What Should I Avoid in Barcelona? 27 Tips from Locals for 2024

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Planning a trip to the beautiful city of Barcelona? This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get before visiting, so you might be asking yourself the same thing, what should I avoid in Barcelona?

You’re in the right place. I live in Barcelona, and can tell you as a past tourist and a local, exactly what you should avoid in Barcelona. Below are 27 things to avoid, from myself and other locals. 

Don’t get caught unprepared in Barcelona, as that can easily put a damper on your trip. Let’s get started. 

Planning a trip soon? Here are some quick Barcelona travel resources

What Should I Avoid in Barcelona

Some of these might be obvious, but others won’t be! Do your research and show up to Barcelona as prepared as a local with these insider travel tips. Here are the top things you should avoid in Barcelona.

1. Avoid pickpockets – keep your belongings secured

What should I avoid in Barcelona: Pickpockets on the streets
Keep your belongings secured and in sight – avoid pickpockets in the street and on public transit.

Pickpockets are more common in Barcelona than in other metropolitan cities, so it pays to be extra diligent. One of the simplest ways to protect yourself is to keep your belongings in a zipped belt bag or fanny pack (bumbag for my UKers).

Never leave anything unattended or hanging off chairs, especially at restaurants with outdoor dining.

Pickpockets are most common in Las Ramblas and El Born. Furthermore, always be aware of your surroundings on public transit, as that’s another place pickpockets often hide. This is the number one thing to avoid in Barcelona, so don’t take this travel advice Barcelona lightly!

Get my favorite shoulder strap/belt bag in your favorite color 🙂

2. Going to dinner without a reservation

What should you avoid in Barcelona? Don't miss out on these Spanish Tapas
What should you avoid in Barcelona?

When visiting Barcelona, it’s important to be aware of the city’s customs and etiquette. One of the most important things a traveler should keep in mind is not going to dinner without a reservation.

First, many popular tapas restaurants fill up quickly any day of the week, especially on the weekends.

Showing up without a reservation could mean long waits or maybe even that the restaurant is full for the rest of night.

Even if you do manage to get a last-minute spot on a waiting list, you may not be seated until 10-11 pm which can make for an exhausting evening!

Additionally, some restaurants may require reservations, especially for larger groups. Either way it’s always best to call ahead and check in advance before showing up.

And if you’re a planner like me, making a reservation ahead of time gives you peace of mind knowing that your table will be ready when you arrive – no waiting for tapas and wine!

3. Getting ready for dinner before 8pm 

Visiting Barcelona means experiencing a city that operates on its own clock.

One of the most important things to know before visiting Barcelona is that restaurants don’t open until 8 pm, and they close for siesta around 2 or 3 pm in the afternoon.

I know your stomach will probably be rumbling and excited for Spanish tapas and wine, but there’s no point in getting ready to head out before 8pm.

If you do happen to get a dinner reservation at 7, you’ll quickly notice that the streets will be empty for another hour or two at that time.

4. Wear heels or shoes other than comfortable walking shoes

Narrow alley in Barcelona
Things not to do in Barcelona: wear uncomfortable shoes!

There’s no better tell-tale sign of a tourist than wearing fancy or nice shoes when strolling around Barcelona.

Ditch those fancy shoes and take a cue from the locals – comfort is key! But don’t worry, you can still look trendy in a pair of cute white sneakers or some combat boots.

Free Guide: 8 Tips for Staying Safe in Barcelona

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    Trust me, your feet (and traveling companions) will thank you. No need to suffer from blisters and complaints when you can walk around like a true local.

    How do people dress in Barcelona? Comfy and chic is the name of the game!

    5. Expect it to be warm year-round 

    Psst! Quick tip for beach lovers heading to Barcelona: don't believe the hype that the sandy shores are always sunny and warm. Actually, there are a few months that might throw a bit of a wrench in your plans for beach bumming.

    From November to January, the weather can get a bit nippy and wet, so if your heart is set on soaking up the sun, plan accordingly!

    6. Thinking that it’s not worth going inside Sagrada Familia

    View of Sagrada Familia from a terrace at night
    The view from outside is impressive - but the inside is out of this world!

    Think the outside of the Sagrada Familia is impressive? Wait until you see what's inside! Many tourists make the grave mistake of assuming that the exterior is the highlight of Barcelona's most popular attraction.

    But don't be fooled - the interior of the Sagrada Familia is a true masterpiece that will leave you speechless.

    So if you're planning a trip to this stunning city, make sure you give yourself enough time to wander the halls and gaze up at the breathtakingly beautiful details. Trust me, it's worth every penny.

    7. Try getting into Sagrada Familia without purchasing a ticket in advance

    No one wants to spend hours waiting in line at a tourist attraction. Don't make the mistake of trying to score last-minute tickets to the stunning Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

    This beauty fills up fast. To avoid missing out on Barcelona's most popular attraction, it's best to book ahead - think a few hours minimum or even a day or two if you're planning a weekend trip or traveling during peak season. You don't want to waste any time to be memorized by Gaudí's masterpiece.

    Purchase your Sagrada Familia Ticket ahead of time

    8. Thinking everyone speaks English

    Want to explore Barcelona but don't know Spanish? No worries, you can still navigate the city like a pro! But that doesn't mean every local will speak English.

    It's important to brush up on a few key phrases like please, (por favor), thank you (gracias), and a few other key phrases. You'll be good to go.

    Plus, who doesn't love an opportunity to practice their language skills? Take a chance to chat with some of the mom and pop shop owners who might not speak your language fluently. You might just learn some new Spanish words while discovering your new favorite items!

    9. Getting confused when someone speaks Catalan

    Did you know that Spanish isn't the only language spoken in Barcelona? While it's a major language in the city, many locals actually speak Catalan as their primary language.

    Catalan may have some similarities with Spanish, but it's its own unique language.

    So don't be surprised if you hear different languages being spoken around town! Keep an open mind and embrace the linguistic diversity of beautiful Barcelona.

    10. Avoid taking taxis everywhere

    Say "adiós" to high transportation costs in Barcelona - don't waste your money by taking taxis everywhere.

    This vibrant city offers a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, making it a breeze to walk to most places.

    And when your feet need a break, take advantage of the efficient and cost-effective public transportation system, like the metro. This is a great way to save money, get places fast and avoid traffic.

    Get out there and explore Barcelona stress-free, and save those extra euros for some delicious tapas!

    ► OR explore the whole city with a Hop On Hop Off Tour!

    11. Visiting without learning a few basic Spanish and Catalan phrases

    What not to do in Barcelona

    There's not a huge language barrier in Barcelona, but it's still respectful to know a bit of Spanish or Catalan to help get around during your trip.

    Don't sweat it though, we've got you covered. Learn some essential Spanish, English, and Catalan phrases that'll help you get around Barcelona and interact with the locals like a boss. From greetings to asking for directions, make sure you won't don't have to resort to charades to get your point across.

    Trust us, landing in a new country is already overwhelming as it is, so get your little notebook out and write down some important phrases.

    12. Only seeing Barcelona 

    Street in Barcelona
    Things not to do in Spain: miss out on Costa Brava! Photo of a Beach in Cadaques

    Ready for some adventure outside of Barcelona? Don't limit your exploration to just the bustling city! Venture out and discover the hidden gems that Costa Brava and other towns like Valencia around Barcelona have to offer.

    With breathtaking beaches, hikes around Sitges, charming villages like Cadaques, and so much more, this region is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Or go farther and explore other coastal towns in Spain like Cadiz.

    So pack your bags, grab a map, and take a day trip to explore the wonders beyond the city limits!

    View day trips from Barcelona to Costa Brava

    13. Taking out a ton of euros - but don't just rely on credit cards either! 

    Before you go, let's talk finances. While it's always good to have some euros on hand for those smaller shops and street vendors, don't worry about lugging around a ton of cash.

    In this modern city, most places accept credit cards and even the ultra-convenient apple pay! One of my favorite parts of the city is how easy restaurants make it to split checks when I'm going out with friends. So go ahead and pack a few euros, and keep those plastic cards or virtual wallets at the ready.

    14. Leave your belongings on the beach

    If you're planning a fun-filled day soaking up the sun in vibrant Barcelona, there's one crucial rule you must follow. This is the most important thing to avoid in Barcelona: never leave your belongings unattended at the beach.

    It might seem like a no-brainer, but too often people make the mistake of assuming their beach gear is safe when left alone.

    Unfortunately, this leaves them vulnerable to theft and the headache that comes with losing important items. To avoid becoming a victim of beach bandits, always keep a watchful eye on your belongings or better yet, bring a trustworthy friend to take turns watching over everything while you take a dip in the sea.

    15. Avoid walking around alone at night

    Liquor bottle table service in Barceloneta
    You'll have plenty of all-night parties to choose from in Barcelona, but prioritize your safety at the end of the night

    There are plenty of safe areas in Barcelona like Gracia and Gothic Quarter. However, when it comes to exploring at night, it's definitely better to play it safe. As goes for any city, you should avoid walking alone in the dark. But don't worry, you won't have to miss out on the fun!

    Stick with your group, hail a cab, or call up Free Now for a ride. This ride-sharing app in Spain has got your back and will get you where you need to go while keeping you safe. Remember to always prioritize your safety!

    16. Leaving your phones on tables

    Barcelona bar in El Born
    If you're heading out for the night, bring your friends with you, or call a cab.

    In Barcelona, you should avoid leaving your phone on the table. While you're enjoying your meal or drinks, keep a close eye on your surroundings, especially if you notice any characters eyeing or coming near your table.

    To add to that, the back of your chair isn't a safe spot either. Keep your phone close, and let the good times roll! Don't make the rookie mistake and have your phone laying out - unless you're using it to take a super cool picture of your food.

    17. Visiting in July or August

    Rooftop yoga in Barcelona
    Rooftop yoga in Barcelona

    While July and August are peak tourist seasons in this vibrant city, they also happen to be the hottest months of the year.

    If you're not a fan of high temperatures and humidity, it might be best to avoid visiting during this time. There are plenty of other months when the weather is just as lovely and the crowds are a little thinner. March to June are great times to enjoy warm weather and the beach without sweating the day away.

    On the other hand, July and August make for the perfect time to hit the beach and explore Costa Brava, so this isn't to say you should write off vacationing in the summer months.

    18. Visiting in October - February

    Don't get caught in the rain or cold unprepared. As much as I love the warmth of summer, October to December can bring some chill and rain.

    So, if you're hoping to hit the beach or rock your favorite sundress, you might want to reconsider. Opt for September to avoid the colder temperatures in the winter months.

    Instead, opt for layers upon layers and a trusty raincoat to stay cozy and dry. Trust us, you'll thank us later!

    However, December-January also means Christmas! Barcelona at Christmas turns into a lively, spirited festival of the holidays. So, don't let the cold deter you if you want to take advantage of the Christmas markets.

    The crowds disappear towards the end of January into February, making this a great time to visit a quieter city with few tourists.

    19. Eating on Las Ramblas

    Steak tapas

    Las Ramblas is an iconic street in Barcelona. It's filled with lively street performers, colorful shops, and delicious eateries. However, if you're looking for a local experience, it may be best to avoid eating on Las Ramblas as this area is often crowded with tourists and prices tend to be higher than in other parts of the city.

    There are way too many incredible restaurants to get stuck on a strip! Get out and explore the cuisine and exciting food scene in Barcelona.

    If you do really want to see Las Ramblas, there's a unique cooking class on Las Ramblas that will give you a less touristy experience than just eating on the street.

    20. Thinking that Barceloneta is the only beach

    Yacht in the Barceloneta Port
    Barceloneta Port

    You may have heard that Barceloneta is the ultimate beach spot - but let's not fall into that tourist trap. While it's certainly convenient (and hey, who doesn't love a beach selfie with the city skyline?), it's overcrowded and over visited! There are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.

    Take it from a local and venture out to one of the smaller, less crowded beaches. But if you're feeling really adventurous, head up to Costa Brava and prepare to be blown away by some serious beach beauty. Your Instagram feed will thank you.

    21. Avoid paying for an expensive phone plan 

    We all know that phone plans can be a real budget-buster, especially when you're far away from home. If you're coming from America, phone plans may cost up to $10 per day! That will put a real dent in your travel budget.

    E-Sim cards are available, and one of these cheapest options for traveling overseas. They don't operate on everyones phone, so double-check that your phone is compatible before before purchasing.

    There's a simple in-person solution as well: grab a sim card from a Vodafone or Orange store when you arrive. You'll need to shell out some euros upfront but it'll be worth it. For just 20-30 euros, you'll get a few weeks of worry-free phone use so you can stay in touch with your loved ones at home.

    22. Go searching for a bull flight 

    Don't go searching for a bull fight in Barcelona. The Spanish pastime of bullfighting was banned in Catalonia back in 2010. Although popular in other parts of Spain, it's a no-go if you're looking for it here. But fear not, there are plenty of other exciting activities to enjoy in the Catalan Capital!

    23. Thinking Catalan culture is the same as other cultures 

    Don't make the mistake of thinking Catalan culture is the same as other cultures around Spain. Catalan culture is so unique—it stands out from all the other cultures around Spain. You might be tempted to lump it all together, but don't make that mistake!

    Explore how this culturally rich region offers up its own dishes, cultural activities, and art forms that can be found nowhere else. Take time to explore festivals like La Diada and La Merce in Barcelona which reveals a vibrant culture full of spirited traditions that are distinctly their own.

    Discover the beautiful differences between Catalan and other cultures in the Iberian peninsula. This will add richness to your travels with a thorough understanding and appreciation of what makes it stand out amongst its neighbors.

    24. Renting an Airbnb

    Looking for accommodations? Airbnbs are definitely where not to stay in Barcelona! Avoid booking the ever-popular short term rentals here. Barcelona has cracked down on Airbnb rentals to ensure that locals living in Barcelona have access to available housing.

    There are plenty of cool and quirky hotels and affordable hostels to fit any budget traveler. Plus, by staying in one of these places, you'll be supporting the local economy. So, ditch the Airbnb and embrace the cultural hospitality of Barcelona!

    The most beautiful hostels and hotels can be found in some of the safest place to stay in Barcelona, no you won't have trouble finding a great accommodation.

    View the best hostels in Barcelona

    25. Thinking you can see the whole city in a day

    Don't try to see Barcelona in just one day! While the city may not be enormous, there is plenty to explore and enjoy. When you're sightseeing, take your time.

    There's so much culture and history to appreciate in this lively city. Lose yourself while wandering through the narrow pedestrian alleyways or wander the beachfront.

    From sightseeing around Park Güell to city tours with local travel guides and tapas to wine tours, spend your time experiencing Barcelona and everything it has to offer.

    But, the best way to see the city in one day is with a hop on hop off tour!

    ► Explore the whole city with a Hop On Hop Off Tour!

    26. Forgetting to explore the culture and architecture 

    Buildings and architecture in Barcelona

    Barcelona is more than just Europe's party city. While the clubs and late-night scene are a blast, don't forget about the rich history and culture this city has to offer.

    From stunning architecture to iconic landmarks, and jaw-droppingly delicious local cuisine, there's so much to experience beyond the party scene.

    So, dance the night away, but don't miss out on the breathtaking sights and sounds that make Barcelona truly unforgettable!

    🌎 View the best of Barcelona architecture with a guided tour of Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and Casa Batllo

    27. Not trying hole-in-the-wall tapas restaurants

    Barcelona isn't the place to rely on Yelp for restaurant recommendations. It's time to immerse yourself in the local scene and discover the best tapas spots in town!

    Don't settle for the tourist traps lining the busy hostel streets.

    Take a leisurely walk and explore the quaint corners of the city, where hidden gems of culinary magic await.

    These small, intimate restaurants offer the most delicious tapas that you won't find on any popular app. So forget the crowds and trust the locals for an unforgettable dining experience.

    What to Pack for Barcelona

    Here are my favorite things to pack when it comes to traveling around Barcelona (or anywhere, really!) I travel a ton, so I've got this down to a science now!


    I'm all about style, practicality, and affordability. Pickpockets can be a real problem in Barcelona, so keeping your belongings secured in front of you is super important.

    Don't just take it from me - this belt back has high ratings and comes in EVERY color. Grab a few to match every outfit, if you want!

    Belt Bag


    Coolife not only has some of the best-rated luggage on Amazon, but also the most variety in colors, pieces, and sets.

    You'll likely want to check a bag going to Barcelona, but if you're traveling around Europe, you'll need small carry ons. Budget airlines like Ryan Air and Vuelling have smaller overhead space than you might be used to on airlines in America.



    There's no question that Osprey has made a name for itself when it comes to backpacking - I recently got one myself! I had a hard time finding which one was right for me.

    Lucky for you, they have a nifty "Who is This Pack For" quiz on there Amazon Storefront to help you find the perfect pack. Osprey's are expensive, but they'll last you a lifetime!


    Because just like the Caribbean, the sun hits different in Barcelona! Protect your skin. And if you're traveling through London remember, they have pesky liquid requirements to keep in mind.



    As an avid traveler, I need to squeeze A LOT into a little. Packing cubes are surprisingly space saving - and a great way to organize. I have these packing cubes - they've lasted a long time and are versatile enough to get me through every trip.



    Going to the beach? Don't forget your towel! And definitely don't get stuck waiting for it to dry. These quick dry towels keep away the worst part of the beach (sand) and make it easy to store them when you're back in your hotel. Plus, they're super compact and light weight.



    Do yourself a favor - don't show up to Barcelona without some cute white sneakers. Leave the heels at home. Walking around Barcelona isn't for the faint of heart. Keep your feet happy and go for stylish comfort.



    These are lifesavers when traveling in Europe - 2 ports on each + 2 USB ports. They're hefty and they've lasted me a few years already, so I know they're good quality. Plus, they've got almost 10,000 great ratings on Amazon, so I'm not alone.



    A VPN (Virtual Private Network) protects your internet connection and privacy while hiding your online identity...and gives you access to your favorite streaming services on the road...

    Unsecured connections to public WiFi can result in loss of personal data and even credit card information.

    NordVPN is fast, secure, and affordable. Really, you should use it everywhere, not just when you're traveling!


    SIM cards can be a nightmare, I get it. Airalo makes it easy to add a SIM card right to your phone - one less thing you have to worry about when you get to Europe. You can purchase a card for Spain, Europe, or Global.

    Just make sure your phone is compatible before you buy! You can check in the settings of your phone.

    What Should I Avoid in Barcelona FAQ 

    Now that you now everything you should avoid in Barcelona, here are some answers to visitor's most frequently asked questions!

    If you want to stay away from crowds, you'll want to avoid Las Ramblas streets. You should also avoid staying outside of city center; it's not worth traveling into the city each day. In terms of safety, El Raval and El Born are most known for pickpockets and petty crimes, though El Born is still considered a popular place.

    To not look like a tourist in Barcelona, stay casual in your outfits and always wear comfortable shoes. You should also take a proper siesta with the rest of the city in the afternoon. Most shops and restaurants shut down, so there's no need to be out! Lastly, always make dinner reservations so you don't end up with no dinner options or long wait times.

    The most important things to not say in Barcelona are about Catalan culture. Don't ask if Catalan is the same as Spanish, or vice versa, in Barcelona. They're two different languages. And second, don't ask Catalans about independence from Spain - this is a controversial and potentially offensive topic.

    While it's not necessarily unsafe to walk around Barcelona at night, I wouldn't suggest it. After sundown, it's important to prioritize safety. It's always best to err on the side of caution. If you do venture out at night, try to stick with a group and avoid wandering alone. Remember - safety first, always!

    According to the US State Department, Barcelona is safe to travel for American tourists. It's labeled Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution on a 4 point scale. Visitors should take necessary precautions as they would in any city such as keeping your belongings secure, locking all doors, and not wandering around alone at night.

    Shorts can be the perfect choice for a night of exploring the city's pulsing nightlife in the hot summer. But don't just throw on any old pair of shorts - you'll want to dress them up a bit to fit in with the crowd. Opt for a nicer pair of shorts. With the right look, you'll fit right in at the clubs and bars.

    Final Thoughts: What Should I Avoid in Barcelona - From a Local!

    Now you know all the answers to your question, what should I avoid in Barcelona, directly from the locals! When visiting Barcelona, there are a few things you should avoid to make the most of your experience.

    Of course, don't rely on tourist traps for restaurants or attractions; take some time to explore and find hidden gems off the beaten path. It's also important to be mindful of cultural differences - you're visiting their country.

    And as with any country, take precautions to stay safe around the city. With these Barcelona travel tips in mind, you're sure to have an unforgettable trip.

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