Just like in any major city you go to, you will need to be aware of the local tourist traps before you travel there. Barcelona is in my opinion the greatest city in the world, but even they have people to avoid. The good definitely outweighs the bad here, but V and I want to make sure you have the BEST time on your Barcelona trip, and to do so, here are the scams you need to avoid…
This is a scam to avoid in ANY major city you go to. There are truly professional pickpockets out there, who make a living doing this. Honestly just be careful and aware of your belongings. Don’t keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket, don’t leave your purse unattended, in crowds don’t wear your back pack on your back, and if someone bumps into you, be sure to check your pocket because it’s likely they could have stolen something. This is a lot, I know, and it is kind of scary. We are not telling you to avoid these areas, we are telling you to always be aware. Unfortunately this is going to happen, because they know that tourists get caught up in the views and loosen up and that is when they go for it. Areas with big crowds are where you are more likely to get pick pocketed. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times and keep an eye out for anyone getting to close while you enjoy this majestic city.
Something to avoid is people in the streets handing out items for “free.” We have had this happen a few times. People approach you and put something in your hand such as rosemary or a trinket and then once you have it in your hand they ask you for money. They say that it is free up until you take it and then will follow you around until you give them money. DO NOT take anything from anyone that you do not plan to pay. Sounds simple, but they catch you off guard and place items in your hand and without thinking you just grab it. We see the rosemary scam a lot around cathedrals. Also, when V and I were in Paris, there were these guys who just grabbed us by the wrist and started tying bracelets onto it. We were just strolling by and they got us. We ended up giving them like 2 euros, but I tell you this so you can be more cautious than we were. They are not as aggressive in Barcelona as they were in Paris, but you still want to watch out. Keep your hands in and avoid people handing out “free” items on any trip.
While walking down the streets of Barcelona, especially near Las Ramblas, you may see people crowded over someone gambling… just keep walking. Usually they will have someone acting like a tourist and they make it seem easy, something like guess which cup the ball is under or where the queen of hearts is, and the “tourist” gets it right and wins money. Obviously then other tourist want to try because they saw someone getting money and it looked fun! Classic HUSTLE. Do not get suckered into this, it looks fun and the crowd hyping it up will make it intriguing, but you will not win. Also, sometimes while there are these big crowds going on, people will walk around and pickpocket you, because you are distracted. Remember, just keep walking…
Currency Exchange Stores:
This is a complete rip off!!! When walking down the street you will see a few currency exchange shops, and it seems like the logic and easy place to go to, because you may not see your bank from back home anywhere… don’t do it. Do not let convenience or being unsure rob you out of your money. We went to take out 150 Euros and they were going to charge us a 19% fee. That is outrageous! I highly suggest before you exchange your currency you ask their exchange rate. 5% or lower is reasonable, anything over that is robbing you. Especially 19%!!! I then decided to not take money out there so I went to the bank and they charged me 3%. Moral of the story is go to the local ATM to take out money or the banks to exchange currency you may have. The airport and these stores will usually take out a huge interest/commission fee.
This one is kind of funny, but still a scam. Outside of Sagrada Familia and Park Guell there are people who sale these dancing toys. They are characters from Spongebob, Mickey Mouse, etc. and they supposedly dance to music. NOPE! The people actually place them on clear fishing wire so they are held up and bounce around. V actually bought some when we went a couple years ago and that is how we found out…. don’t be like V! Haha. Be sure to try out any toys or souvenirs on your own before purchasing them to avoid being scammed.
Okay so I feel a little weird posting this one, because I never say to not help homeless and I am all about helping out your fellow human beings, but this is a little different. Their are beggars everywhere in Barcelona, so be prepared. A lot of them just sit there and hope for money, but some can be pretty aggressive. A lot of thieves pose as beggars in this city, so you have to be careful. It is not like back home, they tend to be pushy. Now this is not in reference to those who offer a service. Street performers, artists, musicians, and human statues I always give money to. I am pretty much telling you to be prepared to be asked for money quite a bit as you walk down the Barcelona streets.
Like I said before, Barcelona is the best city in the world (my opinion) and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Every major city has tourist traps, and Barcelona is no different. You are lucky now though, because we have been scammed for you and have told you what to watch out for. 😉 Please comment below in tourist traps you know of or have experienced,whether they are in Barcelona or somewhere else!
Until next time…. XOXO