Las Ramblas is the best-known landmark in Barcelona. This thriving pedestrian thoroughfare cuts through the old town, winding down from the Plaça de Catalunya to the Columbus monument.  The centre is filled with bustling stalls creating an open-air market with souvenir and newspaper kiosks, and of course the world-famous flower stalls line the pedestrian walkway.

Las Ramblas

A short walk down from the Plaça de Catalunya is the Font de Canaletes fountain. According to legend, if you drink from this fountain you’ll return to Barcelona one day. It is here that the Barça football fans meet to celebrate their team’s victories.

Font de Canaletes fountain 

There are all sorts of artists performing along Las Ramblas, from those who paint your portrait to spray-painted human statues who stand motionless among the passing tourists for hours on end, buskers sing crowd-pleasing classics; and parakeets chatter in the treetops.

Human Statues 

 Street Artists Las Ramblas

 rambla elephant

To the right is the Boqueria Market, the city's most famous market where the produce displays are a works of art.  This vast market has everything, from stacks of fruit to bundles of chillies and writhing lobsters The Market is not only the most important in Barcelona but also the largest  in Spain and an absolute must-see spot in order to get a feeling for the city.

Fruit Stall Mercat de la Boqueria

market chillies

On the opposite side of the road is the Barri del Raval, formerly the red-light district of the city. This area no longer has a bad reputation and you will find many small restaurants and bars where you can spend a very pleasant evening.   Located nearby is the MACBA (Museum for Contemporary Art of Barcelona). Many visitors are also drawn to the museum for the architecture alone.  MACBA's location has turned Plaça dels Àngels into a popular hangout for a predominantly young public (the square's design makes it ideal for skaters). The area has also attracted chic bars, hip restaurants and shops selling the most exclusive brands.

You should not miss the Barri Gòtic, also known as the Gothic Quarter.  The best thing to do is to wander round the narrow cobbled streets between the tall old buildings admiring the Gothic architecture.  While you are in this area you should try to visit what is probably the most frequently visited museum in Barcelona, the Picasso Museum.  The museum has more than 3,500 pieces that the artist personally donated to the city.  Picasso lived and worked here as a young artist and a special relationship existed between the artist and the city.  Also the artist Joan Miró was born and lived here during his youth.  Today lots of stylish young designers have opened shops here.  You should also try to visit and the church of Santa Maria del Mar a Gothic church from the XIV century.

  Picasso Museum

Returning to La Rambla, look out for a true, open-air work of art. The ground is decorated with a huge mosaic by Miró. A few metres further down is one of the city's most important buildings, especially for opera lovers. The Gran Teatre del Liceu considered by many to be one of the finest opera houses in Europe. Stars such as Montserrat Caballé and Josep Carreras have performed here.  Twice gutted by fire, the city’s grand opera house has been fully restored. Immediately in front of the Liceu, you can find the Cafè de l’Òpera, one of the oldest and best preserved cafes in Barcelona and a popular spot with tourists.

Don’t miss the Bruno Quadras Building once an umbrella factory, the building is adorned with umbrellas and also the figure of a Chinese dragon mounted on the corner that keeps watch over the Rambla.

Bruno Quadras Building - The umbrella house

At the far end of Las Ramblas you will see the Monument a Colom pointing out to sea, this statue of Christopher Columbus commemorates his return to Spain after discovering the Americas. A lift takes visitors to the top for sensational views.

Las Ramblas is undoubtedly the place where everyone gets together, both tourists and locals. Profuse activity day and night, a voyeuristic heaven.