Planning a trip to Girona, Spain? What are the best things to do in Girona? We cover the highlights of this wonderful city and a few delicious eats.
Girona is a beautiful city located in the Catalonia region in northeastern Spain. It’s the capital of the province of the same name. Only hours away from the border of France.
The city is home to many historical landmarks, including the Girona Cathedral and the Eiffel Bridge. This charming city contains history, culture, Michelin guide restaurants, and shopping.
The locals are super friendly and warm; they made us feel right at home. We felt at home.
We spent 3 days in Girona after disembarking our Western Mediterranean cruise with Norwegian Epic. We had extended our time in Spain another week, but we didn’t want to spend the entirety of it in Barcelona. We wanted to get away from the city and explore Costa Brava a bit.
We were pleasantly surprised by Girona; it was the week’s highlight. Whether you visit for a day or stay for a few days, you can explore the best things to do in Girona, Spain, in one or two days.
Girona is also centrally located and a great point of interest in Catalonia. You can make Girona a home base while you set out to explore the Northwest Region of Catalonia. You can also make it a stop along the way to Costa Brava’s coast or even plan a day trip to Girona from Barcelona.
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Girona is also famous for the Game of Thrones series, as episodes of Season 6 were filmed here. But there is so much more to do in Girona. This article shares all the best things to do in Girona, Spain.
Things to Do in Girona, Spain
How do you pronounce Girona? It all depends if you’re saying it in Catalan or 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.
Is Girona worth visiting?
Yes! If you enjoy charming European medieval cities with lots of history, great foodie spots, and things to do, then Girona is perfect for you. The city is also very walkable and easy to get around.
What is there to do in Girona, Spain?
Plenty! Enough to warrant a visit there at least once. In Roman times, it was the gateway to Spain. The city’s long and varied history makes it so interesting to visit.
Here is a list of things to do in Girona, whether you visit on a city break for a few days or take a day trip to Girona from Barcelona.
1. Cathedral of Girona
We arrived in Girona and parked our car rental in the parking lot outside of the old city. We had no idea that we’d be rounding the corner of cobblestone streets when we entered the old city to immediately face the Cathedral of Girona.
I looked back at hubby dragging our suitcase, and all I could say was, “Wow, wow!.” He then stopped, and his eyes widened upon seeing it as well.
The grandeur of this cathedral is unexpected in person, and photos don’t do it justice. The Cathedral of Girona is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and is worth a visit in Girona.
Many tourists come to take pictures from outside and leave. We urge you to go inside and see the beauty of it. It’s just as amazing.
Just as well walk around the Cathedral. You will find a lovely garden area behind the church called Jardins de La Francesa.
A few facts about the Cathedral of Girona:
- Is Officially known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona.
- Featured in Season 6 of Games of Thrones and other parts of the city.
- There are 90 steps up.
- Its features are a mix of Romanesque, Baroque, and Gothic styles.
- The Gothic Nave is the largest in the world, slightly smaller than St. Peter’s at the Vatican.
- Entrance fee: 7 €
Note: Cafè l’Arc is right across from the Cathedral of Girona. If you can snag a seat, you can order coffee and join others admiring the cathedral for long periods. Every time we passed the cafe, it was always busy.
2. City Wall of Girona
The city wall is one of the best things to do in Girona, Spain. With its amazing views of the city, it should not be missed. Unfortunately, it’s usually skipped or goes unnoticed. Make sure to add it to your list. It’s open to the public, and it’s FREE.
Girona’s Old City Wall (Muralles de Girona) is one of Europe’s longest and best-preserved medieval walls. It’s approximately 3 kilometers long. The wall was built between the 9th and 17 centuries to protect the citizens of Girona from invaders.
There are several staircases and viewpoints where you can enter and exit the city wall. We recommend starting your walk from behind Girona Cathedral. You can find one of the entrances around the corner from it.
Yes, you will have to climb those cathedral steps and explore what’s behind the cathedral. No signs or arrows are pointing the way to the wall.
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 leading 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.
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. Worth the trek.
3. Jewish Quarter (El Call)
The Jewish Quarter is known as El Call. This part of Girona in the old town is the most idyllic part of the city as it is well-preserved. The Jewish History Museum is also near where the cathedral resides.
Our Airbnb was located in this part of the city, making it easy to explore. The streets are narrow, winding, and full of character. It’s hard not to want to take photos at every turn.
Besides the cobblestone and narrow streets, my favorite part was the homes off the main street that have now mostly turned into apartment buildings. Sometimes the entrance to the apartment buildings was left open, and you could peel inside into the beautiful courtyards.
4. The Eiffel Bridge (Old Iron Bridge)
One of the best things to do in Girona, which you won’t miss while exploring the city, is to admire the Eiffel Bridge.
The Eiffel Bridge, also known as the old iron bridge, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Girona. At first, we had no idea it was called Eiffel Bridge and that it was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel.
Gustave Eiffel? Sound familiar? The creator of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
I know! We didn’t put two and two together, either. One of the best parts of traveling is learning cool facts like this in person.
It’s no wonder why tourists often photograph the Eiffel Bridge.
While Girona has many bridges, the iron bridge is one of the top attractions of Girona, Spain. The iron bridge was constructed in 1877, right before the Eiffel Tower.
The iron bridge in Girona is a stunning sight. The high, narrow structure sits brightly pained in red and connects the old town with the new city. Its beautiful design stands out amongst the pastel-colored buildings on either side of the river.
Fun Fact: The Onyar River was the main road for transport during Roman times.
5. Girona Food Tour
Add a food tour to your things to do in Girona! It was one of the most delicious, fun, and educational things to do in Girona, Spain. You can’t beat the combination of food, history, and culture.
Girona Food Tours gave a fantastic tour of the city and its local cuisine. We were fed well. The guide was fabulous. The cost was worth every penny. You get a walking tour of the city while making tasty stops.
You’ll start the tour at a bakery cafe, stopping along places like the local farmers market, jamón tasting, a fantastic lunch that includes wine, tapas, and entree, and ending it with dessert.
The Catalan culture has 5 meals a day, which explains why you’ll find 3-course meals offered at restaurants at what would be an American lunchtime. Their heaviest meal of the day is had at lunchtime. This explains one of the many reasons why siestas still exist and why tapas (small plates) are had during their late dinnertime.
We always suggest booking food tours in advance and during one of the first days of your trip to a new city.
Walking Tour in Girona History and Gastronomy with Tasting [book here]
The Original Girona Food & Market Tour [book here]
6. Try the Local Girona Pastry: Xuixo
One of the first stops on our Girona food tour was a local bakery and cafe, where we were introduced to one of the best pastries: Xuixo.
The Xuixo is a local Girona pastry. This flakey, buttery pastry is fried, stuffed with Catalan cream, and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Probably one of the best pastries we’ve ever consumed.
You want to add this pastry to your tasty itinerary.
7. Visit Mercat del Lleó
Even if you do not take a food tour, check out Girona’s farmers market, Mercat del Lleó.
If you love food, then you’ll love Mercat del Lleó. This farmers market is the place to find some of the best produce and local goodies in Girona. From fresh fruits and vegetables to meat and seafood. This is where locals will go to buy everything they need to cook a delicious meal.
You may want to pick up some foodie treats you can put away in your luggage to bring back home. We sure did!
When we visited the Girona farmers market, we stopped by a butcher to sample different local meats. For the first time in our lives, we tasted candied meat sausage. Yes, you read that right!
Legend has it that many years ago (I’m paraphrasing), the woman who invented it prepared it as revenge to embarrass the husband for inviting company over, hoping he never invited anyone over again. Her plan failed as everyone loved it, becoming a local specialty.
It’s an acquired taste. The first bite was good. The rest I was unable to finish. Hubby enjoyed it.
This is the kind of inside treat you’ll experience by booking a food tour.
Mercat del Lleó | Plaça Calvet i Rubalcaba, s/n, 17002 | Google Map It
8. Visit the Arab Baths
The Arab Baths are some of the most impressive and well-preserved baths in all of Europe that date back to the 12th century. It was a well-engineered spa of that time.
The baths were also featured in Season 6 of Games of Thrones, Episode 8.
9. Rocambolesc Gelateria
After all the walking you’ll be doing, you will need a snack break. Girona Food tours introduced us to this gelato shop; 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 things to do in Girona? Not only is it delicious gelato, but the chef is one of Girona’s own. Locals are quite proud of this. So if you can’t make it to any of the restaurants, try the gelato at Rocambolsec Gelateria.
The shop is also fun. You will instantly get Willy Wonka vibes.
It first all started with an old ice trust. You can read about the history and how this shop was born on the front page of their site.
We tried one of their famous ice cream sandwiches. You’re in luck; we have a video of our ice cream sandwich being prepared, which was as 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 the ice cream of choice and then toast it in a special toaster. The sandwich will come out toasty and warm, while the inside will be filled with yummy gelato.
They also offer a variety of interesting homemade flavors and combinations. Some flavors may be seasonal.
10. Stroll Along Rambla de la Llibertat
During your Girona walks, you’ll come across Rambla de la Libertad.
Rambla de la Llibertat is one of the most famous streets in Girona for a stroll…. sometimes a protest or two. The tree-lined street is filled with shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to spend an afternoon wandering around. Don’t forget to look up as some of the architecture here is quite beautiful.
Rambla de la Llibertat | Google Map It
Day Trip to Girona from Barcelona
Thinking of planning a day trip to Girona from Barcelona. It is doable!
- Start your day early by taking the train from Barcelona-Sants station to Girona.
- Make sure to book a round-trip fare. This way, you have a set time to leave Girona, and tickets aren’t sold out.
- Don’t get too caught up in having to do everything in Girona. The old town of Girona is compact enough that you can leisurely walk and see most of everything in a day.
- And if you want to eat at one of their many Michelin restaurants, make sure to book a reservation in advance.
Is one day enough in Girona?
If you’re short on time, then one day is enough to explore the highlights of Girona: Girona Cathedral, the Eiffel Bridge, and the city wall. However, we recommend staying at least two days to explore the city at a leisurely pace without feeling rushed.
Is there a train from Barcelona to Girona?
Yes. A high-speed train from Barcelona to Girona will take you there in 40 minutes. Click here to check the times and book tickets from the Barcelona-Sants station.
With any European city, our biggest advice is to walk as much of it as possible. The more you explore, the more you’ll discover.
Planning a longer stay in Girona?
See what hotels and B&Bs are available in the area.
This list of the best things to do in Girona should cover the highlights of this beautiful city. So you can make this an easy day trip or extended stay. Don’t miss our 3 Days in Girona itinerary.
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Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.