**Updated : October 2023**
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Safety Tips for European Travel
Traveling anywhere in the world, even in your hometown, has some percentage or chance of danger. We say that because we don't want you to avoid an area just because you hear from someone else that it's "dangerous" to go. Although we traveled around the world this past year, we honestly felt like there was a bit more to be worried about in Europe, especially if you have a camera for pictures. Spain, compared to most other countries we've visited this past year, especially felt unsafe in terms of mugging and pickpocketing. Not just did we get mugged and dragged down to the ground in a busy street, but afterwards also heard countless stories from others that something similar happened to them in Barcelona as well. We only ask that you keep that in mind and stay aware while exploring the city. If you're not sure what that means, here's some basic safety tips to follow while adventuring abroad in Europe :
Looking for a place to stay in Barcelona? We stayed at SM Hotel Sant Antoni and loved it's walking distance to Las Sagrada!
Our Experience at Top Attractions
Chances are if you're visiting Barcelona then you'll be visiting some of the city's top attractions like Park Guell or La Sagrada. If you are, then we highly recommend you follow our safety tips listed above. If you're looking to hear more about our personal experiences and best tips at each of these most visited sites, then we encourage you to continue reading.
1. Park Guell
Located on a hill that is part of the Collserola mountain range, Park Guell is one of the largest green spaces in Barcelona. If you’re planning a trip to Barca, chances are you’ve heard of or plan to visit this UNESCO Park yourself (or you’ve most likely seen the countless photos in the Monumental Zone - where all the colorful benches and mosaics are located). It’s important to note that contrary to previous years where you could enter certain parts of the park for free, the entire Park Guell is now under a ticketing system, and you’ll need to book this online. If you head to Park Guell's Official Park Website you can register online and purchase a general day ticket for $10 - even though it says there is a specific time to enter, we were told onsite that as long as you have a ticket for that day it will work, and once you’re in there’s no time limit to how long you can stay. Personally, we felt very safe here in Park Guell. We like to believe that since we had to pay to enter, most muggers and pickpockets wouldn’t want to do that and therefore aren’t inside the park gates. There were also plenty of staff every 100 meters or so that we could have went to for help. We walked around the entire park with our camera out and had no issues, and it felt like just about everyone else other than the staff were tourists as well. Of course, we put our camera away before we left the park.
2. Montjuic & the Funicular
Montjuic is another top attraction for tourists in Barcelona, and for good reason. Perched on top of Montjuic Hill is the Castell de Montjuic - an old military fortress (not really a castle) built in 1640. It'll cost you about 5 euro to enter, and although you can purchase tickets onsite, they often sell out like many of the other attractions in Barcelona. If you're not looking forward to hiking all the way up to the fortress, we recommend purchasing tickets for the cable car as well - and for an added bonus taking the funicular from the city! (The funicular end point conveniently sits next to the beginning of the cable car.) It's also worth noting that at the bottom of the Montjuic Hill is the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, and although it's currently closed to conserve water in the drought that this area of Spain is having, the water show typically runs from 8:00pm - 10:00pm, depending on the season. As for safety, we personally felt like we had no issues here, especially once we entered the gates of the fortress. The outside area and surrounding park also felt ok, although we were much more cautious here as there were many single men just hanging out, eyeing everyone who exited the fortress. It's also worth noting that there are sellers here who stand outside the entrance to the gate, we felt completely safe around them however there were quite a few lurkers as well, and we were glad to have put our camera away before we exited.
3. La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Barcelona, and quite possibly the entire world. Chances are you’ll need to purchase tickets before your visit - they do sell tickets onsite but they tend to sell out very early, so your best bet is reserving an entry ticket on the Sagrada Family website beforehand. General admission tickets cost $26 per person and it’s important to follow the time of admission on your ticket. Similar to the Cathedral de Barcelona, we felt very safe when we were inside the gates. There is plenty of security around and we felt like everyone touring the church were simply tourists like us. However, we would encourage you to be a little more careful when you leave La Sagrada - there is a park across the street in the front and back of the church that offers excellent views of the exterior - and this is where we saw many single men that were carefully watching others that were busy taking pictures.
4. Cathedral de Barcelona
The Cathedral of Barcelona is a beautiful gem, tucked away in the Old Town of Barcelona it seemingly appears out of nowhere. It's worth noting that if you're looking to enter the Cathedral itself it'll cost you about 7 euro per person (even though some sites online said entry is free at certain times, this didn't seem to be true) and you have to have your shoulders and knees covered. Although we highly recommend a stop here, the Cathedral is located in the Gothic Quarter - another area similar to Las Ramblas that is known for pickpocketing and muggings. We would be extra cautious here if you're taking photos, have one person stand guard while the other takes photos. To be quite honest, chances are you won't get mugged right in front of the Cathedral but rather once you leave down a street a block or two away, so make sure to have everything put away before you leave the area.
5. Mercat St. Josep La Boqueria
This food market is such a fun spot to visit, (also called Mercat de la Boqueria) you can try everything here from fresh fruit juices, empanadas, tapas of all kinds, gelato, and multiple kinds of meats and cheeses. It's also open from 8:00am to 8:30pm except on Sundays when they're closed, so you can stop for brunch, lunch, snacks or dinner. Unfortunately, as the biggest market in Barcelona, it's located in Las Ramblas - an area known for crime. Personally, we felt fine when we were inside the market, we would just make sure to take extra care of your belongings and make sure to have everything zipped away in a bag that's in front of you. The market itself has multiple security personal walking the area, and even if you're sitting down for tapas and hang up your bag underneath the table they will gently come remind you to wear it instead. We felt a little more sketched out walking around outside of the market, where we saw multiple single men watching the entrances/exits to the market and surveying anyone who came out.
6. Arc de Triomfe
Arc de Triomfe is a beautiful spot, and when we visited it was quite busy. (Don't let the photos fool you - we are experts now at waiting for the right moment to hide people behind me in our shots haha.) Open for visitors at anytime, we wouldn't recommend going at night. The Arc was constructed in 1888 when Barcelona hosted the World Fair, and now it is free for all to visit. It's also very close to Park de la Ciutadella and the Barcelona Zoo, if you're looking to visit either. Personally we felt fine here, we saw many groups of tourists and didn't notice anyone who might have bad intentions. We walked the area with our camera out (which we still don't recommend) and had no issues.
7. Palma, Mallorca
Alright, so we know Palma isn't necessarily located in Barcelona - but since it's only a 50 minute flight we've noticed many people tend to hop over while spending time in Barca. With lots to do like visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Palma, exploring Old Town, or just relaxing on the beach and catching a sunset, Palma is another busy spot in Spain and receives millions of visitors each year. Personally, we stayed near S'Arenal which is about a half hour drive outside of Old Town Palma. We felt very safe here, and the streets were always busy with beach and party goers. When we visited Old Town one day, we did notice multiple single men who would stop and stare at our camera when we had it out for photos and stopping very close to us, then watching us leave the area which honestly made us feel a little sketched out. It's recommend that if you're planning to visit some clubs or parties here that you always watch your drink, and not walk around at night especially in areas like Old Town & El Terreno. Some of our favorite places to eat in Palma were Restaurante Tramuntana for excellent tapas, Betty & Sam for an American diner experience, and El Rey Helado for some yummy gelato!
Looking for some places to eat in Barcelona? Some of our favorites were K-Serol for incredible tapas, Tizana Acai Bar for acai bowls and smoothies, and El Pibe Burger Spot for burgers!
Watch our Barcelona Adventures here!
Other Spain Blog Posts :
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
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