It is a telling comment on Barcelona’s character that one can recommend a single street – the Ramblas – as a highlight. No day in the city seems complete without a stroll down at least part of what, for Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end”. Lined with cafés, restaurants, souvenir shops, flower stalls and newspaper kiosks, it’s at the heart of Barcelona’s life and self-image.
The Ramblas splits the old-town areas of Barcelona in half, with the Barri Gòtic on the east flank of the avenue and El Raval on the west. It also actually comprises five separate sections strung head to tail – from north to south, Rambla Canaletes, Estudis, Sant Josep, Caputxins and Santa Mònica – though you’ll rarely hear them referred to as such. Here, under the plane trees, you’ll find pet canaries, tropical fish, flowers, plants, postcards and books. You can buy jewellery, have your palm read and your portrait painted, play cards with a man on an upturned cardboard box (not a good idea), or while away time with the buskers and human statues.