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The best of Barcelona's neighbourhoods – The Raval

Life in the 'Chinese neighbourhood' inspired Roberto Bolaño and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, among others

Written by
Anna Mateu Mur
C/ Joaquín Costa

C/ Joaquín Costa

Ravalejar means ‘to explore the Raval’, and should always include taking a walk along a street such as Joaquín Costa, which is narrow and dark but illuminated by any number of interesting stop-offs. You’ll find places such as Fusta’m (a studio with vintage furniture), Fantastik (a colourful bazaar of unexpected treasures) and Les Topettes (a fragrant beauty shop). Don’t miss bars like Oddland, Betty Ford's or the classic Casa Almirall. You’ll also find emblematic cocktail bars including Tahiti and Negroni, the hair salon Rulo and art gallery-cum-design shop Background.

The terrace under colonnades of this bar, café and restaurant is ideal for enjoying a vermouth on sunny days in winter or a cold beer on warm summer evenings. In fact, it’s always ideal. Even when it’s raining. You can sit down with a good book or a good friend, and take your pick from the dishes, sandwiches and tapas. The mushroom croquettes are memorable, and the staff as well. Far from noisy traffic, the square where Kasparo is located is a quiet corner where you’ll often find musicians, families (there’s also a kids’ play park) and friends taking their time to chat about life.

Time for drinks!

A tempting part of the Raval for visitors is the many places for going out at night. Start with cocktails at Tahiti and you won’t look back!

Escape the bustling centre of the Raval and head down C/Sant Pau towards Paral·lel. You’ll discover a beautiful surprise in the form of the small Sant Pau del Camp monastery, one of the best-preserved Romanic constructions in the city. Its name doesn’t come from the gardens that surround it (camp means ‘countryside’ in Catalan), although they are an excellent choice for a daytime stroll. Instead the name comes from the fact that, when it was built more than ten centuries ago, the monastery was outside the protection of the city’s walls. This meant it was officially located in the country, and it still retains a rural ambience.

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