Barcelona is increasingly seeing affluent visitors with one thing on their minds - Barcelona shopping.
And what could be a better way to spend your hard earned cash than a shopping trip to Barcelona combined with a visit to see Barça play at Camp Nou and enjoying the nightlife and warm weather?
The big stores
El Corte Inglès is a huge chain of department stores with two main locations - Plaça Catalunya and Av. Diagonal.
Although it has just about everything you could imagine buying, from designer clothes to washing machines and car parts, we find the staff to be quite useless and never enough of them - avoid it unless absolutely necessary on your Barcelona shopping spree, with the sole exception of the perfumers who are far better than any other in Barcelona.
Also in Plaça Catalunya is FNAC, a French chain of stores selling CDs, DVDs, computers and peripherals, hi-fi equipment - you get the picture. This is a really great store although it's best avoided at weekends unless you don't mind queuing.
Head for Passeig de Graçia if you're looking for the designer boutiques - they're all here, as well as on Av. Diagonal where it bisects Passeig de Graçia.
Massimo Dutti is a mid-priced store mainly aimed at men, but now with women's shops too. Towards the lower end of the price range is Zara, with collections for men and women as well as Mango, which is dedicated to woman's wear. You can find stores dotted about the city, but if you want to hit all in one easy go then head to one of the big shopping malls for your Barcelona shopping expedition.
Barcelona shopping malls
Spain has been slow to accept shopping malls and so they are not as common as in other countries, but you should head for l'Illa on Av. Diagonal or go to Gran Via II on Gran Via de las Cortes Catalanes - usually known simply as Gran Via. Both have a wide selection of shops of every type and Gran Via II also has a large supermarket.
While on Gran Via you can also check out Ikea if you need to, although we don't imagine you taking back flat-packed furniture on Ryanair :-)
If you're desperate to buy Ronaldinho's football boots on your Barcelona shopping trip or some other item of sports equipment then head to Decathlon. Although there are several dotted around, the most comprehensive are at l'Illa and just off the Ramblas - follw the signs from the metro at Plaça Catalunya.
Although there are markets all over Barcelona, there is just one that you absolutely visit. La Boqueria is just off the Ramblas and sells fruit, veg, meat, fishand anything else you can eat. Even if you don't want to buy anything you should take a few minutes to walk around the displays of vegetables laid out in neat colourful piles.
Spices and ethnic products
And if you're in Barcelona for a while and need to know where to buy spices, poppadoms and other food then we have the answer. Just off the Ramblas in Carrer Sant Pau are a number of shops selling Indian and Pakistani foods. You can buy all number of spices and other foodstuffs here. The street is next to the Liceu theatre and close to the metro stop of the same name.
Also, for Chinese and Oriental food supplies head back towards Plaça Catalunya again. Round the back of El Triangle (the building in which you can find FNAC) is a shop selling everything you could want for a Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malasian or any other similar meal.