Barcelona Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Barcelona
How safe is Barcelona?
Threat level: Low-Medium
COVID-19 Situation in Barcelona
The nationwide state of alarm declared on the 25th of October due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases ended on the 9th of May 2021. However, restrictions can be applied at regional level including local curfews, so you should monitor local news.
Since the 24th of May, UK holidaymakers can travel to Spain for tourism. However, Spain is on the UK government's amber list of countries that pose a COVID-19 risk, which means that travellers should not go unless it is for essential, family or business reasons. On their return, travellers are required to fill in the passenger locator form, to present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result before travelling, to quarantine at home for 10 days and to take a sequencing test on day 2 and day 8 after their arrival.
Nationals from the European Union (except Portugal) and Schengen-area countries are now allowed to visit Spain without having to quarantine on their arrival but travellers from risk countries must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result on arrival, taken no more than 48 hours before arrival. Alternatively, they can present a certificate of vaccination that shows they have received two doses of an EU-approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travelling or a certificate of recovery. Further to this, travellers will be subject to temperature check, a visual health assessment and must fill in a health declaration form 48 hours prior to travelling to indicate the address where they will be staying, their contact details and history of exposure to COVID 19. Please note that due to a surge in cases, you will be required to quarantine on your return to the UK and other EU countries.
However, people must maintain social distancing of 1.5m, facemasks are mandatory in public except when swimming, at the beach and playing sport and gatherings of more than 6 people are banned. Regional authorities have restricted the capacity of restaurants and bars as well as operational hours and in some areas, such public venues have been closed. A track and trace system is also in place in facilities welcoming the public.
See our healthcare section for preventive measures against the disease.
Security in Barcelona
The general travel advice for Barcelona is for visitors to be aware of petty crime including pick pockets operating in busy areas and on public transport.
Barcelona is a relatively safe city by European terms, but the current political situation is a cause for concern, following the Catalan Independence Referendum that occurred on the 1st October 2017, and where Catalan declared Independence on the 27th of October 2017.
Further to this, Madrid took control of the region for seven months judging illegal the referendum and a regional election took place in Catalonia in December 2017, with pro-independence parties holding a renewed majority in the Catalan parliament. Catalonia regained its autonomy in June 2018 after a new government was sworn in.
Following Spain's Supreme Court's prison sentencing of nine Catalan separatist leaders over their role in conducting the indepedence referendum in 2017, deemed illegal, protesters are taking to the streets of Barcelona which lead to clashes with the police. This may continue for some time. The best travel advice for Barcelona is to monitor local news and avoid getting involved in protests.
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides Security and Bodyguard Services across Spain. If you are interested in these services, please see: Bodyguard Services in Spain.
The current political situation is tense and is seen by many as one of the worst political crisis in nearly four decades.
On the 20th of August 2018, a man entered a police station in Barcelona and attempted to stab police officers. He was shot dead by police forces.
On the 17th of August 2017, a van drove into pedestrians in Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 persons and injuring about 130 others. The man responsible for the attack fled the scene and was found a few days later and shot dead by the police. This tragic event was treated as a terrorist attack by the local authorities and was followed by another attack carried out by a terrorist group in the same region in Cambrills, injuring several persons and claiming the life of one person.
In the past, the Basque terrorist organisation ETA carried out several deadly car bomb attacks in Barcelona. However, they are no longer considered a major threat, after they declared a ceasefire and announced a definitive cessation of their armed activities. For Travel Advice for Spain in general, see: Travel Advice for Spain.
The national terrorism alert level (NAA) was set as 4 on a scale of 5 and remains unchanged since June 2015, despite the terrorist attack that happened last Summer in Barcelona.
Although, Barcelona is one of the safest city in the EU, petty crime such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is common. Thieves in Barcelona are very crafty in stealing handbags, wallets and phones without the owner noticing. They would usually distract their victim and may use the help of an accomplice.
We would recommend being extra vigilant in crowed places such as La Sagrada Familia and Barcelona’s beaches, leave any valuable items at your hotel, and carry little amount of cash with you. Also, avoid leaving your belongings unattended while you are at the beach.
Restaurants and the metro are also notorious for petty theft, so keep your bag close to you at all time on your lap or stored in front of you.
Besides, the Ciutat Vella District and Las Ramblas are places in Barcelona that tourists should avoid at night, as they are infamous for late crime. It is also safer to avoid walking in these areas of Barcelona on your own as thieves can work in groups.
Travelling around Barcelona
When travelling by car in Spain, British nationals do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) but a motor insurance green card issued by their car insurer is required to drive a UK-registered car in the EU.
Barcelona is well served by public transport. Thus, the tram, metro and FGC are practical and are convenient ways for tourists to get around Barcelona easily to visit tourist attractions.
The metro is the quickest way to travel around the city and runs from 5am to midnight - Mondays to Thursdays, 5am to 2am on Fridays, 5am to 12pm on Saturdays and non-stop on Sundays. A single journey costs €2.15.
Buses usually run from 4.25am and end at 11pm depending on their route. The price of a single ticket costs €2.15.
A Travel Pass (HolaBCN or T-10) to travel around the city via public transport, is a more cost-effective solution to buying single tickets and can be used to travel by metro, bus, tram and train. Travel cards can be purchased from the ticket vending machine at the entrance of the metro.
Alternatively, Taxis can be found all around the city and are black and yellow.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency services in Barcelona
Emergency services: 112
Emergency services: 902 102 112 (English speaking)
Tourist Police: 34 932 903 000 (Barcelona)
Fire emergency: 080 or 112
Medical emergency: 061 or 112
Time now in Barcelona:
Consular information for Barcelona
U.S. Consulate Barcelona
Paseo Reina Elisenda de Montcada, 23
Telephone: +34 93 280 22 27
British Consulate Barcelona
Avda Diagonal 477–13
Telephone: +34 93 366 6200
French Consulate Barcelona
22 bis 08007 Barcelona
Telephone: +34 932 703 000
For further embassy information and locations please see our live travel map below.
Healthcare in Barcelona
If you ever require an emergency treatment in Barcelona, please note that all foreigners are entitled to the same care as nationals in public hospitals. In order to avoid being treated privately, it is recommended to call 112 to ask for an ambulance and receive assistance in English.
A large number of COVID-19 cases have been reported in Cataluna. There is no vaccination against the disease, to avoid contracting the disease, self-isolate, wear a face mask in public places, apply good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing and avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings.
If you hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can benefit from other medically-necessary treatments that could be required during your temporary stay, at a reduced cost or free of charge. In contrast, non-EU members would have to pay for non-emergency treatments.
If you are a British citizen, your UK EHIC card remains valid when travelling to an EU country until it expires, providing access to state-provided healthcare in Spain. After that, British citizens must apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which will cover them for state-provided healthcare in the EU. Nevertheless, you will be required to show proof on arrival that you have travel insurance for your trip.
On the other hand, it is advisable to always purchase a comprehensive medical insurance to be covered in case you need to be repatriated.
Alternatively, if you judge your condition as non-life-threatening or not too serious, some medications are easier to get hold of compared to other countries and can be purchased without a prescription from a doctor.