Barcelona

Barcelona is Spain's second largest city, with a population of nearly two million people, and the capital of Catalonia. A major port located on the northeastern Mediterranean coast of Spain, Barcelona has a wide variety of attractions that bring in tourists from across the globe. The many faces of Barcelona include the medieval Old Town, the unique street grid resulting from 19th-century urban planning. The city has both long sandy beaches and green parks on the hills, pretty much side-by-side. Barcelona is also famous for a number of prominent buildings, of which perhaps the most-known are by the architect Antonio Gaudi, including his Sagrada Familia, which became Barcelona's symbol to many.

Founded more than 2,000 years ago as the ancient Roman town Barcino, Barcelona is thus as historic as it is modern, with a constant flow of projects changing the face of the city and long-standing penchant for design and innovation. Thanks to the wealth of attractions, a very well-developed accommodation base, a lively nightlife and a robust transportation system, Barcelona has become one of Europe's, and pretty much the world's, most popular tourist destinations.

Districts

Barcelona districts.
Ciutat Vella
Barcelona's old town, including the medieval Barri Gotic, La Rambla, Raval, and El Born (also known as La Ribera)
Eixample
Modernist quarter, central hub of the city, and the area to go to find Antoni Gaudí's work.
Gràcia
Formerly an independent town, it joined the city in the 20th century. Narrow streets and a cosmopolitan and young atmosphere with not too many tourists
Sants-Montjuïc
Plaça Espanya and Montjuïc have been the focus of several great fairs and exhibitions. They have left behind museums, monuments and festivals for travellers to explore.
Sant Martí
More beaches along the coast, but generally fewer tourists and tourist attractions.
Inland Suburbs
Mostly residential, but there are some sights if you want to explore. It includes Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona; Tibidabo, the highest point in Barcelona; and more Gaudí architecture.
Barcelona coastline in high summer

Understand

It rarely snows in Barcelona, but when it does it highlights the closeness of the mountain range at one end of the city to the seaside on the other

When to visit

August is probably the busiest time for tourists in Barcelona. That said, a very large percentage of the shops and restaurants can be found closed from early-August to early September. During this time, you will find the most expensive hotel rates (outside of conference times such as the World Mobile Congress) and the city is devoid of locals as the vast majority of residents go on vacation in August and leave the heat and humidity to the hordes of tourists who come. This also happens to be one of the highest periods of home break-ins as criminals know that many places are unoccupied for an entire month.

It is important to note that, while Barcelona has decent, albeit crowded beaches, the locals will be very appreciative if visitors do not consider Barcelona a beach resort and absolutely do not wear beachwear when visiting churches, restaurants, etc. If you only want a beach, and a good beach at that, head south to Costa Daurada, north to Costa Brava or out to sea for the Balearic Islands.

Barcelona is great off-season and is a lovely city even in the winter months of January and February, as long as the possibility of rain is low. Given the high humidity, 19–23 °C (66–73 °F) is considered comfortable weather, which is usually the temperature between April and June and between late September–November. This is the best time to visit the city. Anything warmer than this can feel too hot.

With children

Toddler happiness is considered a public responsibility in Spain. In any public place, people around you will make every effort possible to make your toddler happy: whenever he or she looks bored or is crying, everyone does their best to entertain or to calm them.

Visitor information

The other tourist offices can be found at Plaça de Sant Jaume, Ciutat, 2 Ajuntament de Barcelona. (City Hall.) Opening time: Monday to Friday: 8.30am-8.30pm. Saturday: 9am-7pm. Sunday and public holidays: 9am-2pm.; Estació de Sants, Plaça dels Països Catalans. How to get there: Metro: L5,L3. Bus: 63,68. Opening time: daily, 8am-8pm. and Aeroport del Prat. Terminal 1 and 2. Opening time: Daily, 9am-9pm. All are closed on 1st January and 25th December. For a full list of tourist information points check the link above.

The department store El Corte Ingles publishes a free street map for tourists. You can pick a copy at the store, or at one of the many hotels in the city. Turisme de Barcelona

Barcelona Card

Barcelona Card. This card gives an opportunity to visit more than 25 museums and other sites in Barcelona without an extra charge. For another 70 plus sites it offers various kinds of discounts during a validity period of the card. It also includes a travel pass for public transport in Barcelona (for details see Hola BCN! card below). The card is available for purchase for periods of between 2 and 5 days. Bear in mind that if you don't plan to see lots of museums every day, then it may be cheaper to buy transport-only tickets (see below). They cannot be used on the cable cars or funiculars (except for Montjuïc) From €20 for a Barcelona Card Express (2-day), up to €60 for a 5-day card (10% discount if bought online in advance); a version for children is available as well..

Get in

By plane

Barcelona International Airport

Some low-cost carriers, notably Ryanair, use the airports of Girona (IATA: GRO), nearly 100 km to the north, or Reus (IATA: REU), around the same distance to the south, instead. Since Ryanair recently started operating at Barcelona El Prat (IATA: BCN), you should check carefully where your flag actually goes. The three letter IATA code should be part of your booking process and at the very least it will be printed onto your luggage tag.

Barcelona International Airport

Main article: Barcelona El Prat Airport

Barcelona International Airport (IATA: BCN), also known as El Prat, is a major transport hub and fields flights from all over Europe and beyond.

Girona–Costa Brava Airport

The Barcelona Bus service runs a shuttle bus from Estació del Nord (which is walking distance to the Arc de Triomf metro stop) in Barcelona to Girona Airport and this ties in with various flight times. A one-way ticket costs €16 and a return ticket costs €25. The journey takes approximately one hour and ten minutes. Timetables are available online.

Reus Airport

The easiest way is to get there is to take the bus run by Hispano Igualadina from the Barcelona Sants bus station to the airport. Bus departures are synchronized with Ryanair plane departures/arrivals. One way ticket costs €13 and a return ticket costs €24. The journey takes from 1:30 to 1:45 hours, depending on the traffic on the motorway. Timetables are available online. A slightly cheaper, yet longer option is to take a train from Barcelona Sants station to Reus and then the local bus no. 50 to the airport. The train costs €7.25 and then the bus costs €2.1. This takes roughly about two and a half hours. Train timetables can be checked at Renfe's website and the bus timetable is available at the website of Reus public transport.

Barcelona Sants railway station

By train

Superfast trains will whiz you to Barcelona from across Spain and France

Barcelona is well-connected to the Spanish railway network, as well as to the rest of Europe, with high speed trains running frequently from Sants station (in the southwest of the city) to Madrid, Seville and Malaga. In addition, there are regular long-distance connections that partially use high-speed infrastructure to all major Spanish cities.

Direct regular high-speed train service with destinations in France started in January 2013. In addition to two daily TGV services from Paris (travel time c.a. 7h to Barcelona), there is a daily service from Toulouse (3h), a daily service from Lyon (5h), and a daily service from Marseille (4h). Prices start at €39, so even though the train could take longer than a flight, it is often a cheaper and more relaxed alternative. The former Talgo trains from Montpellier to Barcelona and Cartagena via Portbou ceased to run the same day direct high speed services started. It is still possible to travel via Cerbère/Portbou using local trains, but it's cumbersome, painfully slow and timetable coordination at the border is awful; however it may be the only alternative if all TGVs are fully booked. Also, if booked in advance, TGV can be way cheaper than using these local trains.

There is also a less-known rail line over the Pyrenees to Toulouse. There is roughly one train every 3 hours on the Spanish side and one every two or four on the French side, including an sleeper train from Paris (with a branch to Portbou which splits at Toulouse: check all timetables to see whether route is faster, it greatly depends on waiting times at the border). Purchasing tickets for this route can be tricky. The Spanish line is considered a commuter line despite being far away from Barcelona and does not appear in any global European timetable, so it is impossible to get an international CIV ticket, every portion must be purchased separately. Also, for southbound travel, the Latour-de-Carol station only sells SNCF tickets so the Spanish portion must be bought directly at the ticket inspector, cash only. The journey takes 7–8 hours (including transfer) and costs roughly €30.

The launch of the high-speed service spelled the end of the overnight sleeper-car service called Trenhotel between Barcelona and Paris. Trenhotels still do, however, run between Barcelona and Granada, A Coruña and Vigo.

Barcelona is a popular port of call for cruise ships

By boat

The city's port is one of the busiest on the Mediterranean.

Large cruise ships dock 1-2 kilometers to the southwest, many of them offer bus-shuttles to locations at the south end of La Rambla. The ferries dock almost directly on the Ramblas.

There are regular ferry connections with the Balearic Islands (Alcúdia, Ciutadella de Menorca, Ibiza City, Sant Antoni de Portmany, Mahón, Palma de Mallorca), Italy (Savona, Genoa, Livorno, Porto Torres and Civitavecchia for Rome), Morocco (Tangier). From Rome (Civitavecchia) it is actually cheaper to take a ferry than a bus.

By bus

Contact Barcelona Nord for all bus connections, national (e.g. 18 buses per day from Madrid) and international.

By car

There are several main roads leading to Barcelona from France and Spain and traffic is usually relatively light outside of peak hours. It is possible to find free parking spaces a few metro stops from the center of the city.

Blue parking spaces are paid between 9AM and 2PM and between 4PM and 8PM Monday to Saturday. At some crossroads the pay time starts at 8AM. Anyone can use a blue space but they aren't that easy to find. You pay at the meter and put the ticket on the dashboard. Green parking spaces are for residents only. White parking spaces are free at all times but there aren't any in the city centre.

The city car parks have some special offers for tourists.

Get around

By public transport

Barcelona's Metro system and link to airport. Notable stations for travellers are highlighted.

The public transport in the city and the surrounding area managed by Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM) consortium. The whole area is covered by the Integrated Fare System, which is divided into 6 zones. This system includes the most of the public transport in the area: metro, city and intercity bus, tram and commuter trains.

The city limits of Barcelona are completely located inside zone 1. The public transport in the city itself is mostly managed by Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB). They have a separate site dedicated for tourists. The other two operators in Barcelona are Rodalies de Catalunya and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC).

Tickets and travel cards available:

Travel cards are excellent value in comparison with a single ticket. Be sure to look after them well as bent or damaged cards will not be read by the ticket machines. Such cards can be replaced at one of TMB's customer service centres.

TMB also offers a few route planners on their website: versions for desktop, for mobile browser and mobile apps for Android and iPhone. Another route planner is available on the ATM site.

Using the T-10 (1 zone) is the most affordable way to travel within Barcelona

Pay attention to the fact that to get from metro lines operated by TMB (1,2,3,4,5, 9/10 and 11) to the ones operated by FGC (6,7 and 8), or vice versa, you need to exit and then enter through a new pay-gate. In this case, if you had a one-journey ticket, you need to get a new one. If you used a multiple journey ticket you won't be charged for a second time when changing lines as long as you are within the stated travel time for a single journey. Also, you can't repeat operator, so you can't use a FGC ride to make a shortcut. For instance: changing to L9S to L1 via L8 using Fira and Espanya will charge you with two journeys, you should go via Torrassa instead although its way longer. All trains are air-conditioned.

Take also care when travelling to the airport: while the T-10 is valid for Renfe services, it is not accepted at Metro. If you get to the airport by metro using a T-10, you'll be forced to pay the full fare, which is 4,50€, and the ticket you've used will not be refunded.

By scooter

By bicycle

Note: Barcelona also has its own shared bike system, called BiCiNg. However, this appears to be only accessible for locals.

By Segway

On foot

Barcelona is a very walkable city. It takes little over an hour to walk from Port Vell at the seaside to Park Güell at the foothills of the mountain range at the northeastern end of the city, and you can see a range of attractions, including La Rambla and Sagrada Familia, on your way. There are opportunities all around to sit down and enjoy a drink or a meal everywhere. If you are fit, you can pretty much explore the city by foot alone, unless the heat beats you in the warmer months (and then you can always resort to the air-conditioned metro).

By car

Parking around all major tourist destinations is expensive (€3/hour, €20-36/day) and the spaces are difficult to navigate, as there are several classes of public parking spaces, with complicated rules for each class. Barcelona is plagued with the same problems that plague other major European cities; massive traffic jams and extremely narrow streets in some areas, coupled with a very complicated road system. As such, driving yourself around is not recommended for tourists, especially those with no driving experience in large cities. Public transport will get you to all the major areas, and you should use that as your main mode of transport.

Having a driving map is essential - plan your route before you set off. Navigating with an average tourist map is frequently misleading: many streets are one-way; left turns are more rare than rights (and are unpredictable). As an example, Gran via de Les Corts Catalanes is technically two-way, but in one direction supports only minor traffic: after every crossroad you'll find the traffic light on the next crossroad turns red by the time you reach it.

Some free parking spots reported by travelers are:

Getting around by car makes sense if you plan to spend much more time driving outside the city borders than inside it - and ideally if you don't plan to park overnight at all. Otherwise, for purely in-city transportation, consider renting a scooter, or using public transportation instead.

Talk

The Sagrada Família church by Antonio Gaudi is perhaps the most known landmark of Barcelona
See also: Catalan phrasebook, Spanish phrasebook

Barcelona's official languages are Catalan and Spanish. However, most signs are indicated only in Catalan because it is established by law as the first official language. Yet, Spanish is also widely used in public transport and other facilities. Regular announcements in the Metro are made only in Catalan, but unplanned disruptions are announced by an automated system in a wide variety of languages including English, French, Arabic and Japanese. On the other hand, FGC announcements -either regular or disruptions- will be made only in Catalan, and disruption announcements on RENFE's network will usually be broadcasted only in Spanish. As in most other cities, any attempt by visitors to use the native languages is always appreciated. Most locals are bilingual in Catalan and Spanish, and instinctively address foreigners in Spanish. Catalan is a language, not a dialect, and sounds closer to Italian, Portuguese, and French in many ways. Avoid referring to Catalan as a dialect, which will offend Catalans.

The main cause of Spanish and Catalan social bilingualism in modern Catalonia is a large scale immigration process from the rest of Spain which occurred over the 20th century, as Catalonia started a significant industrialization which demanded an increased workforce from elsewhere. Nowadays, 60% of the people in Catalonia use Spanish as their first language whereas 40% use Catalan.

These issues regarding language, national identity, and politics are like politics anywhere, and there's no way to summarize them here. Some Catalans feel Spanish and some not, and there is a portion who are anti-Spanish (and feel opposed to Spain and the Spanish language), as there are Spaniards who are not very fond of Catalans or Catalonia in general.

In tourist areas, almost all shops and bars have some English speaking staff. People will generally make an effort to try to help you if you speak in English. If you are a native English speaker you will not have any problems as Barcelona is a very touristic city.

See

What to see in the dark

The most spectacular sights in the night are:

  • Musical fountains, in Plaça d'Espanya. From Th-Su, May to October, 8:30PM. Each session lasts 30 minutes, with the last one starting at 11PM.
  • Casa Batlló.
  • Torre Agbar office tower, highlighted F-Su 7-11PM.
  • City views from Montjuic hill
La Pedrera (Casa Mila)

The old city

Walk around the winding streets and hidden squares, fountains and palaces in the Barri Gòtic (Ciutat Vella). Highlights include the Catedral, the Museu d'Història de Barcelona (formerly known as the Museu d'Història de la Ciutat), and Plaça Reial.

Modernist architecture

Gaudí's Parc Güell is a must see in Barcelona

Since 1984 seven buildings by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona are listed as "Works of Antoni Gaudí" on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the basilica of Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló in Eixample, Palau Güell in Ciutat Vella, Parc Güell and Casa Vicens in Gràcia, the crypt of the Church in Colònia Güell.

Hospital de Sant Pau by Lluís Domènech i Montaner

The works by the Catalan art nouveau architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: Palau de la Música Catalana in Ciutat Vella and Hospital de Sant Pau in Eixample.

The Ruta del Modernisme run by Modernisme Centre (Pl. de Catalunya, 17, subterráneo; phone +34 933 177 652): guidebook and discount voucher book for €12. Takes you round all the best Modernisme (art nouveau) buildings in Barcelona. The main part of the route can be walked in a couple of hours, providing you don't stray too far from the main routes. The Tourist Offices offer a pack that includes discounted tickets to many attractions such as La Pedrera and La Casa Batlló. All can be seen from the outside for free.

With children

View from Gaudi's Park Güell towards Barcelona's old town and seaside

Do

Hop aboard the Bus Turístic to see all the key sights without moving a muscle
La Rambla, Barcelona's main boulevard

Festivals and events

Barcelona hosts a number of annual fiestas, many of which are unique to Catalonia and offer an insight into its distinctive culture.

Casa de l'Ardiaca during Corpus
December 13th is the feast day of Santa Llucia, patron saint of fashion designers and blind people, who gather at the Santa Llucia chapel in the cathedral to pay their respects.

During festivals and especially during mobile world congress which is a major trade show at the Fira, accommodation in Barcelona and especially near the Fira is much more difficult to find and more expensive than usual.

University Library

Learn

For those wishing to make a real attempt at learning the language, there are plenty of Catalan and Spanish language schools in Barcelona.

El Corte Inglés in Plaça de Catalunya is one of the few stores in the chain that is not an eyesore to look at - and provides a good view of the Plaça as well from its top-floor restaurant

Buy

Most shops and shopping malls are closed on Sundays because of law restrictions, but not all. In Ciutat Vella you will find plenty of small fashion shops, souvenir shops and small supermakets open on Sundays. The souvenir shopping scattered throughout the Barri Gotic and all along La Rambla are tourist traps, none of them sell Catalan or Spanish products but the typical array of Chinese general souvenirs, they should be avoided. Moreover on the Port Vell, right at the end of The Ramblas there is Maremagnum, a shopping mall that stays open all Sundays.

The market

Eat

Barcelona's cuisine is inconsistent in quality, as with all highly touristic cities, but good food does exist at reasonable prices. The golden rule of thumb applies well in Barcelona; to save money and get better food, look for places off the beaten track by fellow travellers and seek out cafes and restaurants where the locals frequent. A good idea is to avoid restaurants with touts outside.

Where to eat during siesta

Majority of restaurants and cafes are closed between 4PM and 8PM for migdiada. If you failed to plan for that, here are some places you can eat during this period:

  • tapas in bars (not too healthy nor cheap to substitute a full meal)
  • international chains

Set menus (menú del migdia) Most restaurants (and some bars) offer a menú del migdia (menu of the day), which usually means a simple and unpretentious two course meal (one salad, main dish and a drink; plus a dessert sometimes), 3 or 4 options each, with a drink and a dessert, for €8 to €20, depending on the restaurant. Depending on the restaurant, the portions may be quite generous, or rather small. During the week, some smart restaurants offer lunch specials from 2PM to 4PM. The savvy traveler will try the hip places for a fraction of the price during the day.

If you're looking for a place where everyone can choose their own meal, ask for restaurants that serve platos combinados, which is the closest thing to an American/Northern European meal.

Smoking: Is not permitted in restaurants anymore.

Dishes

pintxos

You can get food from any part of the world in Barcelona, but make sure you try some Catalan food.

See Catalan cuisine section in the Catalonia article.

The selection of seafood is consistently great, although not a lot of it is local (this part of the Mediterranean is pretty well fished-out).

A treat to try that no travel guide mentions is waffles sold at street stands. They will tempt you with their mouth watering smell and taste.

Even though tapa restaurants are now endemic all over the city, tapas originated in Andalusia in the south of Spain, are NOT actually a meal, and most importantly are NOT native to Catalan cuisine. Catalans eat a more French style three course meal (appetizer, main dish and dessert) and would more likely go for a pre-meal beer/vermouth and some snacks (olives, chips, etc.) than a meal consisting entirely of the new trend in tapa-only dining. This pre-meal snack is actually called 'fer el vermut' or 'making the vermouth'. As you travel to smaller towns in Catalonia outside of Barcelona, it is less likely that you will find tapas and more likely to see restaurants serving traditional Catalan food in three courses.

Food Tours

If you feel lost in the variety of food choices there are - Catalan, Basque, Spanish, and beyond, it may be helpful to do a food tour to quickly get oriented. Many independent tour operators run food and wine tours in the city.


Areas to eat

Depending on where you are in the city, there may be restaurants galore, or none at all. The following areas tend to be restaurant "hubs", with a large variety of restaurants to choose from:

Around Plaça Catalunya there are dozens of restaurants serving excellent tapas.

For budget eating you may choose "menú del migdia" in small bars on the Avinguda del Paral·lel for €9-€11 per person. Be aware that sometimes the menu and the staff are only in Spanish.

The large cafes that line the Passeig de Gràcia and the Rambla Catalunya, just north of the Plaça Catalunya, offer a variety of acceptable tapas. This part of the town is quite touristy and a bit expensive.

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Up to €10
Mid-range €10 - €25
Splurge €25 and up

Budget

Groceries

In several supermarkets you can find a wide stall with a great selection of ready-to-eat dishes. You can get a two-course lunch for less than €5.

Non-Catalan cuisine

Vegetarian

Mid-range

Traditional Catalan cuisine

Drink

Cafes

Try a "café con hielo" an espresso served with a glass of ice cubes on the side and any local 'cafeteria'

Bars

Discount cards

Sleep

The sail-shaped hotel W Barcelona is one of the city's newest landmarks

Barcelona offers a great range of accommodations, from cheap, decent apartments, hostels and guest-houses to five-star hotels. Every district has plenitful offerings, and thanks to the efficient public transportation you can stay comfortably in any of them, depending on your budget and preferences.

See the district articles for detailed listings of accommodation opportunities.

Connect

Internet

Prepaid portable WiFi Hot spot service is now available in Barcelona, and whole Spain (provided by local tripNETer ) which allows the connection to any WiFi device: Smart-phones, Tablets, PCs…

Stay safe

Pickpockets

Barcelona is Europe's pickpocketing capital. Never keep your wallet, cash or important documents in trouser pockets or in bag pockets: a money belt is an easy and inexpensive way to prevent being robbed. As always, be alert in crowded places, such as public transport, train and bus stations, La Rambla and Raval. People may approach you asking for change, or to change money. Just ignore them. If you are asked to change money, then official looking police may approach you afterwards to 'check' your wallet for ID, etc. These are not police, so be at your most vigilant or you might find they have taken a few cards or cash upon returning your wallet. If you are in a crowd of spectators watching street entertainment, beware of anyone getting suspiciously close to you.

Pickpockets use the football trick as the local specialty. At certain tourist hotspots, there are people who will try to show you a 'magic trick'. This involves tying a piece of string around your finger. While you are distracted (and your arm is effectively disabled), an accomplice will pickpocket you. It is also possible that criminals will pose as tourists and ask directions to approach their victims. Keep your distance and be careful in tourist places.

The subway is a hotbed for pickpocketing activity, which can range from simple opportunistic thefts to coordinated attacks. Be especially wary on the subway platforms at Sants train station and Sagrada Família. A group of men will come out of seemingly nowhere while you attempt to enter a subway car and block your entrance and exit in a coordinated manner, effectively pinning you against the doors while they close. They will act as if the car is just crowded and they are trying to get on as well, but, in reality, they have already gone through your pockets.

Once they take stuff, they quickly return to the platform and walk off calmly while you are trapped in the departing subway as they make sure they exit just before the doors cannot be reopened. Violence in these situations is rare, and in most cases the goal of the thieves is to rob you undetected. Stay vigilant: do not leave anything in a back trouser pocket (except maybe a map of the city). Hold on to your bag or purse at all times. Do not leave anything unattended while you sit in a cafe or restaurant.

One guy acts like reading a newspaper and is about to go into the subway gate (he's scanning his target). While you insert your subway card to enter and before the gate opens, that guy immediately enters his subway card also, which causes the gate to jam and alarm sound. Immediately 3-4 other people appear and, while acting like trying to help, (pointing to the gate telling you 'the door is jam') will try to snatch your backpack or wallet while you are still surprised. Check and make sure no one tailgates on you, or, simply, just let the guy go first.

While you are at an outdoor table of a café, don't leave your smartphone on the table. Someone will try to steal it. For example, a guy babbling for change with an unreadable poster in his hands, getting closer and closer to the smartphone until he eventually picks it up, passes it to a second guy that will run away with it.

Scams

See also: Common scams

People in Barcelona are often very friendly and love to practice their English, so don't be unfriendly. That said, you should, of course, be suspicious if someone approaches you in a touristy area speaking your language and asking you for help. This should put your guard up immediately. Do not be tempted to sign their petition, give them directions, or help them with their problem. You don't know anything about where you are, since you're a tourist, so you won't be able to help them in any case.

Professional scam artists exhibiting a high degree of coordination are active in many areas of the city. Be careful in tourist areas. A variety of methods are employed, including the No Change trick. A common scam involves fake cops who will show up ask to see your passport, then take your belongings at the first opportunity. The story varies, but they are almost certainly not real ones. When it happens, the best strategy is to just walk away instead of starting any sort of conversations with them. Another trick is that one seemingly confused person will ask you for directions, diverting your attention and then suddenly fake police will appear asking for your ID. This is a co-ordinated move to divert the attention and steal whatever is possible. If such incident happens, just walk away, without listening to any of their conversation. Stay alert, especially in busy tourist area near the Sants station and Plaça d'Espanya.

Another popular scam happens in the metro. A group of scammers (often middle-aged women) will take advantage of the fuss while people are entering the metro and surround a tourist, frantically asking for directions. Most tourists won't know what to say while one of the scammers empties their pockets. They will try to confuse the tourist while the metro stays in the platform, and will get out just before the doors are closed. When you realize you've been scammed, the train will have already left and they will be safely outside with your belongings.

The bird excrement scam is also common. One or more accomplices will secretly spray or throw a smelly liquid on you. When you look up thinking a passing bird has pooped on you, they will run up to you and tell you that they saw a bird poop on you. They will offer to help you clean up, and while you are cleaning they will go through your pockets and any bags you have set down. It is wise to beware of anyone who is attempting to touch a complete stranger.

A version of Three Card Monte is one of many common scams played on Les Rambles. There are also people holding petitions to install a wheelchair lift in locations with a lot of stairs. Once your signature is obtained they will then aggressively ask for a donation. Sometimes there can be crowds of children demanding money with hardly anyone else in the area, making it difficult to get away.

ATMs

Barcelona offers ATMs in many locations. Many provide a wide range of services (withdrawals, transfers, mobile credit recharges, ticketing, etc.), and most accept ATM/debit/credit cards of various banks. Choose an ATM in a secure or highly-public space (e.g., in a bank lobby or airport terminal) to avoid machines modified by criminals to skim/video your card data or where you might be robbed after use. Ensure early in usage that the ATM supports a language you understand. For a full discussion of safe/effective charge/debit/ATM card usage and their cost trade-offs, see Money.

Areas of caution

Be very careful in the Barcelona Sants train station where thieves prey on new arrivals, even on the platforms.

Women traveling alone should exercise caution while exploring the more isolated parts of Montjuïc. The city beaches, particularly the ones adjoining Barceloneta, have proven to be quite lucrative for bag snatchers. Anything that one would rather not lose is best left, locked, in one's hostel or hotel.

Men traveling alone should expect the prostitutes on Les Rambles, St. Antoni, and Raval in the early hours to be very aggressive and in league with pickpockets and robbers.

Also, people need to be careful when leaving the bars of the Olympic Port late as there are many pickpockets around.

Women should be wary of wearing exposed jewelery such as gold chains and necklaces. People walking down a street may be attacked from behind by a thief who may grab the necklace and try to rip it off the woman's neck before quickly running away, often down a convenient side street. Be especially careful of seedy looking men on bicycles as there have been many grab and snatch assaults in recent years.

In the event of such a robbery, people will need to find the local police station to report the incident, especially if a travel insurance claim is going to be made. Don't expect any police action beyond the report though as these types of events are par for the course and arrests, even when made almost never lead to prosecution due to a slow, antiquated, and overburdened legal system.

Parts of Barcelona are covered by closed circuit TV surveillance, but only the more popular spots.

Cars

Tourist drivers may attract special attention, such as Red light bag snatch or Flat tire scams

Reporting crimes

If you need to report a crime (for example, to claim on travel insurance), be prepared for the reality that in the downtown police station, officers generally do not speak English, despite that fact the official theft report form is in English, Spanish, and Catalan. The police station most often used to report theft is the one underneath Plaça Catalunya beside metro station, where they have some translators for common world languages.

Cope

Hospitals

EU citizens can get free or reduced cost medical treatment on presentation of an EHIC card and passport.

Consulates

Go next

Day trips from Barcelona include:

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