From an incredible historic centre to a gleaming commercial centre, Girona has all the things a city can offer but in a relaxing environment. This city is worth at least some hours of your time to discover its rich history and culture. Its majestic cathedral, its ancient Roman wall or its impressive Arab baths are just some of the jewels that Girona hides.
|Duration: 1 day||Driving time: 1 h 20 min from Barcelona|
|When: All year||Bus time: 1 h 15 min|
|Show map||Train time: 1 h 30 min from Barcelona|
All you need to know to spend 1 day in Girona
- What to do
- Where to eat
- When is the best time to go to Girona
- How to arrive in Girona and how to move around
- For the curious minds
One day in Girona: what to see and what to do
Girona is so-called City of the Four Rivers as it is located in the junction of four different rivers (Galligants, Onyar, Ter and Güell). The river Onyar crosses the city leaving at its right bank the historic centre and at its left bank the commercial district. Apart from being an amazing town for culture and history lovers, Girona is a great place to enjoy traditional Catalan food as it offers a variety of delicious restaurants and cafes. Moreover, this city also has a cool diverse nightlife to enjoy. The city of Girona is partly surrounded by an ancient city wall and its charming interior is a maze of narrow streets, pleasant squares, and valuable monuments.
Girona is a middle-sized city, which makes it ideal to explore on foot or by bike. You can rent a public bike for just 2€ a day. We’ve been there many times and overall these are our favourite places:
Located in the heart of the old walled city, El Call is the area were the Jews established in Girona. Stroll through its charming streets and be impressed by the splendour of this Jewish Quarter, one of the best preserved in the world. Walk through the same narrow and cobbled lanes that people used 500 years ago and discover its courtyards and hidden patios.
The Cathedral of Santa Maria de Girona
You can’t leave Girona without visiting one of the most impressive highlights of this city. Like a stairway to heaven, you have to climb all the Baroque staircase to get to the entrance of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Girona. This cathedral was built in a Gothic style except for its western facade which is in a Baroque style. As a curious fact, the Gothic-style nave of this Cathedral is the widest in the world.
And if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’ll probably know that this cathedral was the Great Sept of Baelor during the sixth season of the show. There are a lot more of spots in Girona where the filming took place, representing places like King’s Landing, Braavos and Oldtown.
The Arab baths
Immerse yourself in a trip to the past by visiting this construction that dates from the 12th century and it’s inspired by Roman baths. The price is 2€ and the baths are open from 10am to afternoon depending on the season. Click here for more info.
The Eiffel bridge
Just before building the Eiffel tower, Gustav Eiffel constructed the most famous bridge in Girona, also named El Pont de les Peixateries Velles (The old fish shop’s bridge).
The Independence square
If you fancy a beer, a coffee or just a break after some hours of walking, this lovely square is a great place for it. Being the most popular square in Girona, it’s a busy place during the day and also at night due to the large number of restaurants you can find in it.
El cul de la Lleona
Literally translated as Lioness’ ass. If you see people kissing the ass of a stone lioness, don’t be sacred! They’re not crazy, it’s just a popular tradition among visitors to Girona. The legend tells that many years ago there was a hostel in this point called The Lioness Hostel, whose name was given due to a column in one of the hostel’s wall that had a lioness climbing up it. People started touching its behind and time after time it became so popular that visitors to Girona city were told that if they touched the ass they’d return to the city or they’d even never leave it. Nowadays, the action of touching the backside has evolved into kissing it. So just in case, be sure you kiss it before leaving, we want you to come back again!
The medieval city wall
Known as Passeig de la Muralla, the ancient walls extend in the eastern part of the old town of Girona. Walking in the top of the walls is a must-do as it offers spectacular views over the city and it’s completely free!
Where to eat
It’s traditional in Catalonia to do what we call a vermut. Around 12pm, before having lunch, it’s ideal to sit in a terrace and drink something while you enjoy the sun. The typical thing to drink is vermouth (which is an aromatised, fortified wine usually served with an olive) or clara (beer with lemon) accompanied with a snack such as patates braves (fried potatoes with a spicy sauce).
Our choice for lunch was a chain of restaurants called König. Girona is the place where this brand was born in 1973 and there are few of them there (the one we went was König Sandwiches). There, you can find all kinds of great sandwiches, burgers, salads, mixed dishes and also some tapas. The food is just delicious and it’s a great place if you want good food at a good price. There’s normally quite a lot of queue on weekends and festivities but, even so, the waiting is worthwhile.
Another option for eating is a restaurant called 8de7. It’s nearby the Cathedral and they serve typical Mediterranean food. The quality of the food is excellent and the best thing is that it’s not expensive at all for what you get.
When is the best time to visit Girona
You can visit Girona all-year round. In summer, it’s usually crowded and hot (temperature can reach up to 35 ºC. Winters (from December to February) are quite cold, from temperatures around the 2 ºC. Girona is most sunny throughout the year, it doesn’t rain very often.
A good time to go to Girona is when the festival “Temps de Flors” is happening, usually in May. Temps de Flors is a flower exhibition celebrated anually in Girona since 1954. Throughout the city, you can find monuments and streets decorated with flowers. The city is most colourful than ever!
How to arrive in Girona and how to move around
If you don’t want to visit Barcelona and just want to stay in the North or East part of Catalonia, Girona is a great place to start your trip. Girona has an airport (Girona-Costa Brava airport) located 13 km from the city centre. If you’re flying to Girona and want to go straight away to Barcelona, there’s a bus operated by Segales that will take you to Barcelona (Estació del Nord) in 1h 15min.
From Barcelona, the connections are really good and you can either go by car or by public transport. The fastest way is to go by car but it can be complicated to find a parking spot near the city centre. That’s why we recommend taking the train. It takes around 1h 30min and it drops you off close to the city centre. You can take the train R1 or R11 (Renfe) from Estació de Sants.
For the curious minds
Girona is the largest city in the north of Catalonia and it’s the capital of the province of the same name. It has a privileged location as it’s close to most of the touristic destinations in Catalonia such as Barcelona, the Pyrenees and the Costa Brava beaches.
All around the city you can find reminders of the main communities that lived there (Roman, Arabs and Jews). On the Roman times, Girona was known as Gerunda and it was one of the towns lying on the famous Via Augusta, a highway that crossed Spain from Cádiz to the Pyrenees. In the late 8th century, the Franks took the city from the Muslims and converted it in one of the fourteen original counties of Barcelona. In 878, Girona was incorporated in the County of Barcelona. In the medieval times, Girona was a wealth city and the Gothic and Roman buildings form that age still remain nowadays, after surviving repeated sieges and attacks.
The Jewish were another important community that flourished in Girona during the 12th century and they remained there until they were expelled in the 1492. They left in the numerous historic landmarks that can be found mostly in the city center.