Travel Savvy in Barcelona: 5 Things to Know

August 24, 2011

Many popular tourist attractions like Parque Guell shown here are very crowded, so it’s smart to be aware of who’s nearby and where your valuables are.

1. Welcome to Catalonia. Geographically, Barcelona is in Spain, but culturally the people there think of themselves as living in Catalonia. It’s a cultural identity shared by people in the Balearic Islands, Valencia as well as parts of France and Sardinia. Catalan is a Romance language, so many of the words are the same or similar in Catalan and Spanish. Hello in Catalan is bon dia instead of buenos dias; good-bye is adeu instead of adios.

2.  Wear comfortable shoes and a shoulder bag. Ladies, this is not the place to be teetering around in platform stilettos with a clutch purse under your arm. Not to alarm anyone, but purses do get snatched here. Nearly every local woman I saw carrying a purse had a shoulder bag with a thick strap that could be worn slung across the body. And parts of Barcelona are very hilly and streets in some older areas are paved in  cobblestones.

3. Research addresses carefully before getting into a taxi. Barcelona is a very dense city and addresses are arranged off central boulevards, some of which run on a diagonal. Be sure to ask which boulevard your destination is near before leaving the hotel.

4. Read reviews thoroughly before booking a hotel; not all three stars are created equal.  I suffered at one three-star with a hip-looking lobby with no air conditioning even though it was quite hot. The staff’s service was very off-hand. Just a half a block away was another more traditional three-star with full amenities and expert service to match.

5. Be aware of your surroundings. Most tourist attractions like the Parque Guell (shown above), Las Ramblas and the Boqueria Market are very crowded. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of taking in an attraction, and thieves know this. Be sure to keep wallets in your front pocket, purses closed and valuables nearby.

Got any more tips on how to make your trip to Barcelona safe and stress-free? Please share them with us.

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