El Raval is Barcelona’s largest neighbourhood, and by far it’s liveliest. Demarked by the Las Ramblas and containing many star attractions such as the MACBA museum and Boqueria market, visitors to the city are likely to spend a fair bit of time during their holiday in El Raval. The buzz in El Raval gets louder at night, when countless bars roll up their shutters for business. In streets like Joaquím Costa (the epicentre of Raval bar culture) the Rambla del Raval and Riera Alta you can pretty much hop from one to another, taking in the distinct personality of each along the way.
To get you started, here are some of our favourites bars in the Raval:
Marmalade, Riera Alta 4-6
This large, New Yorkian-style locale with ad-hoc furniture and pool table is known for its friendly, up for it crowd and nicely-priced cocktails (most of them are around 5€). Many people meet up at the Marmalade before hitting the clubs, and it’s a good place to pick up flyers and invites.
Bodega 1800, Carme 31
Although it may look like it’s been here forever, this little hole-in-the-wall bar is actually quite new, and the perfect spot for some pre-dinner tapas and good barrelled wine by the glass. Get at the Bodega 1800 early for one of the few stools available.
La Penúltima, Riera Alta 40
This very hetero-friendly little place has none of the pretensions you often find in other gay bars in Barcelona, rather a funky, flea-market décor, classic disco-pop tunes, wine by the barrel and well-priced drinks.
Café de les Delicies, Ramblas del Raval 47
This old-school bar café-bar is open all day, serving up great coffee and hefty bocadillos (sandwiches). By nightfall it fills up with local nighthawks, who gather to chat at the small tables and sofas.
Marsella, Sant Pau 65
This Barcelona institution doesn’t feel like it has changed much since it opened in 1820, with dusty bottles lining the bar, marble-top tables and a general, nicotine-tinged ambiance. For a taste of 19th century bohemia, try their house absinthe.
Dostrece, Carmen 40
Dostrece was one of the first in the city to multi-task; a bistro by day and then a bar-club by night. The nocturnal action takes place in the basement, with comfortable sofas and armchairs, a small dance floor and with balloon-sized cocktails.
Rita Blue, Plaça Sant Agustí 3
Part Mexican restaurant and part cocktail bar (with an outdoor terrace to boot) Rita Blue has in-house Djs spinning jazz, world music and house Wednesday to Saturdays.