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Raval is definitely one of the most (in)famous neighborhoods in Barcelona. It is part of the Ciutat Vella district and it is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Barcelona. In the recent years it has had a very bad reputation for being underdeveloped, dirty and unsafe.
But how safe or dangerous is it, really? Is it safe enough for a student? Let’s find out.
Raval was originally a working class area where many factory workers and fishermen lived. Nowadays you would find many immigrants living and working in el Raval.
You can spend hours and hours walking around every street discovering beautiful murals and street art, vintage stores, international restaurants, bars, and plazas. It is a melting pot where you can find people from all over the world.
But is it safe to live there?
Although Raval has had some of the highest crime rates in Barcelona, it is still considered a safe neighborhood for most people.
It’s true that Raval has one of the highest crime rates in Barcelona but in general, people talk about Raval only if there are drug or crime reports. Because of this, Raval paints a very negative image in people’s minds. It is not as bad as many people think it is.
There are some parts of Raval where it’s much safer than some other parts. In general, the two opposite sides close to Drassanes and Plaça Universitat are generally safer than the center of Raval.
The worst that can happen to you in Raval is being mugged if you look like a tourist walking alone at night. You don’t need to worry about being chased by masked men with a machete!!
If you are a student, you should look for accommodation in better areas of the city like Poble Sec, Sants, Poble Nou or Eixample. If you are on a very tight budget, consider el Gótico and el Born before Raval. If you are a female, keep in mind that catcalling isn’t very unusual.
Studentfy is partners with some of the most reputable and affordable real estate agencies in Barcelona. If you are a student coming to Barcelona, check out our Housing form and our student-oriented Discounts.
Pros of living in Raval
There are lots of benefits to living in el Raval. Here are some of the reasons you might want to live in Raval:
- The area is very active all the time. There are people walking around, having a coffee in plazas, etc. There is always something to do or see
- Rent is much lower than some other areas. This could be important to you if you have a tight budget
- The port and the Barceloneta beach aren’t far
- Here you can find some great indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars
- You can find plenty of grocery stores to buy fresh produce as well as Middle Eastern and Asian goods
Cons of living in Raval
In addition to the benefits, there are also negative points. Here are some of the reasons you might not want to live in Raval:
- The noise can be a bit too much. There are always people walking around and drinking and chitchatting until very late hours during the weekends.
- Some flats and buildings are in very poor conditions and some don’t have proper ventilation or elevators
- If you are a small girl walking alone at night, it might not be very safe
- Public urination and fights are pretty common
- Flats where many people visit only to do drugs, known as narcopisos, have pushed out many local residents out of the neighborhood.
Whether you live in Raval or not, it’s best to know what to expect and how to stay safe when you are in Raval. Here are some recommendations to stay safer in Raval:
- Keep your phone in your pocket. Never ever leave your phone on a table at a restaurant or bar. You never want to learn that the hard way!
- Always keep your bag closed on your lap or right in front of you. You won’t believe how professional Barcelona’s pickpockets and thieves are.
- Don’t look like a tourist.
- Never carry valuable things in a backpack on your back. Always carry your bag on the front, make sure it’s closed and cannot be opened easily.
- Do not handle a lot of cash in plain sight.
- If you are wearing jewelry, don’t display them a lot in the street.
Raval is a very exciting part of Barcelona that everyone should visit. Here you can find some hidden gems, important landmarks and beautiful architecture. However, we personally wouldn’t recommend having Raval as your first choice when you are looking for accommodation in Barcelona.
Do you have experience living in Raval? If yes, let us know what you think about it in the comment section below.