From an incredible historical 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.
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.
We’ve been there many times and have put together a guide showing our favourite places. Keep scrolling to explore!
What to see and what to do in Girona
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.
Located in the heart of the old walled city, El Call is where the Jews established in Girona. Stroll through its charming streets and be impressed by the splendour of this Jewish Quarter. It’s 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 many more spots in Girona where the filming took place, representing places like King’s Landing, Braavos and Oldtown.
Bear in mind that the opening times of the Cathedral are the following:
- July & August: 10 am to 7:30 pm
- November to March: 10 am to 5:30 pm
- Rest of the year: 10 am to 6:30 pm
The Arab baths
Immerse yourself on a trip to the past by visiting this construction that dates from the 12th century. The price is 2€ and the baths are open from 10 am 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).
El cul de la Lleona
Literally translated as Lioness’ ass. If you see people kissing the ass of a stone lioness, don’t be scared! 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 walls that had a lioness climbing up on it. People started touching its butt, and time after time, it became widely popular. Visitors to Girona city were told that if they touched the ass, they’d return to the town, or they’d 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 at the top of the walls is a must-do as it offers spectacular views over the city and it’s completely free.
The Independence square
If you fancy a beer, a coffee or just a break after some hours of walking, this lovely square is an excellent place for it. Being the most popular square in Girona, it’s a busy place during the day and at night due to the large number of restaurants you can find.
Eating recommendations in Girona
It’s traditional in Catalonia to do what we call a vermut. Before having lunch, it’s the ideal time for sitting on a terrace and drinking something while you enjoy the sun. The typical drink is vermouth, an aromatised, fortified wine usually served with an olive, or clara, beer with lemon. The drinks are generally accompanied by a snack such as patates braves, fried potatoes with a spicy sauce.
As far as restaurants go, our choice for lunch was a chain of restaurants called König. Girona is where this brand was born in 1973, and there are few of them there. The one we went to was König Sandwiches. You can eat all kinds of great sandwiches, burgers, salads, mixed dishes, and some tapas. The food is just delicious, and it’s a great place if you want good food at a reasonable price. There’s typically quite a lot of queue on weekends and festivities, but the waiting is worthwhile even so.
Another option for eating is a restaurant called 8de7. It’s nearby the Cathedral, and they serve typical Mediterranean food. The food quality 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 pretty cold, from temperatures around 2 ºC. Girona is mostly sunny throughout the year, and it doesn’t rain very often.
A good time to visit Girona is when the “Temps de Flors” festival is happening, usually in May. Temps de Flors is a flower exhibition celebrated annually 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 get to Girona and move around
If you don’t want to visit Barcelona and just want to stay in Catalonia’s North or East part, 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 1 h 15 min.
From Barcelona, the connections are excellent, 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 1 h 30min, and it drops you off close to the city centre. You can take the train R1 or R11 (Renfe) from Estació de Sants.
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.