Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Behave in Barcelona

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

How to Behave in Barcelona

Article excerpt

IF 2017 was the year "overtourism" entered the dictionary, 2018 looks set to be when the battle lines are drawn. Last weekend in Venice, protesters dismantled the gates set up to segregate locals and tourists. "Venice is not a theme park," read one of the banners brandished by the Leftwing activists who disapprove of Mayor Luigi Brugnaro's measures.

Meanwhile, Barcelona was Europe's other poster child for overtourism last year, with protesters proclaiming: "This isn't tourism, it's an invasion!" when they took to the streets in August.

Is it possible to visit Barcelona, have a good time and be respectful towards those who live there? Yes. Do locals want tourists to visit? Yes -- especially as tourism is one of the city's major industries. All they ask is that visitors educate themselves and act responsibly while in town. Here's how to behave - and what not to do.

Don't use Airbnb has ravaged Barcelona's housing market. In 2016, 57 per cent of "hosts" -- many of whom are rental companies, not individuals -- were found to be operating multiple listings, in direct violation of a local law that limits flatsharing for commercial use. Because of its proliferation, entire neighbourhoods -- such as Barri Gotic, Barceloneta and El Born, to give a few examples -- have been uprooted, with rents skyrocketing by 23 per cent in the past three years and residents forced to move elsewhere. If you're renting, make sure it's a legal let. Better still, go the traditional route. The city is littered with affordable hostels, dormitories and hotels at all prices and sizes.

Skip the big hitters It's hard to visit Barcelona without hitting the highlights, such as La Rambla or one of Antoni Gaudi's whimsical buildings, but there are lesser visited sights and neighbourhoods worth seeing, too.

Instead of eating frozen paella and enduring the daily tourist crush on La Rambla, head to the Poblenou neighbourhood instead. …

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