This beautiful city is located at the convergence of four rivers in northeastern Spain. While this location was beneficial for life and commerce, it also made it an irresistible target for invaders - usually the French. It even earned the nickname ‘city of a thousand sieges.’ However, the actual number is close to 25. Girona's beautiful landscape is matched with its old city: so beautiful and alluring, that it was used to film numerous scenes from Game of Thrones. A 45 minute trip on the AVE high-speed train from Barcelona means this is a great day trip.
Best Time of Year to Visit
Girona has warm summers and cool winters. It rains year-round, but it usually does not last long. Pack an umbrella and light rain jacket no matter what time of year you visit. In the winter, the temperature can drop below freezing, so pack appropriately if you’ll be visiting then.
What to Eat
Restaurant: El Celler de Can Roca
It would be irresponsible to talk about food in Girona without mentioning the three-star Michelin and three-time top-ranked restaurant in the world (Restaurant Magazine 2013, 2015, 2018). The restaurant is known for its creative interpretation of Catalan cuisine. The Roca brothers opened the restaurant in 1986 and have expanded their offerings throughout the region. Foodies will need to plan ahead and get reservations months in advance.
Regional Catalan dishes
Suquet - seafood casserole
Caragols a la llauna - cooked snails
Esqueixada - very similar to ceviche, but with salted cod
Ollada - meat and vegetable stew
Crema Catalana - the Catalan take on creme brûlée
Xuixos - fried pastries stuffed with crema Catalan
Eat in Plaza de Independencia
As a general rule, tourist plazas are costlier and offer lower quality food. This plaza bucks that trend and offers a diverse selection of delicious cuisine from all over the world. Grab a table outside and soak up the energy of the city.
Girona is small and walkable. If your time is limited, catch a cab or call a rideshare (Free-Now). There are some bike lanes, but you will be doing plenty of walking as you explore the hilly old town, where cars are a rare sight. Some travelers fly into the Girona-Costa Brava Airport (GRO), only a 20-minute ride from Girona. As a result, Girona is a great day trip to add to your itinerary so that you can avoid the crowds of the Barcelona Airport (BCN).
Things to Do
Game of Thrones Walking Tour of the Old City
Even if you have never seen Game of Thrones, a tour through Girona through the lens of the show will guide you to most of the landmarks. The Girona Cathedral, Arab Baths, old quarter, and Plaça del Jurats are just a few of the many locations you will want to see and snap photos. Guides should have printed images and even iPads so you can compare reality to the scenes from the show. Hundreds of locals participated as extras, so you may even meet someone with their own stories of the experience.
The Museum of Jewish History
The best-preserved Jewish quarter in Spain is in Girona. It was a thriving neighborhood called ‘El Call’ and dates back to the 12th century. While outside invaders were a common threat, it eventually was the Catholics in the 15th century who expelled the community from Girona. While the city's Arab Baths are a well-known site, in 2014 there were Jewish baths discovered here as well. These are some of the only known Jewish ritual baths in Europe.
Walk the Old City Wall (Passeig de la Muralla)
While not all of the wall still stands today, you can stand atop its eastern end for some of the best views in the city. The original wall was developed in the Roman era, but most of it was built in the 9th century. Nearly two miles of the wall still stand, so grab your walking shoes and work up an appetite exploring the path. There are four access points, so find the one closest to you.
Park de la Devesa
This large park is a great place for a walk amongst the trees. Take a break from eating in restaurants and have a nice picnic here. Girona is a place for dogs, and nowhere is that more clear than this park. Come here on Tuesdays and Saturdays and browse an open-air market.
Bonus Option: Salvador Dalí Theatre-Museum
While this is a short distance away in nearby Figueres, it is worth considering. If you are taking a trip this close to Salvador Dalí's birthplace and one of only 2 Dalí museums in the world, then this should be on your radar. The surrealist is one of Spain’s most famous and prolific artists who completed this museum as his final work of art. See hundreds of original pieces from all across his lengthy career. Catch a 45-minute train ride from Girona, or hire a driver to take a side trip from your side trip. You will not be disappointed because the town of Figueres itself is charming enough for a visit.
Destination Fun Facts
The Onyar River divides the old city from the new and has 11 bridges that cross it. The Bridge of Old Fishmongers was designed by Gustave Eiffel ten years before his namesake tower.
The French TGV trains stop in Girona as part of the Barcelona-Paris connection.
Hundreds of professional cyclists call Girona home due to its proximity to low-traffic roads that offer a variety of terrain.