x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Catalan flavours in bustling Barcelona

The Life: Barcelona has far more to offer beyond the dazzling skills of Lionel Messi and its renowned football team.

Barcelona offers more than the finest football. David Ramos / Bloomberg
Barcelona offers more than the finest football. David Ramos / Bloomberg

Barcelona has become synonymous with football and it is through this sport the UAE has cemented a relationship with the Spanish city: the mobile operator Etisalat renewed its sponsorship of the city's football club earlier this year.

But Barcelona has a lot more to offer than just football matches and Lionel Messi.

The Catalonian capital is a good example of a city that continues to benefit from its legacy of hosting the Olympics in 1992, attracting droves of tourists every year, whether on holiday or business.

Barcelona has done well in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions category and managed to steal St Tropez's hosting seat for the Mobile World Congress a few years ago, attracting more than 60,000 delegates every year for the one event alone.

Time out: If you are free between meetings, visit the infamous La Rambla, a bustling, tree-lined boulevard featuring shops, street performers, bars and restaurants and the Boqueria market, selling everything from fish to fruit.

Where to stay: The Hotel Arts Barcelona is conveniently located in Port Olympic, originally developed for the Olympics. The area still has good nightlife and excellent restaurants by the coast.

Alternatively: Barcelona Airport Hotel in El Prat de Llobregat, which is also close to Camp Nou, the home of Barcelona Football Club. The hotel has a rooftop terrace, an outdoor pool and Wi-Fi.

Eating out: There is no shortage of good food in Barcelona, from traditional Catalan fare such as paella and tapas to more experimental cuisine. The city is famed for its seafood and fresh produce. For some of the best tapas in town, try Tickets in Avinguda Parallel, the brainchild of Ferran Adrià, the head chef of the world's best restaurant El Bulli.

How to get there: Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways both offer frequent flights, as does the Spanish national airline, Iberia. It is an eight-hour flight and the airport is well connected with public transport. It is just a 20-minute taxi ride away from the city centre.

Currency: €1 = Dh4.77