Barcelona walking tours regulations to come into force in March

Legislation limits groups to 20 people maximum, with expected sanctions of up to €3,000

A tourist takes a photograph of Antoni Gaudí's Casa Batlló
A tourist takes a photograph of Antoni Gaudí's Casa Batlló / Ethan López

ACN | @agenciaacn | Barcelona

November 27, 2022 12:00 PM

Barcelona will see walking tours regulated around the city, specifically in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood from March next year. The measures will limit attendees to less than 20 people per tour group and ban speakers. 

Initially, when the decree was announced, it limited groups to a maximum of 30 people and 15 in certain areas, but after some amendments, local authorities changed the limitation as it was complicated for tour operators to organize the logistics of such small groups.

One of the other changes is stripping out the 24 one-way streets in the city center, as "it could complicate more the situation than solve it," Jordi Rabassa, councilor for the 'Old Town' neighborhood, told media outlets on Friday. 

The decree is something "never seen before" and this is why the city council set a six-month validity. Officials preferred for summer to be part of this trial, therefore the decree will be in force from March until September when a new decree will come into effect indefinitely.

"We are telling official tour guides in which way they have to work to respect our streets and squares," the councilor added. 

On March 1, a campaign will be launched to explain the new decree and the possible sanctions that range from €1,500 to €3,000 if recidivist. 

City council's concern is on how official tour guides behave, but also for those leading 'Free Tours', who tend to be "the ones less respectful with the neighborhood and its residents," Rabassa said.

Tours will have to do shorter explanations in several monumental hotspots, especially when on crowded days. For example, Sant Jaume square, with the city council and the Catalan government HQs buildings, but also in the Fossar de les Moreres, literally "Grave of the Mulberries," a memorial square honoring those dead while defending the city during the Spanish Succession war in 1714.

Other places that will have extra limits are the plaça de Sant Felip Neri square, a small beautiful space in the city, the Palau de la Música music hall, or the Lluís Millet square, right in front of the hall, named after the founder of the Orfeó Català choral society. 

When announced in June, the law was expected to come into effect around July 23, after the public exhibition and appeals timeframe, however, it will not happen until nine months after the decree was explained.

Once officially in place, tour guides will have to use audio guides and confirm they will not use speakers in order to reduce noise pollution.