7 Mistakes to Avoid While Visiting Barcelona
The city of Barcelona is located on the northeastern Spanish coast. It is a beautiful city that is not simply for art enthusiasts and history buffs to appreciate, but attracts all of types of tourists all year-round. The city is a cosmopolitan destination known for its fine cuisine, luxurious fashion houses, and picturesque sandy beaches surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
While it is frequently cited as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with many attractions to offer, there are some common mistakes or traps you can easily fall into if you are not extra careful or pay a visit without doing enough back-end research. In this article, we will help you by pointing out the top mistakes you must avoid as a first-time traveler here in Barcelona.
Perks of Visiting Barcelona
From Antoni Gaudi’s famous architecture and the stunning Gothic historical old town to some of the best innovative food and wine experiences and local festivals in eccentric neighborhoods, there is a lot on the table in terms of visiting the city of Barcelona that it sometimes becomes hard to know where to start from.
This is probably one of the few cities in the world where it is difficult to have a bad meal. The townhouses have some of the most renowned Michelin-starred restaurants offering you a dining experience that you can cherish for a long time. To name a few, famous restaurants in Barcelona are Aürt, Oria, Atempo, Via Veneto, and many more.
The city’s skyline is captivated by architectural marvels like the high tower churches and Catalan’s very own Antoni Gaudi’s spectral architecture like Sagrada Familia, Casa Milà, and Casa Batlló. If you are visiting here for the first time, we suggest you take a walking tour along the gothic old town streets to make sure you get a view of all the historical monuments and buildings in the city.
A city of colorful festivals, it always boasts some kind of carnival or fiesta occurring somewhere among the locals. Street art is a common sight on building walls and in the streets. You frequently come across various types of street art, like graffiti and independent art.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in Barcelona
1. Paying a Visit During the Peak Season
Every month here in Barcelona has something special to offer to its tourists. September and October are usually the peak seasons when people from around the world flood towards this city due to the warm and friendly weather.
The high season here can sometimes get unbearable due to the huge crowds gathering at the tourist spots. Walking around can be uncomfortable while the accommodation rates and food prices get hiked up. This is also the prime time for pickpocketing and various scams. Traveling to Barcelona during winter is recommended due to the fewer people and budget-friendly rent prices.
2. Sticking To The City's Center
If you are headed to Barcelona, make sure you do not confine yourself to visiting only the tourist attractions that you have researched online. It is clear that the city has some of the most astounding visual attractions, but it does not mean that you spend your entire stay on the old aesthetic streetways.
You can create your own adventure to make your stay memorable, like taking a break from the Gaudi monuments and looking around for local places where people drink, chill, and linger. This is where you can feel the raw vibe of visiting a new place.
You can spend quality time at the beach during the night rather than staying idle at your hotel apartment and have delicious local street food at Chivuo’s, burgers at The Bacoa Kiosko, and Asian food at Wok to Walk. You can also go for a shopping spree at Portal del Angel and La Rambla.
3. Tipping at a Restaurant
It is truly American culture to leave a tip at the restaurant after you dine. Here in Barcelona, locals almost never tip the waiters. Spain's culture does not include tipping. In reality, it might even be confusing to tip at a restaurant.
Salario Mínimo Interprofessional or SMI, Spain's system of minimum wages, includes an hourly wage rate for the waiters. However, it is to be noted that the living cost in Barcelona is pretty high and some hourly contractual jobs can be physically demanding. So occasional tips can be welcoming but not necessary.
So, if you are coming from a tipping culture or being generous, you can also simply convey your gratitude towards the chefs and waiters if their food and service are excellent.
4. Staying at a Business-Owned Airbnb
Due to the massive increase in tourists over the years, thanks to budget-friendly airline options and social media trends, there has been a common issue in accommodating the inbound traffic of people from around the world, especially during the peak season.
This is where landlords have launched many businesses, listing their homes on Airbnb and hiking up the housing prices so that locals cannot bear the cost and thus leave for another neighborhood, making way for the tourists.
The most efficient way to support the local community is by avoiding any business-run Airbnb service and sharing housing with a local at their own home or heading for a hostel or a nearby hotel.
5. Buying Stuff or Eating on Las Ramblas
Most travelers' first impression of Barcelona is frequently coined by Las Ramblas. Located in the center of the city, Las Ramblas is a pedestrian street that stretches for 1.2 kilometers and is considered to be the busiest and most popular attraction for tourists.
Everything here is overpriced due to the tourism hype. The food menu here may seem quite appealing, but the price tag is way above, and the food is not even fresh compared to the local restaurant’s food. The street-side commodities are also overpriced, especially the souvenirs, which attract a good number of tourists.
If you want to taste the true resident nature, then go to the local street food stations mentioned above. For shopping, you may give a shot at the Els Encants, the city’s largest flea market, Carrer Del Rec, Carrer dels Flassaders, and many more.
6. Using a Taxicab to Get Around the City
Don't get us wrong, but the cab service in Barcelona is rather affordable as the fares are reliable and metered. But as the town is much more enjoyable via walking due to its wide pathways and charming neighborhoods, it is highly recommended to get used to the true essence of Barcelona instead of limiting your precious time to cabs and Uber.
Getting and understanding subway maps is extremely simple here, regardless of where you are. As the city is relatively small, your destination can be more or less 20 to 30 minutes of walking distance from each other.
Public transportation options like buses and trams should be your go-to option as they are easy and quick. A variety of tickets and travel cards are available for selection as per your liking and comfort. If you are into cycling, you are lucky as the town also offers a vast and well-organized network of bike lanes where you can rent out a bike and easily explore the open parks and spaces.
7. Overlooking Pickpockets and Local Scams
Pickpockets are extremely common in the Catalan capital. They target mostly tour groups and gatherings, as there is less attention among the people in a group. The peak season witnesses most of the thefts as travelers and outsiders are fairly easy to spot around the streets due to their appearance and outfits.
It is best to keep a small waist bag or sling bag with your important belongings and wear it on your front while surfing the city avenues. Also, make sure you keep only a copy of your important documents like your passport with you and keep the original ones in your hotel room or apartment where you are residing.
There is always a minority of people in all tourist destinations in the world who take advantage of foreigners. Barcelona's streets are also filled with scams and neat tricks to trap innocent tourists. Outsiders need to be aware of common scams like overcharging cab fares or rides, picture scams, friendly local scams, and many more.
You can easily avoid most scams by taking instructions from local shop owners or restaurants, or at best, get yourself a professional guide through an agency if you are here in groups. It is best to stay away from friendly strangers as much as possible because you never know the true intentions of people.
From unique celebrations to lively occasions that honor the heart of Spanish culture, Barcelona is the ideal destination for travelers and explorers. While there are many things you need to know before traveling to Spain, you should definitely avoid the seven mistakes that we have listed in this article to ensure your safe and hassle-free stay here in this city.