Barcelona, Spain, is a dream holiday destination for many travelers. Sometimes it is for obvious reasons, as many explorers want to experience the city’s incomparable beauty and culture. However, others may want to visit for more niche reasons. For instance, did you know Barcelona is considered one of the best skateboarding destinations in the world?
Whatever the reasons are, there is one question that every adventurer has on their mind before visiting the Catalan city. Is Barcelona safe for tourists? Is there a dangerous side to this captivating and beautiful metropolis?
Today, you will discover how to stay safe while you experience all the fun things to do in Barcelona. You will learn about the neighborhoods to avoid, as well as some more specific dangers to look out for. To top it all off, you’ll receive a few tips and tricks to help you stay extra safe.
Why Visit Barcelona?
Barcelona’s rap sheet is incredibly long. It has multiple counts of beautiful architecture with the intent to incite awe and at least three counts of attempted destruction of boredom through food, festivals, and history. Don’t forget its prior record for possession of a deep and rich culture.
With a rap sheet like that, it is no wonder Barcelona is one of the best places to live in Spain. One of the first things that will instantly capture your attention when entering the Barna is Sagrada Familia, the unfinished masterpiece of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi.
The city has a vibrant sports scene, starting with its legendary football club, FC Barcelona. It also has an iconic racetrack that has hosted many world-famous events, from Formula 1 races to MotoGP. For those who are so inclined, Barna’s architecture also lends itself to being a skateboarding mecca. This is due to the city’s street architecture lending itself greatly to some awesome skateboarding experiences.
Is Barcelona Dangerous?
As with any densely populated city, Barcelona has its problems. However, the overall crime rate has gone down over recent years thanks to a wide variety of policing strategies. That being said, a bustling city such as Barcelona will always have issues with scams, pickpocketing, and other petty crimes.
There are a few neighborhoods that you should try to avoid while exploring everything this magical city has to offer. Some neighborhoods have higher crime rates, while some are more dangerous during specific times of the day.
So, to help you stay as safe as possible while experiencing Barcelona’s sites, history, and culture, here’s a list of some areas to avoid. It should be said that these neighborhoods are not particularly dangerous, but it would be wise to take extra precautions if you find yourself within their borders.
Dangerous Areas in Barcelona
Laying on the outskirts of Barcelona, you will find the Sant Andreu district. There are a handful of parks and restaurants in the area. However, with its higher-than-average crime rates, Sant Andreu is a part of the city you should try to steer clear of.
The danger in Sant Andreu is largely a result of it being a quieter district, with fewer popular tourist attractions to explore. Since fewer foreign travelers frequent this area, criminals have a prime opportunity to take advantage of any lost or confused explorers who do enter this neighborhood.
Just west of Sant Andreu, you will find Nou Barris — a district with very similar issues. The lack of significant landmarks and museums makes it unlikely that this area will be high up on travel itinerary.
Nou Barris has a higher-than-average crime rate compared to central Barcelona, so it is best to avoid the district if you can. During the night time, the crime rate is even higher, so it is wise to remain extra vigilant if you are in the neighborhood after sundown.
Is it Safe to Live in Barcelona?
In general, Barcelona is a relatively safe city. The overall crime rates are not only low but are also on the decline. Taking these factors into consideration, along with the beauty and culture of the city, it is easy to see why Barcelona is one of the most amazing places to visit in Spain.
It is worth noting that, regardless of how safe a city is or how low the crime rates are, it is always a good idea to be on your guard. Violent crimes hardly ever happen to travelers in Barcelona, meaning the biggest threat to any tourist is simply the lowly pickpocket (but more on that later).
Safe Areas in Barcelona
Also known as the Gothic Quarter, Barri Gòtic is the very core of the Old City. In modern times, it has become a hotspot for parties — from bachelors and bachelorettes to epic bar crawls. However, the neighborhood also offers quaint restaurants and some of the best hotels in Spain.
Thanks to its vibrant nightlife and safe surroundings, Barri Gòtic is one of the best places for coliving in Barcelona. It is also within very close driving distance to many tourist hot spots, like the Sagrada Familia.
Gràcia is a bohemian-inspired part of Barcelona. It looks and feels very different from the rest of the city. This is because, up until the 19th century, it was its own independent town. The district is very popular with younger residents and travelers because of its avant-garde trappings.
The architecture is intoxicating, and the welcoming nature of those who live in the area will have you wanting to immigrate as soon as possible. There are also several restaurants that are to die for, not to mention the library and parks. These attractions will have you falling in love with this neighborhood in no time.
If you are looking to see what the cutting edge of modern technology and progress looks like in Barcelona, then look no further than Poblenou. This area has even been dubbed the Silicon Valley of Barcelona, as it has become the home of tech and affluence within the city.
Its stark contrast to its neighbor, Barri Gòtic, can have a love-it-or-hate-it effect for most visitors. However, there is only one way to truly find out how you feel about it, and that is to experience it for yourself. One of the biggest highlights of the district is the old factories that have been reshaped into art galleries and independent shops.
Warnings & Dangers in Barcelona
Luckily there are little to no extreme or life-threatening dangers in Barcelona. Examples of these would include an abundance of gang violence or natural disasters. However, whether you are looking for the best coworking spaces in Barcelona as a digital nomad or just exploring as a tourist, there are a handful of warnings and dangers to be on the lookout for.
The biggest dangers to anyone in the city are pickpockets and scammers. As a result of these threats, it is important to stay vigilant and in the know to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Overall Travel Risk 7/10
On the whole, Barcelona is a safe city for tourists. Unlike other large cities, it does not have a record littered with a lot of violent crimes. However, that does not mean it is completely void of any danger. Petty criminals often take advantage of Barcelona’s status as a popular tourist hub.
All bustling cities have their issues, and Barna is no different. Below, you will find a list of the most likely dangers you can come across while visiting the Catalan city. There are also a few handy tips to keep you safe if you do end up in a hairy situation.
An unfortunate truth about traveling is that pickpockets are everywhere, and even more so in Barcelona. Luckily, it is also easy to protect yourself against these petty criminals. Some simple safety precautions include keeping all of your valuables out of sight — preferably in a theft-proof backpack or a concealed pouch strapped to your person.
Trileros (Shellgame Scams)
There are two tactics the shell game artists, also known as “trileros”, use to separate you from your hard-earned money. The first is through rigged games that you have no hope of ever winning.
Another common method is to use the game as a distraction while a fellow scammer pickpockets you. These situations can escalate very quickly into dangerous ones. To stay safe, it is best to simply avoid partaking in any games of chance on the streets.
Overcharging in Restaurants and Bars
Recently, there have been more and more reports of bars and restaurants overcharging patrons.
Most of the time, it is not the establishment doing the overcharging. Rather, it is an underhanded employee trying their luck. Management is usually quick to apologize and correct any so-called mistakes. However, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and always double-check your bill before paying.
Barcelona has a history of being the target of terrorist attacks. No need to be alarmed, though. In more recent years, such situations have been few and far between. However, if you do find yourself in the unlikely event of such an attack, remain calm and listen to the instructions given out by the local authorities.
Tips for Staying Safe in Barcelona
Staying safe while abroad is sometimes a little difficult when you are enthralled with all of the stunning beauty around you and encased in a city’s culture and essence. So, to help you out, here are five easy tips that will help keep you safe:
- Pickpockets are always on the lookout for an easy target. Project yourself with confidence and awareness when out and about. This will deter muggers and keep them on the prowl for a less challenging target.
- Always only carry enough cash on your person for your planned activities. In the case of your valuables being stolen, it will only affect that day.
- Keep your most valuable possession in a secure location (like a safe at your hotel), along with the rest of your money.
- Never hang your camera from your neck. Not only does it make it a very easy target to steal, but it can also lead to you being injured if someone tries to grab it
- Avoid broadcasting signs of personal wealth. Bulky and expensive watches, chains, and bracelets only serve as big neon signs for thieves to do their thing.
Is Barcelona Safe? | Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Emergency Number in Spain?
While abroad, it is vital to brush up on basic safety information. While in Spain, if you do have an emergency, the number you will need to dial is 112. This is the number for all emergency services, whether you need the police, an ambulance, the fire department, or the coastguard.
Is it Safe to Use Public Transport in Barcelona?
The safety of public transport can vary wildly from country to country. However, in Barcelona, public transport is relatively safe. It is worth taking extra precautions if you end up on the Metro after the sun has set, as it can get a little dangerous.
Is Barcelona Safe for LGBTQIA+ Travelers?
Not only is Barcelona a safe destination for LGBTQIA+ travelers., but the city is also particularly accepting of the queer community. Barcelona even has its very own gay district, named Eixample, or, as the locals call it, “Gayxample.”
What Is the Electrical Current in Spain?
Wall outlets in Spain produce 220 volts of electricity. Guests from the United Kingdom and North America will need to bring a converter with them. If you forget to bring one, local tech stores and duty-free stores at the airport should have an ample supply.