Discover Girona: Essential Guide to Spain’s Historic City

The skyline of Girona and the cathedral tower
Girona, Spain: Discover the charming medieval streets, preserved Jewish Quarter, and vibrant culinary scene in this quaint Catalonian city.

A gorgeous tourist destination set in northern Catalonia is the city of Girona. It is located in Costa Brava and near Barcelona, lying on the Oñar River and in the Los Ángeles Mountain’s foothills. Girona, Spain, has three zones: the residential area, the modern section, and the interior, including the old quarter and city walls.

Girona in Spain may be a small town, but it is a beautiful place to visit. The city boasts of one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe. Aside from historical treasures, the medieval streets are full of top-rated restaurants and eccentric bars. Make your European trip unforgettable by arranging a Spain Girona itinerary.

Where is Girona, Spain?

Girona is the capital of the Girona province, located in the northeastern part of Spain, in the autonomous community of Catalonia. It is to the north of Barcelona and close to the Mediterranean coast of Costa Brava. Girona is renowned for its well-preserved medieval architecture, the historic old town, and the Girona Cathedral. The Ter River borders the city.

Girona History

Girona, España was initially discovered in 79 BC. It used to be a small Iberian settlement but later attracted the Romans. Eventually, the Romans built a citadel in this city and named it ‘Gerunda.’ The city was under many rulerships, from the Visigoths and Muslims in 714 to Franks under Charlemagne in 785.

The city was also recaptured by Louis of Aquitaine in 797. Girona City had a prosperous Jewish quarter until the expulsion of Jews in 1492. During the 17th–18th-century wars between Spain and France, Girona took active participation and was besieged by both parties on multiple occasions.

Colourful houses reflected in Onyar River with the cathedral tower in the background

Girona Climate

In Girona, the climate is called the transitional Mediterranean. The Girona, Spain weather consists of relatively mild and rainy winters and hot and sunny summers. The coldest month in Girona is January, with an average temperature of 7°C (45°F). Meanwhile, July and August are the warmest months, wherein the temperature averages 23.5°C (74°F).

Winter runs from December to February. The weather in Girona, Spain, is relatively mild, with a balance of both sunny and runny days during this season. It may get cold at night, and fog can form in periods of good weather. There may also be occasional snow. The temperature can drop to -6°C (23°F) or even lower.

On the other hand, summer runs from June to August. This season is the driest and sunniest. However, there may still be instances of thunderstorms coming from the Pyrenees. Atlantic disturbances may also cause rain, especially in June and the second half of August. The temperature can reach 40°C (104°F) during very hot periods.

When is the best time to visit Girona?

The best time in Girona, Spain, to have a holiday is from April to June and September until October. These months have a pleasant or warm temperature with limited rainfall that can disturb your excursion.

An ancient street in the heart of Girona

Activities in Girona, Spain

There are plenty of reasons to visit Girona, due to its abundance of activities in this charming town. The best thing about Girona town is that you can explore the whole place, even just for a quick weekend getaway. Here are some recommended activities to do while in this fascinating city.

Explore Girona’s Old Town and ‘Game of Thrones’ Location

Ciutat Antiga sits in Girona old town, lined with preserves of Romanesque, Baroque, Jewish, and Gothic walls, as well as churches, squares, and buildings. The old town Girona, Spain, also known as the Call Jueu, is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved Jewish quarters. Be transported back to the Middle Ages as you traverse its steep, narrow streets. These medieval streets were used as one of the locations in the iconic television series “Game of Thrones.”

Have a Tour of the Arab Baths

In Girona’s Old City, you can find preserved Arab baths. These public baths have long existed since 1194. It was partially destroyed during the Siege of Gerona and turned into a part of a convent. Finally, it was restored and opened to the public in 1932. You can’t use the baths, but you can join tours to discover what bathing was like during the Middle Ages.

Walk Across the Bridges

There are 11 bridges in Girona. One of the most popular is the Eiffel Bridge. Named after the architect behind Eiffel Tower, Pont de les Peixateries Velles or the Eiffel Bridge was constructed by Gustav Eiffel in 1876. This fancy red bridge serves as a middle point for travelers wanting to cross from the old city to the new city. It also is a great place to take snaps of the old town’s medieval architecture and colorful buildings.

Looking from the top of the steps at Girona cathedral

Museums in Girona, Spain

Are you thinking of what to do in Girona, Spain, on cold or rainy days? Explore the city’s museums. Visiting each museum will further enrich your knowledge about the town’s rich history and valuable cultural heritage.

Museu d’Història dels Jueus

Also known as the ‘Museum of Jewish History, this museum will take you to the history of the Jewish population during the Middle Ages in Catalonia. It is located in a building where Girona’s synagogue was initially constructed in the 15th century. The museum displays essential archaeological and written materials from Jewish history. It beautifully represents Jewish people’s vital role in Catalonia’s development. Visit the Museum website here.

Museu d’Art de Girona

For art lovers, you would not want to miss a tour of Girona Art Museum. The museum’s collection showcases the development of Catalonia’s artistic creations. Feast your eyes on the variety of pictorial and sculptural works from different periods and successive styles. The museum also has gardens and exhibition rooms that host various activities and temporary exhibitions. Visit the museum website here.

Museu del Cinema

Girona’s Cinema Museum represents the pre-cinema era and the early period of the age of cinema up to the present. It features the collection of filmmaker Tomàs Mallol. The museum houses approximately 20,000 pieces, including devices, accessories, and documents promoting the world of cinema. It is through this museum that the cinematic heritage of Spain remains alive. Visit the museum website here.

Looking up to the Girona Cathedral where they filmed some scenes for Game of Thrones

Monuments in Girona, Spain

How else can you appreciate a city’s beauty? Through its line of monuments throughout the city. Girona is rich in landmarks that add to the town’s allure and serve as a historic destination.

Cathedral de Girona

The Girona Cathedral boasts of having the widest Gothic nave in the world. Perched on top of a hill, the only way to get to this church is by climbing a long staircase. But do not worry because the journey is worth it. The cathedral took four centuries to be constructed and complete. You will surely be amazed by its intricate application of Renaissance and Romanesque architectural styles. What also makes it unique is that it is one of the locations used for Game of Thrones in Girona, Spain. Visit the Cathedral website here.

Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants

Admire a notable example of Romanesque architecture in Catalonia through the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants. This elegant monastery was built in the 12th century and is known for its unique chancel and bell tower. Its architecture is composed of three naves divided by pillars supporting semicircular arches. Also, it has four apses with fine stone carving. This important Romanesque monument in Girona Catalonia has a rectangular cloister with four vaulted galleries carried by colonnaded pillars, which form a small courtyard. Visit their website here.

Basílica de Sant Feliu

A historic Gothic cathedral in Girona is the Basílica de Sant Feliu. It is notable for having similarities with a castle and being Girona’s first cathedral until the 10th century. The cathedral also has a slender bell tower that is visible from many spots in the town. Its construction resulted in numerous architectural styles. The facade displays a Baroque facade, and other areas have remarkable Romanesque features. Aside from the impressive architecture, visitors also have the chance to see historical artworks. These include a sculpture of the Recumbent Christ by the 14th-century Catalan sculptor Aloi de Montbrai and Christian and non-Christian sarcophagi.

Festivals in Girona, Spain

Like any other Spanish town, Girona also has its calendar packed with festivals. Girona would not be labeled as “The City of Festivals” for nothing. You may want to schedule your flights to Girona, Spain, in time for one of these events.

Temps de Flores (Girona Flower Festival)

The most famous festival in Girona is Temps de Flors or the Flower Festival. It started as a small flower show and competition 50 years ago. Today, locals and tourists are witnesses as Girona is transformed every May into a town full of superb floral arrangements. Several activities are ongoing throughout the festival for people of all ages.

Girona Gastronomy Week

Satisfy your palate by joining the Girona Gastronomy Week. This event takes place during spring. Restaurants in Girona, Spain, serve unique dishes during this time. Sample different traditional menus and the region’s popular Empordà wines. Aside from the town’s famous food and wine offerings, people can also enjoy featured films related to the world of gastronomy.

Cap Roig Festival

If you are looking to have a fun time through music and dance, Cap Roig Festival is the event to go to. It started in 2001 with a mix of national and international artists as participants. This music festival is held in Cap Roig’ Castle with an open-air stage with a 2,118-spectator capacity. The seafront setting is 17 hectares wide and is set in one of the Mediterranean region’s most important botanical gardens. Famous artists who have already performed at this festival include Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Jason Derulo, and more.

Girona Film Festival

A Catalan flag hangs from a building in old town Girona

Shopping in Girona, Spain

When it comes to shopping, Girona will not disappoint. The city has a full range of shopping options. Whether you are looking for designer fashion or traditional handicrafts to buy as a souvenir, these are the marketplaces you can drop by.

Rambla de la Llibertat

One of the busiest parts of Girona is Rambla de la Llibertat. Its magnificent long-stretch street is parallel to Onyar River and has served as a gathering of marketplaces for the Gironans since the 13th century. There are plenty of boutiques selling clothing, crafts, and other unique items. You can also view many interesting buildings here, like the Casa Norat, which features a modernist 1912 façade.

Centro Comercial Girocentre

This is the largest branch of the department store chain, El Corte Inglés. It is in the south of the old quarter. Here, you will find many clothing, accessories, electronics, cosmetics, and more stores from top designer brands.

Parc de la Devesa Market

La Devesa Park is a 40-hectare green space serving as a picnic area for locals and tourists. It also has open, sunny spaces perfect for those who want to play sports and have some leisure time. But on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the park is filled with sellers promoting their clothes, handicrafts, and food products. Discover Girona’s local food culture by tasting fresh produce, meat, jams, nuts, and other offerings by going to the said market days.

Giant eggs on the roof of the Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Spain, close to Girona

Day Trips from Girona, Spain

Aside from the famous tourist spots within the city, look at these recommended day trips from Girona.


In the province of Girona lies a small town called Figueres. It is best known to be the hometown of the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. And of course, this is where you will see his works at the Dalí Museum. Like the castle of Sant Ferran, important heritage sites and monuments contribute to the city’s overall appeal. The city center is also dotted with buildings that are great examples of Modernist and Neoclassical architectural styles.

Banyoles Lake

Catalonia’s largest freshwater lake is Banyoles. Swimming is only allowed during the summer months. It is also used for rowing or canoeing. There are also boat trips available for tourists. It is one of Girona’s greatest treasures. It has a large open space wherein people can stroll around or look for a bike rental Girona, Spain source to explore the place further.

Costa Brava

This coastal area in the province of Girona stretches from Barcelona to the French border. Costa Brava Girona, Spain is home to some of the best beaches in Spain, such as Platja Fonda and Cala Estrella. This is also where Cala Portaló is located, wherein its unique rock formations were used as a backdrop in the paintings of Salvador Dalí. The easiest way to go here is by flying straight into the airport in Girona, Spain. Alternatively, you can take the train from Madrid or Barcelona.

One of the many bridges over the Onyar Rver in Girona

Places To Stay in Girona, Spain

Girona, Spain hotels are mostly historic or boutique. If you are looking to save costs on your accommodation in Girona, Spain, apartment rentals are also available. If money is not a problem, luxury chain hotels in Girona, Spain, including:

  • Hotel Ibis Girona,
  • Ciutat de Girona, and
  • Hotel Palau de Bellavista Girona by URH.

Hotels in the Barri Vell neighborhood that are ideal for couples as they send off some romantic vibes are:

  • Hotel Històric Girona
  • Hotel Legendes Girona.

For those travelers who want to stay connected throughout their trip, choose hotels in Girona, Spain city center instead. Good choices include:

  • Nord 1901 Girona,
  • Hotel Carlemany Girona,
  • Gran Ultonia Hotel Girona.
Tourists walking along the walls of the fortress, Girona

Restaurants to Eat in Girona, Spain

In 2013, El Celler de Can Roca won the top spot on the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list. This is where the culinary fame of Girona started. This Michelin-starred restaurant is indeed the best restaurant in Girona, Spain. Another Michelin-starred restaurant to try in Girona is Massana. Note that before being able to try their traditional cuisines, you need to book a reservation first. Other restaurants to try out are Divinum Girona, Restaurant Nu Girona, and Llevataps Girona.

Drinking and Nightlife in Girona, Spain

Nightlife is not unusual in this northeastern Spain city. Girona’s medieval squares come to life at night, when the areas are flooded with happy crowds. Some of the best bars to go to are Lola Café, McKiernans, and Els Jardins de la Mercè. Since wine is produced in Girona, expect a steady flow of wines when you visit. Sweet red wines, dry red and white wines, and sparkling wines are all available.

How To Get to Girona, Spain

Most travelers to Girona come from Barcelona as it is the most accessible. The distance between Girona to Barcelona is about 102km (63 miles). There are no direct flights from Barcelona to Girona, but you have several travel options. You may fly into the Costa Brava airport, which is located near Girona from other European destinations.

You can ride an AVE/Avant train from Barcelona-Sants to the Girona train station. It should take you around 40 minutes of travel time. For a more convenient journey, you can also ride a taxi, but this option is expensive. You may consider renting a car if you plan on visiting many places.

A view over the skyline of Girona looking towards the cathedral

Girona: A Sublime Medieval City

There is more to the city of Girona than just a starting base in exploring Costa Brava and the Pyrenees regions of Catalonia. This important city is home to El Call, one of the last surviving Jewish quarters in Spain. Furthermore, Girona, Spain, is a Game of Thrones set location, making it a popular destination among GoT fans. Do not miss the chance to explore this small yet glamorous town in the heart of Catalonia.

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