Girona City Guide
We started traveling to Girona and the Costa Brava several years ago. During our first visit, we never thought we would end up living in the historic Catalan city. But, we were drawn in by the Catalan culture, the Catalan food, and the amazing wine region. Our Girona travel guide comes from an insiders’ perspective as residents of Girona, Spain.
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How To Visit Girona Spain
Girona is often overlooked when travelers visit this corner of Spain, in favor of Barcelona. In this Girona travel blog, we share our expert, local tips on how to make the most of a visit to Girona. This includes some of our recommended Girona things to do, what and where to eat in Girona, and more. Hopefully we will encourage travelers to shift their focus from the international city of Barcelona, to its smaller neighbor to the north. A city known for its history and Catalan culture, surrounded by the sea, the mountains, and the vibrant Emporda Wine Region.
Where Is Girona Spain
Girona is the capital city of Girona province, one of four provinces of Catalonia, in northeast Spain. Located an 90-minute drive north of Barcelona and an hour south of the border with France, Girona has sat the crossroads of history since its first known inhabitants dating back to 79 BC. A city of only 100,000 residents, Girona boasts the current #2, former #1 restaurant in the world, El Celler Can Roca..
Girona is also the perfect jumping off point to explore the Costa Brava, a stretch of rugged coastline that runs from just north of Barcelona to the French border and the Pyrenees Mountains. Much of Girona tourism focuses on how to explore not just the city and surrounding area, but how to explore the coast as well.
When To Visit Girona
With mild temperatures most of the year, Girona is a year-round destination. However, winter temperatures can reach into the mid 20s (Fahrenheit), below zero Celsius. Seasonal heavy winds called “tramontanas” while welcomed by local Emporda wine makers for their drying effect, can wreak havoc on outdoor activities such as cycling. As with most of Europe, spring is an ideal time to visit Girona. Each May, the city comes alive with the Temps de Flor (Girona Flower Festival). The most popular event in Girona and with limited accommodations, it’s advised to plan your trip early.
July and August bring the warmest months of the year, as well as crowds of tourists coming in from Spain, France, and other European destinations. This is particularly true along the Costa Brava, and accommodations are at their peak pricing. Many Catalans also take their holidays during the last two weeks of August. Some restaurants and shops in the city close, but this doesn’t generally affect the restaurants and bars in Girona Old Town.
The fall is also a lovely time to visit Girona when the temperature dips, but the sun warms the days. In November, Girona hosts a two-week-long festival to the city’s patron saint, Sant Narcis. The city comes alive with a carnival along with musical, art, and cultural celebrations.
What To Do In Girona Spain – Top Girona Attractions
Despite its size, there are loads of options for Girona sightseeing, with world class dining for foodies, cycling for active travelers, and historic attractions for history buffs. The centerpiece of Girona is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona. Dating as far back as 700 AD, the Girona Cathedral began as a simple Christian church before converting to a mosque and to its current incarnation as a Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1064. The Cathedral’s nave is the second widest in all the world, only behind St. Peter’s Basilica. For the best views of Girona, hike along the ancient city walls first build by the Romans and later extended during the Middle Ages. They can be reached from behind the Cathedral.
Looking to explore the city in a different way, there are Girona Game of Thrones tours now available. Part of season 6 of the blockbuster show was filmed in Girona Old Town, and it is a great way to see the city.
The Jewish Quarter in Girona offers another look at some of the unique history from this corner of Spain. And, they filmed scenes from Game of Thrones on some of the staircases in this part of town. It is one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in the world, with some portions dating to the First Century BC. Visit the Jewish Museum of Girona to learn more.
Wander through the narrow alleys of the Jewish Quarter, and in and out of the Old Town. There are also several unique bridges to cross the River Onyar, each offering a different vantage point of the city and the Girona Cathedral. One is the Eiffel Bridge Girona, which was designed by Mr. Eiffel himself (before his famous tower).Check out the Best Things To Do in Girona Costa Brava on TripAdvisor Check out this Ultimate Guide on Where To Eat in Girona
Where To Eat In Girona Spain
One of the best restaurants in Girona, and in the world, is El Celler de Can Roca. It’s almost impossible to get a reservation, and dining there is an event. We definitely recommend it, but there are other great places to eat in Girona.
One of the best ways to experience Catalan food is to try a menu midgia, a three-course menu of the day. They are served Monday through Friday over lunch and include three courses plus drinks. In Girona city center, prices for the set menu normally range from €11-15 per person. It’s how the locals eat.
If looking for Girona nightlife, there are a handful of clubs that stay open late. For cocktails try Nykteri’s Cocktail Bar, which is in Girona Old Town and open in the evenings. Or, during a nice afternoon or early evening, try one of the outdoor Girona bars located on Placa Independencia, one of the main squares of the city.
Recommended Hotels in Girona Old Town and City Center
Nord 1901 in City Center: Offering the only hotel garden and swimming pool in the city center, Nord 1901 is a recently renovated historic Catalan building. The hotel also offers one and two bedroom apartments in nearby buildings. All are set in the city center, across the river from the Old Town, but just minutes to the main sites. Rooms start at €90 a night. Get the best rates for Hotel Nord on Booking.com.
Hotel Carlemany in City Center Migdia: Hotel Carlemany is in the more commercial center of town, and away from the more busy tourist area, but only a five-minute walk to Barri Vell. It is a convenient option outside of the Old Town. It is also one of the largest hotels in the city. Chef Xavier Arrey’s Restaurant El Pati Verd offers a fine dining lunch during the week in a unique indoor garden space. Rooms start at €80 a night. Get the best rates for Hotel Nord on Booking.com.Get the Best Prices on Hotels in Girona Spain
FAQs – How To Visit Girona Spain
Girona is located in the northeastern corner of Spain. It’s approximately 90 miles north of Barcelona. It can be reached by car, bus, and rail. There is an airport in Girona serving several destinations around Europe.
Spring and Fall. Being in northern Spain, Girona experiences four seasons. Winter can be cold with temperatures at or near freeze. Summers are warm and dry with temps reaching the upper 80s. Spring is a pleasant time of year with mild temperatures.
Yes. Girona is in the Catalonia region of Spain. Catalan is the main language spoken. Many people also speak Spanish around Girona and the rest of Catalonia.