14 Things Tourists Should Never Do When Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona is a tourist paradise, recognized as one of the world's top 10 city destinations in 2022, according to Euromonitor. This statement will not come as a surprise to a single person who has visited here. The architecture is in a league of its own, the nightlife is buzzing from welcoming social electricity, and its warm coastal position has led numerous publications to call it the best beach city in the world, including National Geographic.

That said, one can make mistakes that will crash the vacation utopia into a bad ending. The swarm of tourists may annoy the locals, and your loud presence might push them over the edge. Meanwhile, many careless visitors have lost their valuables under the quick fingers of expert lawbreakers. However, you can effortlessly avoid these minor upsets with a few tips and tricks! So study this list on how to slide out of harm's way and utilize this city for what it's good for, which is having the greatest time of your life.

Don't underestimate the pickpocketing

The pickpocketers of Barcelona are ninjas, zipping your valuables away in a flash before you realize anything is missing. This criminal prowess has not gone unnoticed, with these street offenders being reported as the sneakiest in Europe. If you're looking for someone to blame, there is a reasonable argument that the law is at fault. In the eyes of the Spanish legal system, any stolen goods worth €400 and below are judged a misdemeanor, and the perpetrator will usually face a small fine and a slap on the wrist before they are released back into the wild.

Barcelona is a safe city, and pickpocketing concerns should not deter you from visiting. However, prevention is always your mightiest weapon, so remain vigilant when walking around these streets, especially in tourist areas and at night. Traveling on the metro is another hot spot for keen hands; hence, if you use a backpack, wear it on your front. Consider purchasing anti-theft bags for this trip and researching other simple tricks for avoiding pickpockets in Europe.

Don't be an obvious tourist

The pickpocket problem extends to all areas of theft. You can minimize the risk by blending in with the local crowd and not waving a flag above your head that reads, "I'm a tourist." For example, selfie sticks are a sure giveaway that you're probably carrying extra holiday cash. Meanwhile, a bumbag may be a smart way to keep your valuables within your grasp, but it can lead to sketchy eyes waiting for their moment to find out what's in there. If you want to become one with Barcelona, it's best to act casual and mimic their laid-back fashion sense. With some luck, you won't even register on the thieves' radar.

Tourists make many other silly mistakes, such as leaving their bags unattended on the beach, placing their phones on the table while they eat, or slipping their jackets over the back of their chairs. One blink later, and like magic, their belongings have simply vanished into thin air. If there are items you wish to keep, don't let them out of sight, which should be your travel principle for every city anyway.

Don't disrespect Catalonian values

Barcelona is Catalonia's capital, an autonomous region of Spain that is proud of its independent culture. Accordingly, fundamental differences exist between their way of life and the neighboring Spanish areas, and you should immerse yourself in those exciting dissimilarities. For starters (or mains, rather!), their signature cuisine is a tasty combination of complementary styles built upon a Mediterranean foundation. This means plenty of fresh vegetables, seafood, pork, and bread items on your plate.

Another significant distinction comes from their own language, Catalan. Granted, Spanish remains the region's most-spoken tongue, but the locals will be far more impressed and enthusiastic if you greet them in their home dialect. That said, most Barcelona residents speak some English and are renowned for their friendly demeanor, meaning you can get quite far with a smile. Just don't make the common mistake of referring to Barcelona as "Barca." That is the name of their football club, not the city!

Don't get your meal times wrong

If you're used to the high-speed bustle of city life, then you'll need to shift several gears down to match Barcelona's slow-paced vibe. As a rule, assume everything starts later than you're accustomed to, and you'll be on the right track. Lunch is usually eaten around 2 to 2:30 p.m. but can happen as late as 4 p.m. Dinner is between 9 and 10 p.m., but if you turn up at midnight, that would not be out of the ordinary. And don't expect to rush out to the club immediately, as the nightlife party will only start heating up at 3 a.m., with everyone dancing past the sunrise.

If you're struggling to find anything open, there could be numerous reasons for that. Many places shut their doors for their afternoon siesta between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you can't beat them, join them, take a nap, and try again later. And remember that most shops close on Sundays too.

Don't eat on Las Ramblas

Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once declared Las Ramblas "the only street in the world which I wish would never end." Indeed, Las Ramblas is often called "the most famous street in Barcelona," and the buzz perfectly matches the reputation. Its unmistakable tree-lined stretch makes it a three-quarter-mile sight to behold. Here, extravagant human statues won't blink as they sit still next to magicians performing their craft. Another strange trend you may notice is the "rude seeds" sold at flower stalls, promising to grow into fruit resembling suggestive shapes. Such a humorously erotic scene becomes more serious during nightfall when this walkway transforms into a minor red-light district.

Whatever your reason for visiting this essential Barcelona area, you should avoid sitting down to eat. The stream of tourists strolling through these establishments naturally leads to an exploitation of the wallet, and prices are blasted to unnecessary heights. Instead, walk a block away, and you'll discover tasty food for a quarter of the price.

Don't feel pressured to tip

Unlike countries such as the USA, tipping in Spain is unnecessary and even unexpected. However, that is not to say they aren't appreciated. If you want to acknowledge the service as worthy of reward, then throwing a couple of extra euros (or aiming for 10%) is a gesture that will brighten your waiter's day. Tipping more than that could lead to confusion as the server chases you down the road, trying to give you your change.

If you admire an establishment and want to support it, why not go beyond tipping and write a glowing review praising its qualities on Yelp or Google? So often, people only take to the internet to discredit a place when they believe the service is not up to scratch. This practice can sink a company beneath an onslaught of one-star ratings, which may be undeserved. Consequently, taking a few seconds to balance the score is the most powerful tool you have, and while it costs you nothing, it can prove to be more valuable than money.

Don't seek out flamenco or bullfighting

Flamenco dancing is stitched into the fabric of Spanish culture and is a sought-after attraction for visitors to this country. To cater to demand, numerous flamenco venues have sprung up around Barcelona, charging you entrance to witness the splendor of this unique song and dance. However, these are essentially cash grabs designed to take money from those who can't distinguish between the imitations and the real thing. Instead, if you wish to experience authentic flamenco, you must drive nine hours south-west to Andalusia, for the craft originated in this community.

Similarly, bullfighting is a Spanish tradition that many people treasure as part of their heritage, and it continues across the nation today. Nevertheless, Catalonia voted against the cruel practice in 2010 and looked to ban it altogether. The Spanish Constitutional Court blocked this ruling in 2016, meaning Catalonian bullfights could still legally take place, but no such event has occurred since 2011. Hence, if this bloody spectacle is on your itinerary, you'll have to find it elsewhere. But first, please contemplate why forward-thinking regions have fought to prohibit this morally questionable sport.

Don't support illegal accommodations

The wave of tourism that constantly crashes into Barcelona is a blessing and a curse. Of course, there are economic benefits, and businesses boom from the foreign currency flowing through their cash registers. On the other side, the locals worry their identity is under threat due to the large number of visitors, which has led to protests and anti-touristic graffiti on their walls. One of the most troubling consequences came with Airbnb, where landlords realized they could make far more money renting their places out to temporary travelers, which edged locals out of their own city.

To tackle the problem, Barcelona banned room rentals for less than 31 days, the first European city to do so. Furthermore, you should learn about the tourist tax, a daily €5 fee for the initial week of your stay. Naturally, some naughty property owners find ways around these rules, but you should not partake in such activities. There are plenty of hotels and hostels for all budgets in this city, many of which are experts at maximizing the fun of your trip. Always do the right thing!

Don't skip the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for almost a century and a half. Still, even in this incomplete situation, it remains one of the most spectacular buildings on the planet. Primarily designed by Catalonia's highest-regarded architect, Antoni Gaudí, it has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. It is also the most popular attraction in Barcelona, with nearly 4 million visitors annually.

Few Barcelona travelers would overlook such an engineering masterpiece. But while the external architecture is enough to wobble you on your feet, many make the mistake of ending their journey there. But only once you've walked inside will you understand the profundity of its magnificence. For full effect, join a guided tour or use an audio guide, as they will highlight the details and symbolism you would otherwise skip past. Naturally, the space for this activity fills up fast, so book your Sagrada Familia tickets days in advance if possible.

Don't only visit Gaudi landmarks

The Sagrada Familia is only one of Gaudi's masterworks, with seven of his Barcelona structures on the UNESCO World Heritage List. These include the magically expansive grounds of Park Güell and the Casa Batlló building, which admirers favorably compare with a dragon. The love for Gaudi's work is unsurprising, considering the iconic modernist style the man has breathed with life, so much so that people refer to Gaudi as "God's architect." As a result, tourists flock to his pieces, which leads to fast-selling tickets, long queues, and crowded areas.

Make no mistake; you must visit these locations out of necessity, as you'll never find anything like them elsewhere. But while this city has become synonymous with Gaudi, Barcelona is rich with other underrated attractions, and you should dig deeper than the obvious to enrich your education. Some prominent examples are the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the Palau de la Música Catalana, and the Casa Amatller.

Don't visit during the wrong season

When looking at postcard pictures of Barcelona, you may get the impression that the scene is all sunshine and beaches, but that is not the whole story. October through November is the autumn season, when the city receives the most rainfall. Winter hits in December/January, and life can get chilly. That said, the sun forever fights its way into the days, and Barcelona is often reported to have one of the best Christmas festivals in the world.

On the other side of the year, July to August is peak summer, which means gloriously baking UV rays and assorted music festivals exploding across the city. From here, Barcelona evolves into one enormous party, which summons immense crowds onto every available street. If none of this sounds like fun to you, take the safety of the middle road, with either June or September keeping it warm without too many people to share it with.

Don't take taxis everywhere

Barcelona taxis are among the cheapest in any major European city. Hence, there is the temptation to hail a cab on every corner, rushing from one destination to the next without breaking the bank. As convenient as this may be, it is not only unnecessary, but you will also miss out on Barcelona's intricate particulars as the detailed scenery zooms past your backseat window.

To submerge yourself in the Catalan capital's enchanting history and vibrant energy, stick to your feet. The layout is designed to cater to pedestrians, and it's surprisingly walkable considering the size. However, if you need to cover a considerable distance, the metro is a perfectly viable option. It's easy to use, affordable, and will race you from A to B in a flash. You may not experience the street scenes, but the trains offer another angle of people-watching to get to know what this city is all about. Just remember that the metro only runs from 5 a.m. to midnight.

Don't get stuck at Barceloneta Beach

Tourists adore Barceloneta Beach because it sits right next to the city center. Such an accessible position makes for an easy visit while allowing you to snap those desirable beach selfies with Barcelona's iconic skyline in the background, informing your followers where you are; #nocaptionneeded. However, these amenities come with a cost. It's frequently overcrowded with influencers taking that same photo. It's overwhelmed by litter. And it's not even real! Instead, it was manufactured for the 1992 Olympic Games. This artificial site has been severely scrutinized over the years, with the World Health Organization expressing concerns that the sand does not adhere to basic safety guidelines.

Thankfully, there are options! For example, beaches like Playa de Bogatell and Nova Icària are only a 20-minute walk away. These alternatives are much loved by locals but often overlooked by tourists, meaning a quieter day out with various restaurants and bars at your disposal. Moreover, their sand is natural, which isn't something you should take for granted.

Don't be afraid to leave the city

Barcelona has everything you need. With its fascinating past combined with endless social opportunities, you can remain here indefinitely without a shred of boredom. However, if you have some extra days to explore, you will only enhance your understanding of Spain by taking a day trip outside of Barcelona's comforts.

There are plenty of possibilities, so it's best you click around that search engine until something lands on your particular tastebuds. That said, there are some popular choices that you can't go wrong with. Just over an hour south along the coast, you'll find Tarragona, a well-preserved ancient Roman city with deserved World Heritage status. About an hour and a half inland, there is the underrated city of Zaragoza, the fifth most populous in Spain, famous for its festivals and religious buildings. And with two to three hours of rail time, you'll reach the picturesque beach paradise of Costa Brava.