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Spain’s Madrid and Barcelona: Reimagining Business Travel

Beyond its well-deserved reputation as the world’s coveted tourist hotspot, Spain stands tall as a thriving hub for professional gatherings. According to the International Congress & Conventions Association (ICCA) 2022 report, it ranks second worldwide in hosting international meetings, an accomplishment further highlighted by the presence of not one but two of its cities—Barcelona and Madrid—in the top ten. 

Spain’s allure as a MICE destination is anchored in its comprehensive infrastructure, boasting an impressive array of assets to facilitate seamless events. With a staggering 16,000 hotels, including nearly 100 renowned Paradores known for their event-hosting capabilities, as well as for their history and heritage, Spain can effortlessly accommodate large-scale gatherings. 

Moreover, the country boasts a highly efficient transportation network featuring over 30 international airports, seven major cruise ports, an extensive 3,000-kilometre high-speed railway network, and Europe’s most extensive road and motorway system.  

But Spain’s dedication to the MICE sector extends beyond such advancements; it is woven into the very fabric of the nation. 
Through its specialised departments across destinations, forming the Spain Convention Bureau network, and through close collaboration with experienced local service providers, Spain orchestrates over 22,000 business events annually, attended by nearly four million participants. This ensures not only efficient event planning and execution, but also a memorable and productive experience for attendees.  

Furthermore, if you are looking to combine business with  leisure travel, Spain is the right destination, with architectural marvels, such as Barcelona’s Art Nouveau buildings and a treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage sites across its historic cities.  


Spain’s cosmopolitan capital, Madrid, stands as a prime destination for MICE and business travel, underpinned by a wealth of possibilities and a track record of hosting prestigious international events, including ESMO (European Congress of Medical Oncology), WOBI (World Business Forum), WATMC (World ATM Congress), and FITUR (International Tourism Fair).  

As one of the main Spanish transportation hubs, Madrid offers unparalleled air, high-speed train, and road connectivity, with an airport linking to 170 global destinations. In addition, supported by the Madrid Convention Bureau (MCB), a member of the Best Cities Global Alliance dedicated to promoting excellence in major congress organisations and an array of agencies and associations, event planning is seamless.  

Top Venues:

The city’s allure is further amplified by its diverse range of unique venues. The sleek and contemporary Nancampo De Las Naciones Municipal Conference Centre is an architectural masterpiece by Ricardo Bofill. It offers exhibition spaces, an auditorium, a versatile multipurpose hall, and rooms of varying capacities. 

IFEMA- Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions

Meanwhile, IFEMA- Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions, with twelve pavilions, two auditoriums, and 97 rooms accommodating 50 to 500 individuals, guarantee the success of any congress or event.  

For bigger events, Caja Magica Complex, with three stadiums that facilitate both outdoor and indoor events, is an ideal place.  

Where To Stay:

With 80,000 beds and a diverse array of top-notch establishments, including numerous four-and five-star options, Madrid’s hospitality network ensures that you can tailor your choice to the specific needs of your congress or meeting.  

In the bustling business district of Paseo de la Castellana, you will discover the Intercontinental Madrid and the Eurostars Madrid Tower, both renowned for their expansive capacity and comprehensive services. 

Meanwhile, in the 4-star category, the Meliá Castilla deserves special mention, offering a generous 7,000 square metres of meeting space and a 500-seat auditorium.  

Gran Via, Madrid

Beyond Business: 

In addition to its exceptional infrastructure for hosting congresses, conferences, and incentive travel, Madrid boasts a captivating blend of artistic and cultural treasures, culinary innovation, and vibrant nightlife.  
A quintessential experience to grasp Madrid’s creative essence is the Art Walk, encompassing the renowned Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, where you can also delve deeper into exploring the gastronomic culture and art through a thematic Art+Wine tour, complete with an audio guide and tasting.  

Madrid’s nightlife is best enjoyed by making your way to the plethora of theatres, live music venues, and an extensive array of clubs and bars. The Círculo de Bellas Artes rooftop is a sought-after spot, where you can enjoy breathtaking views while sipping cocktails. 

That’s not all. In Madrid, indulging in a wine-tasting experience is essential as surrounded by several renowned wine-producing regions. Arganda del Rey Winery, steeped in winemaking tradition and conveniently accessible by metro, stands out as a prime choice.  
With an 80-year legacy melded with modern facilities, the winery guarantees a delightful wine journey. 


Aerial View of Placa Espanya and Montjuic Hill with National Art Museum of Catalonia

Barcelona, a versatile destination, offers an array of venues suitable for both large conventions and smaller events. With state-of-the-art facilities, complemented by an extensive network of exceptional hotels, Barcelona positions itself impressively in the ICCA ranking, both in terms of the sheer number of congresses held and the attendance they attract.  
Additionally, the city boasts exceptional connectivity through an international airport and one of the Mediterranean’s foremost all-purpose ports. 

For over three decades, the Barcelona Convention Bureau (BCB) has provided invaluable assistance and counsel to congress and meeting organizers, all at no cost. Their expertise extends beyond merely locating suitable local partners as they also navigate the intricacies of arrangements and paperwork within this city of boundless opportunities. 

Top Venues:

The city offers a wealth of event facilities, including a convention centre, three substantial conference centres, and numerous auditoriums and halls equipped with cutting-edge technology. 

Fira De Barcelona, boasting 14 pavilions and two congress centres, provides an impeccable infrastructure and services suitable for a wide range of corporate gatherings. 

CCIB-Catalonia Convention Centre

Meanwhile, CCIB-Catalonia Convention Centre features 20 versatile halls, each affording breathtaking sea vistas. The Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime Congress Centre with its 350-seat auditorium and an annex with eight halls is another fantastic choice. These halls also offer splendid sea and mountain views while being outfitted with state-of-the-art technology. 

Where To Stay:

With approximately 75,000 hotel beds, Barcelona offers an array of accommodations tailored to your needs. Barceló Sants, a distinguished four-star establishment, proudly lays claim to its status as the most conveniently located hotel in Barcelona, nestled within the precincts of the city’s primary railway station. 

For an elegant and refined experience, the five-star Hotel El Palace with six distinct venues of varying capacities makes for an ideal choice.  
Equally well-connected is the Hotel Barcelona Center, strategically situated in close proximity to Paseo de Gracia, the shopping district, and the bustling business hub. 

You can also consider the upscale and conveniently located Meliá Barcelona Sarrià, which not only offers tastefully designed rooms, but also boasts 22 event spaces, making it an ideal choice for your meetings and conferences. 

Beyond Business
 With diverse cultural and recreational options, Barcelona is just the right place to strike a balance between work and leisure. While here, embark on a trail to discover Antoni Gaudi’s finest works,  including the Pedrera, Casa Batlló, the vibrant Parc Güell and, of course, the iconic Sagrada Familia. Add to that treasures like the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and CaixaForum, and Barcelona will charm the artist in you.  

La Sagrada Familia

But if you want to level up your experience of the city, the luxury event planning agency Empirance is your genie on command. You can either choose to take to the skies on a helicopter tour from Barcelona to Ibiza or indulge in the best of Catalan gastronomy with a private cooking experience led by renowned chefs.   

If you have the luxury of extending your stay and venturing beyond city limits, head to Tarragona, located 100 km away. It is renowned for its remarkable concentration of Roman relics, including the amphitheatre, circus, praetorium, theatre, and Les Ferreres aqueduct—all open to visitors. And don’t miss a visit to the Casa de las Contadurías or the Clock Tower, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the typical white towers of the city against the backdrop of the sea. For a more laidback time, stroll along Terragona’s 15 km of sandy coastline.   

Source: Outlook Traveller