Planning a trip to Girona, Spain? See the best things to do in Girona and the highlights this wonderful city has to offer.
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When we extended our trip to stay another week in Barcelona after our Western Meditteranean cruise, I knew that I didn’t want to spend the entirety of it in Barcelona. I can say without a doubt that we were pleasantly surprised by Girona and it was the highlight of the week. Whether you visit for a day or stay for a few days, you can explore the best highlights of Girona, Spain.
Girona is a city in the Catalonia region of Spain and only hours away from the border of France. This charming city is full of history, culture, food, and shops. The locals are super friendly and warm, they made us feel right at home. We felt at home.
It’s a great point of interest in Spain, a day trip from Barcelona, a stop on the way to Costa Brava or home base as you explore the Northeast region of Catalonia.
Are you wondering how do you pronounce Girona? It all depends if you’re saying it in Catalan or in Spanish. If in Catalan, you would pronounce the G as in Gee-rona. In Spanish, the G sounds like an H and you would say, Hee-rona.
Things to Do in Girona, Spain
Cathedral of Girona
We arrived in the city of Girona and had to park our car rental in the parking lot outside of the old city. I had no idea that when we entered the old city, we’d be rounding the corner of the cobblestone streets to face the Cathedral of Girona.
“Wow, wow,” was all I said as I looked back at hubby dragging our suitcases. He then stopped and his eyes widened upon seeing it as well.
The grandeur of this cathedral is unexpected in person and photos really don’t do it justice. If you’re craving coffee and a place to sit, there is a cafe across from it at the bottom of the stairs where you can join others, sip coffee and gawk at the cathedral for long periods of time. I’m not sure why I was surprised but every time we passed the cafe, it was always busy.
Here are some Cathedral of Girona facts:
- Is Officially known as Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona
- Featured in Season 6 of Games of Thrones, as well as other parts of the city.
- There are 90 steps up.
- Its features are a mix of different styles from Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic.
- The Gothic Nave is the largest in the world; slightly smaller than St. Peter’s at the Vatican.
Entrance fee: 7 €
Many tourists come to take pictures from outside and leave. I urge you to go inside and see the beauty of it.
If you are a Games of Thrones fan, you may want to consider one of these tours:
City Wall of Girona
One of the best activities and what I noticed people skipped, was walking the Wall of Girona. You can find one of the entrances around the corner from the cathedral. Yes, you will have to climb those cathedral steps and explore what’s behind the cathedral.
Now, there are no signs or arrows pointing the way to the wall. So, you’ll have to go on a little exploration of sorts. Walk around the corner of the cathedral. You’ll keep going until you find some raw iron gates that will lead to a garden and then down some rocky steps. It’s quite a little adventure. If you’re not steady on your feet, be careful or maybe consider skipping it.
Watch your step!
Soon you will come to the path of the city wall and enjoy the lovely views of Girona. It’s about a 30-40 min walk before you see an exit that will lead you down a set of stairs in another part of Girona. Totally worth the trek.
Known as El Call, this part of Girona in the old town is definitely the most idyllic part of the city as it is well-preserved. It is also where the cathedral resides and the Jewish History Museum. If you want to learn more about the area, we suggest visiting the museum.
Our Airbnb was located in the Jewish quarter and we were lucky to be able to enjoy the charming area at different times of the day. My favorite part, besides the cobblestone streets and narrow streets, were the homes off the main street that have now mostly turned into apartment buildings. Sometimes the front of it was left open and you could see the courtyard.
Eiffel Bridge (Old Iron Bridge)
When I first booked our trip to Girona, I wondered why there were so many pictures of this bridge, I had no idea it was called Eiffel Bridge and that it was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel.
That Gustabe Eiffel! The creator of the Eiffel Bridge.
I know! How didn’t I put two and two together? This is one of the best parts of traveling, learning cool facts like this and in person.
While Girona has many bridges, the iron bridge is one of the best highlights of Girona Spain. The iron bridge was constructed in 1877 right before the Eiffel Tower. It’s painted red and really stands out over the River Onar with pastel-colored structures on either side of it. The old town with the new city of Girona is connected through this bridge.
It’s lovely to see even as the sun sets and the night sets in.
Girona Food Tour
What to do in Girona, Spain? Absolutely do a food tour. It is one of the best highlights of our visit. You can’t beat the combination of food, history, and culture. If you read my post Three Days in Girona, Spain then you know Girona Food Tour gave us a fantastic tour of the city and fed us well.
I always suggest to book food tours in advance and enjoy them during one fo the first days of your trip in any city.
The tour kicked off at their meet point but from there we were taken to a bakery cafe, where the guide pointed to a plaque on the storefront that let people know that it is an approved Artisan bakery. Cool, right? We looked for this plaque for the rest of our time there.
At this said cafe, I met the local Girona pastry, Xuixo. It’s a fried pastry that is stuffed with Catalan cream and rolled around in cinnamon sugar. Probably one of the best pastries I’ve ever consumed.
Before this tour, I didn’t know that in the Catalan culture they had a total of 5 meals a day. It suddenly explained why the day before we were offered a 3-course meal at what would be our lunchtime. Their heaviest meal of the day is had at lunchtime, which explains one of the many reasons why siestas still exist and why tapas (small plates) are had during their late dinnertime.
We visited the Girona farmers market and tasted for the first time in our lives candied meat sausage. Yes, you read that right!
Legend has it many many years ago (I’m paraphrasing) the woman that invented it prepared it as a revenge to embarrass the husband for inviting company over, in hopes he never invited anyone over again. Her plan failed as everyone loved it and it became a local specialty.
It’s an acquired taste. The first bite was good, the rest I was unable to finish. No worries, hubby helped, he really enjoyed it.
At another renowned shop, we learned all about the jamón. The process of how they raise pigs and how they are fed to give us different quality jamón. You may be lucky and have the chance to try the Joselito, which is the gold standard of jamón. I didn’t know there was such a thing, and yet there is. It will also cost you a pretty penny.
Included with tour also was a sit-down lunch with a taste of everything from patatas bravas, homemade ravioli, wine and more.
There was so much more to the tour than food. They introduce you to eats and sights of their beautiful town of Girona.
After all the walking you’ll be doing, I’m sure you will need a snack break. Girona Food tours introduced us to this gelato shop and I must say, it’s a must-visit. Three-Star Michelin pastry chef Jordi Roca I Fontané, the youngest of the three brothers of Celler de Can Roca created this sweet spot.
Why is this Rocambolesc Gelateria one of the best highlights of Girona, Spain? Not only is it delicious gelato, but the chef is one of Girona’s own. Locals are quite proud of this.
Fun fact: There are 16 Michelin restaurants in the Girona province. Amazing, right?
So if you can’t make it to any of the restaurants, you can try the gelato at Rocambolsec Gelateria.
When you enter the shop, you will instantly get Willy Wonka vibes.
Can you believe this all started with an old ice cream cart? You can read about how the history and how this shop was born on the front page of their site: http://www.rocambolesc.com/
We tried one of their famous ice cream sandwiches. You’re in luck, we have a video of our ice cream sandwich being prepared and it was a delicious as it looks in the video. I’d have one right now! Check out the video here.
Choose an ice cream flavor or combination. They will stuff a brioche bun with it and then toast it up in this special toaster. The sandwich will come out toasty and warm while the inside will be filled with yummy gelato. They offer a variety of interesting homemade flavors and combinations.
With any European city or town, my biggest advice is to walk as much of it as possible. The more you explore, the more you’ll discover. If you’re just there for a day or two, this list is a great guide of the best highlights of Girona, Spain. I hope this inspires you to make a visit to this wonderful city in Catalonia that should not be missed.
Are you inspired to visit Girona? What are you looking forward to the most?
I’m still dreaming of the Xiuxo, so please try it and send some pics.
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