Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s top tourist destinations. Even though its a bit touristy, as an IESE student it should still be high on your list of the places to explore in the city. Chances are that you’ve already heard of Las Ramblas. It is a series of contiguous streets that stretches from Plaça Catalunya to the Mediterranean Sea. The street is lined with giant arching trees and blocked off from car traffic, creating a wide pedestrian walking mall.
The streets themselves are filled with small pop-up vendors selling everything from Barcelona themed trinkets to tulips from Holland. (These by the way are a great gift for family and friends back home, especially if you forgot to pick up some when you were on your trip to Amsterdam!) There are also a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops on either side of the walking mall, including of course a Starbucks, and strangely enough, even a Dunkin Donuts (cronut anyone?).
If you haven’t been to Las Ramblas, it’s a must see. I’d recommend setting aside a morning, and starting from Plaça Catalunya, wander your way all the way down to the water while poking into a few shops. If you have additional time, there are a handful of other must see stops along the way (though these can be saved for another day).
Starting from the top, the first sight to see and one that’s difficult to miss is La Boqueria. La Boqueria is an enormous and often crowded market filled with a wide variety of stalls selling fish, meat, cheese, spices, fruits, and candies. Hint: if you’re looking for a good souvenir for friends back home, this is a great place to pick up a small package of saffron. Worth more than its weight in gold, it is the most expensive food product on earth, but can be purchased for a great price at the market.
Adjacent to La Boqueria is Liceu Theater, one of the biggest opera houses in Europe. Depending on the performance, it also has affordable (ie student budget friendly) tickets, especially if purchased day of. Continuing on down the street on the left hand side is the Plaça Reial, an impressively sized, café lined square. If you’re looking for a place to eat, however, your best bet is to wander off of Las Ramblas and even Plaça Reial into the neighboring Gothic Quarter or Raval. Even a café cortado on Las Ramblas can be quite pricey.
Last, but not least, keep in mind that Las Ramblas is busy, crowded, and of course full of tourists. This makes it a slice of pure pickpocket heaven. Keep a close eye, and a tightly clenched fist on your phones, bags, and wallets. You can sidestep this a bit by going early in the morning, just not too early before the shopkeepers are out and about.
Lauren is a second year MBA student at IESE. To read more from her on Barcelona visit her blog: www.elleandpear.com.