1 of 7
Photo by Lee Woolcock
Barceló Raval hotel
2 of 7
Animals for saleThe famous mile-long Ramblas creates the western border of the Raval area and is one of the most famous avenues in Europe. Lining the street are numerous flower stalls and, more controversially, open-air animal stalls where you will see chickens, rabbits, chipmunks, guinea pigs and tropical fish, amongst many others. Visitors to the Rambla can be shocked or entranced by the sight of this city-centre menagerie, which began as an extension of the nearby Boqueria market. Be aware: whatever you're doing on the Rambla, and whatever you're looking at, this is one of the most active areas for Barcelona's pickpockets (the crowds on the boulevard and many distractions make their task that much easier), so always be very careful with your belongings.
3 of 7
Boqueria marketOne of the highlights for many Barcelona visitors is a trip to the famous Boqueria market, located in the centre of the Rambla. With tempting stalls selling all sorts of foodie treats, head past the outer-most offerings into the centre area to avoid the tourist prices. Away from the market and thanks to its ethnically diverse population, the Raval area has some of the most interesting restaurant options in Barcelona, with Mexican, Pakistani, vegetarian and Lebanese cuisines available, amongst others, as well as traditional Spanish and Catalan places to eat.
4 of 7
Seafront viewsOne of the great things about the Raval area is that it stretches all the way down to the sparkly Mediterranean. Crowded but worth a visit, the port area of town, overlooked by this statue of Christopher Columbus, boasts restaurants, shops (which are open on Sunday unlike most shops in Barcelona), the city's aquarium and an IMAX cinema.
5 of 7
Modern art in the metropolisAs well as historic buildings, the Raval has also seen areas of recent redevelopment. The iconic MACBA building, pictured, designed by Richard Meier and opened in 1995 has become one of the most notable signs of gentrification in this, at times, down-at-heel area. The Plaça dels Àngels, in front of the MACBA, is a mecca for cool-kid skaters to show off their moves and just round the corner is the CCCB, Spain's largest cultural centre.
6 of 7
Narrow streetsRecently attracting bad press for crime and prostitution, the Raval area has always had a reputation for being one of the more colourful areas in town. While the narrow streets and multi-cultural society have created a special sense of neighbourhood and many people live here with no problems, it can sometimes be a little scary in the dark and muggings do happen. However there have been moves to increase safety and gentrify the area with the recent addition of a 5-star hotel and more patrols by the police. If you do stay in this area, take a proactive approach to looking after your belongings and make sure you know how to get back to your hotel at night.
7 of 7
Photo by Lee Woolcock
Barceló RavalWhile many of the places to stay in the Raval area will be cheap hostels or 'pensions', recent times have seen a various of newer, more high-class hotels open up, such as the Barceló Raval on the main avenue, Rambla de la Rambla, giving you a wide choice of accommodation for all budgets and occasions.
Popular with younger tourists and groups due to the combination of cheap accommodation options and its central location, the Raval might not be for everyone. Thanks to its reputation for being slightly grubby and down-at-heel (it's long been the heart of the city's prostitution services), many visitors chose not to venture here but they miss a diverse and interesting neighbourhood. Flick through our slideshow and check out the area's advantages and disadvantages.