Homeless tour guides reveal secret Barcelona

A Barcelona-based social enterprise group is recruiting homeless people to give guided tours to tourists in the Catalan capital.

Homeless tour guides reveal secret Barcelona
Hidden City Tours guide Juan Carlos ended up living on the city’s streets when he lost his job over 15 years ago.

Barcelona resident Lisa Grace is the founder of Hidden City Tours, a walking tours scheme involving homeless people based on a similar project that already exists in Bath in the UK.

"I knew Barcelona would be perfect for a homeless walking tour project," Grace told The Local.

"The city's biggest asset is tourism but there is also a growing homelessness problem in the city.

"Our tours can help increased consumer consciousness about responsible tourism." 

The project’s guides have been handpicked by a homeless charity in Barcelona and then coached and trained by Hidden City Tours, always leveraging the inside knowledge the guides have gained from their years living in the streets.

"We've also been working closely with a local historian who’s helped us trace out the most interesting routes," said Grace

From October, tourists and locals looking to gain a greater insight into the life of homeless people in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter will be able to take an hour and a half tour for €10 per person.

"The tour is still predominantly a historical one, but it does include an element of social reality which other guided tours in the city may not have," Grace explains.

"It’s a chance to get to know what life has become for many struggling Spaniards."

At a time when official licenced tour guides in Barcelona are condemning the increasing numbers of unauthorized guides offering free city tours for tips, Grace believes her organization doesn't deserve the same degree of criticism.

"Our guides are paid through the local charity we recruit them from, so it’s all above board," she argues.

"The tours don’t include entrance to any official buildings either as only licenced guides can do that, so we aren't breaking the law."

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