Girona is a small city in the northeast of Catalonia, about a two-hour drive or train-ride north of Barcelona. Often overlooked by tourists, it’s a gorgeous city located smack in the middle of the confluence of four rivers. As a consequence of its strategic location, Girona (map) became a wealthy trading town centuries ago and was occupied at different times in its history by the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and the French. The city remains till this day one of the wealthiest in Spain and boasts a myriad of historical and cultural attractions that can easily keep visitors occupied for days. Here are some things to see in Girona on a leisurely stroll around the historic city centre.
Things to see in Girona
Start with a stroll along Girona’s ancient walls for a stunning overview of the city or along the picturesque Onyar River. Many bridges cross the Onyar River – the ones with the best views are the Eiffel Bridge or Pont de Ferro (designed by the same company who brought us the Eiffel Tower) and the Pont de Sant Agusti.
Then navigate your way through Girona’s atmospheric, cobble-stone streets. Hundreds of balconies grace the façades of the colourful buildings in Girona’s old centre.
Explore the old Jewish Quarter with its narrow alleys and steep staircases. Check out the many art galleries and quaint shops tucked into little corners of the quarter.
Then head up to the city’s magnificent Cathedral. Perched atop a hill, it’s a 90-step climb to the front entrance of the Cathedral but the views from the top are absolutely worth the effort!
For more stunning views of the city, I recommend a walk along the Girona’s medieval walls.
Check out my Costa Brava guide + self-drive itinerary
After all that walking (and climbing), it’s time for a drink or a meal. There are many lovely cafés and restaurants scattered throughout the Old Centre, with a high concentration along the tree-lined Rambla de llibertad. If you’re looking for traditional Catalan fare, I highly recommend Le Bistrot, a favourite amongst both locals and tourists.
Or you can sit at one of the many terraces and people-watch at the Plaça Independecia or Independence Square.
Another sight you can’t miss is the Gothic Sant Feliu Collegiate Church, with its iconic spire.
Finally, stop at the foot of the Sant Feliu church. Look for an ancient-looking pillar with a lion. In Rome, visitors throw coins into the Trevi Fountain to make a wish that they would some day return. In Girona, the tradition is to kiss the lion’s derriere! A little ladder now takes the hassle out of trying to climb the pillar!
Girona was also the filming location of many scenes in the Game of Thrones series, and there’s also a Game of Thrones walking tour you can join!
Search for hotels in Girona (Booking.com).
A big thank you goes to Jaume Marin of the Costa Brava Tourism Board for showing me around his home town.
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We travelled around Catalunya for quite a while and it really does hold many wonderful surprises, from Barcelona up to Tossa de Mar and beyond to the far reaches of Roses and Port Llegat. We wrote about the region extensively on our own blog which you can see here – http://www.spain-in-a-campervan.com/tag/catalunya
Please enjoy, best regards,
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After traveling nonstop for five years, this year finally includes Spain and after seeing your article, Girona is on the list of places to visit. Thanks for your beautiful photos and the stop on my itinerary.
Gorgeous pictures! The city looks very Italian to me, actually. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in Spain.
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LOL, can I not kiss that behind and still return to Ginora 😛
Thank you for this post–one of the things I love about travel blogs is that I learn about places I’ve never heard of before. Of course, that means the bucket list just gets longer….
I was thinking the same thing as Vanny…awestruck that you were able to take so many photos without hordes of other tourists in them. Lovely town.
Thanks for your comments. I absolutely adored Girona. It’s a great city to visit at a leisurely pace.
I think I’d love Girona. Looks quieter there too than Barcelona. Thanks for shining the spotlight on this city!
Great pics Keith… Beautiful looking place!!
Nancy & Shawn
A Blog filled with Strolling around gorgeous Girona stories & a huge collection of gorgeous Girona photos and good ccontent taken from around the world.