Stretching 1.2 kilometres from Port Vell in the south, to the iconic square Plaça Catalunya in the north, Las Ramblas splits the vibrant night-life of the Raval districts on one side and the city’s ancient Gothic quarter, on the other. There is plenty to do and see along Las Ramblas, with sights and activities that will appeal to every kind of tourist, from those looking for souvenirs and museums to seekers of the ‘real’ Barcelona. So, what are the most popular things to do in Las Ramblas for the intrepid explorer of Catalonia’s capital? Read on to find out.
For anyone keen to get a feel of Mediterranean street life and sample the colours, smells and tastes of the local cuisine, La Boqueria market is a must. Though not legally recognised until 1826, the marketplace goes right back to 1217 and is now packed with stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables, local meats, cheeses and seafood. If you get tired of shopping and meandering the stalls, enjoy some of the best street food Barcelona has to offer or simply sip a glass of wine and watch the world go by.
One of Europe’s most important opera houses, the Gran Teatre del Liceu is a must-see for culture vultures, opera-lovers or anyone who appreciates beautiful architecture. Built in 1847, and designed by Miquel Garriga i Roca, the Liceu was Europe’s largest opera house and could seat up to 4,000 people. Destroyed by fire in 1861 and again in 1994, the Liceu has nevertheless been lovingly reconstructed and renovated to the original design. Why not take in a show, or join an organised tour of the building?
At Las Ramblas’ most southern point, winding north from the port, you’ll find the Museu de l’Erotica, paying something of a scholarly tribute to human sexuality. The museum does a wonderful job at representing the influence of eroticism on human culture and society since throughout history; from the Kama Sutra to erotic Japanese art, together with the most sensual works of Picasso and Dalí. It also opens onto beautiful gardens in which you can relax and enjoy a complimentary glass of Prosecco.
For those interested in a less risqué cultural experience, at the the southern end of Las Ramblas you’ll also find the Centre Arts Santa Mònica. Set in the beauty of a building that was originally the Santa Mònica Convent, an oasis of piety in a location that was once a hive of vice and avarice, the gallery’s mission is to exhibit contemporary art, with a leaning toward Catalan art in an international context. It hosts over 20 exhibitions a year and entrance is free.
If you are on Las Ramblas near the port, you can’t miss The Pla de l’Os Mosaic, a mosaic created by Joan Miró to welcome visitors arriving by sea. The circular mosaic represents the cosmos and was installed in Las Ramblas in 1976. Miró wasn’t concerned that people would walk over his work. Thousands of people trample the Pla de l’Os mosaic every day, many of them unaware that they are walking over a mosaic designed by one of Barcelona’s most famous surrealists.
For foodies and the generally curious, the Jamón Experience is not to be missed. Right opposite La Boqueria, at the Jamón Experience you can sample six of the region’s finest varieties of jamón (ham), enjoy a glass or wine, beer or a soft drink and immerse yourself in an audio-visual tour and interactive exhibition, devised by celebrated local architect Dani Freixas. You’ll leave with an impressive knowledge of the processes and methodology behind the Iberian Peninsula’s finest jamóns.
Organised bike tours tend to miss out Las Ramblas due to the sheer volume of pedestrians on the street, but there are a number of locations in and around the street when you can begin a bike tour or hire your own transport. Barcelona is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world, with over 150 km of bicycle lanes and there is no better way to see as much of the city as possible than setting off from Las Ramblas on a bike.
Discovering Las Ramblas on your own is great, there is plenty to explore. However, you can also join an organised walking tour of this vibrant street. A local guide will help you discover hidden details and lesser-known locations, as well as provide fascinating insight into the history of the street and the characters and buildings that have helped shape its story. You will see Las Ramblas in a whole new light!
Las Ramblas is famous for its human statues which line its length in an extraordinary variety of creative guises and forms, representing everything from historical figures from Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain, to robots and cartoon characters. Some remain as still as statues, while others throw in a few tricks and surprises to entertain the tourists and add to the carnival atmosphere of Las Ramblas.
This lively square, at the far end of Las Ramblas, is the very heart of Barcelona. A favourite meeting point, it’s also the geographical space that separates the districts of Ciutat Vella and the Eixample. Not only steeped in history and teeming with people, the Plaça de Catalunya is home to some of Barcelona’s most luxurious hotels and bars. If you’re in the mood for shopping, you can easily spend a couple of hours browsing El Corte Inglés. Spanish for ‘The English Court’, this upmarket department store is Spain’s answer to Harrods and the perfect place to do a little holiday shopping, browsing or people-watching. A must-visit for a shopaholics or a refuge for those rare rainy days in Barcelona.
There is so much to see and do in Barcelona, but no trip is complete without a stroll along its most famous boulevard. Exploring the street is a great way to begin your adventure in Barcelona, and we hope you enjoy some of our top ten tips things to do in Las Ramblas. Wishing you a good trip!