Las Ramblas Barcelona – Don’t WASTE Your Time!
So someone or some guidebook told you, you should go to Las Ramblas Barcelona. Why? Because every other tourist is there?
Why are they there? Same reason!
Here’s the deal: Las Ramblas Barcelona is a tourist trap and there is (almost) NO good reason to go there. All the locals avoid it like the plague!
We avoid Las Ramblas because:
- It is crowded with tourists
- People will not stop trying to sell you things (including sex)
- Pickpockets may try and steal your wallet
- You’ll pay ridiculous prices for anything (like 14 Euros for a beer)
But more than this, THERE’S NOTHING TO SEE! This is the irony.
Alright, enough ranting- how about some history of Las Ramblas Barcelona
Barcelona wasn’t always famous for tourism. It took off after being showcased by the 1992 Summer Olympics. Ever since, tourism has been booming and now saturated the city.
The nearly mile-long pedestrian street of Las Ramblas Barcelona was developed in 1766. It quickly became a popular place for locals to stroll down. This made sense as it was a wide thoroughfare, contrasting starkly with the awkward narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter surrounding it.
Today however, all of the space of Las Ramblas Barcelona is congested by panhandlers, street musicians, and confused tourists.
The ONLY reason to be on Las Ramblas Barcelona
Okay, there is at least one good reason to pass through Las Ramblas Barcelona…
Las Ramblas connects four cool areas:
- Passeig de Gracia: where you’ll find several incredible buildings designed by Gaudi.
- The waterfront leading to Barceloneta beach: the closest beach to the city and a quaint neighbourhood with great seafood and tapas bars.
- Raval: one of the older neighbourhoods filled with cool street art and very international. Great for ethnic food as well as Spanish food like Paella. Lower prices than in the Gothic area.
- The Gothic area: the oldest and now the hippest area of Barcelona. Picasso lived and studied here on Carrer Avinyo. Also, the Gothic neighbourhood is home to the gorgeous cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar.
So, sure- if you can handle the obstacles of Las Ramblas Barcelona you can pass through on your way to any of these four cool areas. Otherwise, please don’t waste your time.
A little more history…
You already know that Las Ramblas Barcelona divides the old town in the Barri Gòtic and Barri Raval. But there’s more- even Las Ramblas Barcelona can be divided into six sections, or six Ramblas. I think it’s a bit crazy to divide a mile into six sections but hey, I’m not a city planner.
Starting from Placa Catalunya and walking towards the sea, the sections of Las Ramblas are:
- Rambla de Canaletes
Here you’ll find the fountain of Canaletes (mmm delicious chlorinated water)
- Rambla dels Estudis
This part of Las Ramblas was named after the site of the old university (Estudis means studies in Catalan). It has since been moved. Another name for this stretch of the street is Rambla de Ocells, meaning Rambla of Birds. This is because people used to sell birds in this area.
- Rambla de les Flors
Here, there were once people selling flowers (flors). Today, people will try and sell you cans of beer. You’ll hear them calling out, “Cervesa beer, cervesa beer…”
In this sections you’ll find the awesome Mercat de la Boqueria. This is Barcelona’s largest market with over 800 booths selling fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, fish… worth a visit if you actually go to Las Ramblas
- Rambla dels Caputxins
If you want to watch human statues while having your wallet stolen, go here!
- Rambla de Santa Mònica
If you want to have your portrait or caricature drawn while your wallet is stolen, go here!
- Rambla de Mar
This last section of Las Ramblas Barcelona was built much more recently- in 1994. It connects Las Ramblas to the Moll d’Espanya where a little walking bridge leads you to the shopping complex of Maremagnum.
On the Rambla de Mar you will see the iron statue of Columbus. While the Spanish celebrate him with statues like this, he was not a nice dude. Worth a little research! Anyways, you can go up inside the statue for a good view over the seafront of Barcelona.
Las Ramblas Barcelona was originally a river bed. The name ‘Rambla’ derives from the Arabic, ‘Ramlah’, meaning dry ravine.
Las Ramblas Barcelona is famous, but it’s mostly hype. Sure, there’s some interesting history there (did I mention that Pablo Casals discovered the manuscript of Bach’s Cello Suites at an old music shop there), but in the end it’s way too touristy these days.
In any case, enjoy Barcelona and hold onto your wallet. I write this blog to share cool things about Spain and to help people avoid tourist traps like Las Ramblas Barcelona.
If you’re looking for cool things to do in Barcelona, you might want to check out my guide to the best tours in Barcelona. Enjoy!