While many people only visit Girona on a day trip from Barcelona, we recommend spending a few days exploring its medieval walls, historic churches, and its incredible gastronomical scene. Oh, and did we mention it was a major location for Game of Thrones? There are so many things to do in Girona, it may well become your favorite Spanish city.
Located between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Costa Brava Coast in the Spanish province of Girona, we had the chance to spend an entire summer exploring the region and the capital city of the same name. I have no idea why we never wrote about all the best things to do in Girona before now, but it’s better late than never right? So let’s check out why this city is so special that Game of Thrones made it a major part of filming scenes for Braavos and King’s Landing.
Things to do in Girona
- Spain is open to tourists but some restrictions still may apply, be sure to check with Catalonia Tourism to see what is open.
Girona is located just 100km from Barcelona. We drove to Girona from Barcelona and took a road trip through Costa Brava. We highly recommend driving as the Costa Brava Coast is gorgeous. You can check rental car prices from Barcelona or Girona here but you can also take a high-speed train between the cities. You can purchase trains between the cities take just 38 minutes and start at just $13.95. Check out RailEurope for details.
Where To Stay In Girona
Hotel Carlemany – Located right in the center of Girona, Hotel Carlemany, is a fantastic location that is walking distance to many of the top sites in Girona. It has parking, big bike garage and breakfast. See it on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Hotel Nord 1901 – A beautiful boutique hotel with a great location that is a 5 minute walk from Girona Cathedral and colourful houses of the River Onyar. Picturesque setting, swimming pool and chic modern rooms. See it on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Okay, now that we have the logistics of travel and hotels figured out, let’s get on with the best things to do in Girona, Spain.
1. Take a Cycling Tour of Girona
City tours are one of the best ways to get acquainted with any city and our cycling tour with BikeCat was one of our favourite things to do in Girona. We not only explored the city, but we also visited the countryside and neighboring villages. At BikeCat you can customize your tours from day trips to multiple day tours. One of the cool things is that you will stay in hotels where professional cyclists have stayed and trained for decades. Girona is a popular training destination for Tour de France and other professional cyclists so what better way to get into the heart of the culture than by cycling through Girona. Check out BikeCat.com for details. Watch our video: Cycling through Medievel Villages of Girona
Don’t want to cycle? Book a small-group walking tour of Girona where you’ll be transported to the medieval age as you explore 2,000 years of history with a local guide. Highlights include filming locations from Game of Thrones, The Cathedral of Girona (cool fact, it contains the widest Gothic nave of the world and walk across the bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel.
2. Eiffel Bridge (Pont de les Peixateries Velles)
One of the most scenic spots in Girona is the Eiffel Bridge. Built on the site where four river’s meat, this bridge was built by Gustave Eiffel just before he began construction on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Girona has 11 bridges connecting the east and western parts of the city but this is the most famous. There are beautiful views of the colorful houses lining the Onyar River.
3. Walk the Medieval Wall
Our favourite thing to do in Girona is to take a stroll along the medieval city walls. Taking the Passeig de la Muralla (walk of the wall) offers beautiful views panoramic views of Girona. Dating back to the 1st century, BC, Girona’s city walls are the is the most complete city wall in all of Spain. The Força Vella (old fortress) was built by the Romans and portions still stand today. Over the centuries the walls were expanded and rebuilt to protect from sieges and attacks through the middle ages. Today they are one of the top things to do in Girona to see the city from above and the Pyrenees mountains beyond.
4. Girona Cathedral
The Girona Cathedral is officially known as Cathedral de Santa Maria Girona. Located in the heart of Old City on Plaça de la Catedra, the Girona Cathedral dates back to the 11th century. Taking seven decades to complete creates an interesting blend of different styles from Romanesque to Gothic and Baroque. Located at the highest point in Girona, it is a gathering place, a popular location for filming and fashion shoots, and the main tourist attraction in Girona. No trip to Girona would be complete without going inside to view the cloister, its stained glass windows, and bell tower.
Cool fact: many a scene from Game of Thrones was filmed on the Girona Cathedral steps. Book this Game of Thrones small group tour where you’ll begin at Saint Martin’s stairs to tour the Jewish Quarter, at GOT locations of Claveria, Sant Llorenç street, and Cúndaro streets. Then, pass the Cathedral of Santa Maria to reach Cartanyà Bisbe Street, in the neighborhood near the Casserna dels Alemanys (German Headquarters).
5. Game of Thrones Locations
We’ve talked a lot about Game of Thrones in Girona and if you are a fan of the series, a GOT tour is not to be missed. A guided tour is highly recommended, but there are also places you will notice yourself such as the steps of the Girona Cathedral at Plaça de la Catedral, the cobbled streets of Girona’s Old Town and Plaça dels Jurats (Girona’s festival square) was the place where Arya watched the play about the Starks and the Lannister families. This GOT Tour will show you all the filming locations around Girona.
- Fun Fact: Plaça dels Jurats (Girona’s festival square) is used as a theatre and concert venue in real life as well.
6. Jewish Quarter – El Call
Known as El Call, the Jewish Quarter is located in the heart of Old Town (Força Vella) Girona. This maze of narrow cobbled streets is not to be missed when visiting Girona. Enjoy a glass of prosecco on an outdoor patio, while admiring the archways and architecture of this iconic district.
Check out this highly rated tour where you’ll discover, one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters from the Middle Ages in Europe. Learn aboutNachmanides, the most important rabbi and doctor of Girona and enjoy a guided visit of the Museum of Jewish History.
7. Rambla de la Llibertat
Rambla de la Llibertat (La Rambla) is the place to be for dining, shopping, and people-watching. The main street of old town Girona is filled with cafes and outdoor patios that are perfect for an aperitivo. This pedestrian street runs parallel to the Onyar River and has an eclectic mix of architecture from the 19th century with baroque and gothic facades and shaded portico walkways. It’s our favourite place in Girona to enjoy drinks and appetizers before a night out on the town.
8. The Arab Baths (Els Banys Arabs)
Public baths aren’t only popular in Turkey and Italy, Girona has its own public baths dating back to 1194. Inspired by Northern African and Roman Baths, the Arab Baths are one of the most visited attractions in Girona. They were destroyed during a siege, but in 1342, the Arab baths were rebuilt. They were restored in 1932 and opened to the public to give a glimpse into life in the middle ages. You’ll recognize the octagonal, column-surrounded central pool that has been featured on film. And make sure to visit the rooftop for views of the cathedral. It’s only €2 to visit, making it a must stop on any Girona itinerary.
Don’t just visit the Arab Baths alone, take this guided tour where you’ll explore the Romanesque style rooms from the 11trh century followed by a stroll through the gardens of the Cathedral of Girona and the Monastery of St Pere de Galligants
9. Go to the Spa
Since you can’t bathe in the Arab Baths, a spa treatment is probably on the agenda. Aqva Gerunda is an excellent place to soothe your travel-weary muscles with aromatherapy thermal baths, ritual massages, and thermal cycles. Located in the first Hospital of Girona, AQVA was opened in 2015 by a local entrepreneur wanting to follow the Roman traditions of creating a balance where water, stone, light, and primary elements accompany a purifying journey through the senses.
10. Basílica Parroquial de Sant Feliu (The Basilica de Sant Feliu)
The Church of Saint Felu was a highlight of our many visits to Girona. Knowing the head of Costa Brava tourism firsthand offers many perks and we had the chance to ring the bells of the Bell Tower during one of our stays. The bells at the Basilica Parroquial de Sant Feliue only ring five times a year on holidays such as Easter, Corpus Christy, and Good Friday. We could only imagine what people were thinking when the bells started ringing out of the blue. It was Girona’s first church and touring inside reveals beautiful works of art dating back to the 4th century that has been meticulously restored.
11. Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants
When touring Costa Brava and Catalunya you’ll discover many a monastery. The Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants is a Benedictine Abbey dating back to the 12th century. Housing the Archeological Museum of Catalonia is a must-visit place in Girona to explore archaeological finds from prehistoric times to the middle ages.
12. The Sant Domènec Convent
Founded in 1253, now houses the Faculty of Arts for the University of Girona. It’s located on the highest point of the Girona Wall and can be visited. Notable things to see its various eras of architecture with Gothic and Renaissance cloisters, and Baroque chapels.
13. Monastery Saint Daniel
Another beautiful place to see in Girona is Monastery St. Daniel. Like so many things in the city, it is old, dating back to the 11th century. Located just outside the city core, this church houses the remains of St. Daniel. The cloisters are a stand-out attraction with the first floor built in the 13th century in Romanesque style and the 15th-century upper cloisters in Gothic style.
14. Jardins dels Alemanys
The Jardins dels Alemanys is a beautiful park and greenspace housing Roman ruins that were used as barracks by German soldiers during the 19th century Peninsular War, the wall. Make sure to walk up to the top of the ruins for views of the cathedral and city of Girona.
15. Plaça de la Independència
Plaça de la Independència or Independence Square is the main city square of Girona. Located in the historic centre of Girona, this square is a popular gathering place. With cafés lining the square it is popular with the tourists. If you are looking for things to do in Girona at night, Independence Square is a great place to start.
16. Casa Maso
Up there with the likes of Gaudi Rafael Masó most outstanding Catalan architects of the early twentieth century. In fact, he was an admirer of Gaudi and helped to shape and create Noucentisme (an alternative to Gaudi’s modernism). Casa Masó was his home until 1912 and many of his works can be found in Girona and surrounding areas such as Sant Feliu de Guíxols and the garden city of s’Agaró.
With a rich and storied history, it is no doubt that Girona would have plenty of museums. If you have the time, check out some museums to delve into Girona’s past.
17. Jewish History Museum
The Museum of Jewish History stands out among Girona museums with 11 areas where visitors can learn about Jewish life, history, and culture in Catalonia during medieval times. The cemetery contains 29 tombstones of previous Jewish inhabitants of Girona.
18. Girona History Museum
The Girona History Museum is located in the former 18th-century convent of the Capuchin friars of Saint Anthony.
19. Girona Art Museum
The Girona Art Museum is located in the former Bishops Palace dating back to the 10th century. Today it houses a massive collection of Romanesque and Gothic art. Be prepared for old artwork. This is not a contemporary art museum, instead, it contains many religious depictions and medieval and renaissance works of art.
20. Museum of Cinema
If you like movies, you are going to love the Museum of Cinema. The Museum of Cinema-Tomàs Mallol Collection celebrates the history of the moving image. From the pre-cinema era where the magic lantern was used to project images on a wall to the early age of cinema and stars of silent film, this is an excellent place to learn about the origins of moving pictures.
21. Gastronomy in Girona
Girona is one of the world’s greatest food destinations. Girona is home to 16 Michelin Star restaurants including El Celler de Can Roca, which was proclaimed the Best Restaurant in the World! We have tasted their food and it truly is a work of art!
When visiting Girona make sure to sample its many outstanding restaurants featuring Catalan, and Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t forget about dessert, when it comes to gelato, most people think of indulging in this tasty treat in Italy, but Girona has some of the best gelato shops in the world. Rocambolesc. Read more: Spanish Food: 17 Spanish Dishes to Try in Spain or at Home
Getting Around Girona
Getting around Girona is quite easy. Most of the main things to do in Girona are within walking distance and you can explore a lot in a day or a short amount of time. Cycling is also a great way to get around Girona with plenty of bike rental options. And to reach the surrounding areas for day trips from Girona, we highly recommend renting a car. Taxis are readily available in Girona as well.
Day Trips from Girona
Girona is an amazing place to make a base as you explore Costa Brava and the Pyrenees. As we said, we spent a summer here so we were privileged to do a lot around this gorgeous region of Spain. While you need a summer to really explore everything near Girona, here are a few of our favorite day trips from Girona to consider when exploring Catalunya.
21. Volcano of La Garrotxa
One of the best hiking trips outside of Girona is the Volcano of La Garrotxa. You can walk right inside the crater to see the layers of volcanic activity. There is more than 125 km of hiking trails, so it is definitely a beautiful place to hike. You can trek through the volcanoes, lava flows, and forested paths. Check out this tour where you’ll explore the pre-Pyrenees Mountains with more than 40 volcanoes, the Banyoles Lake, and medieval villages.
22. Via Ferrata at Saint Feliu de Guixols
If you are looking for a fun adventure, make your way to the Medieval Town of Saint Feliu de Guixols to take an extraordinary coastal via Ferrata. The Via Ferrata at Saint Feliu de Guixols offers stunning views, heart racing traverses, and exciting steel bridges that dangle over the Mediterranean Sea. This is a must!
23. Hot Air Balloon in the Pyrenees
This truly was one of the best things we did in all of Spain. Book this hot air balloon flight leaving from Garrotxa in the Pyrenees. It is truly astounding to go high above the Spanish Pyrenees at sunrise. Enjoy a sparkling glass of Cava as you enjoy the most romantic of things to do in Girona. A Journey Through The Pyrenees in Pictures
24. Dali in Port Lligat
Just outside of Cadaques and we’re up on the North-Eastern tip of Costa Brava and the highlight of this town is going to the Salvador Dali house where Dali himself lived and decorated and designed it all himself. Dali was a famous surrealist artist from Spain and his life and art are celebrated in Port Lligat. This is one of the most popular day trips in Costa Brava, so make your reservations beforehand online. Take this Salvador Dali tour from Girona where you’ll visit the town of Figueres, the Dalí Museum, and the village of Cadaqués.
And these are the best things to do in Girona Spain. Girona is a place we took for granted when spending a summer in Costa Brava, but it truly is one of the best places to visit in the country. If you are planning a Spain itinerary, be sure to add Girona to your list.