5 tourist traps to avoid in Barcelona

Posted in: Barcelona Sights


Flamenco near the Place Reial. Trap alert! Photo: FelineBird
Flamenco near the Place Reial. Trap alert! Photo: FelineBird

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.)

“Who’s a scammer?” Along La Rambla… Photo: WhatKnot

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.

Evil lurks within! Photo: JaulaDeArdilla

3. Sangria

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.

Bonus Tips:

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.

About the author

Regina W Bryan

About the author: Regina W.Bryan is a Barcelona-based freelance writer and photographer. When not eating tapas and exploring Europe, she is tending her balcony veggie garden and practicing Catalan. For more of her thoughts on Spain, check: www.regwb.com and www.thespainscoop.com.

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3 thoughts on “5 tourist traps to avoid in Barcelona”

  1. These tips are great, thanks! I plant to visit Madrid and Barcelona in the future and experience it with locals, NOT TOURISTS! I already know spanish and am learning catalan.

  2. I’ve been to Madrid and Barcelona recently. Some extra tips that I’ve picked up.

    I love my photography, however it’s best not to advertise you have a bag of expensive camera equipment. I left my distinctive Lowepro camera backpack (or rucksack as we call them in the UK) at home and took an old and very tatty ordinary backpack. I then packed my camera inside a smaller camera case inside the backpack. The zip on the back does make it quite vulnerable and a nimble fingered thief will unzip it discreetly and steal what’s inside. To counter this secure the zip with either a cheap mini padlock or short piece of string tied in a knot. This will prevent all but the most dedicated of thieves who will then look for an easier target. When using the metro or bus if your standing try and position back into a corner or if you can wear it to he front. Never leave it on the floor by your feet, you will either to forget it or just as the metro doors are closing a thief could pick it up and dart out of the sliding doors just they’re closing so you can’t follow. If you have to put it on the floor put one of your legs through the strap.

    I used a money belt at all times, all my cards, passport and most of my money secure down the front of my trousers and had just a few Euros and some change in my pockets.

  3. Pingback: Avoiding Tourist Traps in Barcelona | Travel Europe with Best Travel Content Europe

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