8 things you should never do in Barcelona

There are many posts out there about the X things you can’t miss in Barcelona. Or how many “hidden gems” the city has. I am from Barcelona, and even though most of the time I have problems thinking of it as a tourist, I do have some recommendations on what not to do in Barcelona. A different type of guide for this amazing city!

Do not go to Barcelona in July or August

So my first advice to you is do not visit Barcelona in July and August. While most of Spain will celebrate their holidays during August, most of Europe does it in July. Barcelona is an extremely popular destinations and many flight operators flight there. That combined with how cheap the city is for European standards is the perfect recipe for a crowded city. Moreover, often the weather in Barcelona is as it’s worst during July and August: above 30ºC and not a drop of water for months. The city can become slightly stinky.

8 things you should never do in Barcelona - The Solivagant Soul

Do not eat on las Rambles

This must be one of the main things you should never do in Barcelona: eating on the Rambles. The Rambles are a set of consecutive streets going from Colon to the Plaça Catalunya. This street is packed with people all year long, and at any time of the day. There are artists painting portraits or simply drawing beautiful landscapes. Plenty of shops that sell flowers and plants. Kiosks selling souvenirs and guides. But above all, there are hundreds of bars and restaurants. It is insane.

8 things you should never do in Barcelona - The Solivagant Soul

If you walk through the Rambles, people will approach you to invite you to have dinner (or lunch) at their restuarant. They will show you menus with pictures on it, usually showing amazing dishes. They will look so delicious and appealing. The reality: the food will not be good, it will be overprices, and you will be paying for “extras” that you did not know they existed. Walk three or four streets in any direction and you will find much better options!

Do not go to the Barceloneta

So the Barceloneta is the beach of Barcelona.  In this beach you will rarely find any local. Why, you may ask. Well, let’s start with the water. Unregulated while it was constructed, a very important sewer from the city ends its journey to the sea right next to the beach. Even though the water is actually purified (or decontaminated) before being spilled into the Mediterranean, the smell is still there. Moreover, many “floating presents” still remain after the water processing. Any who has been to that beach can tell you about that diaper that floated towards them or the condom that got attached to their hair. Beautiful I know.

Besides that, another reason not to get there is the sand. The sea washes it out every few years and the city has to put it back. And even with that, it is often very dirty. Thousands of cigarette ends can be found in the sand, and many other pieces of trash accumulate season after season. Finally, one of the highest concentration of pickpocketers accumulate in the Barceloneta. To avoid this, take a “cercanies” (a train) and go either north or south, in 30 minutes you will find yourself in an amazing beach.

Do you want to know more about festivities in Barcelona? Take a look at this post – Festes de Gracia, the other side of the city

Do not buy beer to the street vendors

So this is more about hygiene mostly. Many times, when you are walking through the streets of the centre of Barcelona, a guy will approach you carrying some beer cans. Yes, you know that they are cans and unopened. It has to be safe to drink them. Well, in case you did not know, this type of sellers are forbidden in the country. For that reason, if they ever see someone who can be a police, they hide the beers. Also, they do not carry many cans on them, so they keep a stock nearby. These hidden places, are sewers and trashcans. Yep, not that hygenic. Moreover, you should know that drinking in public spaces in Spain is forbidden.

8 things you should never do in Barcelona - The Solivagant Soul

Do not travel without a plan

This is mostly a tip on visiting iconic sites in Barcelona such as la Sagrada Familia or the Park Güell. The entrance to these places is limited to a few people per hour and day and tickets are often sold out weeks before. If you want to visit any very typical place in the city, make sure you plan it ahead and book your tickets with time. Otherwise is highly likely you will not be able to visit it!

Do not party in the Vila Olimpica

Passed the Maphre towers (that are actually one Maphre tower and the Hotel Arts), and near the casino, after many night clubs and right by the beach, there is la vila Olimpica. This area is an accumulation of cheap night bars, some chain restaurants and (after what I saw last month), many Chicha bars. For years, this has been the place where the “bad” tourism accumulates. The place where all the 18-20 year olds who come to Barcelona to drink and get wasted 27/7 go out to party. It is a dirty place, with plenty of drunk people, stalkers and in general, not safe at all.

8 things you should never do in Barcelona - The Solivagant Soul

Are you interested in some typical traditions of the city? Check out this post about Christmas in Catalonia

Do not dress as a Faralai

Ok, so you are in Spain. And everyone in Spain loves Flamenco and Sevillanas. Nope. Nope we don’t. Even though you are technically in Spain, Barcelona is not Andalucia. Even though some people may enjoy Flamenco music and/or dancing, no one will be wearing a faralai dress on the streets. Maybe in Sevilla someone would during the Feria de Abril, but not in Barcelona. I think I have only seen tourists dressed as Sevillanas in Barcelona, never someone who is from the city.

Do not expect to see bullfighting in Barcelona

This one is more about knowing the Catalan culture. Even though bullfighting is something very “Spanish”, the reality is that this practice has been forbidden in Catalonia since 2012. I personally hate these shows and I am happy that they no longer take place in Barcelona. In any case, this is just another sample of one of the typical topics about Spain that don’t apply to our city.

I hope you enjoyed this different guide on Barcelona, and I hope you will be missing all these tourist traps. If you enjoyed it, pin it!

8 things you should never do in Barcelona - The Solivagant Soul


  1. Love this post! I lived in Barcelona for 2 years and I couldn’t agree any more with every single thing on this list!

  2. I like your approach to writing this:) I was in Barcelona and thankfully I managed to behave ;)) although I’m guilty of eating on Las Rambles;)

  3. I was just in Barcelona, and I agree with all of this! Although, ok, I totally went to Barceloneta – mostly to hang out and drink cocktails at the W haha. And I was so glad to have pre-booked my tickets for everything BEFORE I got there!

  4. I *LOVE* this type of advice! I totally would have been suckered in to buying beer off one of the guys on the streets if not for this post – so thank you for the hot tip! Really appreciated the local insight, too. Definitely saving this for any future trip to Spain 🙂

    (P.S. Do people *really* wear faralai dresses?? That’s so hilarious/bizarre to me!)

  5. Oh dear, I once landed accidentally in Vila Olimpica – horrible! Totally agree with your list of don’ts. Gracia is my favorite part of Barcelona.

  6. This is a really good list and thank you for sharing. It’s refreshing to see a list of not to do things and the ones mentioned by you are so important. Nice pictures too.

  7. Phew, I’m not guilty of any of those! 🙂 Didn’t know about Barceloneta, though. It was January anyway, so it didn’t make any difference 🙂

    Good to know these things, thank you!

  8. Wow! Thanks for all these tips. I visited Spain twice but haven’t been to Barcelona yet, and I hope to go there in the future. Pinned it to use later on 🙂

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