10 Things to See and Do in Girona, Spain in 2020
From lively Barcelona to island paradises like Majorca and the Grand Canaries to the historic cities of Andalusia, Spain is impressive. It is one of my favorite countries in the world and one of the most economical in Europe.
But there is one city that most captures my love of the country: Girona.
Home to just over 100,000 people and just 45 minutes from Barcelona, Girona is home to a well-preserved Jewish quarter, ancient winding streets and a medieval city wall within walking distance. Add many green spaces, colorful buildings and perfect weather, Girona is one of my favorite places in Spain.
Girona is more famous today thanks to The iron Throne being filmed there, but this little town just 30 minutes from Barcelona is somewhat off the beaten track and free from the crowds that sometimes make Barcelona unbearable. There is good food, lots of things to do and lovely people. I can’t sing the city’s praises enough.
To help you make the most of your trip, here are my main things to see and do in Girona:
1. Explore the old quarter
The old quarter of Girona (Barri Vell) is next to the Onyar river. This area is home to some of Girona’s most popular and best-preserved historic sites. Filled with medieval architecture, colorful old houses and picturesque bridges, but without the crowds of Barcelona, this is my favorite area for walking.
You can explore it for yourself and have fun, but before you also check out the guided tours offered by Girona Walks, you can learn more about this section of the city and how it has evolved over the centuries.
2. Admire the Cathedral of Girona
Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona overlooks the city. It is the second largest church in the world, almost 23 meters in diameter – only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is wider. (It was also featured in Game of Thrones!)
The interior is not particularly ornate and has a somewhat austere feel, but it is peaceful, and there is a lot of information and a good audio guide available.
Plaça de la Catedral, +34 972 42 71 89, catedraldegirona.cat. Open from 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., from April to June; 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., July to August; 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., September to October; 10 am-5.30pm, November-March. Entrance is 7 EUR (7.70 USD). Dress with respect, because it is a place of worship.
3. Visit the Arab Baths
These preserved public baths were built in 1194. Their Romanesque style was inspired by similar Roman and Arab baths and was built in response to the growing population of ancient Girona and the need for improved hygiene.
Although you can’t actually use the baths, you can take a self-guided tour to see what swimming looked like in the Middle Ages. The building is covered by a large vaulted ceiling and includes a cold water bath, a hot water bath and changing rooms.
Carrer del Rei Ferran el Catòlic, +34 972 21 32 62, banysarabs.org. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Entrance is 2 EUR ($ 2.20 USD).
4. Take a stroll along the Eiffel Bridge
The Pont des Palanques Vermelles, also known as the Eiffel Bridge, was built in 1827 by Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of his most famous work, the Eiffel Tower. Located above the Onyar River, this is a great place to get photos of the colorful buildings in the old town. I try to cross this bridge often, simply because the view is so beautiful!
5. Learn something new at one of the many museums in Girona
For a small town, Girona is home to many museums and art galleries. Here I think you should not miss:
- Museum of Jewish History – The museum is made up of 11 exhibitions which explore the history and culture of the region’s Jewish community, which was one of the largest in the region. Entrance is 4 EUR ($ 4.40 USD).
- Girona Art Museum – It has the largest collection of Romanesque and Gothic art in the region (more than 8,000 objects). It’s huge! Entrance is 6 EUR (6.60 USD).
- The cinema museum – This museum covers the history of cinema and is full of old posters, films and cinema equipment. It also hosts regular events and film screenings. A must for movie buffs! Entrance is 5 EUR ($ 5.50 USD).
- Archaeological Museum of Girona – It is one of the oldest museums in the region and has a collection of archaeological finds from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Although small, it gives good details of the region. Entrance is 6 EUR (6.60 USD).
6. Visit the Basilica of Sant Feliu
This historic Gothic cathedral is eye-catching and hard to miss. It almost looks like a castle. Its bell tower is visible from most places around Girona, so it is never far from sight.
It was the first cathedral in Girona and remained the only one until the 10th century. Beyond the impressive architecture, the cathedral is home to historic works of art, including a 14th-century sculpture of Christ, as well as Christian and non-Christian sarcophagi dating back to the fourth century.
Plaça de la Catedral, +34 972 427 189, catedraldegirona.org. Open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Sunday and public holidays from 1 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. Entrance is 7 EUR (7.70 USD).
7. Visit the monastery of Saint Daniel
Founded in the 11th century, this monastery located on the outskirts of the city was created with the intention of establishing a convent in the region. Although the abbey is no longer used, you can still visit the church and the cloister. Inside you will find the tomb of Saint Daniel, believed to house the remains of the saint himself. The architecture is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic, with additions from the 12th and 15th centuries.
The monastery is surrounded by the valley of Sant Daniel, a lush green space with lots of shade and picturesque natural springs.
8. Stroll to the top of the ancient wall of Girona
Dating back to Girona’s medieval past, these ancient walls were partially destroyed in the 1800s to make way for the expansion of the city. Fortunately, many of the missing pieces have been recovered or rebuilt in recent times. A walk to the top offers breathtaking views of the city and the rolling hills of the countryside. In addition, they are free!
9. La Rambla de la Llibertat walk
Lined with magnificent neoclassical, baroque and Gothic buildings, it is the city’s main pedestrian street. The street dates back to 1885 and is full of shops, cafes and restaurants. There is also a flower market on Saturdays.
10. Treat yourself to Rocambolesc
This is one of the best gelaterias I have ever seen! Owned by world class chef Jordi Roca, it’s a great place to (more) indulge in delicious ice cream and gelato topped with berries, cotton candy, fruit, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, fudge And much more. I go there every time I visit (usually several times). It’s amazing and worth every euro!
50 Carrer de Santa Clara, +34 972 41 66 67, rocambolesc.com. Open Sunday to Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
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Book your trip to Girona: logistical tips and tricks
Book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. These are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the world, so you always know that no stone is left behind.
Book your accommodation
To find the best budget accommodation, use Booking.com as they constantly return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the most complete inventory. My favorite place to stay in Girona is:
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It is complete protection in the event of a problem. I never go on a trip without it because I have had to use it several times in the past. I have been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that provide the best service and value are:
Are you looking for the best companies to save money?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling! I’m listing all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think it will help you too!
If you want to take a bike tour, check out Fat Tire Tours. They offer fun and informative tours. It’s my favorite business. They even have food themed tours.
Are you looking for more information on visiting Spain?
Check out my detailed destination guide to Spain with more tips on what to see, do, costs, ways to save and much more!
Photo credit: 3 – Doronenko, 4 – Toni Verdú Carbó, 5 – Teresa Grau Ros, 6 – stefano Merli, 7 – Josep Maria Viñolas Esteva, 8 – Montse Poch, 9 – rivigan, 10 – Joan, 11 – Jordi Sanchez