It’s not that Barcelona is a dangerous city. Of course, like in any other big city there are pickpockets who focus especially on tourists. But with a little common sense and precaution, nothing will happen. Here are some guidelines to help tourists visiting Barcelona feel and be more safe!
• The classical one: try not to act or to look like a tourist. A camera around your neck is like a big sign on your forehead, people with bad intentions will spot you immediately.
• Buy a Spanish newspaper or find one of those free copies that they hand out like Adn or 20 Minutos. A simple trick that keeps you low profile. Of course you might want to hide your fancy digital camera as well.
• As for the ladies, don’t be too casual with your handbags. Why not choose a messenger bag that you can cross over your body? This way it’s not easy for someone to grab it and run.
• Keep your eyes open on the public transport and on the metro in particular. Avoid the crowded carriages, since this is where pickpockets, usually in pairs or even small groups, have the perfect opportunity to snatch your belongings without you even noticing it. You might find yourself caught in a crowd of people who are a little pushy trying to get on or off, only to find out later that your purse or wallet is gone.
• Nowadays there are a lot of human statues and actors on Las Ramblas – one of Barcelona’s most famous streets. Some of them are quite popular and attract a big crowd – and thieves as well. They act like spectators and while you are focussed on the performance, they take off with your belongings before you know it.
• An old time favourite, especially on the Ramblas is the Shell Game. There’s a small ball and three beakers or matchboxes or even bottle tops. The only thing you have to do is guess which one the ball is under. Piece of cake, right? Wrong. It’s a scam and moreover: illegal. Usually the trick is performed by immigrants from Eastern Europe. The operator always has accomplices who pretend they are playing the game; they hand over 50 euro notes like its monopoly money and of course always win. However, if you make a bet, the ball will never be under the cup you point to. It’s like a magic trick, a very expensive one.
• And as we said before, a ‘show’ like this is a perfect place to be mugged while you are not paying attention to people around you.
• Since you are a tourist, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to show any other tourist the way. So be suspicious when someone comes up to your table while eating at KFC or just sitting on a terrace. They ask you for directions and spread out their map, and only when they are gone you will think: Hey, didn’t I have my mobile laying here? Trust your instincts: a gypsy will probably not be here for his holidays.
• To all the men, here’s a simple hint: don’t do anything you wouldn’t do back home. The neighbourhood that borders La Ramblas on the right is El Raval. Things can get a little tricky at night, and there are many African prostitutes. First they’ll be friendly, trying to seduce you, to persuade you. Just walk away. Not only could they rob you, when their pimp shows up, it could get ugly. Do you really want to tell the cops what you were doing while being mugged? Not to mention explain it to your wife.
• The last warning: Careful with taxi drivers. Sometimes they sort of make up their own rules. After a concert or big event they triple their prices. To avoid such rip off, discuss a price before entering.
Hope we didn’t scare you too much; just remember that most unpleasant situations can be avoided with some logical thinking. Barcelona is indeed a wonderful place; make sure you come and visit soon! And if you are looking for affordable accommodation, rent the best apartments in Barcelona!