for up to 3,000 diners.
Welcoming guests to the center is the Main Hall, a spacious and bright area featuring a grand tapestry by famed Catalan artist Juan MirÃ³. Among its facilities are the Main Area and Hall, with 1,500 square meters of space; the Exhibition Hall, with 2,050 square meters of space divisible into two sections; and the 2,027-seat Auditorium, the largest room in the building. Several smaller rooms, ranging in size from 26 square meters to over 200 square meters, are also available.
The Historic Gardens of the prestigious Hotel Rey Carlos I can also be rented for outdoor functions. Its outdoor Barcelona meeting facilities are accessible directly from the Palau, the 19th century gardens cover 25,000 square meters in surface area and have two marquees for large celebrations.
The Palau de Congressos de Catalunya is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and provides broadband Internet access and wi-fi for over 1,000 users simultaneously. From the 3,000-square-meter kitchen, Prats Fatjo catering can craft menus for champagne receptions, business lunches, coffee breaks and more. In-house audio-visual services, parking for up to 250 vehicles and two business centers are among the other amenities at the Palau.
Barcelona International Convention Centre
Located in the Diagonal Mar area close to the sea, the Centre Convencions Internacional Barcelona (CCIB) offers cutting edge technology and top-notch services in its two buildings, which are linked via an underground walkway. Opened in 2004, the CCIB welcomed over 300 events and 390,000 delegates in its first three years of operation.
The Forum Building, with its unique triangular design, encompasses over 25,000 square meters. Its auditorium can seat up to 2,412 people and has a 740-square-meter stage. The Foyer has an additional 2,031 square meters of space.
Meanwhile, the Convention Centre boasts 45 meeting rooms across five floors. This Barcelona meeting facility boasts large exhibition area, divisible into eight spaces, offers a total of 10,817 square meters and a maximum capacity of over 10,000 people. Its modern banquet hall, with gleaming hardwood floors and one-of-a-kind waterfront views, can accommodate up to 1,200 people. For more intimate gatherings, the 319-square-foot VIP Room has a maximum capacity of 200 guests.
CCIB Catering can prepare up to 30,000 meals a day in its 2,500 square meters of kitchens. Audio-visual support, security, and first aid services are also offered at CCIB. More than 2,500 hotel rooms are located in the Diagonal Mar district, which is accessible via metro and bus lines.
With its two event venues, Gran Via and Montjuic, Fira de Barcelona has the largest trade fair area in Spain and one of the largest in Europe at 365,000 square meters. As such, it's not surprising that Fira is the undisputed leader in trade shows, with a portfolio of 80 exhibitions and 3.5 million visitors.
Gran Via offers 200,000 square meters of exhibition space spread across its six pavilions. Capable of hosting large-scale exhibitions, the Conference Centre at Gran Via covers 14,000 square meters of space, or a capacity of 5,600 people, which can be divided up into three, six, 12 or 20 rooms.
Meanwhile, the eight halls at Montjuic cover 115,000 square meters of exhibit space. One of them, the Palau de Congressos de Barcelona, has an auditorium for 1,650 people and 11 conference rooms in addition to over 5,800 square meters of exhibit space. Montjuic also has 50,000 square meters of space for outdoor events. Not only for large events, this is one the Barcelona meeting facilities that can host small meeting and events in addition to the larger scale events.
Barcelona Airport (BCN)
Approximate taxi fare: 26 EUR
Barcelona Airport, commonly known as El Prat, is the 2nd largest airport in Spain and the largest airport in Catalonia, serving more than 30 million passengers a year. Located 14 kilometers southwest of the city, it is the main hub for Spanair and low-cost airline Vueling. The Barcelona-Madrid air shuttle, or Puente Aéreo, operated at El Prat as the world's busiest route until 2008, when the high-speed Madrid-Barcelona rail line opened.
In preparation for the 1992 Olympics, El Prat underwent major renovations in its existing terminal, Terminal B, and saw the addition of Terminal A and C; now, these terminals comprise the airport's T1 and T2 terminals. Opened in 2009, the 544,066-square-meter T1 will help the airport adapt to its increasing traffic. With 166 check-in desks, 28 security checkpoints and 101 boarding gates, T1 will allow the airport to accommodate 55 million passengers a year.
The opening of T1 also brought over 20,000 square meters of new shopping area. Over time, this space will be filled with over 73 shops and 43 bars and restaurants. Currently, the airport has a selection of fast food and full-service eateries and shops offering clothing, accessories, souvenirs and more. The airport also has eight VIP lounges and 26 wireless Internet access points.
For conferences and work meetings, El Prat has two airport meeting rooms. The Catalunya Meeting Room, actually two rooms that can be joined for 200 square meters of space, has multimedia presentation capabilities upon request. The Business Centre has 2,600 square feet of space. This state-of-the-art space includes boardrooms, a multi-purpose room, offices, a restaurant area and even a fitness zone.
El Prat is accessible by the Renfe commuter train on the line 2, which makes stops at the Barcelona Sants station and Passeig de Gràcia station. Public bus service on line 46 also operates at the airport about every 16 minutes from Placa Espanya. Thanks to the addition of over 12,000 parking spaces with the opening of T1, El Prat has room for more than 23,000 vehicles.
Airline carriers serving Barcelona Airport
Renfe is the state-owned company that operates freight and passenger trains. Almost all international and long-distance trains arrive and depart from Sants-Estacio, the city's most important transportation hub. However, some make stops at Passeig de Gracia.
As the main public transit authority in Barcelona, Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) saw over 572 million passengers in 2008. Formerly two separate companies, TMB runs the majority of buses and metro lines in the Barcelona metropolitan area.
Guests can purchase integrated travel cards for easy transport and transfers among TMB's networks. Travel card T-10 is valid for 10 full journeys using all means of transport in designated zones. T-10 cards start at €7.70 for zone 1 and reach a maximum of €32.95 for zone 6.
Travel card T-Dia is valid for unlimted journeys for one day in the zones defined by the first validation using any means of transport. T-Dia cards start at €5.80 for zone 1 and reach a maximum of €16.50 for zone 6.
TMB's 1,000-vehicle bus fleet runs among 108 lines throughout the metropolitan area, with schedules varying based on route. Operating on three color-coded lines, the Barcelona Bus Turístic serves a number of important points of historic and cultural interest. The Red line makes stops in the northern areas of the city including Placa de Catalunya and Park Güell, while the Blue line serves much of the southern area with stops at Placa d'Espanya, Port Vell, Poble Espanyol and Barri Gòtic. The Green line, which runs April to September, serves southern points of interest near the coast, including Port Olímpic.
Buses on the Bus Turístic's Red and Blue lines start at around 9 AM or 9:30 AM with final departures November to March at 7 PM and April to October at 8 PM. The first buses on the Green line depart at 9:30 AM. Buses run about every five to 25 minutes depending on season.
One-day Bus Turístic fares are €13 for children ages 4-12 and €21 for adults. Single, non-integrated bus tickets, valid for one TMB bus journey, are €1.35.
The 771-vehicle metro fleet spans a network of 88.4 kilometers and 125 stations. TMB operates six metro lines: L1 (red), L2 (purple), L3 (green), L4 (yellow), L5 (blue) and L11 (light green). Construction is currently underway on two additional lines, L9 and L10, which will include service to Barcelona Airport.
Metro lines run Monday through Thursday, Sunday and holidays from 5 AM to midnight, Friday from 5 to 2 AM, and Saturday with non-stop service. Single, non-integrated metro tickets, valid for one TMB bus journey, are €1.35.
Running from Placa Kennedy/Avinguda del Tibidabo and the Placa del Doctor Andreu, Tramvia Blau offers connections to the Tibidabo Funicular. Tramvia Blau runs about every 30 to 40 minutes, with schedules varying based on season. Single tickets are €2.70 and round-trip tickets are €4.10.
Teleferic de Montjuic
Teleferic de Montjuic offers a modern, fun means of transport to the highest part of Montjuic. With a total length of 752 meters, it can transport approximately 2,000 people per hour in each direction in its 55 cabins, two of which are specially adapted for wheelchairs.
One-way tickets are €4.70 for children ages 4-12 and €6 for adults. Round-trip tickets are €6.30 for children and €8.30 for adults.
Once again available as an affordable, fast and comfortable means of transport, trams in Barcelona provide access to the city's major districts, shopping centers and residential areas. Trams run on two lines with three routes each: Trambaix (T1, T2, and T3) running on the south-west line of the city and Trambesós (T4, T5, and T6) running on the south-east line.
Trams generally run Monday through Thursday, Sunday and public holidays from 5 AM to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 5 AM to 2 PM. A single tram ticket, valid for transfers within 30 minutes, is €1.35. Integrated tickets can be used on the tram network.
Operated by the Catalan government, FGC trains complement the TMB metro network. The FGC has three color-coded commuter lines: L6 (dark blue), L7 (brown), L8 (pink).
Bike Rental Barcelona has been renting bikes to hotel customers for over six years. Rented bikes are delivered directly to patrons' hotels, and prices include pick-up service, a high-security lock and, if needed, mechanical assistance. Folding bikes and ergo bikes are available.
Bike Rental Barcelona is open 360 days a year, 7 days a week, 10 hours a day. Prices range from €12 to €90 depending on the type of bike and how many hours or days are needed. For more information: +34 666 057 655
Avis, Europcar, Hertz, National Atesa and Sol-Mar serve Barcelona Airport. Each agency has counters at both terminals.
Barcelona's black-and-yellow taxis can be hailed from cab stands throughout Barcelona. Taxi ranks are also located at each terminal at El Prat. The 20- to 30-minute journey from El Prat to the city center costs around €25. Taxis in Barcelona also charge a surcharge for each bag carried, the rates for which should be displayed inside the cab.
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