Besides a number of Indian youth peddling junk trinkets, especially around Park Guell, there are also eery looking Africans that will no doubt give you a hard time if you do not buy something. They are desperate, but just why they are let into the country is beyond me, legal, or illegal.
There were not a lot around the city that I saws, but amazingly this one was right on the RAmblas, where most tourists stroll to get an impression of the "niceties" of the area. NOT. Prostitution used to be a big industry in the city, but is said to have waned now?
"I've been robbed - can you help me?"
The poor woman speaks your language perfectly, and has had her bag stolen. Can you lend a few Euros to help her get home/make some calls/get back to her hotel?
(In fact she's been listening to you seated at a restaurant or bar, knows you are visitors, and knows you're probably a soft touch...)
Advise her to go the police, and explain there are, sadly, many people out to take your money unfairly around here.
On our walk to Sagrada Familia church we were stopped by one man, who wanted to ask where is Sagrada Familia even having a map himself. I pointed the way, told it is already not far and easy to find. Accidentally he changed his mind and asked where is Gracia train station, trying to ask me come closer to him. It looked a bit illogical to us why he needed the different places in contrary sides.
What is more, we saw another black man, standing not so far and keeping an eye to the one we met. I decided not to take further consideration and told we have to go.
Before coming to Barcelona I read about fake situations as well, and the one was about a man who tries to speak with you and to invite you more closely, and the other one, who comes later as a civil police officer (with fake license) and tells to show you documents, as you are speaking with suspected person (drug dealer, so on). So, later they know how to take you wallet or any documents... Of course, it is just my presumption.
Barcelona is a safe European city in terms of serious crime. However, muggings of tourists involving little or no physical contact are a problem. Las Ramblas is among the most robbed travel area in the world unfortunately. Tourists are usually sitting ducks. They carry plenty of cash & seldom stay around long enough to testify against their attackers. Some police officers claim that about 80 per cent of the attackers are North African immigrants. In the Ravel area alone, west of La Ramblas where some good restaurants are indicated in various tourist guides, the police process about 30 muggings per day.
Here are a few safety tips.
Never let go of your shoulder bag. When walking, it goes across your body, resting in front of you, or under your armpit, but not over your shoulder. When sitting, take it off by all means, but put your arm or leg through the strap. The same goes for your camera.
When sleeping in a bus, train or vulnerable room, lock your bags up, and then lock them to something immovable. Bag snatchers are not uncommon in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Greece, in addition to more obvious places like Turkey, Peru, Brazil, Jamaica.
It is safer to avoid any unnecessary contact with strangers in the Barcelona tourist zones if you wish to avoid the risk of losing your money and possessions.
Leave all except essential spending money in your hotel room or cruise ship safe.
Carry a photocopy of your passport, not the real thing. The hotel will stamp the back of the photocopy.
Do not use pavement cash dispensers. It is usually too easy to determine your personal ID number and snatch your card before you can get it put away.
Do not buy flowers from wandering street sellers; be particularly wary if they try to insert a flower into your lapel. Walk away immediately.
If people come up to you pointing to a stain on your clothing, ignore them and walk away.
Do not participate in the card and dice games which you will see on the streets.
Do not walk down deserted or badly lit streets after dark.
This is the side we don't often see or sometimes ignore about places we go, and the one that is not advertise.
My eyes could not believe what I was watching when I came across this wall in La Sagrada Familia. What in earth explains the behaivour of human to allow this to happen?
Is this the foot print we want to leave behind? One that damages a public monument?
if you carry a purse, hold it close to your chest, tightly..but I would suggest wearing a money belt, and keeping some change in your pocket, no more than 20 euro. Two women approached me and pinned a flower to my shirt-then wanted money from me. They said it didn't matter what kind of currency is was, or what country it was from..after we refused to give them any money, they pulled the flower away, and my friend noticed that she had five euro missing..while we were arguing, they must taken it...
In general Barcelona is not dangerous, what I mean is robbery with violence is unusual.
On the other hand, and specially if you are a tourist, pickpockets are waiting for you. Just keep your eyes open (don' t be obsessed) and don´t give facilities to them.
Worst places: public places as stations, the metro, touristic spots, during street performance...
Dont´put valuables in your backpack pockets, don´t leave your bag under the table in bars around the center, keep your bag closed, don´t show money in public...
There are guys in the metros and trains (specially in the airport line) with some dress, jacket or even a newspaper hanging on their arms... be aware...
Again: don't be panic just use your common sense, all big cities around the world have the same problem.
Fortunately firearms are not free here and it means Barcelona is more secure than other cities in another countries...
Las Ramblas is a popular tourist destination. Likewise, people in search of easy money through less than scrupulous means also hang out here to look out for the unsuspecting tourist. It is easy for them to spot the tourist from the local especially if you are not Caucasian.
Avoid the dark skinned Africans. They are probably illegal immigrants from north Africa and need money to sustain themselves. They work in pairs and are very nimble-fingered.
You must also avoid gypsies. These gypsy women are easily recognised by their headscarves and shabby dressing. They usually have one or two children in trawl. Their usual ruse is to distract your attention by showing you some embroidery and while your attention is diverted, the child dips into your pocket!
I normally put my cash and credit cards in a concealed money belt and put small change of around 20 - 30 euros in my jeans pocket.
Barcelona was the only place that I personally was bothered by pickpockets (that I was aware of) one of the places that is notorious for this is in and around Placa Reial, and this is where I had the encounter. A (new found) friend and I were stumbling back to the hostel, and two guys, who acted abnormally friendly, approached us. They tried to talk to us, and then started pinching the back of my arm - No doubt – as a diversionary tactic, so we couldn’t feel them searching out pockets. They were very persistent; we didn’t stop walking, and wouldn’t leave us alone. I never felt threatened, as far as bodily harm, I’ve been in many worse situations in the States, but it was very annoying. At first, I really didn’t care too much because I knew I had nothing in my pockets for them. I finally had to step up to one of them, and let him know, I knew exactly on what they were doing, and if they wanted to persist, I was going to get very angry. (ok - I used other words and added a little threat in there, but you get the picture)
After that, they stopped immediately, and ran off. Neither of us lost anything… and remember that most of these people are looking for the easy targets. At 3:30 am and no one else around, I guess I looked liked one. LOL.
If you are walking down The Rambla and you turn into the left narrow streets you´ll be in the Gothic neightborhood.
There are many magreebian young guys and other 'street guys' there trying to sell hash or steal people. Be careful, specially at night.
Don´t show your carera, money, etc.
Same thing if you turn right going down The Rambla, it´s El Rabal neightborhood a.k.a El Barrio Chino.
never trust a young child in Barcelona with a singl sheeted newspaper.
My friends mum got mugged while we were on holiday. We sat down at a nice place to have a drink. I was clutching onto my baga nd things, we all were and soon as my friends mum tok her pruse out carefully we were surrounded by young boys with newspapers flashing them all about our faces and then stole her purse. My mum ran after them and the police manged to catch 2 of them, and my friens mum caught another, although there was about 5 young boys, they claimed there was only 3 of them.
Unfortunately my friends mum didn't get her purse back and money etc, and the police told us that it was not a mugging or theft because the boys did not touch us physically to get the purse which is rediculous, whcih means, you cna go upto anyone sitting down, throw some newspaper at them and then take whatever is on the table.
So watch out for young children with newspapers and women, almsot look gypsy-like with a baby and a newspaper, snooping around.
Be VERY careful.
At night, it can be dangerous to be alone (especially if you're a girl). Stick with your group and don't wander off. Barcelona is a big city, so it would probably be easy to get lost if you don't know the city well.
While eating our pizza at supper, a guy who was obviously drunk came to our table and tried to chat with one of the other girls in the group. He left after, but it was good that we had stayed as a group of 4 and that none of us wandered off, because being alone makes you more a target for things like this.
We saw many groups of people trying to bribe passing tourists with the game of the three boxes and the coin. Do not listen to these people, because they are cheating (and often those who you see playing and wiining are together with the cheaters)
When on the beach, and people offer you cold drinks and drugs to go with it, it's easy enough to say no because there are lots of people around.
Its frightening when someone does it in a shady little alley, and you don't know what do do, or say.
We found this happened quite alot, and I'm pretty sure others visiting Barcelona must have experienced this too.
The easiest thing to do is either shake your head and firmly, clearly say 'no' as this is understood in every language, or simply to walk off-although this can often lead to being shouted after down the whole street.
If you are talked to by a shady character and you don't know what they are saying because you don't speak the lingo, shake your head, walk away, and forget about it-nobody continued to bother us, and we didn't feel in danger at any point doing this.