Barcelona is a lovely city and there are plenty of things to see and do when you visit. Here are some suggestions that will give you a good overall feel for the city:
Besides seeing some of Antoni Gaudi’s magnificent buildings in Barcelona (especially La Sagrada Familia), you’ll also want to walk around and check out the architecture in the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic).
Plaças are public squares in Barcelona filled with great atmosphere. They can comprise of statues and fountains or clubs and restaurants. They are places where people meet up, relax, read, eat, and socialize.
Barcelona can be a bit of a concrete jungle, but if you like greenery, it also has some nice parks. Park de la Ciudadela is the oldest and one of the largest parks in Barcelona. It is known for its large garden, walking areas, lake, and waterfall. Jerry and I walked through the park to get to another destination, but unfortunately didn’t stop to take pictures. I wish we had. Instead, we spent more time at the parks below.
Barcelona was voted by National Geographic as being the best beach city in the world. Barcelona has a few beaches, but Barceloneta is the one closest to the city centre. Its Mediterranean coastline was majorly revitalized for the 1992 Olympics and boasts some of the best features an urban beach can offer.
You will find numerous decorative drinking fountains while walking around Barcelona. They serve many purposes. You can drink from them, rinse your hands, or give water to your dog. They’re almost as easy to find as vending machines in Japan.
Almost every travel guide will tell you that no visit to Barcelona would be complete without taking a walk down Las Ramblas. It’s a busy street filled with other tourists, market vendors, street artists, and restaurants.
Beware of Pickpockets and Scams
While Barcelona is a lovely city, it’s unfortunately full of pickpockets and scam artists. Jerry and I were warned many times by friends and family before visiting. Even the locals and waitresses had warned us while we were there! Jerry and I believe that we escaped getting robbed twice during our visit. I’ll recount one of the instances here:
On our last morning in Barcelona, Jerry and I walked to Las Ramblas to take the metro to catch our flight. With our luggages in tow, we step into the elevator to go downstairs. A young gentleman rushes into the elevator just in time before the door closes. His eyes scan us before he asks “Where are you from?” with a huge smile. Right after we reply, he steps over next to Jerry and starts “dancing” with him. We don’t know what he’s doing. It looks like he’s trying to show Jerry some “futbol” moves that require their legs to get entangled with each other. Jerry, his personal space greatly violated, shoves the man off him and tells him to “get away”. These pickpockets are good. He lifts his hands up in the air, still smiling, with a look of “what’s wrong?” on his face. He seems nice and you might feel like a jerk for pushing him away…but no well-intentioned stranger needs to start touching you without permission. I’m guessing that’s why they would target a guy before a girl first. Jerry was shocked at first and it took him a few seconds before pushing him away–but those few seconds is all a good pickpocket needs to strip you of your wallet. As a girl, I would have reacted immediately and pushed him if he started touching me. While girls might be more cautious about male strangers getting too close in general, guys probably let their guard down more and end up being more confused rather than defensive.
So what happened next? The elevator door opens and the pickpocket walks out to meet up with (who we think is) an accomplice and they walk up the stairs towards the exit. When Jerry and I looked at the metro map, we realized that we actually took the wrong entrance and needed to go to another metro line. When we exited the station, we saw the same gentleman who had just tried to rob us a few minutes before. He was standing near the elevator with a few buddies, no doubt scoping out their next victims. He never intended to board the metro train. I would have liked to take a picture of them, but unfortunately we were in a rush to get to the airport.
I think we were spared because Jerry used a money belt. The pickpocket probably had enough time in those few seconds during the “futbol” distraction to rifle through his pockets for cash. Fortunately for us, we always keep our valuables in a money belt or in secret compartments while we’re in transit.
Besides the “futbol” scam that we ran into, there are a number of other common ones that tourists encounter. Simplest way to avoid getting robbed is to not have your valuables easily accessible. Keep your valuables tucked away and enjoy seeing the city without an unwanted trip to the embassy. Don’t be an easy target and stay safe!
What do you like most about Barcelona? Have you ever been scammed or robbed while traveling? What happened? What precautions do you take to prevent theft?