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See Spain like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Is Barcelona Safe for Travel?

ViaHero
Updated October 26, 2020

Generally, Barcelona is safe for travel. With some help from locals, we put together this guide to safety in Barcelona. It covers everything from the coronavirus to tips for solo travelers. 

Work with a local to build your trip to Barcelona. They'll offer up-to-date information that you might not find online—and tips on how to stay away from the crowds. Learn more

Safety in Barcelona

When will it be safe to travel to Spain? 

One of the most frequent questions about travel to Spain concerns the coronavirus. When will it be safe to travel to Spain? 

Here's the latest: 

October 26th: American citizens are not permitted to enter Spain unless they meet specific requirements. Coronavirus cases in Spain are currently increasing. --

Safety in Barcelona

Safety Is Barcelona Safe
Musicians in Barcelona |  richard hewat/Unsplash

Barcelona offers visitors a thrilling combination of beaches, breathtaking architecture, and bountiful restaurants and bars. It’s a wonderful place to visit in Spain—and, generally, is quite safe. 

Still, locals say there are some safety considerations to keep in mind. Barcelona is a big city (the second-largest in Spain). As a popular tourist destination, it also draws pickpockets and scammers who could put a damper on your adventure. 

All in all, Spain is safe to visit—as long as you employ certain precautions.

Travel warnings for Spain 

What’s the current travel advisory for Spain? Because of the coronavirus, the U.S. State Department has given Spain a Level 3 Travel Advisory. This recommends that Americans reconsider travel. 

However, before the coronavirus, the State Department assigned Spain a Level 2 Travel Advisory. For context, this is the same advisory given to most of Western Europe—including Italy and France

In Barcelona, the State Department specifically called out the potential disruption of the Catalonian protest movement.

Common scams in Barcelona

Although Spain is a safe destination, locals tell us you should beware of common scams that target tourists. Locals say: 

  • Be cautious in Las Ramblas: The main boulevard in Barcelona is popular among tourists. Iconic and beautiful, it’s a must-see. But be careful here. Avoid the south part of Las Ramblas, especially at night. And avoid eating at restaurants here if you can, as they are often geared toward tourists and are overpriced. 

  • Watch out for other “tourists”: Thieves in Barcelona can be crafty. In this scam, they’ll try to look like a tourist by holding a camera and map. They may ask for directions or help and then steal from you. Or, they’ll infiltrate a crowd of tourists and get to work picking pockets.
  • Beware of bird poo: In this scam, someone will toss a small amount of liquid on your shoe or pants. Then, someone else will try to help you clean off the “bird poo.” While you’re distracted, their partner will pick your pockets. 
  • Stay aware of your surroundings: Barcelona is a huge city. It’s popular with tourists, and pickpockets know it. So, be careful in crowds and at places like train stations. Keep an eye on your belongings and stay aware of your surroundings. 
  • Refuse any “gifts”: This scam is popular throughout Europe. Here, scammers will try to offer you a gift—like a rose or a bracelet. Refuse. If you accept the gift, the scammer will make a scene and demand payment. 

Having a local perspective can help you from getting scammed. Locals know best how to navigate their city safely! Overall, using common sense and caution will help you avoid scams in Barcelona. 

What to know about Catalonia independence protests 

The Catalonia independence movement has inspired recent protests in Barcelona. It is possible that you’ll encounter protests like this when you visit. Although such protests are meant to be peaceful, they have in the past turned violent. 

The best way to navigate a big protest? See what locals say. Since locals in Barcelona have navigated the protests themselves, they can help you figure out what to do if one happens while you’re in town, or let you know when one is likely to occur. 

When you work with a ViaHero local to build your guidebook, they’ll be available to help via phone if you run into any issues during your trip. 

Is Barcelona safe for solo travelers?

Solo Travel Is Barcelona Safe
Woman in Barcelona |  Toa Heftiba/Unsplash 

Barcelona is safe for solo travelers, but locals tell us there are a few things anyone traveling alone should keep in mind. Locals say: 

  • If you swim, don’t leave your belongings on the beach: Thieves often target beaches, since people will leave their belongings on the sand while they swim. 

  • Pick a local neighborhood: Getting some local advice about where to stay is a great way to see a side of Barcelona that most tourists miss. Locals suggest neighborhoods like Poblenou, where you’ll find more local flavor. 
  • Don’t eat an early dinner: Things start late in Spain! So if you’re looking to enjoy as much of the city as possible, resist the temptation to eat early. Locals won’t show up to restaurants until 8 pm or 9 pm. 
  • Know how to get home: Once the night has ended—and in Spain, that may be in the wee hours of the morning—be sure you know how to get home. Locals can help with tips about transportation in Spain.
  • Keep an eye on your drink: If someone offers to buy you a drink, be sure you see it made—just like you would at home.

Working with a local to help build your trip is like having a best friend in Spain. You’ll still travel solo, but you’ll have tons of great, insider advice about how to enjoy Barcelona like a local.

Important Spanish phrases to know

No matter where you stay in Spain, it’s a good idea to learn a few words and phrases. Locals tell us that these are some good basics: 

  • Por favor—Please
  • Gracias—Thank you
  • De nada—You’re welcome
  • Buenos dias—Good morning
  • Disculpe...Excuse me—
  • Dónde está...—Where is…?

Locals in Spain can help out! When they design your trip, they’ll include important words to know.

Emergency numbers to know

Although you probably won't need them, here are some emergency numbers to keep on hand—just in case! 

Emergency - 112 

Police - 091 

Health emergencies - 061

U.S. Embassy Madrid (34) 91-587-2200

Website - U.S. Embassy Madrid

When you work with a local to plan your trip, they’ll be available to offer support in case you run into any issues in Spain. 

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Still have questions about travel to Spain?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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