La Rambla is at the very heart of Barcelona in more ways than one; never has a street captured the essence or verve of a city so concisely. Bordered by age-old townhouses, framed by towers of trees, La Rambla is home to countless restaurants, bars and hotels as well as market stalls, artists and world famous street entertainers.
The mile long avenue, which runs roughly from Placa Catalunya in the north to Port Vell in the south, began life as a gully carrying rainwater from the Collserola mountains to the sea. It later acted as an open sewer outside the city walls, until it was gradually paved over in sections. This is why you’ll notice different stretches of La Rambla have different street names; it became a promenade one section at a time.
Traveling to La Rambla
If you are traveling to La Rambla from any other area of Barcelona, the Metro has three stops dotted along the street. These are all on the green L3 line of the Metro, and are:
Drassanes – at the southern tip of La Rambla, next to the harbour Port Vell
Liceu – midway along the street, near Carrer de’l Hospital
Catalunya – at the northern end of La Rambla, on the southern edge of Placa Catalunya
If you are traveling from Barcelona Airport, the Aerobus shuttle service stops at the eastern side of Placa Catalunya, about 200 metres from La Rambla.
Hotels on La Rambla
The hotels in La Rambla vary in both price and quality; some are contemporary, some are traditional, some are fleapits there to empty the wallets of unsuspecting tourists. While most hotels in the immediate area claim allegiance to the street, the following list of hotels all have entrances on the main street:
Hotel Rivoli Rambla
Hotel Flor Parks
Hotel De L’Arc
Because of its popularity with tourists (four fifths of visitors to La Rambla are tourists), theft and pick-pocketing is rife. However, most thieves are opportunistic and as such the violent crime is rare. Taking simple precautions could save you from becoming another statistic for the Catalan police:
Carry your wallet in your front pocket or inside your jacket, never in a backpack or your back pocket
Never carry a handbag or a backpack slung over your shoulder, out of your own sight; try and carry it around your front
Be wary of anybody offering you gifts or wanting to dust down your coat; these can be diversions while your pockets are picked
During hours of darkness, prostitution is common and single or small groups of men will be approached by working girls. It’s intimidating if nothing else, but watch out for those who playfully linger a little too close to you, or you could find yourself robbed.
Attractions of La Rambla
You’ll find plenty to do in Barcelona without leaving La Rambla. Some of the highlights are:
St Josep la Boqueria – established over 800 years ago, this market thrives with the colours and aromas of fresh vegetables and meat produce
Gran Teatre del Liceu – one of the world’s finest Opera houses
Palau de la Virreina – as well as being home to the city’s cultural department, the Virreina holds contemporary and historical exhibitions throughout the year.