It is that time of the year again. The Mobile World Congress (MWC), the biggest technology exhibition and conference worldwide, starts in a few days. Thousands of delegates, exhibitors, press, security and service personnel, are arriving in the Catalan capital city for the show.
Here are a few tips to make your stay as pleasant as possible:
Sightseeing and Entertainment
Barcelona is a tourist magnet and the fourth most popular European destination for holidaymakers. The two most popular sights are the Sagrada Familia Basilica and the Football Club Barcelona (Barça) Museum.
Visiting the Sagrada Familia is a must for first time visitors, and tickets sell fast. Do not bother going there if you didn’t purchase a ticket online, you won’t get in. Please always use the official site for reservations.
If you have some spare time or staying longer, pay a visit to the Sant Pau Modernist site, Picasso museum, Santa María del Mar basilica, and Casa Batlló, another Gaudí building.
- Unless you are staying within walking distance of the fairgrounds allow up to one hour to get to the conference. If your company doesn’t provide private transportation, use the Metro and trains. The nearest station is Europa Fira.
- Use buses and taxis to the fairgrounds only when absolutely necessary, as traffic jams in the area occur in the morning. It could take you an additional half-hour for the last mile.
- Don’t look for Uber in Barcelona, it doesn’t operate here. Apps such as MyTaxi and HailO will let you book official taxis in the city.
- When using taxis DO NOT pay with cash. All licensed taxis in Barcelona are required to accept credit cards, and tipping is not necessary nor customary. Some taxi drivers, knowing that many foreigners tip, claim that they can’t accept credit cards to get tips in cash.
- Usually, all congress delegates get a free transit card for the duration of the show. If you arrive on Sunday and/or plan to stay longer consider buying a T-Casual card (ten trips for € 11.35). It is valid for all public transport in Barcelona (Metro, Buses, Trams and Trains) with free transfer within 75 minutes. If you plan to stay longer, buy a T-Usual card (one month for € 20, you need to put your ID number*). All train and metro stations have automated machines selling the transport cards and accept most credit and debit cards.
*if you buy the monthly pass you can’t share it with anyone. At the end of your stay please destroy it. The € 20 price is a 50% discount for 2023.
Banking and Shopping
- In Barcelona you can find a bank branch and an ATM in almost every corner. If you are coming to the city with currency other than Euros, try not to use exchange shops, as their rates are the worst. If you have a debit card, use it to withdraw money from a bank ATM. Please BE AWARE that many shops have ATMs now. Avoid ATMs with the Euronet logo.
- You’ll find that you can pay for almost everything with plastic, please use it. It is safer and you’ll get a receipt.
- Please do not buy anything from street vendors, especially fake souvenirs. They are controlled by mafias that exploit them, and you can be fined € 50 by the police for purchasing fake copyrighted items.
- IMPORTANT FOR NON-EURO CARD HOLDERS: Banks and point-of-sale terminals will ask you if you want to pay in Euros or convert the charge to your own currency. Always pay in Euros, it will save you 2% to 5% of “currency conversion fees”.
- Please do not tip. Recently, some restaurants and coffee shops started to “recommend” tipping percentages when producing your bill. It is not required nor customary to tip in Spain. If you really feel that you want to leave a gratuity for an amazing service, tell your waiter before he/she charges your card; a few euros is more than enough.
- Barcelona is considered one of the safest cities in the world. Serious crime is almost non-existent and you can walk in the streets any time without concern for personal safety.
- Pickpocketing, however, is widespread, especially in popular tourist areas, pickpockets are skilled at their trade and usually work in teams.
- While you might need your passport or any EU ID card to pick up your conference badge, leave one piece of ID in your hotel. If you activate the digital badge on your smartphone after registering, you won’t need to carry your ID to the show.
- There is a 24-hour toll-free police hotline for conference attendees, which is printed on the back of your badge holder. The number is 900–77–2017. You can also dial 112 (EU emergency number) anytime.