La Ribera Walking Tour, Barcelona (Self Guided)

La Ribera is a culturally rich, historic area of old town Barcelona. Centuries ago, it was a very well to do neighborhood and was inhabited by aristocrats, merchants, wealthy sailors, and Jewish money-lenders. Today, it is regarded as the Soho of Barcelona and offers trendy shops and cafes, a popular hangout place for tourists and locals alike. Follow this guide and explore the unique sights of La Ribera.
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La Ribera Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: La Ribera Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Barcelona (See other walking tours in Barcelona)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 km
Author: clare
Placa de l'Angel

1) Placa de l'Angel

Plaça de l'Angel is better known among tourists as Placa del Blat or the Square of Wheat. Many years ago it was a busy place where merchants would come from all parts of Spain to sell grain. The Placa lies at the intersection of Via Laietana and Carrer Jaume I.
Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar

2) Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar (must see)

The Basilica of Santa Maria by the Sea is an imposing church, dominating Barcelona‘s Ribera district, a more authentic (and not so touristy) part of the city. The church was built between 1329 and 1383, during the heyday of Catalonia as a maritime and commercial power. It represents an outstanding example of Catalan Gothic architecture and is equally beautiful both outside (where it appears massive and severe) and inside (producing the impression of lightness and spaciousness). Inside, the basilica is a huge space literally filled with peace and tranquility, adorned with beautifully painted windows, stone carvings, statues of saints, and big organ. There are three aisles forming a single space with no transepts and architectural boundary between the nave and presbytery. The simple ribbed vault is supported on slender octagonal columns and abundant daylight streams in through the tall clerestory windows.

Climbing to the top of the church is possible and will greet you with an amazing view of Barcelona. Still, the most captivating thing about this church, perhaps, is just sitting here listening to the holly mass in Catalan. You don't even need to understand a word of it to feel divine. Even without touring the Basilica itself, it will be just as magnificent experience.

Make sure you are properly dressed though, otherwise the guards at the entrance may turn you away.

Why You Should Visit:
Very grand and very well preserved; offers a lift to the roof, small "art gallery", the crypt, beautiful stone carvings, choir gallery, and the most astoundingly peaceful courtyard with a large pond.
Lots of local cafes with outside tables so a lovely area to wander around.

It's possible to take part in a guided tour up to the roof, which is actually very interesting and combined with some of the most exciting views over Barcelona.
Make sure you are properly dressed to enter, though, as there are guards who may turn you away if you're not.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-8:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Museu Picasso

3) Museu Picasso (must see)

The ultimate place to observe early Picasso is the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Opened in 1961, this museum showcases over 4,300 works of the great master at his early stage, reflecting intimacy of his relationship with Barcelona, the city that shaped his personality and largely influenced his art.

Picasso always wanted to “imprint himself” through artwork in the tapestry of Barcelona. That wish fortunately materialized, courtesy of his colleagues and friends, particularly Jaime Sabartés, adorning the city with the works of one of the greatest artists ever lived.

Although most of the pieces presented here are Picasso's first attempts at art, the overall collection looks quite impressive. It spans the period from 1917 and includes one of Picasso's best-known series, Las Meninas. In 2008, the museum put on display a large collection of Picasso’s prints.

If you take interest in Picasso's work and want to see his progression from a very young age to adulthood, manifested in paintings, sculpture, ceramics and other forms, do visit this museum. And if you do, make sure to explore the museum shop. Some of the items offered here are quite interesting and not available anywhere else.

Why You Should Visit:
Incredibly interesting to see the progression of Picasso's work from a very young age into adulthood and the unusual work we are more familiar with.
In addition to paintings, there is sculpture, ceramics and other works.

Don't miss the museum shop, as many of the products are not available anywhere else.

Opening Hours:
Mon: 10am-5pm; Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun: 9am-7pm; Thu: 9am-9:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Capilla de Marcus

4) Capilla de Marcus

Barcelona is considered to be one of the greatest destinations to behold some of the most magnificently built places of worship in the world. Among the many religious structures in the city the chapel of Marcus or the Capilla de Marcus is a marvel in its own right.

It was built during the Romanesque period in the 12th century and was located near the ancient Roman road that used to lead visitors out of the city. The chapel was erected in order to honour the Mare de Deu de la Guia. The ancient Roman road is now called the Calle Carders, and this area is still located near the chapel.

The Capilla is an authentic medieval structure with the interior refurbished in the neoclassical style during the 19th century. The building itself dates back to the 12th century and was dedicated to the Roman deities that rule the sea. The original blind arches that formed the exterior can still be viewed here.

The chapel near the church of Santa Maria del Mar - located in Calle Carders - was constructed during the Romanesque period. It is open to visitors from 10am to 2pm, and from 4 pm to 6 pm seven days a week.
Mercat de Santa Caterina

5) Mercat de Santa Caterina

The rambling Mercat de Santa Caterina is a newly renovated market located between two Gothic churches, in a network of narrow streets in La Ribera. The market was originally constructed during the 19th century and it had a decrepit and dying structure. The famous architects Benedetta Tagliabue and Enric Miralles extensively refurbished the market and completely changed its overall appearance. The market now has a colourful roof with an inviting façade and has also been relocated to reach the Passeig de Sant Joan.

The renovation of the market was a monumental task that took seven long years to complete. The completion was delayed several times, and the premature death of Enric Miralles delayed the completion of the project even further. The market included 59 flats, an underground parking area and a museum, and planning its re-construction was very difficult. During the reconstruction, the workers were surprised to uncover the ancient ruins of a Roman Necropolis, and this caused work to stop for two years.

The plans had to be extensively re-worked to incorporate two more museums, one for the Roman Necropolis, and one for the remnants of Santa Caterina’s fifteenth-century Dominican cloisters. The market now reveals many eras of Barcelona’s history under one colourful roof.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Church of Sant Pere de les Puelles

6) Church of Sant Pere de les Puelles

The Church of Sant pere de les Puelles was associated with the historical feminine convent established by Riquilda along with Earls Sunyer. The church is not very well known outside Barcelona, but it is still an important structure in the city. Despite the passage of time, the sacred consecration document is still safe at the church today. Adelaide was the first Abbess of this Convent.

The church has replaced another place of worship that was built in the 9th century, paying respect to Sant Sadurni who was the bishop of Toulouse. Certain parts of the original architecture have been preserved and retained into the new structure; these are visible in the atrium vestibule.

Originally, the building was designed and built in the form of a Greek cross, having 4 rectangular components converging towards the centre of the square. The building included four large, slightly inclined arches which were supported with the help of monolithic pillars. The roof has an octagon shaped base, whereas a semicircular roof is present over the 4 limbs of the cross.

Although it still remains unknown to many, the church of Sant Pere de les Puelles boasts a rather rich history. The structure itself is a sight to behold due to its magnificent architecture.
Museu de la Xocolata

7) Museu de la Xocolata

The Museu de la Xocolata or the chocolate museum, as the name indicates is home to every bit of history associated with chocolate in Europe. The history and the contents of the museum allow one to explore the origin of chocolate, its mythological and factual factors, its use in medicine, its use as an aphrodisiac and also as everyone’s favourite food. One can witness the complete process of chocolate making from a cocoa bean to the final packaging here.

The Museu de la Xocolata is a rather small version in Barcelona, but it is definitely the most exciting. The sweet and appetizing aroma of chocolate hangs in every single corner of the building. This means that the complimentary chocolate that all visitors receive when they enter will only last a short while. It is one of the greatest places to visit in Barcelona for families.

One can always find various events, workshops and tours at the chocolate museum. One of the most interesting workshops is on creating chocolate sculptures. Schedules for all these events and happening can be found on their website.

One can buy all sorts of chocolates at the shop and cafe included in the museum building for an unforgettable taste of original chocolate.

Operation hours: Monday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 7:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 - 3:00 pm
Parc de la Ciutadella

8) Parc de la Ciutadella (must see)

This beautiful park in Ciutat Vella, the no. 1 district of Barcelona, has been in place since the mid 19th century. The name Ciutat Vella translates from Catalan as the "old city". There was a time when this park was the only patch of greenery in Barcelona - boasting both seasonal and annual plants - and, as such, enjoyed much popularity with the locals (and it still does, actually).

The park covers an area of 70 acres and incorporates a lake and a fairly large zoo, accommodating over 7,000 animals. Among them, once, there was a world-famous attraction, “Snowflake” - the albino male gorilla, who used to live here until his death in 2003. Another prominent sight within the park is the humongous Cascada fountain designed, back in the 1880s, by Josep Fontsere assisted by the then student of architecture Antoni Gaudi. Apart from that, the park is also home to the parliament of Catalonia.

Locals and tourists alike, enjoy spending time here, and especially those with kids. The park is well equipped for picnics and public holidays, plus caters for sports, such as jogging, cycling and boating. Boats and bicycles are available for hire here at a small price. The park itself is free to enter and is well worth a visit no matter how long you stay in Barcelona!

Why You Should Visit:
Escape and relax without leaving the city centre!

The park is free to enter so is well worth to visit no matter how long your stay in Barcelona.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Castrense Parish Church

9) Castrense Parish Church

Castrense Parish Church is located in the Ciudadela park and is registered as a Cultural Asset of Local Interest. The temple is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception , patron of the Infantry, and dates back to 1720. Built in a Neo-classical style with a French inspiration it has a single nave with chapels on its sides. Formerly it was a part of the fortification of the citadel, and when it collapsed, the church was preserved. In the nineteenth century, with the Universal Exhibition in Barcelona and the Citadel converted into a public garden, the church underwent some modifications, with further restoration carried out in 1928.
Palau de Justicia

10) Palau de Justicia

The Palau de Justícia de Barcelona was designed by the Catalan Spanish architect Enric Sagnier i Villavecchia. He was not as famous as Antoni Gaudi, Josep Puig I Cadafalch and Lluis Domenech, who were very renowned architects of their time, but he did author many buildings that have become famous landmarks today. His style was very versatile and comprised elements of the Neo-Baroque, Neo-Gothic and Modernista styles. Villavecchia was able to modify his style and design to accommodate the type of structure he was architecting. In Barcelona he has also designed the Caxia de Pensions building and the New Customs House, as well as the church located on the Tibidabo.

The Palau de Justicia in Barcelona was originally constructed to house the court of law, and featured neo-gothic style. The entrance has a highly decorated archway, which has engravings done around the arch. Enric Sagnier designed the building in collaboration with the architect Joseph Domenech I Estapisis and began work on the project in 1887. The structure was completed in 1888 and until 1910 had served its purpose as the house of law in Barcelona. The building is still in a good condition today.
Arc de Triomf

11) Arc de Triomf (must see)

The Arc de Triomf is an arch-way structure, located near the Park of the Ciutadella. It was built by architect Josep Vilaseca I Casanovas in 1888 for the Exposicion Universal de Barcelona (Universal Exposition), and served as its archway gate. Built in the Moorish revival style, the arch is composed of reddish brickwork. A stone sculpture which states "Barcelona rep les nacions" or "Barcelona welcomes the nations", is located in the front frieze. This sculpture has been built by Josep Reynes and shows Barcelona openly welcoming visitors.

There is another structure on the opposite frieze, which contains a carving in stone called "Recompense". This carving is done by Josep Llimona, and is one of his earlier works and depicts a gift or prize-giving ceremony. There are many statues and reliefs that decorate the arch.

The Arc de Triomf is unique and stands out from other similar famous arches like the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Done up in the mudejar style, which has its origins in the distinctive Moorish architecture, the arch is colourful and heavily decorated with stone carvings. It can easily be reached by metro and it is a short walk away from the Park of the Ciutadella.

Why You Should Visit:
Great photo opportunities and a good way to see the locals doing their thing: relaxing, jogging, having picnics, coffee breaks.

Don't forget to try the Spanish cakes in a bakery shop near the Arc.

Walking Tours in Barcelona, Spain

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Montjuic Walking Tour

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La Rambla Walking Tour

La Rambla Walking Tour

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Gracia/Eixample Nightlife

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El Raval Walking Tour

El Raval Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Barcelona for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Barcelona has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money getting around Barcelona and visiting the city's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as iVenture Card, Hola Barcelona: Transport Pass, Barcelona Pass, and Barcelona Museum Pass.

These city passes combine all or multiple Barcelona's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Barcelona hotels that are conveniently located: Iberostar Paseo de Gracia 4* Sup, Catalonia Plaza Cataluña Hotel, Olivia Plaza Hotel.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Barcelona, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, as a guided tour of Barcelona typically costs between around US$15 and over US$80 per person:

- Hop on a “hop-on hop-off” double-decker and enjoy sightseeing of Barcelona from the open top of the bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get off at any of the stops along the two interconnecting routes (your ticket is valid for both).

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour – this usually lasts around 2 hours and allows you to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise would have done by walking.

- Pedal your way around Barcelona on a 3-hour bike tour visiting the city's most spectacular sights, stopping at each (for 5-20 minutes) to get rest, watch the surroundings, and learn much about the city from an informative group leader.

- If you're an arts and architecture buff, with a keen interest in Catalan modernism of the late 19th century, then you may definitely enjoy a 2-hour guided stroll around the Quadrat d'Or (Golden Square) in Barcelona's Eixample borough to explore in-depth the works (buildings) of the celebrated pioneers of modernism: Domenech i Montaner, Puig i Cadafalch and, of course, Barcelona's most acclaimed architect Antoni Gaudí. As an extra bonus on this tour, you will get a 20% discount on a guided tour of the Palau de la Música Catalana (Music Palace), discounted entrance at Casa Batlló, free admission to the Museu del Modernisme Català (Catalan Modernism Museum), plus savings on admission to Casa Batlló. Great value and tons of information for the money spent!

- If you don't find tales of the supernatural terrifying, and if the gruesome details of witchcraft, exorcisms and paranormal activity, told after sunset, make your hair stand but only with curiosity, then why not treat yourself to a 2-hour “ghost” walk to discover sinister secrets of Barcelona, visiting some of the city's haunted places, entertained along the way by an informative commentary from an expert guide.

- Have the taste of Catalonia’s gourmet culture on this 3- to 4-hour tour of Barcelona's tapas crawling some of the city’s most prominent bars and cafes in La Rambla, La Boqueria food market, and the Gothic Quarter led by an expert food guide. Apart from savoring a variety of traditional Catalonian cured meats, cheeses and breads, as well as drinks, you will also learn how to order these iconic bar snacks in style, like a true local!

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Barcelona, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations, like Costa Brava, Pyrenees mountain range, or Tarragona and Sitges. For as little as US$90+ to US$190+ you will get a chance to observe the picturesque villages and dramatic cliffs of the nearby Mediterranean coast, get high up in the Pyrenees Mountains visiting the historic town of Vic in the north of the country with optional hiking, horseback riding or boating excursions, or discover historical highlights of the Roman city of Tarragona complete with a seaside leisure at Sitges. All these trips start and end at your hotel and you'll be carried by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or minivan, accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.