5 tourist traps to avoid in Barcelona
By Regina W. Bryan in Barcelona—
Like any major tourist destination, Barcelona has its share of attractions that promise too much, but deliver too little… while usually draining your budget. These, my friends, are called “tourist traps.” They’re usually easy to spot (just look for crowds of tourists with nary a local in sight), but their allure can still be too great for even the most seasoned traveler.
Here’s my list of five attractions I’d steer clear of in Barcelona. Be strong!
1. La Rambla
You probably should stroll down La Rambla at least once if it’s your first time to the city. Once is enough. La Rambla is a thorn in many a local’s side, and all the junky souvenir shops selling Mexican hats and exorbitant restaurants serving hangover-producing “sangria” make me cringe, to say nothing of all the ladies working it once the sun goes down. (Fellas, they will steal your wallet while feeling you up, you have been warned.)
Stroll it and then avoid it, and by no means stop to play any of the games that are offered by clever con artists on the famous strip.
2. Flamenco and Dinner
We’re not in Andalusia, which means were not in flamenco country. Skip most of the shows you read about on flyers or posters. There are a couple places to see flamenco in Barcelona, and one of them is Jazz Si in El Raval.
Avoid any “flamenco” shows in the center. A great flamenco festival is in Barcelona now through March called De Cajón, and I would recommend any of the shows that are on that ticket. Note that none of them come with dinner.
I don’t know if sangria qualifies a tourist trap per se, but it isn’t anything a local would drink. I’ve never ordered sangria here, apart from the first week I arrived six years ago. That once was enough to know that there is no good reason to drink very cheap wine with even cheaper hard alcohol mixed into it.
However, “cava sangria” is popular in Barcelona and I would recommend trying a glass or a pitcher of it. Unlike traditional sangria, cava sangria is made with white cava or rose cava (sparkling wine), and usually has less fruit in it.
4. Restaurants with lots of pictures of the food posted outside
As a rule I avoid these places with, often times, hideous food photos. If the menu is in 20 languages, I also tend to go somewhere else. Why? Because they are probably catering to a tourist crowd, which means the prices will be a lot higher. Go for the place with the menu in Catalan and Spanish and use your dictionary while saving money.
5. The single transit ticket
This year the price of a single ticket on the metro or bus jumped to €2 from about €1.40. Is this aimed at tourists? I can’t say, but it sure has upset locals. Most of us who take public transport buy a “T10″ or “50/30,” which are not as expensive. Get a T10 and avoid paying single tickets. If you’re going to be here for a month, then get the 50/30 which gives you 50 rides in 30 days.
I also want to add on a couple of touristy things that look like traps but that I think are pretty good deals.
The Bus Turístic is one of these. It’s a super way to get your bearings and recover from jet lag.
Bike taxis also seem like tourist traps, but I think they are a nice addition to Barcelona’s transportation options. I have never taken a bike taxi, but believe a ride in one would be an ideal way to see the seashore.
Open your trap!
Wondering about other traps in Barcelona? Just ask in our comments section! Have you given in to any of the traps mentioned here? Tell us about your experience!
Also in our guide: Heading to Barcelona soon? Check out EuroCheapo’s reviews of the city’s best and most affordable hotels, all visited, inspected and reviewed by EuroCheapo’s editors. We assure you, none of our recommended hotels is a tourist trap! Read more in our Barcelona hotel guide.