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Tourist traps to avoid in Barcelona

Written by Priyankaa

With as many as nine million tourists flocking to Barcelona every year, the city is undoubtedly one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations. With the allure of Gaudí’s breathtaking architecture, beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and delicious food, Barcelona has something for everyone. However, like any other major tourist destination, Barcelona has its fair share of attractions and experiences which cost a lot but can leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.

Whilst it’s effortless to spot the tourist traps in our own countries, we can’t seem to resist them when we are visitors in a new city. So, if you would rather experience Barcelona like a local, here are some things you should steer clear of:

Dinner on Las Ramblas

sangriaThe 1.2km long pedestrian street is Barcelona’s ultimate touristic hotspot, filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, street performers and hoards of tourists. Whilst you should definitely take a walk down Las Ramblas, do not be lured into any of the overpriced and inauthentic restaurants  with waiters waving the menu in your face whilst shouting “paella and sangria, only €20!” Instead, walk a few streets back and find a more authentic place to eat for a fraction of the price. With so much information available to us these days, why not do some research before your trip – Barcelona has a wealth of amazing restaurants so long as you know where to go.

Go to a Flamenco show

Flamenco comes from Andalusia and is not in keeping with Catalan tradition at all, so ignore the flyers and posters for ‘traditional Flamenco shows’ (which are pretty pricey too) and soak up some Catalan culture instead.

A night out in The Port Olímpic district

The, admittedly beautiful, marina area of Barcelona which was built for the Olympic games in 1992, forms part of Barcelona’s seafront, home to a number of nightclubs and bars popular with young partygoers. Like Las Ramblas, the drinks are expensive, the queues are long and the atmosphere is distinctly not Spanish. If you fancy a night out or a few drinks somewhere frequented by locals, then avoid Port Olímpic at all costs. There are a plethora of interesting and traditional bars positioned all over the city, where you can enjoy a glass of cava or vermut.

Sangria is not a local drink!


Whilst sangria may not strictly qualify as a tourist trap, I feel obliged to say that it is most definitely not a typical Catalan drink and you will not find locals ordering it. Whilst it is served in most bars and restaurants owing to its popularity with tourists, you are likely to be served a combination of cheap wine and sugary fruit juice. If you want to drink like a local, order a glass of cava, the ‘unofficial’ drink of Barcelona. A glass is usually between €3 to €6, making it the much more affordable choice too.

Go to the beach in Barcelona

Whilst Barceloneta beach is perfectly nice, you won’t find many locals there and in the summer months it’s brimming with annoying tourists, it can be anything but relaxing. There so many beautiful beaches in Catalonia, which are much more secluded and are only a short train journey away. What’s more, train prices out of Barcelona are very reasonable, so a day trip won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Sitges, Castelldefels and Costa Brava are all excellent alternatives.

About the author


Priyankaa is a Hispanic Studies graduate from the University of Birmingham.

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