10 top tips for a pickpocket-proof trip to Barcelona
Article updated 15 April, 2019.
Pickpockets are everywhere in Barcelona, and many travellers have tales to tell on the subject. No need to be paranoid, though - just follow our simple advice.
Don’t let pickpockets get the better of you! Follow our advice, and you should be able to avoid having any of your precious belongings stolen in Barcelona.
Ten top tips to avoid becoming a victim of pickpockets
1- Tourist attractions and the metro
Be particularly vigilant along Las Ramblas, in the Gothic quarter, in the Raval, on the metro, on buses and on the beach.
Just because you’re a tourist, that doesn’t mean you have to dress like one. Avoid the colourful baseball cap – camera round the neck – shorts – backpack look, and try to blend in. No, it’s not as much fun, but you don’t really want to attract unwanted attention, now, do you?
3- Inside pockets
If you can avoid toting a bag around Barcelona, all the better. Carry your money in the inside pocket of a jacket, or in a front pocket of your trousers, on condition that you keep a hand on it most of the time. And whatever you do, don’t put everything in the same pocket.
4- Money and documents
Only carry the money you actually need for each day, a single payment card and a single ID document. Leave the rest in a safe place – for example, in a left luggage locker if your hotel or hostel doesn’t have the necessary facilities.
5- Bags: across the body
If you really need to carry a bag, avoid rucksacks and choose something you can wear across your body, with the bag part in front of you. Always keep a hand on your bag, and, in winter, hide it under your coat or jacket.
6- Map of Barcelona
Lost in the maze that is central Barcelona? Understandable, it can happen to anyone. Don’t just stop in the middle of the street to look at your map, though. Somewhere with your back to the wall is safer – you’ll be less visible and, more to the point, less vulnerable.
7- Cafés, terraces or plages
Never leave your bag by your feat or on a chair in a restaurant, in a café or on a terrace: keep it on your knees instead. Certain bars provide hooks to hang your bag between your knees, which can be a good idea.
At the beach, don’t leave your things unattended whilst you go for a swim. If you’re with a group, take it in turns to stay with everyone’s stuff. It’s also best to be wary of people offering services (massages etc.) in these places.
8- Cameras and phones
When taking photos in Barcelona, keep tight hold of the strap on your camera, make sure you’ve shut your bag and keep it pressed against you. Smartphone addict? Constant vigilance is the name of the game. pickpockets are experts at detecting the slightest moment of vulnerability to get their hands on your belongings.
9- Fake tourists
Pickpockets will try to blend in with the crowd and pass for tourists themselves. They may pretend to be lost, using a map of the city to hide their hands whilst they’re at work.
10- Other pickpocketing techniques to look out for
If a group of people surrounds you to try to get you to sign a petition, if someone knocks you or if you hear someone shoult “thief”, be especially careful: these are known pickpocketing techniques in Barcelona.
If you’ve been the victim of pickpockets, see our article on what to do in case of theft. Honestly, though, if you follow our advice, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Warnings duly given, all that’s left to do is for us to wish you an “uneventful” stay in Barcelona!
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