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Can I drink tap water in Barcelona?

Everything you need to know about tap water in Barcelona

When you first arrive in Barcelona, you have a lot on your mind. The last thing you want to worry about is your tap water (agua del grifo), so have no fear. We can help answer some of your most pressing questions about Barcelona’s water so you know what to expect before arrival. If you are already in Barcelona, this guide can also help address anything you already noticed during your time here.


You may have also noticed a lot of talk about the drought in Spain. This impacts where you get your water from and how it is used. You may have noticed that the decorative fountains in your favorite parks are no longer running, or that you can no longer use the fountains at the beach to wash the sand off your feet. All of this is a result of the ongoing drought, and we can help you understand how this impacts you.

Tap water in Barcelona

Where does Barcelona's water come from?

Water has been a scarce resource in Barcelona for hundreds of years. People got their water from public fountains and communal wells, and you may still see reminders of this time when you look at the many water towers around Barcelona.


Up until 1986, when Spain joined the European Union, the country had a bad reputation for its poor tap water quality. After joining the EU, Spain received billions of euros to invest in its water infrastructure. Now, it has one of the most advanced water systems in the world.


Barcelona has two main sources where it gets its water: rivers and the Mediterranean Sea. The primary river Barcelona uses for its water supply is the Llobregat River, which flows into the Mediterranean south of the city. All of the water goes through an intense sanitation and de-salting process before it makes its way throughout the city for public use. 


Spain’s investment in water infrastructure did not begin in the 1980s, however. Since the 1950s, Spain has built dams and systems to try to make water shortages less common. There are now 1,200 artificial dams and reservoirs throughout the country, which is more than anywhere else in Europe. The Llobregat water plant that is now so important for finding drinking water was built in 2009 but was barely used until April 2021.


Before the most recent and most intense phase of the drought, Barcelona’s drinking water came primarily from rivers, and wells were the second most common source. Water from the water plant provided just 3% of the drinking water supply. Now, the plant is the source of one-third of Barcelona’s drinking water, wells are still the second most common source but have decreased in use, and rivers are the smallest source.

Is the tap water in Barcelona safe to drink?

Yes! Barcelona has some of the highest quality drinking water in the world. The Ministerio de Sanidad assess all of Spain’s drinking water, and the agency has determined that tap water in Barcelona is safe to drink unfiltered, according to EU and World Health Organization standards.



This means you can drink the water out of your home tap, but what about public tap water? On hikes and walks through parks, you will notice drinking fountains scattered around public spaces. This water is also safe to drink, and often you will find taps for dogs, as well, so the whole family can enjoy the public drinking fountains! There is even an app to help you find fountains close to you: Fonts BCN.



Despite being completely safe to drink, Barcelona’s water does have an unpleasant taste and smell for some people, especially if you are used to water in other countries. 


The chlorine in the water is the main reason for the distinct taste of tap water in Barcelona. In order to filter out the salt, dirt and microorganisms from the water — which happens in the same water plant we have mentioned throughout this guide — chlorine gets put into the water. It is safe to drink, but can create a strong, unpleasant taste.


Besides chlorine, there are also high levels of minerals like potassium and magnesium in the water because of the water’s journey before it gets to your sink. The water passes through rocks in rivers that are very high in these minerals.


Although you may not have known about these minerals before, your hair and skin have likely noticed. The high mineral content in Barcelona’s water makes the water very hard, which is why many people struggle with hair and skin problems, including dryness, when they arrive in Barcelona. Hard water also makes it harder for your laundry detergent to clean clothes, so you may have to use more soap than you are used to.


Microplastics are found in 80% of all the tap water in Europe, and Barcelona is no exception. The water sanitization system does filter out microplastics and any sediment, but as more plastic and rubbish flows into the world’s major water sources, the problem of microplastic contamination will continue.

Pipe contaminations are also a concern for many people because the pipes in Barcelona can be old, so it is important to make sure the pipes are regularly checked in your building.

What are the alternatives to tap water in Barcelona?

If the taste of tap water in Barcelona is a barrier for you, there are plenty of alternative options in the city.

Bottled water

Supermarkets and convenience stores sell bottled water for under a euro to a few euros per bottle — depending on the area and the size of the bottle, as tourist areas will generally charge more for bottled water.


Although this is a convenient option, it can get very expensive. Bottled water has also been shown to contain microplastics and buying disposable bottles is not environmentally friendly.

External water filters

There are water filter pitchers (jarra) that filter the water as you pour, which can cost 15-25 euros for the pitcher and under 10 euros for each filter replacement, which are cheaper when bought in bulk. One of the most well-known brands in Spain is Brita.


There are also water delivery services that deliver jugs of filtered mineral water to your home or business in the form of individual bottles or as a jug that attaches to a water dispenser. This can cost around 20-30 euros per month, depending on the amount of water and the individual delivery service’s fees.

Sink filters

A less portable option is a filter that attaches to the faucet itself, filtering out chemicals as the water runs out of the sink head. These cost between 50-100 euros, which is a recurring cost in order to replace the filter head for proper maintenance.

Gravity water filters

Gravity water filters sit on your kitchen counter and come in various sizes, costing between 100-200 euros depending on the water capacity. These filters remove parasites, bacteria, pesticides, soap and chlorine from the water. They can also reduce metals — including lead, aluminum and iron — and pharmaceuticals by up to 81%.

What is happening with the water shortage?

There is a water shortage in Barcelona because of a years-long drought in Spain, but the drought has especially struck Catalonia. The current drought is the worst Catalonia has seen in 100 years. The lack of rainfall is especially affecting agriculture in Catalonia’s countryside, but the effects are present in Barcelona, as well.

As of Thursday, February 1st, the Catalan government has moved into an emergency phase for those in the Ter-Llobregat system. The Llobregat River supplies water to 6 million people, including Barcelona and its metropolitan area

How is the water shortage possible?

Despite having one of the most advanced water filtration systems in the world and investing billions of dollars in water management, Spain and especially Catalonia continue to struggle with water shortages.


Climate change is an easy factor to point to, but it is not the only problem. Farmers use 80% of Spain’s freshwater and have faced some of the harshest restrictions during drought protocols, hurting their ability to grow crops.

What is the government doing about the water supply?

Current water management systems are not yet ready to manage the pressures that climate change has put on Barcelona’s water supply, although there have been significant advancements.


The Catalan Water Agency will receive 2.5 billion euros from the Catalan government to double water production and filtration. The number of water production plants throughout the autonomous region will double and will allow the water agency to put more of its resources into increasing the water supply despite limited rainfall.


The Barcelona City Council also has a Climate Emergency Declaration, which aims to decrease the amount of drinking water used, increase the use of alternative water sources like regenerated water, make the city more flood-resistant through better drainage and protect the water sources by reducing contamination and spilling.

Emergency phase: what does it means for residents?

In February 2024, the Catalan Water Agency imposed water restrictions consistent with drought emergency stage one. Irrigation use was reduced by 80%, industrial and urban use by 25%, and the average daily limit per person in a municipality was reduced from 210 to 200 litres. This limit does not only include individual use, but public projects (such as street cleaning and fountains) as well,  which use up 103 litres of that limit on its own. 


Currently, water usage for recreational activities are prohibited. This includes decorative fountains and swimming pools. Water usage for services like green spaces (both public and private) and street and vehicle cleaning are permitted in some instances, with extreme restrictions. For example, residents are prohibited from washing their cars with anything except a bucket and sponge for windows and mirrors. The Catalan government approved a law that would fine municipalities for going over the water usage limit. 


Street cleaning services have moved from 80% groundwater usage to 100% groundwater, which will lessen the disruption of sanitised water. Water and jet pipes in fountains are prohibited but artificial ponds may continue using just enough water to maintain aquatic life.

Practicalities in Barcelona

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