After spending two months in the city last year, I consider Barcelona as one of my favorite cities in the world and definitely one of the hardest places to leave. Although I don’t feel ready to settle down there anytime soon, I might consider to move to Barcelona at some point in the future. And, if I ever do it, El Raval would probably be the neighborhood I would like to move to.
Best known for crime, marginalisation and prostitution, rather than for its culture and artistic life, there is no doubt El Raval is one of the most controversial areas of Barcelona. However, a walk through El Raval will also surprise you by its great amount of cultural spaces, ethnic diversity, charming streets, vintage shops and a good mix of bars. Once a no-go area, El Raval is nowadays a must-see in your visit to Barcelona. Read on to find out 13 ideas to spend a full day in the most multicultural district of Barcelona.
1. Start the day drinking a tropical fruits juice in La Boquería.
Very touristy (maybe too touristy), but still a total feast for the senses. It is worth visiting Boquería Market and shopping around among its more than 300 stalls. You can start your day drinking a tropical fruits juice for 1€. You will need the energy for all that comes later!
Address: La Rambla, 91
2. Go vintage shopping.
Best vintage shops in Barcelona are in Riera Baixa street where, on Saturday mornings, stores take their best clothes to the street. In Riera Baixa you’ll find retro shops as well known as Le Swing and Vingage Galalith.
3. See the sights of Barcelona reflected in the building of the CCCB.
Oddly enough, Barcelona Contemporary Culture Center was designed to reflect the sea on its facade. Don’t forget to visit some of its interesting exhibitions.
Address: Montalegre, 5.
4. Visit the MACBA, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art.
If you like modern art, you should not miss the MACBA, Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art. If you’re not that passionate about museums, just stay outside enjoying the nice weather while watching the skaters who gather in the square around.
Address: Plaça dels Angels, Barcelona.
5. Have a vegetarian lunch.
If you are vegetarian or vegan and feel tired that the only things you can eat in most restaurants are “patatas bravas“ or Padrón peppers, you will love El Raval, Barcelona’s neighborhood with the largest number of vegetarian restaurants.
You will have plenty to choose from, but I can recommend two of them:
– Teresa Carles, (Jovellanos Street, 2), considered by many as the best vegetarian restaurant in town. Opened since 2011, it offers a menu of healthy and wholesome food that will delight vegetarians (and even non-vegetarians!). For lunch, there is a set menu for 9,5€ including a starter and a main course (but excluding drinks).
–Vegetalia: located in the charming Emili Vendrell square, this may be the best value vegetarian restaurant in Barcelona. It offers excellent dishes at reasonable prices and a varied cuisine. The set lunch menu (€ 9.90) includes first and main courses, drink, bread and dessert. Bon appetit!
6. Walk through Rambla del Raval
Look for the parrots resting in the palms and take some inappropriate pictures with Fernando Botero’s cat.
7. Enjoy fantastic Barcelona’s views from Barceló Raval hotel’s rooftop.
Also located in Rambla del Raval, Barceló Raval hotel has a free-access rooftop open all year round that offers exceptional views of Raval and Barcelona. On Sundays, they serve a deluxe brunch.
8. Watch a good O.V movie in Filmoteca de Catalunya.
Closed on Mondays, Filmoteca de Catalunya offers four to six daily sessions the rest of the week from 5 to 10 PM. All sessions are screened in original version with subtitles.
Address: Plaça de Salvador Segui, 1.
9. Lose yourself in books.
In Elisabeth Street, 6, you will find one of the most unique bookshops in the world. With over 80,000 titles, Central del Raval is located in a building formerly occupied by a chapel (Capilla de la Misericordia).
10. Get lost and discover the best of El Raval by yourself
Enjoy these colorful postcards live in Raval…
11. Have a exotic dinner
After such a long day exploring El Raval, I am sure you’ll be hungry! Luckily, you have plenty to choose from. I suggest you to try Bun Bo, a very nicely decorated Vietnamese restaurant that offers huge dishes at affordable prices and mojitos for 3,5€ that are not bad at all.
Address: Carrer dels Angels 6
12. Go bar-hopping in Joaquín Costa street.
Until recently, not so many dared to enter this street. Today however is always full of people attracted by its mix of hipsters pubs and sleazy taverns .
33/45, one of the bars at the beginning of the street, is characterized by being divided into two parts: one busier at the entrance and another one more relaxed and filled with sofas on the backside.
13. At night, indulge yourself with live music and another beer.
Not far from Joaquín Costa, you will find Gipsy Lou, a cozy bar with relaxed atmosphere and live music every night. Go there for a good dance to finish this long and nice day in El Raval!
Address: Ferlandina, 55.