Looking for life on the edge? Revel in the Raval.

Vibe on the street: multicultural, edgy, arty, eclectic, rambunctious and sometimes ropey.
Famous for: a chequered past, urban street art, its very own Rambla, being a fashionable hangout for international skateboarders, bar-crawling tendencies and bustling street cafés.
Looking for life on the edge? Revel in the Raval.
  • Don’t let the Raval’s reputation put you off exploring. Many of the district’s streets, especially towards the upper end, are well-lit and accessible for walking. Pickpockets do tend to favour this area, among others, so applying common-sense precautions is advisable.

    Nearby sights

    The Raval is home to several tourist sights, which are scattered throughout the neighbourhood. Down near the Port you’ll find the impressive Maritime Museum, while at the top end there’s the new pretender – the renowned Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA). The little-known Església de Sant Pau del Camp, (Saint Paul of the Countryside) holds the title of the oldest church in Barcelona, and is worth taking some time to visit. Then there’s the Güell Palace (Palau Güell), designed by Antoni Gaudí and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Palau Güell tends to be ignored by tourists, but it’s a Modernista highlight right at the heart of the Raval.

    Eating out

    Given the Raval’s multicultural make-up, it’s not surprising that the area boasts a bunch of ‘ethnic’ restaurants. Pakistani, Indonesian, Arabic…it’s got them all, jostling for position with local Catalan venues. And if you’re vegetarian, you’re in for a treat in the Raval. It’s definitely the most veggie-friendly district in Barcelona (although you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s not an awful lot of competition for this title). One of the longest-running vegetarian eateries is Biocenter, which dishes up sizeable portions in a relaxed atmosphere. Up near MACBA is Mama Café, a Mediterranean style restaurant which isn’t strictly vegetarian, but does serve a good range of non-meat or fish-based dishes from its open kitchen. A decent option for a leisurely Sunday brunch is Marmalade, which is probably better known as a swinging cocktail bar. We also recommend El Mesón David, where you’ll have to fight the locals for a table any time after half past nine at night. It’s a laid-back locale with a very welcoming feel about it, and the Galician fare is extremely good value.

    Bar-hopping happy

    The bars of the Raval may well be one of the reasons you’ve chosen to stay in this district. There is indeed a seemingly endless list of them. A Raval institution is the Moroccan-style La Concha, and is the place to head if what you really want is to smoke an Arabic pipe. If an Aussie vibe is more your thing (not to mention eye-watering cocktails and hearty hamburgers) you’ll love Betty Ford’s, on the jumping Joaquin Costa street. For an alternative, gay-friendly bar, you could try La Penúltima, a small, kitsch place that always has a great atmosphere. Meanwhile, the semi-clandestine bar/restaurant Sifó has a particularly bohemian character, and turns the tables at 11pm to become an animated place to dance and mingle.

    Late night revelry, Raval-style

    Some would say that late at night is when the Raval really comes into its own. Electronica enthusiasts and techno fans will love MOOG, just off the Ramblas and open faithfully every night of the year. Another beloved basement bar-cum-club is 7Sins, which attracts quite a mix of people and keeps things fresh with a constantly changing programme of themed nights.

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