Las Ramblas is probably the first place you will be drawn to when you visit Barcelona — both the liveliest place in the city and the most conveniently, centrally located, it practically has its own gravitational force. There’s nothing wrong with that: while it’s easily the most touristy part of BCN, it’s also the quickest and best way to absorb the atmosphere and mood of the city when you first arrive — casual, fun, colorful; somehow laid-back and energetic at the same time.
And Las Ramblas is not just for tourists either. Among the lovebird couples and traveling students you will see plenty of Spanish families and little old abuelos and abuelitas out for a paseo — coining the verb “ramblear”: to go out for a walk on Las Ramblas.
Connecting the transportation hub and central shopping area at Plaça Catalunya with the seaport to the south, Las Ramblas is a long pedestrian street filled year-round not only with these flower stands spilling out onto the sidewalk in bright rainbows of color, but also dozens of incredibly talented street performers and human statues, portrait and caricature artists closer to the waterfront, and my personal favorite — little stands literally selling pets of all kinds right in the middle of the street. Everything from birds to hamsters to lizards to roosters can become your new little friend and be taken home, when you thought you were just going out for a walk to bajar la comida after a little too much paella.
Las Ramblas is also one of the (admittedly many) places in Barcelona that you can go just about 24/7. At 4am, just before the street-cleaners start their work, there will be people around bar-hopping (or bar-stumbling, as the case may be) between the port, Plaça Reial, El Born and El Raval. If you are one of these night-owls, though, try to keep your wits about you as it’s not necessarily the safest place in the world either.
A couple things to check out when you’re on Las Ramblas:
- Plaça Reial is a charming square directly off the Ramblas with tons of cafes and restaurants and bars all around, each with a terrace to sit outside when the weather is nice (basically all year)
- The Wax Museum is near the port end of the street, and has a quirky and gorgeous bar attached, Bosc de les Fades, which means “fairy forest” and looks like just that inside.
- The Liceu is an opera house/concert hall with a pretty façade, surprisingly enough right at the Metro stop “Liceu”!
- Also look for the Art Nouveau/Modernist façades of several Farmacias along the street, with beautiful colorful tile mosaics and iron work.
Is there anything else you like to visit in this neighborhood?