While our International Ground Guide is undergoing some maintenance, we thought we'd provide our usual service of advice and information for travelling supporters in brief blog form.
Once up and running again our ground guide will cover all manner of information from travel options to hotel advice, eating and drinking suggestions to practical tips on getting around, along with safety and security advice and anything else we think will be of use to travelling supporters.
In the meantime, while the below might not necessarily have all the information you'll be after if you're heading out to Italy this week, we're always available to help - just drop us an email if you have any questions.
We'll do our best to find out what you need to know, either from our own vast experience in covering England and Wales games abroad, or from our friends at Football Supporters Europe.
The Catalan capital is well on the beaten path when it comes to UK tourists, and many City fans will already have been there, if not for a match then just for a holiday.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the city if you’re lucky enough to have some time to spend taking in the sights.
For any football fan, one of the main trips if you’ve not done it before, is a visit to the FC Barcelona Museum at the Nou Camp and a stadium tour. The museum is open 10am – 6.30pm during the week, with tours running until 5.30pm and on Sundays from 10am – 2pm with tours running until 1.30pm. As part of the Camp Nou tour, you get to visit the changing rooms and run down the tunnel onto the pitch and sit in the Directors’ Box. The tour costs €10.50 for adults or €6.50 to just visit the museum. For further details, or to purchase tickets online, visit the FC Barcelona website.
However there are also numerous other things worth seeing and doing whilst in the city. The most popular in terms of visitor numbers is the Sagrada Familia built by Antonio Gaudi .It is open from 9am – 6pm during the Winter months and costs €8 to go in. There is a lift which takes you up 65m to the viewing platform. Construction began in 1882 and it is still estimated to be another 50 – 80 years before it is finished. Like marmite, it’s one of those things you’ll either love or hate. For further details visit the website at sagradafamilia.org.
Some of the more recent attractions include the Aquarium and Zoo. The aquarium (metro L3 Drassanes or L4 Barceloneta) is located in the port area and is open daily from 9.30am – 9pm and costs €15 for adults and €12 for children. If you are a qualified diver, you also have the option of swimming with sharks. If this appeals, visit a psychiatrist. Barcelona Zoo is located in the Parc de la Ciutadella (metro L4 Ciutadella ) and is open 10am – 6pm during March. It costs €14.50 adults and €8.75 for children up to 12. As well as plenty of animals, there is a children’s play area, bars, restaurants and picnic tables.
Since the 1992 Olympics, the city has been known for its numerous fountains around the city. There are currently over 200 ornamental fountains in parks, gardens and walkways. One of the most famous since its creation in 1929 is la font Màgica de Montjuic, or the Magic Fountain (metro L1 & L3 Plaça Espanya). There are some rather spectacular displays of water, light and sound held on a Friday and Saturday during the winter from 7pm – 9pm.
Other Things to Do
For shopping and purposes of orientation, the most recognised street in the city is Las Ramblas, around 1.5 miles in length linking the harbour in the south to Plaça Catalunya at the northern end. As well as being a hive of activity for shopping, it is also common to find several different types of street entertainment throughout the day and a variety of bars and restaurants in the evening.
The city also has a couple of amusements parks, including Tibadabo on the highest point of the city, accessible by bus from Placa Catalunya or by Tramvia Blau (€2.30 single, €3.50 return). It is only open weekends in March from 12pm – 8pm and costs €22 for adults and €11 for children.
Slightly further away, just under 70 miles from the city, but on a much larger scale is Port Aventura which opens in late March. It costs €35 for adults and €28 for children. Next door is Caribe Aquatic Park which costs €9.50 for adults and €8 for children. During early season (march and April) only the indoor parts of the park are open. It is easily accessible by bus, train or car from Barcelona.
It is also worth noting that the city has over 2.5 miles of sandy beaches.
Getting Around By Public Transport
Barcelona has an efficient and comprehensive subway system which covers everywhere you’re likely to want or need to go.
To simplify the system, there are five colour-coded lines which radiate from the city centre. Stations are recognizable by a red diamond-shaped sign with the letter M in the middle.
There are a variety of tickets on offer which can be purchased from the ticket office or any of the self-service machines inside the station. A single ticket costs €1.20, but if you are in the city for any length of time, more cost effective options include the T-10 which offers 10 journeys and can be shared amongst a group for €6.65 or a Day Ticket for unlimited 24-hour transport in central Barcelona for €5. Travel Cards valid for between 2 and 5 days are also available costing €9.20 for 2 days, €13.20 for 3 days, €16.80 for 4 days and €20 for 5 days. All these tickets are valid for the bus systems as well as the Metro.
The Metro runs from 5am through until midnight during the week and until 2am of a weekend. The transport company, TMB, has a great website which you can use to plan your journey and have a look at the different tickets available, and, even better, you don't have to speak Spanish to be able to use it! For further details, (including information on travelling around the city for disabled supporters – accessible metro stations, buses that can carry wheelchairs – 80% are single-decked vehicles which are wheelchair accessible etc) visit their website by clicking on the link above. Under 4’s travel free and smoking is not permitted on buses or any metro services. The fine for travelling without a valid ticket is €40.
Getting Around By Taxi
Taxis are common and relatively inexpensive. If they are available, they will display a green light and can be hailed in the street or from one of the many taxi ranks around the city centre. The night rate runs from 8pm when they become more expensive. To call a taxi or order one in advance, or for details of taxis able to carry wheelchairs, call the Institut Metropolità del Taxi at tel. 00 34 93 22 35 151. It is worth checking that the meter is reset at the start of your journey to ensure that you are not overcharged.
Getting to the Ground
On matchdays, it is recommendable to get to the ground by public transport as traffic can be a nightmare around the stadium.
By Metro - Line 3 (leave at Maria Cristina or Les Corts) or Line 5 (leave at Collblanc or Badal) €1.10 single journey
By Bus - Bus services: 7, 15, 43, 67, 68, 74, 75, L12, L50, L60, & L62
Eating and Drinking
As you would expect, there are plenty of local bars and pubs serving a range of beer, too many to mention, but if you’re on the city for a couple of days, try the Port Olimpic or Olympic Harbour with a wide range of places to eat, drink and dance the night away in a rather picturesque setting.
The city has numerous restaurants serving a range of international cuisine with tapas being widely available. Typical pub grub and snacks are available in many of the Irish and English pubs and there are plenty of KFC and McDonalds restaurants on the main tourist streets. If you fancy seafood, try one of the restaurants down by the Olimpic Port area. There is also a selection of vegetarian restaurants throughout the city.
Local Foods & Beverages
When you think of Spain you think of tapas, and rightly so, but Barcelona is also well known for its variety of seafood cuisine. Indeed, Spain is the largest per capita consumer of fish in Europe.
The range of tapas on offer varies greatly; originating many moons ago as a piece of bread that was placed over a drink to keep the flies away (from tapar, literally meaning ‘to cover’), the cuisine grew to the extent that the breads soon came with toppings, until all drinks were typically served with these small snacks. Tapas now comes in two forms – either the small snack served with a drink, or a larger meal, meant for sharing among friends.
What you are likely to receive with your beer/wine depends greatly on the café or bar in which it is served – some will offer up a relatively simple snack such as olives, others will go much further and give their patrons small versions of main meal dishes. Either way, it’s a great way to try some of the local cuisine.
When going out for a meal of tapas, it is more customary to order a racion, which is a larger dish than the small snack that accompanies a drink, and each person will order a couple of these to share.
Main Drinking Areas
Simply put: Las Ramblas. Most fans will head here during the day, although we might suggesting heading off into some of the smaller side-streets to avoid the mass of bodies and finding yourself a smaller, local bar if you want to avoid the higher prices and tourist trappings.
Irish & English Pubs
The city, as you would expect, has no shortage of places to eat and drink, no matter what you fancy. There are the customary selection of Irish bars and British pubs – in fact more than 20 to choose from, with a couple of Aussie bars thrown in for good measure.
Some of the more centrally-located (and therefore likely to popular with English fans, despite being somewhat pricey) include Michael Collins Pub opposite Sagrada Familia in the heart of the city (metro L2 or L5 to station of the same name), open everyday from 12pm – 3am, Temple Bar on Carrer Ferran, just off Las Ramblas, open 12pm – 2am during the week through until 3am on weekends (metro Liceu L4) but expect to pay around €5.20 for Guinness and €4.50 for a pint.
However, these are only a selection and others include My Bar, the Temple Bar’s younger brother, just off Las Ramblas (metro L3 Liceu) with the same opening hours and prices; Flaherty’s again just off Las Ramblas (metro L3 to Liceu) where you can get Guinness for €4.70 and a pint for around €4.20, the Donegal Irish Pub, opened in 2005 of Las Ramblas, open from 8.30am – 3am and from 11am on weekends, the Shamrock (metro L1 or L3 to Catalunya), open from 12pm to 2.30am and to 3am on weekends and McCarthy’s Bar (metro L1 or L4 Urquinaona), open from 1pm – 2.30am during the week and until 3am on the weekend offering pints for €3.70 and Guinness for €4.50.
There are also a couple of English pubs including the Black Horse situated on C/Allada Vermall – from Las Ramblas walk along C/ Ferran across via Laietana along C/ Princesa to C/Allada Vermall (metro L1 or L2 Arc de Triomf). It is open 6pm – 2am and from 1pm – 3am on weekends. The Smoking Dog (metro Sant Antoni) is slightly further out of the city centre open 6pm – 2.30am or 3am on weekends and serves the usual beers and Guinness for around €3.60 to €4. The George and Dragon just off Paseo de Gracia (metro L2, L3, L4 Gracia) is fairly centrally-located and is open until 2.30am everyday.
FSF Cymru also produced this guide to Barcelona for the Welsh national side's recent game in Andorra, which is worth a look for additional information.