Every tourist in Barcelona heads to Las Ramblas. But what is there to do there?
Some call the street 'La Rambla', but as it is actually a series of streets linked together, many others call it 'Las Ramblas'. 'Les Rambles' is the Catalan name for it.
The name on the street sign is La Rambla.
However, in my experience, most tourists call it 'Las Ramblas', so I stick to that name on this site. And as most people think of it as one street, I refer to it in the singular.
Where Does Las Ramblas Run?
People normally think of Las Ramblas as running from the port area to Placa de Catalunya. However, Las Ramblas actually continue beyond Placa de Catalunya along La Rambla de Catalunya, to Diagonal.
There is also a street called Nou de la Rambla which runs perpendicular to Las Ramblas.
Is Las Ramblas Safe?
Tourists are frequently robbed on Las Ramblas. We're not talking about violent muggings, 'just' pickpocketing and bag snatching. Be extra vigilant while on Las Ramblas, but don't let fear spoil your trip.
The sections of Las Ramblas are as follows (from north to south).
- Rambla de Catalunya: The bit that most people forget is a part of Las Ramblas. It doesn't really resemble the famous thoroughfare that people are used to. Lots of expensive cafes and shops adorn this part of the Ramblas.
- Rambla de Canaletes: My favorite area is to the west of Rambla de Canaletes, with lots of alternative bars, cafes and shops. It is also home to a Carrefour grocery store and is the cheapest place in central Barcelona for you to stock up on basic provisions.
- Rambla dels Estudis: Also known as Rambla dels Ocells (Rambla of the Birds) because of the bird stalls, the Església de Betlem is on this part of the Ramblas.
- Rambla de Sant Josep: Also known as Rambla de les Flors, due to the flower stalls in the street. Take the kids to see the pet stalls in the street - my favorites are the baby rabbits! The Boqueria market is on this part of Las Ramblas.
- Rambla del Caputxins: The Liceu is found on this part of Las Ramblas. On the left, through a short alleyway of shops is Placa Reial.
- Rambla Santa Monica: The part of the Ramblas that leads down to the port. The Maritim museum is on your right. In front of you when you come to the end of the street is the statue to Christopher Columbus, known as 'Colom' in the local lingo. It is cheap to enter and gives you a great view of the street you have just walked down.
- Rambla de Mar: You're not really on Las Ramblas anymore, but the wooden jetty that takes you to the Maremagnum is called "Rambla de Mar".
Keep Your Chin Up and Look at the Architecture
Though much of the buildings on Las Ramblas are taken up by commercial stores at ground level, a lot of them have some impressive architecture one or two stories up. My favorite is the Chinese-influenced architecture about the Sabadell bank.
Get a Bite to Eat at La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria is Barcelona's flagship market. If what you got there wasn't the freshest and best in town, it would be an embarrassment to the whole city!
Towards the back of La Boqueria, there are some very good little restaurants serving excellent tapas, using ingredients bought from the market. It's a little pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Alternatively, get a fruit juice or fruit salad from the stalls at the front. But be careful - the stalls right in front of the entrance charge double what the stalls just two or three to the right charge.
Watch the Street Performers
Everyone has seen human statues before - but nowhere are they more in abundance than on Las Ramblas. It's like walking through a sculpture museum, only the sculptures might jump out at you! Due to the high number of performers, they can be quite competitive. Every time I visit, the performers' costumes get more and more outlandish.
There's more to the Ramblas street performers than just human statues, though. I've seen all sorts of acrobatics and dancing at various times of the year. Look out for the clown near the seafront.
Relax in Placa Reial
A very picturesque plaza just off Las Ramblas in the Barri Gotic. A nice place to have a coffee and look at the Gaudi lampposts, the first public works attributed to the architect.
Sit at a Cafe
The clientele may be more international and the menu has changed a little, but a few of the cafes on Las Ramblas still look like they did 100 years ago, and a coffee is as classic as it has always been: order something simple and imagine you're lost in a distant past.
Go up the Columbus Monument
At the bottom of Las Ramblas is the Colon Monument - dedicated to the explorer, Christopher Columbus. I had heard you could go up it but couldn't believe it until I got up close. A small lift takes up to a very small viewing tower. Not for the claustrophobic. One of the best views of the city can be seen from here.
See a Show at the Liceu
The Liceu is Barcelona's most famous theater. Though it is most famous for opera, there are a number of other performances throughout the year.
Unlike many performance spaces in Spain, Liceu has actually published its itinerary for the next year. Bravo!
Check out the Art at Palau de la Virreina or Centre d'Art Santa Mònica
Contemporary art exhibitions right on Las Ramblas. Housed in the ground floor is the Barcelona Cultural Information Center, with some very helpful English-speaking staff.
Another art exhibition, this time at the bottom of Las Ramblas, is the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica.
See the Baroque Eglesia de Betlem
The austere church is a stark contrast with the extravagant commercialism on the rest of Las Ramblas.
Hit the Museums: Wax and Erotica!
There are two museums on Las Ramblas - one dedicated to wax replicas of famous people (a la Madame Tussauds) and one all about erotica.