I went to Barcelona in August and found it to be one of the most safest big cities in Europe. During all my stay I didn't observe one single attempt of pickpocketing, even on the overcrowded Rambla where there were lots of people walking with their wallet hanging out of their back pockets. I'm not saying that you should do the same but I keep reading that Barcelona is some kind of heaven for pickpockets which I simply can't subscribe. As for beggars, there were very few and in my whole stay there, I wasn't harassed one single time on the street, bus or metro. (!!!)
So don't be paranoid, just be alert and you should have a very good time in Barcelona.
Barcelona is one of those places where there are tons of people coming for medium-term stays - too long to stay in a pension, hostel or hotel, and too short to look for a standard apartment rental with a lease and all the trapping of a stable accomodation. The result is a flourishing sublet market, one that is far beyond the control of anyone or any agency. Most of the posts you see on a site like loquo.com are legit, but there is a healthy dose of scam artists, psychos, cheaters and crazies who also use the posting boards to lure victims, particularly the young and/or foreigners. Despite having lived in Barcelona before, I fell victim to a psycho - he didn't set out to scam me, but the apartment should have been condemned and he should have been put under state supervision long ago. The place seemed ok when I went through it, but after moving in, I discovered that insurers had refused to insure the place because it was unsound, and that the room I had rented had only one jack out of three that actually had electricity (and that one had a smashed outlet that was barely functional) and that the phone line running into the room was dead. There were also hundreds of euro of outstanding telephone and internet service charges on the apartment. The guy I had rented from was even better. He told me he worked in a hotel, but then it came out that not only had he not worked for more than 6 months, but that he had in fact been thrown in jail for assaulting one of his former co-workers. He had no money, and my deposit evaporated within two days. He was "over-attentive" (figure out what that means on your own) and didn't understand that I rented from him and that he didn't have the right to barge into my room while I was sleeping.
I understand that this is sort of a unique situation that is certainly at the crazier end of the rental scale. Nevertheless, I saw many places for rent before and after this incident and can tell you with certainty that renting a place in Barcelona is no simple affair. Keep your eyes open and question as much as you can. It's common sense in all cities to do that when you rent, but Barcelona is a bit of a Wild West when it comes to renting and you should be on greater guard than usual - since no one in the police or the municipal government will be there to bail you out when things go sour.
This may well be a new scam as I hadn't read about it before on here, but it's something to be well aware of.
Me and my friends were on the beach when we were approached by a guy selling Barcelona Gold cards for €8 or €20 for a deluxe one.
They come with a small map and lists of various clubs which you can supposedly gain free entry to before a certain time/get special offers on drinks/etc.
We were a bit wary at first but decided that for €8 each we might as well buy some, so all 7 of us did, which you can imagine gave the guy selling them a fair bit of money.
By the time we got back to our Youth Hostel we'd figured out they were probably fakes, and asked some of the clubs/people selling tickets to clubs about it, and they told us it was a scam.
So don't buy them and don't get scammed!
My husband and I travelled by car from the south of France to Barcelona. As we arrived in Barcelona we had a particularly unpleasant experience which I would not wish on others. Whilst driving into the centre, in a built up, smart, residential area we heard a terrible noise. When we pulled into the side of the road to investigate we found that we had a very flat tyre. A young man pulled up on the pavement beside us on a motor scooter. He motioned away up the street and talked of "mechanico". When we said we didn't understand he pulled away. Whilst my husband started to change the tyre I realised that someone had removed my handbag and my husband's bag from the front and rear seats of the car. We were stood at the side of the car the whole time and did not hear two doors being opened and closed properly. To do this on our car is very difficult as the doors take some closing- but they obviously practice! Whilst we were making arrangments to go to the nearest police station - a car pulled up and asked us if we needed help. They said that they were plain clothes policemen and briefly showed us a badge - when we said that we would report our theft at the police station they drove off quickly. The real police told us that these fake police offering to help were often part of the robbery - checking whether there is anything else worth taking.
When we reported the theft to the police they said that they had 4/5 reports each day at that police station alone - usually targeting British, French or hire cars because they are obviously holidaymakers. They follow visiting cars through the traffic and at traffic lights the chap on the scooter checks what is visible as well as presuming that most women keep their handbags on the floor at their feet when they are passengers in cars. When they decide on a target the man on the scooter has a metal spike fitted to his shoe. He then pulls close to the car whilst at traffic lights and punctures the tyre with the spike. He and the robbers' car then follow the victims waiting for the flat tyre to be noticed. The police told us that this is replacing pickpocketing because so many people use money belts etc. The police said they target the rear tyres opposite the driver’s door, varying it according to the country of origin. People usually pull in with the problem tyre next to the pavement to enable them to change it and this then leaves the passenger side unattended.
In our case it caused us very serious problems as they took our passports, cash and credit cards. It resulted in us having to return to the UK early.
We thought that we were quite "street-wise" and we were prepared with money belts etc, but because we hadn't even got out of the car then we hadn't put them on. Whilst we were in the British Consulate on Monday morning arranging for replacement passports there were other British visitors who had had the same experience.
I genuinely felt a bit at unease in Barcelona at times. I don't know whether it's because I was on my own and because people can see you are not from around there. Initially, I was alerted by a couple of older men in the train from the airport to the city centre decided to sit next to me on a 3-seater bench although there would have been spaces elsewhere and kept oogling everyone's belongings. Luckily there were guards in the train all the time, so I figured that they wouldn't attempt anything. After getting up at the station they followed me to another part of the carriage which made me extremely annoyed, since I had left my place in order to get away from them as quickly as possible. Luckily, they carried on walking as we left the train as I was deliberately being very slow.
I also felt slightly uneasy on the Ramblas. There were just way too many people around and I have heard they've got lots of pickpockets around. I didn't see any or nothing got stolen, but I just felt a bit nervous because there were a lot of people around because it was the Xmas holidays. There were also lots of homeless people and drunks on Plaça de Catalunya.
WARNING!!!! The bus station Estacion del Nord is rife with dodgy looking people and obvious thieves. Do not leave your luggage or anything else unattended. We watched 4 or 5 of these lads mooch around for the entire 20 minutes we spent there, obviously looking into peoples bags, trying to get behind peolples bags and luggage. They always moved rather quickly and obviously hid behind walls and pillars when guards approached. Take care.
Be aware of the path you take going from Las Ramblas to Barrio Gotico. I thought I would take a shortcut with my daughter during our cruise stop down a secluded alleyway from Placa Reial to the Cathedral, and immediately felt I was getting scoped out by 2 guys that were bracketing us. Even more foolishly, I had my daughter on my shoulders, limiting my movement. Once I was aware, and put my daughter down to free up my hands, the two took a pass. Obviously, I could be mistaken, but I would recommend to stay to the crowded streets...there are plenty.
Having read many comments regarding mugging and pickpocketing in Barcelona, I agree with one thing: Spain is not, let's say, South Africa, where even a kid might have a gun and where people normally get killed when they are mugged. However, many tips that other travellers give on how to avoid these things in Barcelona, do not always work. First of all, violent mugging DOES exist in Barcelona, and while a bunch of guys might not be targeted, females or families can be. It will happen no matter where your bag is. I know a girl that was dragged along a busy street by a mugger just outside Rambla because her bag was SAFELY wrapped around her body. With lots of people on the street at the time, nobody attempted to help (so avoiding small, quiet streets didn't help). I know people that had to visit hospitals (to make sure all was OK) after one of these encounters. The best thing to do, is probably try to walk around as a group of at least 4 people and in the evenings don't take ANY bags with you at all, a passport copy, no credit cards and a very little cash (as from previous reports, even a bum bag could be cut off you). If attacked, give the cash away. The amount of people that have been mugged or pickpocketed in Barcelona is overwhelming and police is of no help. Last New Year we haven't seen a single police car in Port Olympic/ Rambla area, only in the morning at around 6.00 am we saw 3 police men... drinking coffee in a coffee shop. So, take ALL the possible precautions and don't think "I am smarter than this, it won't happen to me".
I was in Barcelona just recently, walking home alone one night when I was jumped by 3 guys from behind. Was strangled, knocked out and had my phone and wallet stolen.
This happened near the beach area walking back towards Diagonal Mar.
I'd advise anyone going out there to be very careful when walking alone at night/early hours of the morning.
I know this is probably not common but just thought I'd help make people aware of what can happen.
Other than that, its a great place and had a brilliant time prior to it happening.
I was paying for a ticket for a train, and as I was paying the cashier a women pulled away my suitcase and ran away with it, I managed to chase her just as she was trying to conceal it in her long robes! (africian dress) I janked it out of her hands and she disapeared into the crowd!
What was most surprising was that i was targeted whilst maybe 50 people were queing right behind me.
like other on this site already had experiences with fake police i lost today 1000euros to a fake policeman, he stopped our car showing hes fake id from hes vehicle, he then demanded to see 1st passport then asked about drugs and finally wanted to check our cash for traces of drugs, once we showed him our cash he put the cash in out passport and put the passport him self in to out bag, after this he proceeded very fast to hes car and speeded up, we checked in the bag but the cash was gone, and hes car was far faster then ours no chance in chasing him, as i did not know hes plate number i could not even make a police report
PLEASE be very aware of the thieves operating in Barcelona airpoty . I was aware that this location was well known for it's lowlife thieving clientele , and thought I was being careful . Unfortunately I was wrong , within 15 of arriving one of my bags was stolen while I was waiting at the cash exchage office , I had one bag in my hand the other leaning against my leg , they quickly dipped down and took the one against my leg .
They ( the thieves ) appear to be operaring in largish groups , eight or so b ******s all in a cluster so as to whip the stolen goods away from the poor unsuspecting victim .
If I ever go back to Barcelona I am going to have the bags chained to my wrist , I could not believe the slickness of the theft .
If you fancy sleeping on the floor of the airport ( as I had to ) ignore this , but at your own peril !