Barcelona is a fantastic place for a vacation or a travel expedition. However, there are common tourist mistakes you will want to avoid.
Barcelona has grown drastically in how many of visitors it sees each year. Last year alone the city saw 32 million tourists. With many people flocking in, there is an increase in businesses trying to take advantage of tourists lack local knowledge. However, with the proper information, you don’t have to fall for the traps they set up for tourists.
Buying a ticket to Park Guell
While Park Guell, also known as the place where an iconic scene from Cheetah Girls was shot, is on every tourist to-do list I think there are better things to spend your money on. They don’t tell you online that you don’t need to buy a ticket to get into the park. The park is free. Since I purchased my ticket for Park Guell on an app I had no idea that what I was paying for was to sit on the park bench designed by Gaudi. A bench in which I could see perfectly from outside the entrance. There are several other places much cheaper or free that have better views and aren’t as crowded, such as the bunkers. It is also far away from the city centre and it’s not worth the hour walk it takes to get there.
Workers set up name brands such as Addidas or Michel Kors on the ground in hopes that tourists will be enticed into purchasing their product. Don’t be fooled these products are low quality with fake names indicating high quality slapped on them This is a common trick for large cities, even in America, but make no mistake those Addidas shoes will fall apart by next week.
Thinking sangria is a special drink in Spain
Sangria is basically just cheap wine, but tourists drink it up because it is marketed as the drink of Barcelona. There are many better acholic beverages I would recommend trying over the sangria that visitors seem to rave over.
Locating the local resturants
If the restaurants advertise their menus with large pictures printed out the dining experience will be catered for tourists. The prices will be higher and the food lower quality. If you want to true Barcelonan experience avoid these restaurants altogether. If you walk around the streets for long enough you can find local cuisine that foodies will go crazy over.
Any store with “Barcelona” attire
The junky tourist stores are located around every corner. Unfortunately, these tacky stores are pushing local businesses out of the city. This destroys the authentic local consumer experience in Barcelona, which I don’t think is worth a t-shirt with the words Barcelona splashed across it. The only thing I could ever justify buying at these stores is postcards. Everything else is cheaply made and I can’t recommend purchasing any of it.
Eating at restaurants with nice waiters
As crazy as it sounds, I was told that restaurants with rude waiters have the best food. This is what I was told my first day in Barcelona. Customer service is not a priority for locals. All they care about is if your food is the delicious savory dish it should be. If your waiters aren’t super friendly it is probably a local restaurant with delicious food.
Be prepared to wait a while at an authentic Spanish restaurant. As a collectivistic culture, they are much more relaxed about time. Even though I am not a time-oriented person I found the drastic culture difference frustrating. Yet, after my food is served an hour later I am okay with the wait.
Beware the pickpocketers
Yes, it is true that Barcelona is the pickpocketer capital of Europe but that shouldn’t worry you. It should, however, make you very aware of your surroundings. Don’t set your bags down EVER. I would recommend wearing a bag you can sling over your shoulder. Several times I had locals and other visitors remind me that pickpocketing is so common. The first was warned was when I stopped in Starbucks to use the bathroom and charge my phone. I left my phone at the table next to me, while I sat at another table with my friends. An employee of Starbucks came over to me and recommended I move my phone because someone might steal it. Even though it may sound intimidating if you keep track of your stuff and ignore those trying to take advantage of tourists you will be fine. If someone asks you if you want them to take a photo of you the answer should always be NO. They might be trying to steal your phone or camera. In order to take group photos, I would suggest the ultra-handy selfie stick.
In every heavy populated city around the world, people will try to take advantage of tourists. Hopefully, this helps you avoid some of the tourist traps in Barcelona.