Sightseeing Barcelona Comment
Home » Blog » Sightseeing Barcelona » Walking Tour in El Raval

Walking Tour in El Raval

El Raval, along with the Gothic Quarter and El Born, forms the old center of Barcelona. However, this area wasn’t always ‘the place to be’: in ancient times, it was the city’s drain and one of the poorest parts of Barcelona. It was aptly nicknamed Barri Xino (Chinese neighborhood). Despite still grappling with a raw image and the consequences of its notorious past as a red-light district and migrant area, El Raval has rapidly developed in recent years into the most diverse, youthful, trendy, and multicultural neighborhood of Barcelona. Right next to the Ramblas, you’ll find a melting pot of cultures, tastes, and sensations that you simply must experience! For fans of street art, funky shops, second-hand goods, and small cafes with history, this is a must-see.

To discover the neighborhood, it’s said that you should just wander through it haphazardly, enjoying everything there is to see and experience, a concept the locals have dubbed ‘ravalejar’. However, since there are still some streets in El Raval better avoided (especially at night), I suggest exploring El Raval following my route. If you follow the walking route below, which passes through the most interesting spots in the neighborhood, you’ll safely discover El Raval, with its cozy squares, great restaurants and coffee shops, hidden gems, and countless trendy (and vintage) stores. Today, I’m taking you to El Raval to introduce you to one of the hippest and most up-and-coming neighborhoods in Barcelona!

My Walking Tour in El Raval

This walk starts in the northern part of El Raval, bordering Plaça de Catalunya, at Carrer Tallers (1). In this shopping street, you’ll find numerous clothing and shoe stores, as well as record shops and second-hand items. It’s a beautiful example of what the neighborhood has to offer: a nice contrast between old and new, local shopkeepers versus new migrants, and kebab shops. This picturesque corner, despite the bustle, is one of my favorites: the palm tree surrounded by old buildings is a beautiful sight amidst the hustle and bustle.

We then wander southward via Carrer de les Ramelleres (2), which is said to owe its name to the many florists from the Ramblas who lived here. This brings us to Plaça de Viçenc Martorell (3), a quiet and family-friendly square that’s very young! The square was created as a result of the bombings during the Civil War. The oldest building here, which houses a unique story, is the former orphanage of Casa de la Misericòrdia (4). In the still-visible round hole in the wall, a child could be left anonymously in the 16th century. The hole on the left arch side served as a coin slot for donations for the care and maintenance of the children. But this wasn’t the only charitable institution in El Raval. Before industrialization, this was an area with many religious centers, hospitals, and charitable institutions. Next, you’ll see the former monastery of Bonsuccés (5), built in the 17th century but later abandoned in the 19th century and partially lost. All that remains is a five-story building in Baroque style, now housing the main office of Ciutat Vella. If you want to take a break and grab a bite or a coffee, head to the terrace of bar-cafeteria Kasparo (Plaça Vicenç Martorell, 4), or visit Buenas Migas (Plaça del Bonsuccés, 6) around the corner for delicious focaccias and a healthy lunch.

Een draaibank voor weeskinderen in Barcelona - el torn dels orfes
Casa de la Misericòrdia

Now we arrive at the beautiful Carrer d’Elisabets (6), home to many charming shops such as the famous bookstore La Central del Raval (located in the old chapel of Casa de la Misericòrdia) and the boutique hotel Casa Camper. This street leads to Carrer dels Àngels on the left, where many delightful restaurants offer affordable lunch menus, like at Rosa del Raval, and to Carrer de Montalegre on the right, with the MACBA, the CCCB, and the always lively Plaça dels Àngels. Turning into this street, just before the intersection with Carrer de Valldonzella on the left, you’ll find the hidden Pati Manning (7). An enclosed patio in an old 18th-century monastery, now a true oasis of tranquility in the midst of El Raval.

Then, head back to Carrer de Montalegre to visit the beautiful square in front of the CCCB (8). This contemporary cultural center is housed in the old charity building Casa de la Caritat, where the original structure around the large central courtyard is beautifully preserved.

The next stop on our tour is the famous Plaça dels Àngels (9), often used by skaters to practice their tricks. On this esplanade, alongside the modern art museum MACBA (10), designed by American architect Richard Meier in 1995, you’ll find a few old buildings, such as the Convent dels Àngels, and various cozy terraces for a drink. For shopping enthusiasts, the adjacent streets of Carrer Ferlandina and Carrer de Joaquín Costa are definitely worth a visit. Carrer de Joaquín Costa (11) is also great for dining and drinking, with some classics like Casa Almirall (open since 1860!) and Olimpic Bar, or newer spots like The hot is dog (for gourmet hotdogs) and Mother (for cold-pressed juices and delicious vegan pastries).

Plaça dels Àngels - Wandelroute in El Raval Barcelona
Plaça dels Àngels

We now walk along Barcelona’s vintage street, Carrer de la Riera Baixa (12), and turn left at Carrer de l’Hospital. This street is named after the former charity hospital that was located here, the Hospital de la Santa Creu (13). Founded in 1401, this hospital unified the various hospitals scattered throughout the city into a single entity. The old hospital complex, consisting of several buildings, is beautifully preserved to this day. Don’t miss the interior of the National Library of Catalonia, where the hospital stood, and the tranquil Jardins de Rubió i Lluch courtyard, which houses a café with a lovely terrace. Did you know that Gaudí was treated in this former hospital after being hit by a tram, and died there three days later? We leave the hospital via the northern exit on Carrer del Carme and turn right towards the Ramblas (14). Along the way, take note of the beautiful buildings and modernist façades of Carrer del Carme, such as the one at the former El Indio store (now closed), at number 24, and the Farmàcia Mas Grau, at number 23. At the end of the street, chocolate lovers can indulge themselves in the Chök shop (Carrer del Carme, 3).

Our next stop is the now world-famous Mercat de la Boqueria (15), with its beautiful 19th-century cast iron canopy and colorful market stalls offering the tastiest fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and cheese. Although it’s always super busy, I recommend walking around the market and discovering its authentic tapas bars.

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona

Next to it, on the corner at Passatge dels Coloms, we find another well-preserved example of a store in Modernista style, the Pastisseria Escribà (16). A true institution in the city, here you can enjoy delicious treats such as crema catalana. This spot offers a glimpse into the Ramblas of the early 20th century, when it was the city’s premier promenade, lined with fantastic shops.

We meander through the crowd on the Ramblas and see, among other things, the cheerful florists and the ground mosaic by Joan Miró at Pla de la Boqueria (17). The next attraction deserving your attention is Barcelona’s opera house, Gran Teatre del Liceu (18). Although it has been destroyed by fire twice, it remains one of the world’s most beautiful and modern concert halls. Also impressive is the Hotel Oriente (19), built in an old school of the Franciscans by Eduard Fontseré Mestres in 1881, which has hosted various celebrities.

Turning right onto Carrer Nou de la Rambla, we head to one of Gaudí’s creations. Here stands the Palau Güell (20), the opulent house of the wealthy Güell family. Designed by Gaudí in 1885, this building is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is definitely worth seeing both inside and out.

Gaudí's Palau Güell in Barcelona
Gaudí’s Palau Güell in Barcelona

Continuing down Carrer Nou de la Rambla, we encounter a special place at number 34. Since 1910, the London Bar (21) has stood here, an icon for music lovers and a pilgrimage site for many writers, as intellectuals and artists like Dalí and Picasso are said to have visited. If you’re hungry by now, don’t hesitate to grab a pizza slice from Pizza Circus (Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 40)! For just €2.50, you get such a large slice of pizza that it doesn’t even fit on the takeaway cardboard! Then, take Carrer de Sant Pau to reach Bar Marsella (22), reputedly the oldest bar in Barcelona, opened since 1820. Its bohemian ambiance is said to have attracted the likes of Gaudí, Hemingway, Picasso, and Dalí. Now, absinthe liquor is the reason why young people flock here at night.

We’re now heading towards the Rambla del Raval (23), the beating heart of the neighborhood, where you can see, among other things, the giant cat by Fernando Botero, opposite the modern hotel Barceló Raval. The Rambla forms a pleasant promenade where free concerts, colorful markets, and neighborhood events take place, and where the influences of the mix of cultures in El Raval are best seen. Stroll along the promenade, surrounded by beautiful palm trees and cozy terraces, but don’t linger too long, especially if you see poor or homeless people. Then cross the Rambla del Raval towards the monastery of Sant Pau del Camp. Before we get there, we come across a beautiful mural in honor of Joan Miró (24) at the corner with Carrer de la Riereta, and opposite it, an old cotton spinning factory, now converted into an apartment complex. Factories like this were not uncommon in 19th-century El Raval.

Rambla del Raval - Wandelroute in El Raval Barcelona
Rambla del Raval

Suddenly, we find ourselves in a large open space, a stark contrast to the narrow, dark streets of El Raval. To your left, a green esplanade unfolds where the Jardins de Sant Pau del Camp (25) are located. There, you can sit and take a break. Adjacent to this park is the beautiful Benedictine monastery of Sant Pau del Camp (26), founded around the year 911 and entirely in Romanesque style. A bit further, you’ll find La Confitería (27), a real classic in the neighborhood and a fine example of Catalan Modernism. Formerly a pastry shop, it now houses a bar where you can order vermouth and tapas, among other things. Definitely worth a try!

Then proceed along Avinguda Paral·lel (28), where El Raval meets Poble Sec. This area used to be the premier entertainment district for Barcelona’s residents. The few concert and theater halls that remain are a testament to that. As you walk towards the sea, you’ll eventually come across a tall stone wall: these are the remains of an old 18th-century bastion! Within its walls lies the Jardins del Baluard (29), a city garden that is currently only occasionally open to the public.

Jardins del Baluard - Wandelroute in El Raval Barcelona
Jardins del Baluard

We now arrive at our penultimate stop, the Museu Marítim (30), Barcelona’s maritime museum, established in 1936 and housed in the exceptional Gothic building of the former Royal Shipyards. Afterward, you can conclude your tour with a visit to the viewing platform atop the Columbus Monument (31), where you can enjoy a privileged view over El Raval and hopefully recognize some spots.

Map of El Raval Walking Route

Other blogs you might also like:

Trendy Hotels in Barcelona

10 Trendy Hotels in Barcelona for a Stylish Stay

Barcelona, the vibrant metropolis on the Mediterranean coast, is known for its incredible architecture, lively culture, and cosmopolitan character. It’s no wonder that you can find a wide range of trendy hotels here that perfectly suit the modern traveler looking ... Read more
Restaurant review Honest Greens Barcelona

Restaurant Review: Honest Greens

Are you looking for a healthy and trendy lunch spot in Barcelona? Then I have something exciting for you today. Honest Greens is a fantastic restaurant chain that has recently arrived in Barcelona. Their healthy menu, which changes with the ... Read more
Supermarkets in Barcelona

Supermarkets in Barcelona

If you live in Barcelona or are temporarily visiting the city and staying in an apartment, chances are you’ll need to do some grocery shopping. But which supermarkets in Barcelona are recommended? What kind of products can you find there ... Read more
Photo of author
Hello! My name is Marta, and I am a born and raised Barcelonian. I love introducing people to Barcelona, especially the Barcelona known to locals. In Barcelona, I am always looking for fun places and tips that I can then share with you, with the goal of helping you experience Barcelona like a local.

Marta Rubio

Leave a Comment