things to do in girona

18 FUN Things to do in Girona

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Despite its small size, there are plenty of things to do in Girona! It was one of the most beautiful places I visited while backpacking in Spain.

It’s a historical city with plenty of sights such as the giant cathedral and Roman Walls, that have to be seen to be believed.

I visited Girona while I was living in Barcelona. I went for the day on the weekend as a way of getting away from the city for a bit.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was blown away by how beautiful Girona is. It really is an incredible place. The narrow streets, medieval architecture and stunning views make it a must-visit place in Catalunya.

Girona may not the best first place you think of visiting in Spain or Catalunya for that matter, but it should be somewhere you seek to visit!

Without further ado, let’s get into my list of what to do in Girona!

Things to do in Girona

Girona isn’t the biggest city but if you’re familiar with the layout, it can be confusing trying to locate stuff. That’s why I’ve decided to plot all of the destinations onto a map for easy use!

Girona is one of the best places to visit in Catalonia and you’ll find plenty of stuff to do there during your visit! Save this map to your phone and you’ll be able to use it when you’re in the city to get around without any trouble!

1. Walk Girona’s Roman Walls

Roman Walls in Girona

If you want to get the best views of Girona, then you have to go for a walk on the Roman Walls! You get a fantastic view of the city from numerous vantage points.

The Passeig de la Muralla, as it’s known in Catalan, run for about half a life. The wall takes you up and down some brilliant spiral staircases in watchtowers and past numerous gardens.

The walls can get busy, so if you’re keen to get some decent snaps of the city, it may be worth getting up early to avoid the crowds. 

A second section of the walls, known as the Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants, is in the north of the city. This part isn’t as well-known but it has magnificent sight all the same.

2. Girona Cathedral

Girona cathedral

Girona Cathedral is one of the most striking buildings I have ever seen!

The cathedral looms over you as you approach it. There is no doubt, it’s a magnificent piece of architecture. The 99 steps to the entrance give the building an imposing feel.

The cathedral is open at intervals, and it’s worth taking a look inside if you get the chance.

Without a doubt, visiting the cathedral is one of the best things to do in Girona. Considering its size and prominence in the city, you’d be crazy not to check it out!

3. Eiffel Bridge

Eiffel Bridge

As the name suggests, this bridge was designed by Gustav Eiffel, the man behind the iconic Eiffel Tower.

The bridge may not be as spectacular as the tower, but it is still a beautiful piece of architecture. It offers fantastic views of the picturesque Onyar River.

Built in 1877, two years before his famous tower was completed, the bridge is an unassuming but scenic part of Girona.

It can get busy with tourists flocking to take selfies, but there is enough space to get a picture of the surroundings. The images of the multicoloured houses sitting on the banks of the river is an iconic shot of Girona!

One you can’t afford to leave without!

4. Plaça de la Independència

Placa de la Independencia

Plaça de la Independència is a huge square in the centre of the city. It reminded me of Plaza Nueva, which I describe in my Bilbao travel guide.

The style is very similar with arched galleries at ground level and multiple stories of flats above enclosing the square.

You’ll find plenty of restaurants in the square and it’s an ideal place to stop for lunch. If you’re staying in the city, you can also head there to get something to eat in the evening.

The square is beautiful and reminiscent of the architecture you’ll find across the country. For the photographers among you, it’s a great place to get some shots!

5. Discover Game of Thrones sets

I have a confession to make. I’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones in my life! If you asked me to name five characters, I would struggle. All I know is that Sean Bean appeared, and more than likely met a gruesome death!

If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll no doubt be aware that part of the filming takes place in Girona.

Some of these filming locations are already mentioned in my list of things to do in Girona. The cathedral, the cathedral steps, the Arabic Baths and the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants are all featured.

You can visit the sights on your own, or you can book a tour and see them that way. It depends on how big a Game of Thrones fan you are I guess. For me, I’m happy to just visit the places as they are. This is because I haven’t watched a single second of the TV series.

If you’re a big fan of the series, you might be more inclined to do the tour to learn about the filming and history of the buildings etc.

6. Jewish Quarter

Jewish Quarter in Girona

The Jewish quarter is located inside Força Vella, an old fortress built by the Romans in the first century BC. It’s one of the oldest and nicest parts of the city.

The quarter is a maze of narrow, cobbled streets which is a delight to explore. It’s in the quarter that you’ll discover Girona Cathedral. 

You’ll also find the Museum of Jewish History inside the quarter. The museum is housed inside an old synagogue and you can learn about the history of Jews in Catalunya, and Girona itself.

Numerous restaurants and bars can be found inside the quarter. It’s worth having a drink or something to eat in these incredible surroundings, as it does feel like you’ve been transported back in time while you’re there!

7. Lake Banyoles

Lake Banyoles

Lake Banyoles is located in the town which gives the lake its name. It’s 12km from the centre of Girona but it’s worth visiting if you’re in the city for more than one day.

The primary reason is that it’s a beautiful place. The views across the lake are stunning and it’s a nice place to go if you want to relax in nature for a bit.

The lake was the location for the rowing in the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona and is frequently used by many rowers as a training ground.

8. Kiss the bottom of a lion

One of the quirkier things to do in Girona involves kissing the backside of a lion. Not a real one, but a statue of a lioness!

It’s only a small statue so you can easily miss it if you’re not careful. However, this more unlikely now since there is a set of stairs to help you reach and plant a kiss on the lion’s buttocks!

If you’re wondering what to do in Girona, this is probably not something you’d thought you’d be doing. But it’s all a bit of fun, so why not give it a go if you come across the statue?

9. Girona Art museum

Girona Art Museum
Eboix / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Girona is not short of museums and the art museum is one of the best. The museum is located in the old Episcopal Palace and houses a range of art from the Roman period to the 20th century.

Due to the number of pieces and their age, this is enough reason to visit the museum. Some of the pieces are incredible, while there are lots of sculptures that will take your breath away.

Entrance is €6, which is a fair price if you’re a culture vulture. Even if your not a fan of the arts it’s Stallworth checking out. Everyone can appreciate a good piece of art and there are plenty in this museum!

10. Archeological Museum of Catalunya

Museum of Archeology of Catalunya
Alberto-g-rovi / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

The Archeological Museum of Catalunya is located inside part of the Monasterio de Sant Pere de Galligants and the adjacent Sant Nicolau church. 

The museum houses a range of artefacts from prehistory up to the Middle Ages, most of which have been found in the region from Empúries and Girona.

Entrance is €5 but again it’s well worth paying if you’re interested in archaeology and history. You can visits for free every first Sunday of the month. So, if you’re in Girona on one of these days, be sure to check out the museum!

11. Museum of Cinema

Museum of Cinema
Enfo / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Girona’s Museum of Cinema is a fascinating place to travel if you want to learn more about the history of cinema in Catalunya and the wider world.

The museum is located in the Casa de les Aigües and houses collections from local filmmakers such as Tomàs Mallol.

In the museum, you’ll find a variety of pieces from shadow puppetry to some of the first moving images and several films. There’s also multiple pieces of kit which were used by Mallol to make films.

Entrance is €6 and is well worth it if you want to discover more about the history of cinema!

12. Arabic baths

Arbaic baths
Josep Panadero / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

The Arabic baths were built in the 12th century and were inspired by Romanesque architecture. The baths were open until the 13th century when they were closed.

While you can’t bathe in them today, you can enter and take a look around. Entrance is €2 and it’s well worth checking the baths out. As you enter the baths you are presented with a central pool which is magnificent with ornate columns all around it.

The building is divided into seven rooms where you would have moved from rooms with the coldest water to those with the hottest.

Considering the entry price and what you’ll see inside, visiting the Arabic baths should be on your list of what to do in Girona!

13. Monasterio de Sant Pere de Galligants

Monasterio de Sant Pere de Galligants
Chosovi / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)

The Monasterio de Sant Pere de Galligants is a great place to go if you’re wondering what to do in Girona. The building is one of the most recognisable in the city.

It was built during the 12th century and is a prime example of Romanesque architecture in Girona. The bell tower is a prominent part of the building and can be seen from across the city.

Part of the building is now home to the archaeological museum, but you can appreciate the beauty of the building from inside.

You’ll find numerous sculptures which have caused controversy over the years. It’s €6 to enter the monastery but it’s worth it if you want to see the magnificent architecture inside!

14. Basilica de Sant Feliu

If you’ve not had your fill of visiting religious buildings in Girona, then Basilica de Sant Feliu is another one that you can check out!

The building dates back to the 10th century and used to be the city’s first cathedral. It’s an impressive building and well worth checking out to admire the architecture.

It seems like a lot of the things to do in Girona consist of visiting churches, but’s that just because there are so many of them. As the Basilica is right next to the cathedral, it makes sense to visit after you’ve seen the cathedral.

15. Casa Masó

Casa Maso
Enric / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

One of the most striking images of Girona is the multi-coloured houses that sit along the banks of the River Onyar. They are beautiful buildings and make for a brilliant photo.

Well, despite most of them being off-limits to the intrepid visitor, there is one that you can visit. Casa Masó was the family home of the architect Rafael Masó who designed the house himself.

The house is set up to reflect what it would have been like while Masó was living there. It’s a majestic building and well worth exploring. Plus, you’ll get a good view of the river below!

It costs €6 to enter, with the house open from Tuesday to Saturday. It’s one of the lesser-known things to do in Girona, but Casa Masó is well worth visiting!

16. Hospital de Santa Caterina

Hospital de Santa Caterina
Enric / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

This building now houses the Catalan government but from the 17th until the beginning of the 21st century it used to be a fully functioning hospital.

It’s one of the best-preserved historical hospitals in Europe and worth looking around if you get the chance. Inside, you’ll find the ancient pharmacy of the old hospital and much more.

It’s one of the most interesting places to visit in Girona due to its past and present. Taking a look inside is a good idea as there are many buildings with such a varied history.

If you want, you can book a guided tour through the museum of Art, which will go into detail about the building’s fascinating history.

17. Eat at La Fabrica

La Fabrica

Girona is renowned as a cycling hotspot. The city is used by many professional cyclists as a training hub in the winter due to the proximity of the Pyrennes. The disgraced Lance Armstrong was one such rider who based himself in the city.

La Fabrica is where a lot of the cyclists venture to get something to eat. The cafe was established by a former professional cyclist, Christian Meier and his wife. 

As you’d expect, you’ll find a lot of cyclists and a lot of bicycles here, which gives the place a unique charm. If you’re a cycling aficionado, it’s one of the best places to visit in Girona!

Even if you’re not a cycling fan, it’s still worth visiting La Fabrica because it’s a great and healthy place to eat! You can get breakfast, snacks and lunch here. The food is great, so give it a try when you’re in the city!

18. Walk along La Rambla de la Llibertat

La Rambla de la Llibertat
Tanya Dedyukhina / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

La Rambla de la Llibertat is one of the busiest streets in Girona and one you have to check out on your visit.

It was built in the 18th century to host a market, while you won’t find the markets today, you will find lots of shops and restaurants in the market’s place.

The street is close to the river and makes for a scenic setting in the city. Eating at one of the numerous alfresco dining areas is a great way to enjoy the views!

Due to the name, there will inevitably be comparisons with one of the many things to do in Barcelona, walk La Rambla. However, the name is where the comparison ends. The Rambla in Girona is smaller and more intimate than its more famous namesake.

Where to stay in Girona

Despite being a small city, there is plenty of accommodation in Girona. From hostels to hotels, there is accommodation to suit all budgets!

How to get to Girona

If you have decided to visit Barcelona, then it’s really easy to get to Girona. It’s also easy to get there from virtually anywhere in Europe as it’s a hub for cheap flights from the rest of the continent.

By train

There are regular trains from Barcelona to Girona that you can hop on. Stations such as Sants Estacio, Passeig de Gracia are places where you can jump on.

The fare is relatively cheap at around €20-30 for a return. The journey takes an hour on the RENFE service. Once you arrive in Girona, the train station is only a five-minute walk from the centre of the city.

By car

Girona is an hour away from Barcelona by car. Unless you have a car, you will need to rent one to get there. If you prefer this method of transport over the train, you can rent a car here.

If you’ve flown into Girona airport, the city is a 20-minute drive away. If you’re planning on staying in the region for a while, you can include Girona as part of a Catalonia road trip, which will allow you t explore the many great places in Catalonia.

By bus

I wouldn’t advise the bus over the train if you’re coming from Barcelona. the train is much easier and convenient to use.

However, if you’ve landed at Girona airport, the bus is a great way to get into the city. Bus no. 605 or 607 will take you to Girona with a ticket costing €2.75. The journey takes 20 minutes.

Best time to visit Girona

Girona

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Girona is from April to October. This is when the weather is at its best, with warm temperatures. I visited during winter, and although it wasn’t freezing, the temperatures weren’t great.

It also got dark quickly, so I wasn’t able to take in as much of the city during daylight as I would have liked. That said, the city is beautiful at night time, and it was nice strolling the streets on a winter night.

If you’re spending 3 days in Barcelona, or longer, you can visit Girona on a day trip. Due to the nature of the city, it doesn’t really make a difference what time of the year you visit. Summer or winter, the only thing that will change is the temperature.

There isn’t really a best of the year to visit Girona. You can do all the activities during winter or summer. However, it might be more enjoyable when it’s sunny, as opposed to walking around the city in the cold!

Best Places to eat in Girona

As well as La Fabrica, there are plenty of other places to get a bite to eat in Girona. The city has some fantastic restaurants and cafes and is somewhat of a culinary hotspot, although not as much as San Sebastian!

You’ll find plenty of great restaurants in the city, which range from fine dining to cheaper options. There are a few pubs too if you want to get a drink. While there are plenty of cafes if you want a light bite to eat or a coffee.

Below are some of my favourite places to eat in Girona!

  • Rocambolesc – This place sells some of the best gelato you will ever find! This is a must-visit in Girona, even if it’s winter, I still recommend getting some ice cream. It’s that good!
  • El Cellar de Can Roca – El Cellar is considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world and is without a doubt a top restaurant. It may be difficult to get a table, so booking ahead is advised. If you like fine dining and great food, this is the place for you.
  • Bionbo Café Gastrobar – A cheaper option, Bionbo Gastrobar is a great place to eat if you’re looking for great food at competitive prices. The food is incredible and is a vegan-friendly spot if you have dietary requirements!

Concluding thoughts

Despite being a small city, there are plenty of things to do in Girona. The city is an ideal place to visit on a day trip from Barcelona, or as part of a short break.

I thoroughly my time in Girona, it’s a beautiful place with some stunning architecture! I can’t recommend it enough and it’s easily one of the best places to visit in Spain!

Have you visited Girona? Did you do some of the things I recommend, or something else? Let me know in the comments below!

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What to do in Girona