Get a tennis fan’s eye view of visiting Barcelona and going to the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell tournament.
Barcelona is a fabulous city. I visited for a few days in 2008 and have always wanted to return so was really happy to be able to travel there for a few days last week for sightseeing, tapas and a day at the Barcelona Open quarterfinals.
People in Barcelona are super friendly and helpful, beautiful architecture and Gaudi buildings are everywhere, there is an endless range of fabulous places to eat and drink, public transport is easy to use and affordable, and the shopping is good too. Oh and it hosts a tennis tournament – what’s not to love!
Buying Tickets for the Barcelona Open
I’ve bought a lot of tennis tickets over the years and have to say that this was one of the best online ticket buying experiences that I’ve had. The website provides all the important information and makes it easy to find, and it offers a 3D view of what you’ll see from near the seat you select, so you can see where the seat is located and how far from the court it is.
I’m not sure when tickets go on sale but we bought them in January. Being willing to pay for the front section and take two individual seats rather than two together meant that my seat was two rows behind the corporate boxes with a fabulous view.
Here are the ticket prices from 2016.
Attending The Barcelona Open Tennis Tournament
Getting to the Reial Club de Tennis Barcelona, which hosts the tournament, was pretty straightforward. We took the Metro to Maria Cristina and from there it’s a 15-20 minute walk (uphill to get there and downhill on the way back).
The grounds are quite small but weren’t crowded at all. There was a small queue to buy food and drinks but I never had to queue for toilets. Note that beer is the only alcoholic drink available and on a volume basis costs about the same as water (it was 2 Euro for a tiny water and 2.50 for a cup of beer).
We went to a local market and bought food in with us (should have bought bottled water in too!). I couldn’t find any information about what you can, and can’t, bring in with you but there didn’t seem to be any restrictions and I didn’t see anything getting confiscated at the entry (there is a bag screen but I think they were looking for metal, not checking for food supplies!).
Centre Court holds 8,400 people and it’s a great tennis atmosphere. I felt like people were there to watch tennis and not just to chat to their friends like some tournaments. There’s a nice feeling that locals attend every year and are all good friends as there was a lot of kissing of cheeks to greet friends, particularly in the corporate seats at the front.
The seats past the inner section are added temporarily via a lot of scaffolding which works well. The stairs and walkways are really creaky and can make noticeable noise if people walk on them while the ball is in play, which hopefully discourages that “non tennis etiquette” behaviour.
On that note I give the tournament credit for adding “formal rules” to their website to encourage good crowd etiquette.
If you haven’t attended a live tennis tournament, or want to learn more, watch my video on Tennis Fan Etiquette.
As it was quarterfinals day we saw four matches (I think it’s great value to see all quarterfinals on the same ticket).
Although some matches were up and down we saw some incredible tennis on display:
- Benoit Paire v Malek Jaziri (Paire won in 3)
- Kei Nishikori v Alexandr Dolgopolov (Nishikori won in 2)
- Rafael Nadal v Fabio Fognini (Nadal won in 2)
- Philipp Kohlscreiber v Kuznetsov (Kohlscreiber in 2).
Personally I love watching clay court tennis, especially live.
If you’ve read my blog or social media you’re probably aware that I’m a huge Rafa fan. When I booked my tickets I was hope hope hoping that I’d see Rafa in the quarterfinals but it wasn’t guaranteed.
To be able to see him play in Barcelona where he has massive support, and play so well, is now one of my best tennis memories. I’m so happy that Rafa won his quarterfinal and went on to win the tournament for a record breaking ninth time after a fantastic final against Kei Nishikori. Both players are looking great coming into Roland Garros in a few weeks.
Getting Around Barcelona via the Metro
The Barcelona metro was super easy to use. If you’re spending a few days there the Barcelona Travel Card allows unlimited travel on all public transport and includes the Metro to and from the airport. Our 4 day card was 26.50 Euro and given the amount it often costs just to get to an airport and back I thought it was great value. Find out more.
Eating and Drinking
There is great food galore in Barcelona. Tapas restaurants are everywhere so be ready to enjoy meat platters, patatas bravas, tortillas, paella and seafood. There are loads of non Spanish options too like magnificent Argentinian steaks, Italian pizzas and Japanese noodles.
The key thing to remember if you’re from Australia, the USA or UK is that meal times in Spain are later than we are used to.
Have lunch from around 1.30pm and dinner from around 9pm. And I can confirm that no matter how hungry you are it is worth waiting until the authentic places open and start serving food.
There’s a good summary in this article on When are Spanish mealtimes?
We used the Yelp app to find local places that had good reviews and enjoyed really incredible food and service for the majority of our meals. It was pointed out to me that you need to be ‘patient’ to accomodate the laid back Spanish style of service. There is no rushing around!
If you’re buying wine from a Supermercat also be aware that wine still comes with a cork in Spain, so you’ll need a bottle opener to open it.
I could walk around and look up at the streets of Barcelona for hours on end, and pretty much did! The apartment buildings have beautiful balconies, there are many ‘must-see’ Gaudi buildings and parks are scattered regularly though out the city.
A Google search will bring up useful websites for travellers to Barcelona and search the App store for tourist apps. I liked the Barcelona Turisme app.
Another useful tip is to download Google maps to your phone so that you don’t need wifi access to use them (very useful if you get lost and don’t have a map!)
If you get the chance to go to the Barcelona Open go-for-it as it offer a great tennis fan experience.
If you’re from Barcelona or have visited Barcelona and have any extra information to add, I’d love you to leave a comment below.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal