8 Tips on Being Street Smart in Barcelona

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El Born
El Born, photo by @elenasarinena

Aside from being known for its tapas, beautiful architecture and sparkling cava, what some people may not know about Barcelona is its high rate of petty theft. People who have grown up or lived here have most likely had something stolen at least once. But, es lo que hay (it is what it is) and these unfortunate events always lead to lessons learned. Barcelona is not a dangerous city at all. In fact, it’s quite safe; however, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, we’ll give you a list of things to look out for when you’re visiting – or living in – sunny Barcelona.

 

Try to blend in

What do you mean? How can I blend in if I’m not even from here? The key is looking like you know where you’re going, paying attention to your surroundings and just being streetwise. If you’re carrying a map, it’s better to sit down in a café somewhere to look it over. Try to dress like the locals. It’s not unusual to see tourists wearing shorts or dresses in winter – and look completely out of place. Barcelona is not a tropical country. Do your research on the weather before you arrive. Otherwise, you’ll have a large neon dollar sign above your head summoning hungry pickpockets.

 

Keep an eye (and a hand) on your bag

If you’re carrying a backpack, keep your wallet and phone in your front pockets if you can. On the metro or in very crowded touristic areas, wear your bag in front. Ladies should carry purses with a thicker strap if possible and across the body, not on the shoulder. When in a restaurant, don’t sling your purse over the chair (this is an easy target) or haphazardly on the floor. Thieves in this city are professionals and you won’t notice anything is gone until you’re ready to leave.

 

Take extra precaution on public transport and the beach

Chiringuito on the Beach
Chiringuito on the Beach, photo by @mrpoplarfield

The metro can get quite crowded and is the perfect place to steal something unnoticed. If you’re carrying a backpack or purse, put it on your lap or carry it in front of you. The beaches in Barcelona are also hotspots for thieves. Make sure someone is always with your belongings if you’re going for a dip.

 

Don’t get distracted

Sometimes pickpockets work in groups. One will cause a distraction while the other takes what they can. The distraction can come in any form- asking for directions, selling something, dropping money, trying to be overly friendly by putting their arm around you, getting too close for comfort. Keep an eye out and you’ll be able to avoid being pickpocketed if you know what to look for.

 

Leave valuables at home

Make a photocopy of your passport and leave the original in the safe. It’s also a good idea to leave behind a credit card and extra cash. Whatever you don’t need that day is safer at home.

 

At night, stay where the people are

Gothic Quarter lit up at night
Gothic Quarter lit up at night, photo by @oscarbcn

As stated before, Barcelona is a safe city, but it’s always a good idea to take the streets where there are more people. Especially in the old city areas where streets are tight, it’s good to have a buddy or two to walk home with.

 

Watch your phone

Phones and electronics are the number one thing that thieves are looking for, so make sure you know where yours is at all times. Keep your phone out of your back pocket, off the table in a restaurant and be careful if you are carrying it in your hand. Oftentimes in outdoor cafes, someone will try to come up and sell you something. On some occasions, they will use their merchandise as a distraction, covering up your phone while you are taking a look. Next thing you know, they are gone, along with your phone. There are the rare occurrences when a thief will literally snatch your phone from your hand, so just beware.

 

Take care of yourself

Out for a beer after work, a long day of sightseeing or revved up to party hard on the weekend, it can be easy to let your guard down. This is the perfect opportunity for a master pickpocket. They’ll be looking for the person who’s had a little bit too much to drink or has forgotten their phone on the table. Sometimes they’ll even try to get extra chummy with you in the streets.

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