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.
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.