Barcelona is known as the Spanish city that has sea, mountains, panoramic views, great seafood and amazing Gaudi architecture all in one place. However, it is a city that offers so much more than that. For our industry, it is home to the Mobile World Congress (MWC), Europe’s largest mobile conference. For many mobile professionals, the yearly trip to Barcelona has something of a pilgrimage and during that time, the whole city transforms to cater to thousands of handset developers, telecom providers and mobile enthusiasts.
This year, MWC will take place from February 22-25 and aims to attract over 100K global visitors. If this is your first time at MWC, fear not! We have picked the minds of our MWC Veterans at AppLift for tips about the show so you don’t end up completely exhausted after this four-day marathon.
If you’re seasoned MWC-goer, we’ve got you covered as well! We’ve selected the best places to eat, drink, or simply visit if you have a bit of time on your hands.
Fun fact: the GSMA (organizers of MWC) chose Barcelona as Mobile World Capital from 2006 until 2018. It was previously in Cannes (France) and rumor has it that Istanbul will take over afterwards.
MWC Tips From Our MWC Veterans
Maor Sadra, MD & CRO, 6-time (!) MWC attendee, recommends:
“Use the underground to get to the FIRA in the morning (GSMA provides one free travel ticket for the duration of the conference to each attendee). During evening, queue in the taxi line - it's an awesome networking opportunity”.
Note: The new metro line L9 now connect Barcelona Airport directly to the city and has a stop right in front of the Gran Fira. Find more details here.
“Unfortunately there is a lot of theft during MWC (even WITHIN the premises) - keep your eyes on your stuff! Barcelona is also infamously known for pickpocketing, so do not make yourself a target and remove your badge once leaving the conference.”
Vai Gupta, CIO, 2-time MWC attendee, advises:
“Hall 8.0 (underneath 8.1) is mostly empty and has plenty of space for meetings.”
“ Try not to rely on the Free Wifi in the Fira or any other free wifi networks. Use your mobile data or data card.”
Ermanna Maiuri, Head of Programmatic and 2-time MWC delegate, suggests:
"Be Prepared: Bring plenty of business cards, to avoid being empty-handed after the first day"
“Shopping in Barcelona is great! Make sure you have some time for it ;) Kokua is a cool shop selling hand-made ballerina flats in every possible colour you can imagine! KOKUA - Carrer de la Boqueria, 30.”
Thomas Sommer, Team Lead Content & Communications, 3-time MWC attendee, encourages:
“Make sure to always have your ID on you...they check...all the time.”
“Bring painkillers and Vitamin C. They’ll save your life, literally.”
Jason Santillano, Director of Marketing, 4-time MWC delegate, recommends:
“The FIRA is extremely large, allocate at least 15mins of "commute" time especially if you're going to a different hall.”
“Hand sanitizer is your best friend.”
Ben Weinstock, VP of Supply, 3-time MWC attendee, advises:
“Make sure to drink moderately during the first night parties..you still have 3 days to go…”
“ Visit Barceló Raval rooftop for amazing views of the city and great drinks.”
Work Hard & Play Hard
Just a friendly warning: your stay during MWC will be jam-packed. If you manage to escape in the evening or get the chance to extend your trip, here are a few tips. As a previous resident of Barça, I would like to share the best places to eat, drink and see during your stay in the magical city.
What to see
Shopping with the bulls
For a unique shopping experience, visit the Centro Comercial Arenas, where you can find brands from Spanish fashion house Inditex, such as Zara and Stradivarius, as well as local brands Tous and Desigual. Beyond the shopping experience, feel free to take a nice stroll through the mall to experience in all its glory what used to be Barcelona’s “plaza de toros” (bullfighting arena).
Explore the mysterious Gothic Quarter
The locals call it: El Barrio Gótico, the heart of the old city. It is bursting with bars, vermuterias, cervecerias (one very important phrase to remember: “Una cerveza por favor”) and taperías. By day and by night, you’ll find plenty of energy as well as many street acts (Tip: Catch the Catalan Dance ‘La Sardana’ on Sundays at 6:30 in front of the cathedral). The most beautiful part of this section is the enchanting winding streets that lead in and out of small squares and straight to some of the most beautiful churches and towers (Roman defence towers in Plaça Nova and the Barcelona Cathedral) and museums (Picasso Museum of Barcelona).
Get a full city view
Escape Las Ramblas and La Barceloneta and take a short hike or a short train ride to the top of the city to see Barcelona in its magnitude.
At the tops of Mount Tibidado, you’ll find several escapes; visit to the neo-gothic church Sagrat Cor (which has a secret elevator for all shutterbugs to capture an amazing snapshot of the whole city) or take a ferris wheel ride in one of the oldest amusement parks.
See the city from Parc Güell
Often placed at the top of the list of the ‘must-do’s’ in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, one of the major works of Gaudi, Catalan Architect. The park can be found at the top of the Carmel Hill, offers scenic views of the whole city, and showcases some of the most breathtaking ceramic sculptures.
Fun Fact: The park was originally designed to be a local marketplace and later opened as a museum in the mid-60s.
Tip: The park has multiple entries - for the most scenic route, enter the park through the main access via Carrer d’Olot.
What to eat:
Spain is known for having one of the best cuisines, from the local seafood to the popular charcutería (think jamón & chorizo) and their exceptional tapas culture. You’re encouraged to taste the whole menu and share it with friends around delicious wine. Barcelona is a city recognized for having some of the best restaurants in Spain. From traditional to fusion cooking, there is definitely enough to choose from. Here are my personal picks to satisfy all cravings:
Botafumeiro offers one of the best mariscadas (fish & shellfish) in the city.
Can Paixano, located off of Las Ramblas, is a popular hotspot in the city, specialized in the production and sell of cava (bubbly wine from Spain) along with a great selection of Tapas. Pay it a visit for the great energy and the selection of cavas.
La Boquería, the central food market, offers an explosion of sounds & tastes. Try one of their freshly pressed juices to keep your energy high and your system in check to beat the hustle and bustle of MWC.
El Viti Taberna offers a mix of tapas and picoteo. A genuine taste of Spanish cuisine. Tip: Try the Pulpo a la Brasa.
Tip: Try Spain’s famous churros y chocolate at a local xurreria
Barcelona at Night
The city is filled with plenty of bars to enjoy a great Gin & Tonic (fun fact: the Gintonic craze started in Spain) or a nice chupito (shot). And, obviously, don’t miss the dance floor.
Bar Tequila offers a unique experience for all rock fans and metal heads. Jam out to your own music through individual headphones coming down from the ceiling. The bar also offers a large selection of shots and mixers.
Opium Mar offers a smooth transition from a casual dinner with a sea view. It quickly transforms into a dance club with the sounds of pop and electronic music.
Cafe Marula in the Gothic Quarter allows you to escape techno and dance music and offers a stylish and classic night out with a mix of live performances and a DJ that plays some soul, jazz, funk and hip-hop.
Together with Apps Developers Alliance we will be co-hosting this year Mobile Apps Party at the W hotel on February 23rd at 8 p.m. If you are interested in joining send us email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a complimentary ticket.
Something a little extra…
Hop on the the R1 train at Barcelona Sants (direction Blanes) and take one of the most scenic train routes that travels along the Costa Brava. Hop on and off to explore the endless amounts of beaches in between (the total journey takes about two hours).
We would love to hear your tips for the conference or for the city, please leave your comments below!