YES! Girona, Spain, is a medieval city with lots of historical charm, beautiful architecture, and many attractions to see. Situated in close proximity to both Barcelona and the Costa Brava, Girona offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern amenities.
When I first began researching day trips from Barcelona, Girona was often recommended as a place to visit. Initially, I wasn’t convinced there was much to do in Girona, so I decided to visit as part of a guided tour. It turns out I LOVED Girona, and I could have easily spent a lot more time exploring the city! There was much more to see and do than I had anticipated.
Where is Girona?
Girona is located in the northeastern Catalonia region of Spain, less than an hour from Barcelona. It’s easy to visit Girona from Barcelona in one day.
For those that don’t want to drive, there is a direct train from Barcelona that takes about 45 minutes, making it an excellent day trip option. The train station is about a 15 minute walk from the centre of town.
Another option is to visit Girona as part of a guided tour. There are many excellent tour options that include this historic city and a trip to a coastal town on the Costa Brava. I highly recommend booking a guided tour if you are short on time or want the convenience of transportation arranged by someone else.
No matter what option you choose, the journey from Barcelona to Girona is well worth it and will allow you to experience the beauty of Catalonia.
12 Things Worth Doing in Girona, Spain
If you’re looking for a city that’s rich in history and has stunning scenery, Girona is the perfect place to be. Girona is essentially divided into two main sections, the old and the new, separated by the picturesque Onyar River.
The real gem of Girona is its stunning historic old quarter, filled with charming cobbled streets and a backdrop of medieval architecture. The best part? It’s all easily explored by foot, meaning that you can wander at your leisure and uncover hidden gems at your own pace.
So why is Girona worth visiting? Read on to see a list of all there is to see and do in this medieval city in the Costa Brava.
1. Girona Medieval Walls (Muralles de Girona)
The Girona Medieval Walls are a remarkable example of ancient architecture. Built by the Romans in the first century BCE, these impressive walls are considered some of the best preserved medieval city walls in all of Europe.
You can walk along 3 km of walls and climb the towers to experience some of the most spectacular panoramic views of Girona.
2. Girona Cathedral (Cathedral of St. Mary of Girona)
Girona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary of Girona, is the largest Gothic church in Spain. One of the most striking features of the cathedral is the magnificent staircase with 90 steps that leads to its entrance.
With its awe-inspiring architecture and intricate detailing, this cathedral is a must-see for anyone visiting the beautiful city of Girona. I would also recommend taking some time to explore the inside of this spectacular cathedral.
3. Banys Àrabs (Arab Baths)
In the heart of Girona lies one of its best-kept secrets: the Banys Àrabs, or Arab Baths, a marvel of Romanesque architecture that gives a glimpse into the past. The Banys Àrabs, which date back to the 12th century, were inspired by Roman public baths, and their design is a testament to the beauty and practicality of the Roman style.
Despite their age, the Banys Àrabs have remained well preserved and are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the architects who designed them.
4. Basilica de Sant Feliu (Church of St. Felix)
The Basilica de Sant Feliu is one of the city’s most ancient and significant landmarks. The church’s imposing bell tower dominates the local skyline and is instantly recognizable from afar. However, the Basilica’s true beauty lies within, where visitors are treated to an array of impressive works of art.
From the breathtaking stained-glass windows to the remarkable Baroque altar, there is no shortage of sights to behold inside this magnificent structure.
5. Game of Thrones Filming Locations
Attention, Game of Thrones fans! If you’re looking for a Westeros escape, you will certainly want to head to Girona. As one of the main settings for season six, Girona boasts some of the most famous spots in the show.
The Arab Baths, where scenes featuring Arya Stark and the Waif took place, are a must-visit. The Girona Cathedral, where the infamous ‘Walk of Shame’ of Cersei Lannister was filmed, is another spot that draws in fans. For those who love intricate history and dramatic architecture, the Basilica de Sant Feliu, which was transformed into a monastery in Game of Thrones, is a spectacle to behold.
With its winding streets and stunning architecture, it’s easy to see why Girona has become a popular destination for fans of the show.
6. Jardins dels Alemanys (German Gardens)
Located in the beautiful old town, the Jardins dels Alemanys offer a unique and serene experience for visitors to enjoy. This tranquil park features stunning greenery, a picturesque winding path, and the ruins of some old barracks that were the residence of German soldiers during the 19th century.
As you stroll through the gardens, you’ll be transported to a time long gone, and gain a greater appreciation for the story of the city.
7. Girona Jewish Quarter (El Call)
The Girona Jewish Quarter, known as El Call, is a captivating destination that offers visitors a glimpse into the rich Jewish history of Spain. Before 1492, Girona was home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Spain. However, the Jews were eventually forced to either convert to Christianity or were expelled from the country.
Despite these historic events, the Girona Jewish Quarter has thrived over the centuries and remains a symbol of resilience, cultural diversity, and the enduring spirit of Jewish life. In the heart of El Call lies the Jewish History Museum, which delves into the fascinating history of the Jews who once lived in Girona.
8. Walk Across Eiffel Bridge (Pont de les Peixateries Velles)
The Pont de les Peixateries Velles, or more commonly known as the Eiffel Bridge, is an architectural wonder that separates the old town from the modern areas of Girona. Gustav Eiffel, the same man responsible for the iconic Eiffel Tower, designed the bridge in 1876.
This bridge spans across the Onyar River, separates Girona’s old town from its lively modern district, and offers beautiful views of Cases de l’Onyar or houses on the river.
With its distinctive structure and rich history, the Eiffel Bridge is a must-visit spot and an epic Instagram photo opportunity!
9. Onyar River View
One of the most iconic views of Girona is the Onyar River, known for its picturesque houses. Rows of brightly coloured houses, known as Cases de l’Onyar, are painted in various shades of red, brown, orange, and yellow. A small team of artists and architects carefully chose these colours to catch the chromatic reflection towards the river.
These houses are not only aesthetically pleasing but also add to the city’s cultural significance. It is no wonder that the Onyar River view is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Girona.
10. Plaça Independencia
At the heart of Girona lies Plaça Independencia, the city’s main square and a hub of activity. With cafes, restaurants, and shops, this bustling square is an inviting place to stroll, people-watch, and enjoy the surrounding architecture.
11. Local Shopping in Girona
One of the most surprising parts of my trip to Girona was discovering that there were quite a range of stores and shopping options. Boutique shops lined the streets, with stores that sold clothing, jewelry, crafts, art, souvenirs, and so much more.
The stores in Girona were also a lot less busy than those in Barcelona! I have to admit, I was not expecting this modern shopping experience in Girona. I could have spent a lot more time browsing the stores if I had the time!
12. Lots of Great Museums
Girona boasts an impressive collection of museums that provide visitors with a glimpse into its rich cultural and historical heritage. The Girona Art Museum, housed in a 10th-century Benedictine monastery, features a diverse collection of art that ranges from medieval to contemporary works.
The Jewish History Museum, located in the Call, the Jewish quarter, highlights the culture and history of the Jewish community in Girona during the Middle Ages.
Meanwhile, the Museu d’Història de Girona offers a comprehensive overview of the city’s history through interactive exhibits and audiovisual presentations.
For those interested in archaeology, the Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya-Girona contains an extensive collection of artifacts from the prehistoric to Roman eras. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply a curious traveler, the choice of museums in Girona offers an enriching experience that shouldn’t be missed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Should I Stay in Girona?
The answer to this question all depends on what you like to do.
Visiting Girona as part of a guided tour will give you a small glimpse into the medieval old quarter and the contrast of the modern city on the other side of the River Onyar.
Spending the day in Girona would certainly give you much more appreciation for all there is to do. You will be able to walk the medieval walls, visit the cathedral and a museum or two, enjoy a meal in the Plaça Independencia, and perhaps do some local shopping in the local shops.
Ideally, however, I would suggest that you spend a night or two in Girona. This would allow you to more fully explore the city and all it has to offer.
Finally, if you use Girona as a base, you can easily spend two or three days there as you head off to other towns close to Girona.
What Other Towns are Close to Girona?
In addition to the charming city of Girona, there are several other beautiful and historic towns that are worth exploring during your visit to the region.
Besalú is located about 25 kilometers from Girona and is an enchanting medieval town that is known for its impressive bridge crossing the Fluvià river.
My personal favourite, Tossa de Mar, located about 40 kilometers from Girona, is a charming coastal town known for its stunning beaches and picturesque views.
Figueres, about 40 kilometers away from Girona, is famous for hosting the Dalí Theatre-Museum, which houses the largest collection of Salvador Dalí’s artwork.
Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell are two beautiful coastal towns located about 50 kilometers from Girona, where visitors can enjoy the beaches and indulge in fresh seafood. All of these nearby towns are worth visiting if you have some extra time in the area.
Is there an airport in Girona?
Yes. The Girona-Costa Brava Airport is located just outside the city center and is serviced by a variety of airlines. While smaller than some of the major airports in the area, it offers a convenient option for travelers who want to visit Girona and its surrounding attractions, such as the nearby beaches and medieval towns.
Bottom Line: Why is Girona Worth Visiting?
As you plan your trip to Spain, you are no doubt wondering if Girona is worth visiting. Here’s my summary of why this is a city worth adding to your Spain itinerary.
✓ Close to Barcelona and easily accessible by train in less than an hour, making it an easy day trip from the city.
✓ Historical city with stunning medieval history and architecture.
✓ Lots of interesting things to do, including walking the medieval walls, exploring historic sites, options for walking tours, museums, shopping, cafes, and restaurants that will keep you busy and engaged during your visit.
✓ An interesting connection to the show, Game of Thrones, with many movie locations to discover as you explore the city.
✓ Close to lots of other beautiful and historic towns, including Besalú, Tossa de Mar, Figueres, and Calella de Palafrugell.
So why not add Girona to your travel itinerary and immerse yourself in the rich history and natural beauty of Spain?
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