Barcelona’s Ramblas RIP?

For more than a century, strolling down Barcelona’s main boulevard, the Ramblas, has been the thing to do when visiting. Sadly, the charm of the Ramblas has not survived the rise of mass tourism in Barcelona. Back when locals enjoyed strolling here, there was plenty of business to keep characteristic flower stalls, bird markets, and newspaper stands healthy. It’s what gave the Ramblas its unique cultural charm. But today, the local clientele that kept these characteristic stalls in business is gone, replaced by tides of tourists. Consequently, the street is lined with what many tourists buy — tacky trinkets and lousy street food. Still, if you come to Barcelona…you’ve got to ramble the Ramblas.


This is Day 12 of my 100 Days in Europe series. As I research my guidebooks and make new TV shows, I’m reporting on my experiences and lessons learned in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Bulgaria, Romania, and beyond. Find more at blog.ricksteves.com.

Comments

2 Replies to “Barcelona’s Ramblas RIP?”

  1. That is sad, we did this five years ago and it was what I had read it would be. I noticed that a lot of foreign street hawkers were starting to come in and the police would chase them out. But there were the traditional merchants and lots of food. How sad.

  2. I didn’t think much of the Ramblas in 2004 – in fact I wrote at the time that it was “mostly an opportunity for one group of tourists to sip over-priced drinks while watching another group parading past.” But it was definitely much worse last year. And the market was so totally packed with people I didn’t bother going in.

    As cruise ships get exponentially bigger, and more of them dock in the same place, either the ports are going to have to set limits, or land based tourists will need to go elsewhere.

    BTW, last year I stayed in an apartment in the Eixample, a couple of streets west of the Block of Discord, and enjoyed it much more than staying in the Old Town area.

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