Barcelona Q&A: Is it safe to stay in the Gothic Quarter?

The gorgeous streets of the Gothic Quarter. Photo: Waqas Ahmed
The gorgeous streets of the Gothic Quarter. Photo: Waqas Ahmed

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!

Regina WB lives in Barcelona and wrote EuroCheapo’s guide to Barcelona hotels. Additional writing by Regina can be found on her website www.regwb.com and on PlanetEye.com.

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About the author

Tom Meyers
About the author: Tom Meyers created and launched EuroCheapo from his Berlin apartment in 2001. He returned to New York in 2002, set up office, and has led the EuroCheapo team from the Big Apple ever since. He travels to Europe several times a year to update EuroCheapo's hotel reviews. Tom is also a co-host of the New York City history podcast, The Bowery Boys. Email Tom. [Find Tom on Google Plus]
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Cheapo Comments

4 Responses to “Barcelona Q&A: Is it safe to stay in the Gothic Quarter?”
  • scott says:

    What do you mean by Irish Bars (obviously) ??
    It sounds like Barcelona is riddled with crime but I’ve not experienced anything like that in Ireland.

    • Hey Scoot,

      Didn’t mean to be hard on Irish bars or Irish people, just that there are usually (not always) a lot of tourists in them especially in the Gothic part of Barcelona, which means they are a target. I had an English friend and an American friend robbed in different Irish bars here – one on La Rambla and one off Pl. Juame, and these friends are world travelers!

      I just want to state again that Barcelona is not dangerous, but if you aren’t paying attention you might get robbed. It’s just the way it is, sadly.

      Sorry you took the post the wrong way.

      Regina

  • muireann says:

    I second that Scott!

  • steve K says:

    I am a seasoned traveller (Europe, Asia, South Africa, South America and throughout North America) and only recently took my first trip to Barcelona. I personally would not go back due to the rampant crime that I witnessed and experienced first hand. If I had no choice and was required to go back — I would do everything possible not to stay at a hotel any where near La Rambla. You are now warned! Be safe!

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