Are Barcelona streets safe?

My wife and I would like to visit Barcelona between Christmas and New Year's. She heard recently from her sister that one of her (sister's) friends came back from Barcelona claiming there are a lot of muggings on the streets, with tourists targeted in particular. Does anybody else confirm or deny???

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
6827 posts

I've been to Barcelona...didn't encounter any problems, and didn't see any muggings. Having said that the city does have the reputation of being a pickpocket hotspot; there are multiple announcement in english on the Metro to keep an eye on your belongings. Even if the reputation is deserved all you got to do is keep a days spending money in your wallet/purse, and put everything else in a money belt or hotel room safe, and problem solved.

Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1555 posts

Went there a year ago and did not see any muggings. We were approached by numerous "shady" people wanting us to sign petitions. Saw a lot of this. We stayed half block off Las Ramblas and just kept aware of our surroundings, no different than if we were in certain areas in Baltimore or DC. Don't flash your money around, etc. just like in the states.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17728 posts

Jack, I've heard a few reports of increasingly "aggressive" action against tourists in Barcelona and other parts of Spain, which probably isn't surprising given the current economic conditions there at the moment. For the most up-to-date information, you might find it helpful to check the "Crime" section on the U.S. State Department website. Spain may be on my travel agenda next year, so I've also been monitoring the situation. Happy travels!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7185 posts

We were there the first week of April. Ramblas is a hotspot for thieves. Generally, stay alert and don't be a good target (showy jewelry, wallet/purse easily stolen, show large amount of cash, use an ATM on the street at night, etc.). We didn't have any trouble but, supposedly, there are more eastern European thieves now who are much more likely to get physical than a few years ago. We had more problems in Madrid, where we were actively tailed by a thief for a few blocks before I stopped and stared at him (without making eye contact he immediately ducked down an alley and disappeared).

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

My friend, who was walking with her husband and son to a parking facility, had her arm broken in a fall after thugs stripped her of her bag when they were there this spring.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

stripped her of her bag It wasn't a Pacsafe reinforced one was it?

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

While in Barcelona, we didn't experience any difficulties with pickpockets (I'm sure they were there.) Wear your money belt and be aware of your surroundings. Of course, there are areas where you need to be careful especially when out at night. Barcelona is a beautiful city and I'm glad I wasn't scared away by stories of pickpockets and muggings. Also, post your question on Trip Advisor's Barcelona forum. Lots of destination experts and residents who give invaluable advice.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I've only been to Barcelona once, last September, but I didn't understand the fearful warnings about it at all, and we weren't staying in a particularly posh area (in fact it was quite run-down) - near the old amuseument park. I walked alone by myself as a 32 year old woman up til midnight without feeling threatened or worried in the slightest. I doubt things have gone downhill so much in the last year that it's a serious worry now, just use the same caution you would in any major European city with a high pickpockter population.

Posted by LaRae
spokane
472 posts

Barcelona is fun and safe like any other EU city. We stayed twice right on Las Ramblas and had a great time. I wouldn't miss seeing Barcelona over pickpockets.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
2373 posts

I agree with everyone else above (but one) - Barcelona is a great city and safe. I think it's one of the best cities in Europe. I've never had a problem there, though you do hear anecdotes about more aggressive muggings. I also hear those about NYC, DC, Boston, LA, Chicago etc... In fact, if you get mugged in one of those great tourist cities, you'll probably be staring down the barrel of a cheap handgun. You are unlikely to face a gun in Barcelona even in the extremely rare event that you did get mugged. And if you have a money belt system like you should traveling anywhere in Europe, any potential pickpocket will come up empty.

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

Nigel -- I would guess it wasn't a Pacsafe bag, just a regular purse, but I will ask her to tell me the details again so I can report back here. I'm not trying to sensationalize or scare anyone, merely responding honestly to Jack's question. I realize it's a little out of line with most people's experience, but it's a simple fact that she missed a bit of work because of this incident. I'll send her an email at work tomorrow.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2511 posts

I was just there. It's as safe as any other city in the world. Mind areas that are to crowded and don't wear your wallet in your back pockets. La Rambla was too packed for my taste anyway and that's probably the only place I would be worried (but that's probably because a couple of weeks ago there was a program on German TV saying that La Rambla is Europe's pick-pocket hot-spot Nr. 1 - in fact you can tell it's now under control by Bulgarian clans)

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10846 posts

It is always hard to evaluate anecdotal data. Most people who go to Barcelona will have no problems and few will. We have been to Barcelona three times with no problems. A year ago last October Las Ramles was crawling with police - don't know why - but were enforcing the carrying of open beer cans, and seemed to be very aggressive with young locals. A couple of males were literally being stripped search in the middle of the street. Have no idea if something special was going on or just routine. But it made you feel very safe. I think you will be fine but take the usual recommended precautions and avoid acting like the typical American tourist.

Posted by Miguel
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA
258 posts

Barcelona is as safe as you make it for yourself and it is as unsafe as any other EU city. Pick-ockets are everywhere, you can't avoid them. Muggings, I don't know??? Hide your money (money belt is your best option). Don't pull out a lot of cash in a public area, it just calls attention to yourself. I keep a few bills on a money clip and the rest hidden. Use ATM to a minimum and take out as much money as you estimate needing for several days(they are looking, even if you don't see them). If you're a woman, don't take a purse that you can only carry over one shoulder or with a short strap on your elbow. Use a purse that you can wear it across your chest, it's not as easy to snatch. Jewelry to a minimum or none, gold is worth a lot of money today. NO FANNY PACKS... how do you say tourist??? Wear a fanny pack. That just calls attention to you in a crowd. Back Packs also say tourist, so don't keep anything valuable in them (NO MONEY, PASSPORT, CREDIT CARDS, HOTEL KEY, OR ANY ID'S IN THEM, ETC...). If you believe it's important to you, leave it at the hotel safe. I know this sounds un-manly to us in the USA, but men in EU use a man purse and I have one and I use it across my chest. Be safe, KEEP YOUR EYES MOVING, LOOK SHARP AND IF YOU PUT IT TO YOUR NOSY AND IT DON'T SMELL ROSY, DON'T DO IT. They want your money, not your life. I hope this helps you. Now go enjoy my favorite city in the EU. I can't wait to go back.

Posted by Iain
Edmonton, AB, Canada
668 posts

Just there 6 weeks ago. No better or worse than other cities we hafve been to, including Prague. The streets were crowded till late at night. Stayed in a rather seedy street near Ramblas and walked there late at night (you have to if you want to eat!) and had no problems. Only once saw a suspicious situation at Park Guell where a fellow seemed to follow me around a store very closely, and then he turned up that night at Placa Catalunya where we were having ice cream! We are in our later 60s and felt quite safe. Please do not be scared away from a wonderful destination.

Posted by Jack
St Joe Beach Florida
149 posts

Jack, I was in Barcelona for five days in October and it bwas perfectly safe. I neither saw nor heard of anyone being assaulted. Barcelona was as it aleays has been, relaxed, laid, back, cosmopolitan, and safe. Jack

Posted by Kerry
Lakewood, CO, US
88 posts

I was also recently in Barcelona in Aug/Sep. I had heard similar things and was admittedly cautious while there. That said, I think the main issue is being aware of very crowded places such as the metro or on Las Ramblas. That isn't unique to Barca, its just a matter of realizing that some people look for opportunities to take advantage of other people being distracted in crowds. I didn't feel unsafe anywhere in Barcelona, even at times coming back to our hotel in the Born District past midnight (i.e. walking from Plaza Catalunya through the Gothic area). My husband wasn't with me either - I was traveling with my mom and she also felt safe at all times (she's 68). If your wife is worried, she could get a slash proof backpack or purse just for peace of mind or use a money belt (which you should probably do anyway).

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

We were there in August, didn't notice it being dangerous, obviously we had no problems, but we are used to big city cautions, pickpockets etc since I enjoy places like Paris and Rome, both of which also have pickpocket issues and street beggers.
I certainly would go back and would not avoid it, but use your smarts, wear a moneybelt under clothes that you do not access, just keep a days money in wallet or purse. Any large city in europe ( or anywhere really) has some crime, but I honestly do not feel Barcelona should be avoided, if one is that nervous then forget most of the large cities in Europe that are loaded with wonderful sites, amazing museums , good food and kind people.