Barcelona’s El Raval District Guide: Top Things to See and Do

Barcelona’s El Raval district is part of the city’s Ciutat Vella (old quarter). It is literally a stone’s throw away from the city’s famous Las Ramblas and Plaça Catalunya, so there is no excuse not to visit this emblematic part of the city.

What is today a colorful, vibrant neighborhood was once a forgotten area of Barcelona associated with crime and prostitution. Yet, it has recently seen a new lease of life with changes for the better, making it a neighborhood in Barcelona with a truly unique personality with many a thing to see and do.

There is always something going on in El Raval come day or night, rain or shine. We’re not exaggerating when we say every corner of this district is brimming with art, culture and life.

We’ve put together this guide to El Raval district in Barcelona to make sure you don’t miss a thing. So grab your camera and get ready to discover the top things to see and do in El Raval.

1. CCCB – Centre for Contemporary Culture

Carrer de Montalegre, 5, 08001 Barcelona

An unmissable stop on your tour of El Raval is this space dedicated to modern-day culture that is packed with fun activities and exhibitions for all ages and tastes. From life on other planets and the latest scientific discoveries to art, film and literature from all over the world, the CCCB program has something for everyone. What’s more, entrance is free on Sundays after 3 pm – but make sure you reserve your spot in advance!

2. MACBA – The Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona

Plaça dels Àngels, 1, 08001 Barcelona

Just around the corner is the MACBA, which you’ll recognize by its stunning modern glass façade, housing a diverse array of permanent and temporary exhibitions by local and international artists from the later half of the twentieth century to the present day. Check out the website for guided tours, workshops and activities for kids.

3. La Rambla del Raval

One of our favorite things to do in El Raval is take a stroll down La Rambla del Raval. This extensive tree-lined boulevard is brimming with ethnic and cultural diversity, and is where you’ll catch street artists for a colorful experience in El Raval District.

4. Take a photo with el Gat de Botero

Whilst you’re at La Rambla del Raval, don’t forget to snap a selfie with the district’s famous bronze sculpture of a cat by Fernando Botero, the famous Colombian sculptor. If you love taking photos we’ve got a great list for you – read our top 10 most beautiful places in Barcelona to take photos for some inspiration.

5. Go alternative shopping

El Raval is the place to be when it comes to vintage and alternative fashion. You’ll find everything and anything from handmade dresses and second-hand bargains to accessories from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Be sure to head to Calle Riera Baixa, which is lined with pop-up stalls every Saturday morning. What’s more, don’t miss the Fleadonia flea market on Sundays in Plaça de Blanquerna for even more bargains!

6. La Boqueria Market

La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona

Speaking of markets, you simply can’t miss the symbolic La Boqueria market nestled between El Raval and Las Ramblas. Here you’ll find every fruit and vegetable under the sun, freshly squeezed juices, specialist products from around Spain and tapas bars packed with tourists and locals alike – be sure to get there early to try dishes made with fresh market produce. Famous around the world, this vibrant space has become synonymous with a trip to Barcelona.

7. Filmoteca de Catalunya

Plaça de Salvador Seguí, 1, 08001 Barcelona

This film archive located in the heart of El Raval strives to preserve film and audiovisual culture, with particular focus on Catalonia. Discover a range of film screenings throughout the week in original language version, in addition to photography exhibitions and a small bookshop.

8. Discover Carrer Joaquín Costa’s nightlife

If you’re looking to discover the true side of El Raval, be sure to head to Carrer Joaquín Costa for an evening that promises some of Barcelona’s coolest bars, live music and your favorite tipple. Afterwards, why not head to Marsella bar on Carrer de Sant Pau, 65. Rumoured to be Barcelona’s first bar and frequented by Picasso and Hemingway, the drink of choice here is absinthe.

9. Savor the flavors of El Raval

Given the ethnic diversity of this neighborhood, it’s no surprise that here you’ll find a plethora of restaurants serving food from far-flung places and places closer to home. You can try some of the best Indian, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Catalan and vegetarian cuisine.

10. L’antic Hospital de la Santa Creu & the National Library of Catalonia

Carrer de l’Hospital, 56, 08001 Barcelona

Formerly a hospital, this example of Catalan Gothic architecture can be visited today as the National Library of Catalonia, with its mission being to collect and preserve Catalan-language books and heritage. Don’t miss the beautiful courtyard of this hospital, which was where Gaudí himself was cared for before he died

 

11. Visit the Drassanes Reials de Barcelona (Royal Shipyards of Barcelona)

Av. de les Drassanes, 1, 08001 Barcelona

Home to the Barcelona Maritime Museum, these former shipyards boast a spectacular collection of ships and are steeped in history. Head there to learn of the role the city played in the construction of these impressive vessels.

12. Sala Barts

Av. del Paral·lel, 62, 08001 Barcelona

Known as Barcelona Arts on Stage, this emblematic venue that first opened its doors in El Raval in 1892 hosts theater, music and cultural events and festivals. Be sure to check out its website to see what’s on!

These are just some of our favorites, the rest is up to you to explore at your leisure. And if you’re interested to see Barcelona’s other neighborhoods, our guide has all the information you need. 

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