One of the great football powerhouses of today, FC Barcelona has always been ‘més que un club’ (‘more than a club’). This motto, coined back in 1968, does a fine job evoking the deeper sense of Catalan identity that so many Barcelonins feel when the blaugranes (blue and scarlet) take the field. Seeing a game is the quintessential highlight, but there are many other ways to experience Barcelona as a fan – whether celebrating at a city landmark after a big win, or exploring an infamous sight where history was made.
Seeing a Game
A pilgrimage site for football fans from around the world, Camp Nou is hallowed grounds. The size is staggering – with a near 100,000-seat capacity, this is one of the largest football stadiums on earth – and during matches, the roar of the crowd, is awe-inspiring. These days, Catalan pride runs high, with fans waving banderas independentistas (independence flags) and giving added resonance to the lines of the club anthem: ‘mai ningú no ens podrá tòrcer!’ (‘we can never be defeated!’).
You can purchase tickets at the stadium online (check www.fcbarcelona.com/info-tickets/things-to-do-in-barcelona) and at key locations around the city, including tourist offices. Tickets can cost anywhere from €39 to upwards of €250, depending on the seat and match. On match day the ticket windows (at gates 9 and 15) open from 9.15am until kick off.
Camp Nou Experience
While nothing compares to the excitement of attending a live match, the Camp Nou Experience (www.fcbarcelona.com/camp-nou) is a must for FC Barcelona fans. On this circuitous wander through the arena, you'll get an in-depth look at the club, starting with a museum filled with hands-on exhibitions, historical displays and trophies (Messi gets his own special area). All that’s followed by a tour of the stadium. Diehard fans might feel a little weak in the knees after walking through the tunnel and on to the edge of the pitch. You'll also get to peek inside the visiting team’s dressing room, the television studio, the press room and the commentary boxes. Set aside a half day for the whole visit. For the easiest access, head to Gate 9 (off Avinguda de Joan XXIII near Carrer de Martí i Franquès). Tickets can be found at
The three-story FCB Megastore (www.fcbmegastore.com) is also on the grounds. Here you’ll find any piece of Barça's gear you can imagine, customized jerseys with your name and preferred number, ready for you that same day.
Where to watch the game
La Taverna de Barcelona
Not your typical sports bar, this tavern channels a classy 1930s vibe, with dark wood furniture and old-fashioned photos of bygone days covering the paneled walls. Add to this a few well-placed screens and a throng of die-hard FC Barcelona fans, and you have a memorable setting for catching the latest match of the Copa del Rey. There’s also tapas, ever-flowing pitchers of sangria and live bands from time to time (on non-game nights of course). It’s located right around the corner from Plaça de Catalunya, a short stroll from La Rambla.
Mau Mau Underground
A fine alternative to the tourist-filled pubs of the Gothic quarter, Mau Mau Underground (www.maumaunderground.com) feels more like a lounge, with sofas and a stylish interior set in a former warehouse space in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec. Watching a game here – on one of the two giant screens – feels more like being in a private loft than in a bar. The drink of choice here is gin, with more than 35 types on hand. It normally opens only Thursdays to Saturdays, and whenever there’s a big FC Barcelona match happening.
In the youthful neighbourhood of Gràcia, this much-loved drinking den, whose name means ‘Overtime’ in Spanish, goes mad for Barça when the Catalan side takes the field. It draws a mostly local crowd, and has a friendly, festive vibe. The setting is a bit of industrial chic with exposed bulbs, tall ceilings and a long wooden bar, where Barça fans watch in hushed silence while sipping frothy pints and nibbling on tapas. The beer selection is decent – and the self-service system is remarkably efficient. Go early to score a table, otherwise, plan on standing for the length of the match.
Curiosities & Historical Intrigue
Font de Canaletes
Near the Gothic Quarter, this elegant, 19th-century drinking fountain is a favourite meeting spot for FC Barcelona supporters after major matches. Strategically placed near the northern end of La Rambla (the city’s most famous pedestrian strip), the fountain has been drawing post-game fans since the 1930s – back in those days, the offices of the sporting newspaper La Rambla stood just opposite the fountain, and the paper would hang a blackboard announcing the results of the game outside the door. While you’re here, go ahead and take a big swig out of one of the four water spouts. According to legend, whoever drinks out of the fountain will come back to Barcelona.
Barça’s Civil War connections
As one of the last holdouts against Franco during the Spanish Civil War, Barcelona suffered heavily. FC Barcelona, which had become for many residents a rallying point for Catalan resistance against the central government, was particularly targeted. The club’s president, Josep Sunyol, was on his way back to Barcelona after visiting Republican troops just days after the start of the war in 1936, when his chauffeured vehicle was stopped by Francoist forces, and he was summarily executed. A few years later, in March, 1938, the FC Barcelona Social Club in the Eixample district was bombed.
Although there are no traces of the damages, nearby parts of the city still bear the scars from aerial raids. In the Barri Gòtic, the pockmarked walls around Plaça Sant Felip Neri show the devastation from one particularly gruesome day of bombardment. Barcelonins dug air-raid shelters into the hills around the city for protection. Up on Montjuïc, you can visit a well-preserved shelter, known as Refugi 307, that provides a window into that harrowing time.
Relive Quini’s rescue
One of the most unusual events in FC Barça’s history transpired a few blocks east of Camp Nou. In March, 1981, famed striker Enrique ‘Quini’ Castro was kidnapped just after playing in a match against Hércules de Alicante (scoring two of the team’s six goals). He was taken at gunpoint, thrown into the boot of a car and whisked away to an unknown location. When the story broke, journalists and police descended on the area, and Can Fusté, a restaurant below the footballer’s apartment, became the base of police operations. Working round the clock, police managed to track down the criminals and free Quini – some 25 days after he was taken. The story ended well for Quini, though FC Barcelona played poorly without their star player, and lost any chance of the league title that year.
Some 35 years later, Can Fusté (canfuste.es/en) is still operating and makes a fine spot for dining on market-fresh Catalan cuisine while contemplating the past (as Quini did when he reunited here in 2012 with 10 of the policemen who helped free him).