A reader asks:
“In Barcelona, we’re thinking of staying in the Gothic Quarter to be close to everything, but we’re worried that it’s not safe. Is this area sketchy at night?”
Regina WB responds:
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter has the Cathedral, Plaza del Rey and many other fabulous sites that most visitors want to ‘oohh and ahh’ over. And therein lies the problem, while St Juame’s Square is lovely, and the craved gargoyles frightfully fantastic, is it safe? Yes and no.
Petty theft in Barcelona is rampant. For the most part it is safe to walk the streets of the city center at any time of night, because there are always people out in Barcelona. Violent crime is not a problem. But, you’ve got to watch your bag, your camera, your wallet, your cell phone and maybe even that gold chain around your neck (less someone rip it from your being on the subway!). Small theft is not punished (really) in Spain, and thieves are well aware of this. The problem is HUGE.
A friend of mine visited for a month from the United States. During her visit she experienced three robbery attempts. My friend is no novice, having traveled to over 50 countries in her time. But thieves in Barcelona are good, and they are everywhere the tourists are, and tourists are usually in the Gothic Barrio.
I do recommend staying in the Gothic because it’s really the heart of what’s happening in the city. Just be aware, and stay clear of the following places: La Rambla, (a.k.a. La Rob-la), the Metro (one of the places I’ve seen the most robberies, averaging one sighting a week), Calle Ferran (filled with drunk tourists) Irish bars (obviously). To play it safe, get a bag with multiple zippers and be alert. Never set your bag on the floor or casually on a chair. Don’t be the guy with the camera hanging on his neck.
Finally, don’t be afraid of Barcelona’s Gothic area, just be a ninja!
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