A hundred years ago famed poet Federico García Lorca thought of Las Ramblas Barcelona and put pen to paper to scribble the lines that would define an entire street:
“It’s the only street in the world I wish would never end.”
While you can’t deny Las Ramblas is the beating heart of Barcelona’s bustling cosmopolitan centre, today it’s just not the same – with tourist traps taking advantage of millions you have to go in prepared.
Here’s an all-encompassing guide to avoid the nonsense and come out of Las Ramblas clean.
Las Ramblas Barcelona
Las Ramblas is a primarily pedestrian thoroughfare cutting through the middle of the city. It’s 1.2 kilometers from the top at Plaça de Catalunya to the bottom at the Columbus Monument.
It’s Barcelona’s busiest street. The distinct water-like ripples in its tiling are an ode to its origins as a stream, and today it’s a place for an endless stream of tourists and locals alike to enjoy.
Why People Visit
- It’s a bustling street that never sleeps.
- You can find virtually anything: both good and bad.
- It’s close to many of Barcelona’s best attractions.
- There are amazing shopping opportunities.
- It’s the home of one of Barcelona’s best markets.
- You have lots of nightlife options.
11 Things to Do in Las Ramblas
La Boqueria Market
La Boqueria was originally a 13th century meat market on La Rambla and it has slowly evolved to become Barcelona’s food hub and a great place for tourists to grab quick snacks.
If you’ve got a holiday apartment make sure you load up on top quality fruit, vegetables, and seafood to cook yourself something nice.
Just don’t leave without a serrano ham sampler or €1.00 fruit smoothie.
For more information check out my article on Barcelona’s best market.
This palm tree decorated square that’s twinned with Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City is probably Barcelona’s most emblematic.
Keep an eye out for the ornate lanterns which light up the square and were designed by master architect Antoni Gaudi.
The square is home to some of Barcelona’s busiest clubs like Sidecar and Jamboree. During the summer especially during the La Mercè festival in September you’ll find a ton of open air concerts here.
The Canaletes Fountain
You’ll find this modest streetlight/fountain at the top of the Rambla next to Plaça Catalunya.
Legend has it that anyone who drinks the water here will fall in love and return to Barcelona. One of those things came true for me 😉 Don’t think about it too much: drink and find out!
Gran Teatre del Liceu
This 19th century opera house was opened in 1847 and at the time was Europe’s largest. The Italian horseshoe-shaped theater holds 2,292 spectators and is both a receiving and producing house.
Some of the great performers in history have taken stage here like Pavarotti, Calla, Tebaldi, Domingo, and more. The spectacular foyer and mirror halls are highlights for any music fan.
Check out the Liceu Opera House concert listings calendar if you want to attend.
La Rambla’s Classic Shops
Thank goodness Barcelona has an association that certifies emblematic commercial establishments to protect them from rampant modernization and tourism.
You’ll find a bunch of them on or near La Rambla.
If you follow the link above and click veure mapa (it’s only in Catalan) you’ll get a great list of traditional, authentic shops that have been trading as long as the city has been around.
I recommend the Nadal Pharmacy, Viena coffee shop, Casa Beethoven music shop, the Antigua Casa Figueras pastry shop, tailor Xancó, Café l’Opera, and Bar Glaciar.
Pla de l’Os
Millions of people walk over one of the biggest Las Ramblas attractions without even noticing.
The classic pavement mosaic representing the cosmos done by local artist and legend Joan Miró was intended to welcome visitors arriving in Barcelona from the nearby port – stop and let him welcome you!
You’ll find it half way down La Rambla at Pla de l’Os (‘Bone Square’).
Palau de la Virreina
This baroque palace was built at the end of the 18th century by architect Carles Grau.
Today it’s the headquarters of the cultural department of Barcelona and almost always hosts some sort of free photographic or artistic exhibitions.
You can check the list of exhibitions on the municipality’s homepage.
The Palazzo della Virreina is also the permanent seat of Barcelona’s famous paper mache gegants (giants) – the folkloric figures you’ll see marching in the streets during the legendary Merce festival.
Museu De L’Erotica
If you’re going to embrace the more scandalous aspects of Las Ramblas this may be the only option that won’t land you in jail. It’s impossible to miss with the man dressed as Marilyn Monroe yelling down from the balcony.
With an extensive cultural and historical record of the role eroticism has played for mankind from ancient civilizations to the sex records of today you’ll be amazed.
See more than 800 pieces for just €8.55.
The Barcelona Wax Museum
If you’re a fan of the genre you’ll find the famous Wax Museum in Barcelona just a stone’s throw from La Rambla. You’ll find 300 real or fictitious characters from history, art, cinema etc awaiting you.
You can book tickets online.
If the wax isn’t for you can still go to one of the two fascinating cafés: the Bosc de les Fades (more later) which recreates the environment of an enchanted forest or the Passatge del Temps.
The Street Artist Area
At the bottom third of La Rambla you enter another dimension.
The magic of the street artists really sinks in as you walk by – preferably with wide-eyed children who are just mesmerized by them, the living statues in particular.
You’ll also find some pretty good caricaturists, mimes, musicians, puppeteers and more. One the weekend you’ll even find a little souvenir market.
The Columbus Statue
Get to the bottom of La Rambla and look 197 feet up and you’ll see Christopher Columbus pointing to (supposedly) his hometown of Genoa – not the new world.
It was built for the 1888 World’s Fair.
You can actually go up to the top of the tower and get a great bird’s eye view of La Rambla and the Barcelona Port.
You can buy your tickets online.
Restaurants Near Las Ramblas
€€€ | Carrer del Caputxins 37 | Metro: Liceu (L3)
Louro is probably the only restaurant I’d go to on the famous La Rambla – but that’s not to say this is a big fish in a small pond. It’s one of my favourite modern Spanish restaurants in the whole city.
Here the seafood-rich Galician fare gets a creative/avant-guard twist with the added bonus of some of the most concise and friendly service in the business.
Some of the highlights here are the smoked sardines, crunchy octopus, scallops gratin, Galician beef filet, and the highly underrated calamari sandwich – not to mention their elite and unique cocktail offerings like the blackberry mojito.
As this place is always PACKED I’ve set up a quick reservation system directly with the restaurant (no money down, with reservation priority via my blog) by clicking the blue button below.
El Quim de la Boqueria
€€€ | La Rambla 91 | Metro: Liceu (green L3)
How can you go wrong eating market fresh ingredients straight from Barcelona’s food Mecca?
This restaurant located in the famous Boqueria Market offers five star restaurant food for the folks sitting at the 18 stools of a simple bar. Get the seafood platter, the wild mushroom with foie gras, or any of the steaks.
Also a great breakfast place for their ham and egg platters.
€€ | Calle Ferran 10 | Metro: Liceu (green L3)
With La Rambla so saturated with fast food options you might as well go for the best burgers.
Here the half Australian, half Spanish ownership looks to create an Aussie style barbecue with Mediterranean ingredients: at Bacoa you’ll find quality from the homemade roasted tomato ketchup to the artisan buns all the way to the 100% organic Pyrenees beef.
The vegetarian burger might be the best in the city.
€€ | Carrer dels Escudellers 10 | Metro: Drassanes (green L3)
This Spanish restaurant may be massive but somehow pulls off a cosy vibe.
Go here for all the classic dishes like paella (the arroz negro with squid ink in particular) and beef carpaccio – what stands out here is the lunch menu value – you’ll get a multiple course meal and wine for about 15 euros.
If you’re in the mood for Spanish food outside Las Ramblas check out my list of tapas restaurants.
Las Ramblas Bars
Bosc de Les Fades
Head to the bottom of La Rambla and on the left next to the Wax Museum you’ll find one of the most unique bars in all of Spain.
It’s basically fairy tale land. The whole bar is made up to be a woodland complete with simulated thunderstorms but that doesn’t stop them from pouring a pretty stiff gin and tonic.
It’s also got quality baked goods and coffee and you can even bring kids there without the guilt of ‘bar dragging’ because hey – it’s a fantasy world! With booze.
Le Pop Cocktail Bar
Modern cocktail lovers looking for some class, I’ve got your spot! The vintage essence here throws us back to the 1950’s and 1960’s but the booze here is all today’s premium.
You’ll sit amongst graffiti inspired pieces by urban artist Bàlu and listen French chanson pop and smooth jazz. There are also after work parties in summer (check site above) with live music.
Try some of the tapas menu prepared by the chef at the Le Méridien hotel – where among other things your standard grilled cheese is bumped a level with buffalo mozzarella, truffle, and jamon serrano.
If you’re looking for classic cocktails with two capital Cs then this should be on your list. It was definitely on Dali’s and you’ll see by the photos.
Barcelona’s oldest cocktail bar actually dates back to 1933. Then a dry martini cost just 50 pesetas (about 35 cents) but now their cocktail of the day costs €9.00 – a good deal for the area!
If you’re looking for a trip back in time this is it.
The nickname of this place is ‘El Catedral’ (The Cathedral).
I’m guilty of spending too much time here with colleagues after work, putting back marmalade old fashioneds, chingon negronis, and even mango mambos.
There’s a distinct tropical feel here which adds a touch of joy and energy that you don’t find at other central cocktail bars packed with tourists.
It’s only got about 15 seats so don’t go with groups – visit with a significant other.
A beautiful spot found in the magical Plaza Reial.
The old architecture base was given a modern face-lift to create a style all to itself. It’s a place of a thousand faces: a cafe, a tapas restaurant, a skillfully crafted cocktail bar, and a club with live music.
Whether you’re looking for a late-afternoon aperitif, a place to sit down and eat after a long day sightseeing, or a dance with your friends in an underground club there’s something for you here.
Accommodation on Las Ramblas
HOTEL SERHS RIVOLI RAMBLA
☆☆☆☆ | La Rambla 128 | Metro: Catalunya (various)
This art deco hotel is famous for its interior courtyard and terrace that’ll allow you to sip your coffee while watching the Gothic Quarter bustle breeze by.
For the rooms think classic meets avant garde. The hotel scores particularly well with two visitors so couples looking for quality should look no more.
The buffet breakfast (with cooked menu items also available) also scores highly for providing some classic Spanish meats and cheeses in the spread like sobrasada, jamon serrano, and manchego.
The pan con tomate station is also a hit.
HOTEL LLORET RAMBLES
☆ | Rambla de Canaletes 125 | Metro: Catalunya (various)
Yes, this Rambla hotel has just a one measly star to offer you, but how many of these are consistently rated 8.0+ on top booking sites?
Let’s call this hotel quality and functional. Each room has their own work desks which is good for business trips like Mobile World Congress. They also offer quite a bit of spaciousness for the price.
Another good thing is that there are some amazing deals if you’re visiting in low season.
HOSTAL LA TERRASSA
☆ | Carrer Junta Comerç 11 | Metro: Liceu (L3)
Another price-quality ratio hotel that’ll keep you central without breaking the bank.
Yes, the rooms are small and basic but that’s why you’re picking this in the first place. You’ll get peace and quiet and cleanliness. There’s not much more you can ask for at the price point.
It’s also only a minute walk to Boqueria Market for quick snacks and more. The €6.00 breakfast is also one of the cheapest hotel breakfasts in the city.
Las Ramblas Shopping
You’ll find Las Ramblas on the fringe of some of Barcelona’s best shopping. At the top near Plaça de Catalunya you’ll find retail classics like H&M and Pull and Bear – but this is just the start.
From here you have two options.
Number one is to walk 5 minutes past the square to the high-end shopping outlets of Passeig de Gracia. Here you’ll find stuff like Gucci, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, and Armani.
The second option is to take a right in the square, pass the Hard Rock Cafe, and take your first right into Barcelona’s biggest shopping street: Portal del Angel. Here you’ll have your pick of all the top brands.
Las Ramblas Transportation
The easiest way to see it is to get off at Catalunya and walk downhill to the Columbus Statue.
The Bus Turistic stops for La Rambla are Plaça de Catalunya (top) and Museu Maritim (bottom).
Buses running down the small streets flanking La Rambla are the 59, 91, and V13.
From the Airport
The cheapest option to La Rambla is the overland train from Terminal 2 to Passeig de Gracia then walking 15 minutes. The 60 minute trip costs €2.10. The train is included in the Hola Bcn discount transport card.
You could also take the Aerobus (€5.90, included in the Barcelona City Pass) to Plaça de Catalunya then walk down. This trip takes about 35 minutes.
In groups my advice is to get a car with Free Now.
This app service using the city’s regulated taxis is super convenient plus if you sign up using my instructions you’ll get €5.00 off your first ride.
With the discount the trip should cost around €25.00.
Las Ramblas Barcelona Map
The famous street ends at the Columbus Statue in front of the Port Vell and cruise ship terminal.
How to Visit Las Ramblas
With all the things to do in Las Ramblas it’s easy to get carried away, but you won’t want to go too far and get ripped off by any of the businesses taking advantage of tourists.
Here are some of the street’s biggest problems and simple solutions around them.
Terraced restaurants have colonized the area just south of Liceu metro station.
Most paella on Las Ramblas is asterisked, but conveniently not translated into English, as producto congelado (“frozen product”) – if this isn’t the case look for ‘foreign’ logos on the restaurant’s menu or banner.
These logos represent the ‘food processing facility’ where paella is factory-produced, frozen, and shipped out to ‘heat up stations’ all across Spain. The result? Gummy fish, flaccid rice, and coloured rice.
In other words, a TV dinner on Las Ramblas for €14.00.
Watered Down Drinks
Keeping with the theme: sangria on La Rambla almost always out of a plastic bag.
In these mass produced sangrias water is the second ingredient. Fruit isn’t added in advance to infuse the wine with flavour but dumped in right before. Watered down wine and cheap fruit? Dios mio.
- Look for the word casero/casera (‘homemade’ in Spanish) when scoping out restaurants.
- If there’s a man on La Rambla with a picture menu trying to get you in just laugh.
- Read my list of best paella restaurants in Barcelona.
- Get some (peach) sangria at La Cuina d’en Garriga.
I’m not gonna tell you how to spend your money, but ask yourself this… have you ever bought anything good off the street?
Beware the club flyer people. Most of them are pushing tourist-trap clubs like Shoko, Opium, and BLVD. These are pickpocket/bag rip-off Disneylands which Barcelonians avoid.
Yes, the pitch is something like “10 euro in with all-you-can-drink sangria before 2 am”.
It’s a great idea until you get to the bar and they tell you the ‘all-you-can-drink allowance’ has already been drunk – and you find out that entrance is free before 2 am anyway!
- Get yourself a Barcelona Night Card to save money and be flexible.
- Marijuana is legal to buy from associations in Barcelona, but not on the street!
I’m not gonna judge anybody for buying themselves a bit of humanity’s oldest commodity – it’s just that, there’s a certain kind of this behavior, that, well, on La Rambla… they’re actually slaves.
According to a recent Guardian article 90% of Spain’s working girls are trafficked.
Desperate for work, they’re smuggled into the country with the promise of an honest job. Then they’re sold to organized crime and forced to work off the debt, kept under constant control with the threat of violence and rape to family members back home.
The women on the Ramblas are living a nightmare they may never wake up from.
Also, they won’t hesitate to pick your pocket. Give them a firm no, put your hands in your pockets, and keep walking. See our article on avoiding pickpockets.
- Talk to a woman – she might like you!
- Go to the tourist-trap clubs mentioned above for the best pick up opportunities.
American Restaurant Chains
The true blemish of any major European centre. I mean, of all the things to do in Las Ramblas did you really have to stop at Dunkin’ Donuts?
Your alternative is to eat something Catalan.
I recommend going for some really good local flavours at La Flauta. Get the brochetas de bacalao – a delicious cod dish. You’ll find it at Carrer de Balmes, 164. Metro stop: Universitat (L1-L2).
There are also some ridiculously fresh, creative donuts for sale at Boldú. The address for this bakery is Provenca 233. Metro stop: Diagonal (L5).
It’s perhaps fitting that our friend García Lorca was kidnapped and killed by Nationalist militias for his outspoken leftist views – the dream of Las Ramblas died not long after.
In the end though there still exists a spirit and a world to discover on Barcelona’s street of paradoxes.
If you need any extra help for La Rambla or anything else on your Barcelona holiday let me know in the comments below.
And don’t be afraid to join the La Rambla discussion by first giving me a like on Facebook and then joining my group I’m Off to Barcelona – here you can ask any questions, air out grievances, and chat with thousands of Barcelona travelers.