Barcelona is Dali country – a city where gothic meets abstract and modern architecture, where everybody stays up late to eat and drink, and where there is plenty to do and see. Here you’ll find beaches, cultural attractions, history, and more than enough to keep you busy for a lifetime. It’s one hell of a place.
But there ARE a few problems with Barcelona. It’s the flashpoint for protests and demonstrations to do with the Catalan independence movement, which is still a big issue. For that matter, there’s a BIG problem with petty theft.
So, of course, we totally understand if you’re wondering, “well, is Barcelona safe?” It’s a fair question in all honesty.
This is exactly why we have decided to create this huge insider’s guide to staying safe in Barcelona.
There is a whole lot of ground that we are going to be covering in this epic guide. That means everything from food safety to how safe it is to drive in Barcelona, all the way to how safe it is to visit RIGHT NOW.
We understand if you might be concerned. Maybe you’re worried as a solo female traveller heading to Barcelona, or maybe you’re just wondering if you should be taking your family to the Catalan capital right now. Whatever it is, don’t worry – we are here to help you out.
Unlock Our GREATEST Travel Secrets!
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best travel tips delivered right to your inbox.
- How Safe is Barcelona? (Our take)
- Is Barcelona Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Barcelona Right Now?
- Barcelona Travel Insurance
- 14 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Barcelona
- Keeping your money safe in Barcelona
- Is Barcelona safe to travel alone?
- Is Barcelona safe for solo female travelers?
- Is Barcelona safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Barcelona?
- Is Uber safe in Barcelona?
- Are taxis safe in Barcelona?
- Is public transportation in Barcelona safe?
- Is the food in Barcelona safe?
- Can you drink the water in Barcelona?
- Is Barcelona safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Barcelona?
- Helpful Spanish Travel Phrases
- FAQ about Staying Safe in Barcelona
- Final thoughts on the safety of Barcelona
How Safe is Barcelona? (Our take)
Art, architecture, history, and culture; four reasons to visit Barcelona. Add nine beaches into the mix, as well as a load of OTHER things to see and do, and Barcelona is a pretty cool city to visit. For sure.
But petty crime is a MAJOR problem in Barcelona. A HUGE influx of tourism has brought a LOAD of thieves looking to score and the latter has become pretty good at their job. With distraction techniques, deft pickpocketing, and so many crowds, it can be relatively easy to have your money stolen in Barcelona.
The Catalan independence movement has also brought a dash of discontent to the city as well. While it’s currently no Basque Independence Movement (and we hope it never becomes like this) you never know when it comes to Spanish politics.
At the end of the day, Spain is one of Europe’s safest countries and Barcelona is still one of the most desirable cities on this continent. Every day, Barcelona receives an unfathomable amount of tourists and sometimes there’s no stopping them.
There are so many tourists that the locals have even coined a name for it: parquetematización the act of the city turning into a theme park). Residents of Barcelona are worried the city will lose its identity amidst throngs of tourists.
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Barcelona Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Barcelona. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Barcelona.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
Is Barcelona Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Tourism has grown RAPIDLY in Barcelona. We’re talking 25% in 4 years.
In 2012, there were 27 million visitors to Barcelona. In 2016: 34 million. It’s easy to see how the city has been affected by tourism.
Tourists have been putting so much strain on local living that the government has been trying to curb it and dilute the crowds into lesser known neighbourhoods. It’s a REAL problem that’s resulted in exhausted residents.
You might usually think that lots of tourists mean safer but that’s not the case. With increased crowds have brought increased crime.
Last year (2018) it was stated that over 25% of Barcelona residents had been a victim of crime – that’s a 19% increase on 2017’s stats. And, you guessed it, petty theft makes up the majority of that. On public transport, in shops, restaurants…
Is it Safe to Visit Barcelona Right Now?
Barcelona may be going through some growing pains at the moment, between the Catalan Independence Movement and the oversaturation of tourists, but that doesn’t mean Barcelona is unsafe to visit. Barcelona is still a very modern and welcoming place that, at the end of the day, would probably prefer an open-door policy.
When it comes to interacting with the locals, honestly, the worst that you should expect is a rude Barcelonan who’s simply sick and tired of tourists. Instances of tourists being attacked in Barcelona is extremely rare and often it’s the tourist making the provocation in the first place.
Just remember to be respectful of the locals and to treat Barcelona like you would treat your own home city. Don’t think that you’re exempt from responsibilities because you’re on vacation and don’t think that your actions have no repercussions.
World Nomads’ mission is to support and encourage travellers to explore their boundaries. They offer simple & flexible travel insurance, and safety advice to help you travel confidently.
They’ve been doing it since 2002 – protecting, connecting, and inspiring independent travellers just like you.
Get a quote below or read our in-depth review!
Despite the crowds, tourists, pickpockets, demonstrations – whatever – Barcelona is safe. Honestly! So many tourists visit this city each year and though they’re part of the problem, that shouldn’t stop you from going.
All you’ll to do is treat Barcelona like any other city. To help keep you in the loop, here are some of our top tips for staying safe in Barcelona:
- Steer clear of any political demonstration/protest – these have been known to turn ugly.
- Watch out for distraction techniques – people falling over in front of you, someone dropping something, overly friendly strangers, even people asking you to sign a petition; these are often precursors to a theft.
- Keep your belongings CLOSE to you – hanging bags on the back of chairs at a restaurant = NO. Don’t even leave them under your chair. Just keep them on your lap.
- Same goes for your phone – leaving it on a table is easy pickings for a snatch-and-grab job.
- Stop putting items in your back pockets – front pockets are much harder for thieves to get into. If you want ultimate protection, get a discrete money belt.
- Leaving your stuff unattended on the beach – this is one of the best ways to lose your stuff.
- Whilst you’re at it, careful when you’re swimming – there can be strong undercurrents. Check for a red flag, which means “DON’T ENTER THE WATER”
- When you’re out drinking, know your limits – it’s possible to get carried away by Barcelona’s raucous nightlife. Have fun but keep your judgment and awareness.
- Buy your own drinks and don’t leave them unattended – drink spiking happens here.
- Don’t walk around looking rich and flashy – just an advert for would-be thieves.
- Weed is decriminalised, but getting caught with drugs isn’t fun– the cops will take your stash and hit you with a fine most likely.
- Barcelona is a late night city – you’ll be mainly safe in the main areas, but you should still avoid deserted streets.
- If the police ask to see your ID… – make sure that they’re legit and then comply 100%.
- Don’t talk about Catalan independence – in fact, probably avoid politics altogether. You’re a guest in the city and you probably shouldn’t be throwing your opinions around unless getting lynched is on your Barcelona itinerary?
Whilst generally Barcelona is safe, there are definitely some things to avoid doing, specifically not taking care of your belongings. If you don’t? There’s a high chance they’ll get stolen from you.
The best thing to do here is to pay attention to your surroundings. Travel smart and don’t fall for distraction techniques. It’s all about using your common sense, we’re not going to lie.
Keeping your money safe in Barcelona
Getting your money stolen anywhere is something that’s extremely annoying. Right? More than annoying, it’s something that can totally put a spanner in the works of your trip.
And in Barcelona – because of all the petty theft – there’s certainly a chance that you could be a victim of a simple robbery.
The best form of protection, in any situation, is prevention. When it comes to protecting your money, that means investing in a money belt.
The Pacsafe Money Belt is our best bet. It’s affordable, it looks and acts like a belt, and it’s sturdy – what more could you ask for out of a money belt!
This is a TOP choice for many reasons: it’s rugged, affordable (you’re on a budget, right?) and looks like an actual belt. Nothing odd or fancy about this one.
Wearing a money belt really is a simple way to STOP potential pickpockets in their tracks. We mean, how are your pockets going to get picked if there’s nothing in your pockets to pick in the first place? (Exactly.) All you have to do is keep a stash of cash in your money belt and that’s it.
When it comes to somewhere KNOWN for petty theft, wearing a money belt definitely, definitely pays off. No-brainer.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
We’re totally into solo travel as it’s an AMAZING way to see the world. There are few better ways to challenge yourself than by seeing the world on your own terms.
But if you are travelling by yourself you MAY be seen as more of a target by petty criminals. In a city like Barcelona, you’re definitely going to have to watch out for pickpockets as it really is an issue.
However, on the whole, Barcelona is safe to travel alone. Aside from the occasional thief, Barcelona is really fun, friendly and easy to visit, regardless if you’re alone or with a group.
To help improve your lone wold experience, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- Stay in well-reviewed accommodation in Barcelona with a good social scene. This is a good way to make some travel buddies to beat the solo travel blues. Be sure to check if the hostel’s scene is actually your flavor. No good staying somewhere that’s all about the partying if you’re about getting wasted.
- There are loads of free tours on offer around Barcelona. Bike tours, walking tours, drinking tours, eating tours; whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably going to be a tour to match it. Not only are they a good way to visit Barcelona on a budget, but tours are a good way to meet other travellers. Have a chat, make friends, make plans for tapas that night.
- Check your map before you head out. We’re not saying that you need to memorise your route 100% but know generally where you’re going and you’ll look less like a tourist. Plus you won’t have to keep getting your phone out, which just puts it at risk of getting snatched.
- Stash your cash in different places so if you DO get pickpocketed, you won’t lose everything in one go. Or better yet: wear a money belt. Like we said.
- Meet up with locals. Try Couchsurfing or research other online groups if you’re interested in getting to know a more local, more authentic side of life in Barcelona.
- And if you are interested in getting know what local life is really like, head to a chiringuito, which is a beach bar and where locals hang out. Not everyone is out in the city centre eating tapas every night.
- If you’re walking alone in the early hours around Las Ramblas, you MAY be offered drugs and/or a few hours with a lady of the evening. Just be aware that this sort of thing is likely to happen when you’re by yourself.
- Learning some Spanish is a good way to get to learn about the local area and people. And a bit Catalan wouldn’t hurt, either.
So whilst there’s this problem of petty theft in Barcelona, there’s also the problem that pretty much EVERY solo traveller faces: getting lonely. Or bored. Or both. And the best way to combat this is to meet new people.
Is Barcelona safe for solo female travelers?
Barcelona is very safe for solo female travellers and plenty of lone women do head to this city. You’re going to meet a lot of really cool women doing the same thing as you and hearing their stories is half the fun.
Obviously, there’s more risk of travelling as a single woman; it’s a sad circumstance but true nonetheless. You’ll be seen as an easier target for theft and for overly aggressive males.
BUT the hassle is actually not too bad in Barcelona. All you’ll need to do here is stay vigilant and use your common sense.
With that in mind, here are some of our top tips for solo female travellers in Barcelona, so you can have an AWESOME time with less of the stress…
- We’ve already mentioned that Barcelona has some amazing hostels and that staying in a good one is a good way to ensure your well-being. Many hostels even offer a female-only dorm if that’s what you’d like. Staying in one of these rooms limits the chances of you being stuck with weirdos, plus you get to meet other women travelling by themselves, too.
- The bonus of staying at a good hostel is that they often have things like walking tours (great for getting to know the city AND mingling with fellow backpackers) and even bar crawls. This means getting to have fun without having to wander out every night. The more social a hostel, the more likely you’re going to have some people to explore the city with.
- It’s GENERALLY safe to walk around late at night. But it’s always best to avoid areas that lack crowds of people e.g. deserted streets, quiet alleys. Do as you’d do at home and avoid them if you’re walking around by yourself.
- We’d recommend that you take a taxi instead of walking home by yourself at night. It’s just more than likely going to be the safer option.
- Don’t be afraid to go eat at a tapas bar by yourself. You won’t need to queue if you’re just one person. You just go sit at the bar. Easy and delicious!
- Keep emergency contacts high on your phone. This way, you won’t have to scroll through everyone in case of an EMERGENCY. Or assign numbers to speed-dial. Saving time is pretty much always going to be the best bet in the interest of your safety.
- When you’re on the metro or on the beach, don’t let people invade your personal space. Anybody trying to get too close to you is probably trying to PICKPOCKET you. Even if you’ve got a money belt, being targeted like that isn’t nice. Move away immediately if someone seems dodgy.
- The metro is generally safe but late at night, remote metro stations and empty carriages aren’t what we’d call safe places. Definitely try your best to avoid these sorts of areas and stick to the city centre instead.
- Catcalling CAN happen and it’s up to you how you deal with it. You can react or ignore them. But honestly? We would say just walk on by and get on with your day. Not worth the hassle.
Like many Western European cities, Barcelona is safe for solo female travellers. That being said, bad stuff can happen anywhere in the world and women, unfortunately, are often more targeted than men. So do as you do at home: take care, be vigilant, stay away from people who seem WEIRD.
There’s nothing that, as a woman, is stopping you from seeing Barcelona alone. Plenty of people travel to this cool city and have an AMAZING time. So you should, too! It’s all about using your common sense. Do this and you’re bound to have a good experience.
Is Barcelona safe to travel for families?
Barcelona is pretty much a wonderland for families.
There are ALL SORTS of things to explore if you’re visiting Barcelona with children in tow. From museums to theme parks, educational to fun, there’s a TON of stuff to do in the Catalan capital.
For a start there’s:
- El Born, a chilled neighbourhood that’s home to the Parc de la Ciutadella (picnic areas and the Barcelona Zoo).
- There’s also a load of Roman history, Gothic buildings (in the Gothic Quarter), old candy stores, magic shops, markets, and tasty Spanish food that your children should LOVE.
- And did you know that Barcelona is actually home to one of the oldest theme parks in Europe? It’s called Tibidabo and it dates back to 1899.
- That’s not to mention all the beaches. There are nine, NINE, to choose from plus a LOAD of day trips along the coast and out into nature that you can embark on.
Basically, Barcelona is a great place to take your children. Older kids are going to love the late night culture because they get to act like an adult. Younger kids will be welcomed by locals and get to play with other children in the NUMEROUS parks around town.
One thing you’ll have to do is make sure they’re covered up as the sun can get BRUTAL in Barcelona. Make sure you have suncream, and lots of it, plus sun-hats and sunglasses are basically a must.
The metro is good to take kids on, even with pushchairs and prams. The cobbled streets and sometimes crazy traffic of Ciuttat Vella can be a bit tricky to navigate.
But other than that, you’re going to be fine!
Just find some awesome accommodation for you and your family (trust us: there’s plenty of that). You all are going to have the time of your lives!
Is it safe to drive in Barcelona?
It is safe to drive in Barcelona BUT it’s a HASSLE and driving in Barcelona is expensive. Parking is also super pricey and there are also other hassles, such as…
- There are multi-lane roundabouts dotted around the city and these can be pretty stressful if you’re not used to them.
- Scams also exist. People will usher you into an empty parking space and then demand “protection money.” If you feel like you ARE being targeted for extortion, just leave and find somewhere else to park.
- Things you have to carry in the car: TWO red warning triangles, a reflective vest, a spare tyre, and necessary tools to change a tyre. You might get a hefty fine if you don’t.
- If you’re with children, they’re not allowed to sit in the front seat unless they’re above 12 years old. EVERYBODY has to wear seatbelts, of course.
- You also are NOT allowed to use your phone whilst driving. If you do it has to be completely hands-free.
Basically, driving not worth it. When you consider how good the public transit is as well, driving seems even more bothersome.
UNLESS you’re thinking of heading out on a day trip out of the city, driving around IN the city just isn’t a great option. It’s not really a good way to get around.
Stick to bicycles and public transport. Case closed.
Cycling in Barcelona
Barcelona might not be the first city that comes to your mind when you think of bicycles, but it definitely belongs on the cycle-friendly list. Since 2015, the city council has decided to go “greener”, and support this way of transportation to reduce CO2 emissions. A huge net of bike lanes has been built all over the city for the last couple of years, and it’s constantly expanding.
But is riding a bike safe? Since you can control the speed and which way you’re going a lot easier on a bicycle than a motorbike or car, this way of transport is definitely the safest. But only if you follow the rules and wear a helmet. Here are the most important ones:
- be aware of your surroundings at all time
- indicate if you want to take a turn and have lights attached to your bicycle
- don’t drive on the sidewalk – these are for people on foot
- keep a safe distance from driving cars – they might not see you coming!
Now, where do you get a bike from? Unless you’re staying long term, you can rent bikes pretty much everywhere around the city. Lots of rentals offer everything from a normal city bike to mountain bikes, and even e-bikes (you might need a license for those).
In case you want to plan your vacation ahead, you can check out this BCN map. They’ll show you every bike lane in and around the city, so you can easily get from A to B.
Is Uber safe in Barcelona?
Uber came back to Barcelona last year (2018) after being banned for 3 and a half years.
The only thing to worry about with Uber is that it has a bit of an on-off relationship with the authorities in Barcelona. So check to make sure it’s in operation when you go. It may get kicked out again.
But, yep. Uber is safe in Barcelona.
All the things that make Uber so good everywhere else apply here. Paying in app, not needing to speak the local language, knowing what car you’ll be stepping into, being able to track your journey; all the perks that you’d expect.
Are taxis safe in Barcelona?
Taxis are safe in Barcelona and they’re pretty affordable, too (more so than Uber)!
They’re easy to spot; just look for the black with yellow stripes. You can find them at taxi ranks or you can just hail them in the street. Just look for the green light on top.
Just make sure you use an official taxi because getting in an unlicensed one is not only unsafe, it’s also COSTLY. You can be fined up to 600 Euros for using an unlicensed taxi service. That’s right – you. The passenger. The Barcelona government does NOT want people using unlicensed taxis (clearly).
But, yes, taxis are safe. You can even pay with a card.
Remember these points when using the Barcelona taxis:
- Double check to see that the meter ON and that the driver isn’t driving around aimlessly trying to rack that meter up. Use a maps app to see that they’re taking the quickest route. If you feel like they’ve cheated you, get the receipt for the journey and report it to the police.
- You may also find that you have to pay surcharges for things like luggage, or taking you to the airport. That’s normal.
- Taxi apps exist. There’s MyTaxi and HailoCab, both of which work pretty much like Uber.
- You might need some Spanish, or Catalan, to get you from A to B.
But our advice? Take the hassle out and get your accommodation to book you cabs when you need them. Easy.
Is public transportation in Barcelona safe?
Barcelona is GREAT when it comes to public transport. There are buses, trams, metro, and even several cable cars. The bike lanes are actually pretty good as well. Best of all, it’s usually very safe.
- First things first, grab yourself a Day Pass. This is good for up to 5 days and allows you to travel easier on the buses, trams, and metro.
- The metro only runs until midnight, but you can just hop on the night bus after that.
- Though not TECHNICALLY public transport, getting around on a bicycle is a good option. It’s safe to ride a bike in Barcelona and it’s CHEAP.
- One of the most attractive things is a 72-kilometre cycling path around the perimeter of the city. As of now (February 2019), that path is not even completely finished yet; it’s THAT long.
- The buses trundle along city routes regularly. Most destinations around the city are connected by these.
- Different cable cars go to different high spots around Barcelona. One, for example, goes up to the top of Montjuic for pretty amazing views.
- Trams travel around the city, too. There aren’t MANY but some of them are super nice and offer up a quaint, scenic way to travel around the city.
- The metro is reliable and easy to use. It’s spread across 11 colour-coded lines. On a Saturday the metro runs 24 hours until Sunday morning.
- To be fair, the city is ACTUALLY quite walkable in many places…
What you’ll need to watch out for are PICKPOCKETS especially on the metro and bus. And even MORE so at busy times, like rush hour.
It’s difficult to know if someone barging to get past you is someone pickpocketing you or just a regular person. You could have stuff stolen without even realising. You don’t NEED to be travelling during rush hour, so we’d just say avoid that particular headache anyway.
And travelling alone on empty carriages at night is not recommended, nor is being at abandoned metro stations outside the city centre.
BUT at the end of the day, public transport in Barcelona is safe and there are no HUGE problems.
Is the food in Barcelona safe?
There is some GREAT food to try in Barcelona. Pick up snacks from streetside vendors, get lost in the huge and historic Boqueria Market, pick up some bocadillos from a local bakery, or spend some time stopping by tapas places for a beer and a couple of tasty dishes.
To be honest, there’s not a lot to worry about as the food in Barcelona is very SAFE. After all, this is a developed city in a developed country. But if you REALLY don’t want to get sick during your trip to Barcelona (who would?), here are some tips to help you out…
- As a good rule of thumb, head to popular establishments. They’re probably so popular because they’re so GOOD. But also consider that nobody is really going to want to head back to a place that made them ill. Are they?
- Avoid tourist traps. This is Barcelona, which has a whole host of amazing restaurants to try out, but for every few good ones, there will be one not so good one. Avoid touts, who will undoubtedly be trying to get you in somewhere that’s just trying to make money.
- Seafood plays a BIG PART in the Barcelona food scene. If it smells a bit weird or tastes a little bit, either don’t eat it or stop eating it. Being ill as a result of eating bad seafood is not only really horrible – it can be dangerous too.
- If you’re out and about looking for food from a local vendor, make sure to avoid things that look as though they have been sitting around uncovered all day. This is a good way for food to get covered with germs and have flies doing the rounds all over it. If it doesn’t LOOK fresh, don’t go for it.
- Also, use your head. Does a restaurant look clean? If it doesn’t look like hygiene is a big priority, and you’re concerned about getting ill, then it might just be best to avoid.
- Do some research. There are plenty of amazing places to eat in Barcelona and if you only have a short time in the city you’ll want to make the most of it. So look online and seek out some places that really make you hungry. Maximise your time.
- Restaurants may not actually open until 8 or 9pm. So make sure you eat accordingly. No use wasting your appetite on snacks from a supermarket at 6 pm just because you couldn’t make it all the way. Fill up on a long lunch, that’s what we’d recommend.
- WASH. YOUR. HANDS. This is elementary stuff and it could keep you from getting ill. If you can’t guarantee the hygiene of the beachside restaurant you’re about to eat at, at least you can make sure you are clean.
- Traveling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Barcelona ingredients in Spanish.
Basically, Barcelona is a bit of a foodie heaven. There’s a lot of decent stuff to try here – from pastries and other sweet treats to huge plates of steaming paella packed with seafood – all washed down with a refreshing beer, some cava or whatever other local beverage is on offer.
Food hygiene is a relative non-issue in Barcelona and, honestly, just about the ONLY places that might not be that interested in hygiene are TOURIST TRAPS. Tourist numbers in the city mean there are a lot of these. Avoid them and you’ll be fine getting full elsewhere.
Can you drink the water in Barcelona?
The tap water is safe to drink in Barcelona and you can take it directly from the tap. Pack a water bottle, fill it when you need to, and you’re good to go.
That being said, the water is not GREAT in terms of taste. Many locals have an additional water filter installed in their kitchen although many of these same people remark that it’s kinda overkill.
Is Barcelona safe to live?
Barcelona is a popular place for expats but there ARE some things you’ll have to contend with if you decide to live in the Catalan capital:
- The cosmopolitan culture mingles with mass tourism and the crowds can simply be TOO MUCH. We are serious here.
- Whilst many of the tourists are concentrated around the Sagrada Familia or the Parc Guell, it still will feel as though they are everywhere.
- There are issues with living in Spain in general. Jobs aren’t exactly rife and salaries are low so make sure you secure a job BEFORE you go. Better yet: work for yourself.
- Things like petty crime can be super annoying. We said earlier that virtually a quarter of Barcelona residents had been victims of petty theft in the past year.
- BUT… There are some really nice places you can live in Barcelona where you can soak up the laid-back lifestyle and friendly local feeling. For example, there’s Gracia, a charming neighbourhood that’s like a city in a city, and also the cool district of El Born with its indie atmosphere and quirky mix of old and new.
For the most part, it’s safe to live in Barcelona. Do your research, learn about recent history and the Catalan independence, know that you’ll be living shoulder to shoulder with tourists almost every day, and that you’ll have to put up with the stuff that comes with it, like pickpockets…
But ultimately, Barcelona is a cool city and an awesome place to live!
A new country, a new contract, a new piece of plastic – booooring. Instead, buy an eSIM!
An eSIM works just like an app: you buy it, you download it, and BOOM! You’re connected. It’s just that easy.
Is your phone eSIM ready? Read about how e-Sims work or click below to see one of the top eSIM providers on the market and ditch the plastic.Buy an eSIM!
How is healthcare in Barcelona?
Spain’s healthcare, in general, is TOP NOTCH and is one of the best healthcare systems in the world. (What do you expect from a country that spends around 10% of its GDP on its public healthcare?)
Spanish people are known for their long lives. The life expectancy of Spanish women is particularly high; they outlive every other nation except Japan.
And Barcelona, being a big city, has lots of healthcare options and excellent services:
- If you’ve got something minor, just head to one of the many pharmacies. You’ll often be able to get hold of medication over the counter that at home you might need a prescription for.
- Hospitals have a HIGH standard of service, care, cleanliness – everything. Public hospitals and clinics are FREE.
- Make sure you take a copy of your insurance or your European Health Insurance Card with you when you get treatment.
But other than that, it’s honestly AMAZING. You won’t have to worry about anything.
Helpful Spanish Travel Phrases
Before I list some essential Spanish (Castillan) phrases you should learn, I will preface this list by saying most of the North of Spain doesn’t actually speak Spanish as their first language.
There are 5 languages spoken in Spain: Castillan (Spanish), Catalan, Basque, Galician, and Occitan. While most of the schools teach both their regional language and Spanish, many older people – especially in smaller towns and remote areas – may not speak Spanish in Catalonia, Basque Country, Galicia, or the Pyrenees.
That being said, you can get by pretty much anywhere if you know Spanish, and you won’t have any trouble getting around Barcelona, Madrid, or other touristic areas only knowing English. Moreover, most young Spaniards people can speak Spanish and English.
Hola – Hello
Buenos Días – Good Day
Buenos Tardes – Good Evening
Buenas Noches – Good night
Como Estás – How are you? (Informal)
Vale – Castellano (Spain Spanish) way of saying okay.
Una cerveza y una tapa – One beer with a tapa
Buena Onda – Basically translates to good vibes
No entiendo – I don’t understand
Perdon – Excuse me
Sorry – Discúlpe (pardon) or lo siento (emotional)
Can you help me, please? – Me puedes ayudar, por favor?
FAQ about Staying Safe in Barcelona
Here are some quick answers to common questions about safety in Barcelona.
Final thoughts on the safety of Barcelona
Barcelona is a super cool city. All the Gaudi architecture, all the beauty of the Gothic Quarter, the hipster-friendly hostels, the endless shops of Las Ramblas; we totally understand why anybody would want to visit.
But that’s part of the problem: everyone DOES want to visit and seemingly all at the same time. Barcelona is practically overrun with tourists. The anti-tourist sentiment is actually growing.
More tourists mean more pockets to pick as well – Barcelona has a horrible reputation with petty crime and it happens here all the time. Our advice to you would be to simply travel smart – avoid massive crowds, deserted streets at night, and anywhere else that might make you an easy target.
In all honesty, you’re going to be fine when you visit Barcelona and you will very rarely if ever be in danger. Just keep your valuables close to you and don’t walk around Barcelona like it’s a theme park (say no to parquetematización). Be respectful of the locals and maybe try to see parts of the city that are less well-known. There are many, many sides of Barcelona that deserve to be seen.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
I was walking along Barceloneta beach with friends 3 days ago when all of a sudden I saw a man tap a woman on the shoulder and point to a silver ring on the ground. Immediately I knew what was happening, it was the infamous distraction theft trick! The woman continued talking to the man that was behind her, while another man instantly appeared in front of her, slowly lifted her backpack off the top of the travel suitcase she had it on top of without her noticing, and calmly walked away with it. I yelled out to warn her that her bag was being stolen but she didn’t notice what I was saying until the man was already far away with her bag.
I feel bad that I did not help her but the man threatened to stab me. I wasn’t particularly concerned about him because being a large man I could probably have overpowered him as he was much smaller. However, I know these scumbags work in groups because they are too cowardly to do these things alone. There were at least 4 people in this gang because my friend saw 2 other people run away along with the man who distracted her and the man who stole her bag.
I came to Barcelona and 2008 and 2011 and it didn’t seem nearly as bad as it is now. Especially with the Catalan independence protests going on it seems like the police are thoroughly distracted and the scum and scoundrels know it. The thieves are running around stealing things with impunity. Walking around all the different neighborhoods with my friends we rarely saw any police presence. The only place I see police with any regularity is on La Rambla. Which understandably is the center of tourism and one of the most common areas that pickpockets operate, but it seems as if they are leaving other areas of the city under-policed.
Very sad. Don’t get me wrong though, I think you should still visit Barcelona. I’m from New Jersey and frequently visit New York City, which is far more dangerous than Barcelona. I actually feel safer in BCN compared to NYC most of the time. I do not want to discourage anyone from visiting Barcelona because it is such a beautiful and amazing city. The violent crime rate is still quite low, although alarmingly violent crime is also on the rise. Petty theft such as pick pocketing, stealing phones/jewelry/etc. are the most common crime occurrences.
It is still one of my favorite cities in the world but it is disappointing that the local police and government are not doing more to prevent the increasing crime.
Thanks for the timely warning Tim. This is indeed a situation to be wary of, it happens in broad daylight. Having visited BCN a number of times myself, I agree its a wonderful city and I will continue to return despite this type of activity. Vigilance is key.
I don´t feel safe anymore in Barcelona, I witnessed many things around me + family or friends robbed or assaulted. If I go out at night and then come back late, I see these young guys from abroad (you know who) around, following me and calling me.
The Catalan government doesn’t want to accept this insecurity, which is a big mistake as it getting worse day after day with now, at least one stabbed / day. I feel like it is already too late. Thanks to the mayor also.
Barcelona is not going through a particularly safe period, yet is still very safe compared to almost every other cities globally.
The real problem is: security is worse every day and, as a local, we don’t know where the bottom is (i.e. 5 murderes related to fights between gangs in July 19)
Saying that the insecurity in Barcelona is caused by the increase in tourism is unacceptable, and it would be the first city in history with that problem, therefore unlikely.
The lack of security is driven by the lack of action of our local police.
Nobody wants to know why, but our police does not seem to be allowed to act against criminal behaviour, particularly when criminals . To illustrate my point, I am attaching this link where you can appreciate the reaction of the police against a group of people selling ilegal gear on the street, who were told off by a local woman:
Summarising, Barcelona is safe, but it needs a much more effective local police to deal with the uprise in violent behaviours. The statement: the cause of all problems are “tourists” or “the central government of Spain” is clearly a political manoeuvre to make local politicians look / feel good, despite of having every indicator saying that Barcelona is worse today than 10 years ago.
Thanks for your comment! It shows a very nuanced perspective on things. When we talk about insecurity increasing with tourism, we mean to say that criminal activity towards tourists is more likely in heavily touristed cities than seldom visited ones. I also agree that insecurity, in general, must be addressed by the local government, but for our fellow travelers, we recommend caution as always.