A true gem of Catalonia, Girona is the perfect place to get lost among cobblestone streets, feast on fantastic meals, and immerse yourself in a deep medieval history.
A popular destination as a day trip from Barcelona, you’ll quickly be aching for more time in this ancient city. Filled with soaring cathedrals, tucked away monasteries, large stone arches, age-old city walls, secret gardens and so much more, your head is likely to spin when you find out all the things to do in Girona!
If you’re a history buff, foodie, architecture fanatic, art lover, photographer or all of the above, there’s something for you in Girona. Here are the best things to do on a visit to this outstanding Spanish city!
- Walk the City Walls
- Walk the City on a Game of Thrones Tour
- Cross Some of the Eleven Bridges in Town
- Visit the Girona Cathedral
- Wander the Basilica de Sant Feliu
- Explore El Call, Girona’s Jewish Quarter
- Learn at the Museum of Jewish History
- Time Travel at the Arab Baths
- Relax in a Thermal Bath
- Have a Canyoning Adventure (AH)
- Enjoy Architecture at Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants
- Venture Out to Monasterio de Sant Daniel
- Peek at Artifacts at the Archaeology Museum
- Learn about the City’s Past at the Girona History Museum
- View Masterpieces at the Girona Art Museum
- Sip on Coffee (or Something Stronger!) at Plaça de la Independència
- Kick Back at Parc de la Devesa
- Enjoy the Greenery at the Jardins dels Alemanys
- Eat Your Heart Out
- Munch at Mercat del Lleo
- Delve into the Museum of Cinema
- Tour Casa Maso
- Kiss a Lion’s Bottom
- Explore the Rest of Catalonia
Walk the City Walls
The first thing you should know about Girona is it’s been around for a while. So long in fact, that its medieval city walls were built between the 9th and 14th centuries. You can see these walls today as they remain largely intact!
Visitors can walk along part of the walls, which makes for the perfect views of old and new Girona as well as the Pyrenees far off in the distance. There are even lookout towers that you can climb for a panoramic perspective!
For your wall walk, there are three spots where you can access the medieval structure. The first is behind the Cathedral of Girona in the gardens; the second next to the Spanish Civil War Memorial; and the third is near Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants.
We recommend getting a guided tour of the city as the history of the place is truly fascinating!
The wall is least crowded in the section near Monestir de Sant Pere, so keep walking to bypass the crowds, it’s totally worth it!
Walk the City on a Game of Thrones Tour
If you’re an avid Game of Thrones fan (like the entire AIY team!), several spots in Girona may look familiar to you. Sites like the Arab Baths and the steps leading to the Cathedral were made famous in 2015 when GoT scenes were shot here.
Today, you can take a full tour to see all other places featured in this much-loved series.
This Games of Thrones tour lasts two and a half hours, and a local guide will take you to all of the notable filming sites around Girona. You’ll be with a small group so discussing theories with other fans is a must.
Otherwise, enjoy snapping pictures in prime GoT spots — something every true fan has dreamed of!
Cross Some of the Eleven Bridges in Town
After walking along the wall, take a gander across some more recent Girona structures: the city bridges.
There are eleven bridges that cross the Onyar river, each unique in its own right, and each offering different views of the city. One of the best ways to take in different perspectives of Girona is to walk across each bridge for a contrasting view each time.
If eleven bridges seem a little much, just make sure you cross the Pont de Sant Feliu for an awesome view of the Girona skyline, the Pont de Perda crafted from stone and arches, and finally the Eiffel Bridge (or Pont de Ferro) planned by Gustave Eiffel and built two years after the Eiffel Tower was completed!
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Visit the Girona Cathedral
One of the main Girona landmarks, a visit to the Cathedral de Santa Maria is a must on any visit to the city. This cathedral took quite a while to finish, with construction lasting from the 11th to 18th century. Thus, you get a cool mishmash of styles ranging from Romanesque to Baroque to Gothic — how cool is that?
There’s a large flight of stairs leading up to the cathedral which is a popular place to snap a few photos, but the real beauty lies inside. When you make your way to the interior of the cathedral, you’ll immediately be met by dazzling stained glass and soaring ceilings.
This is a great place to learn about history, as the Cathedral Treasury Museum has some pieces that can’t be missed. The most famous of the artifacts here is the Tapis de la Creacio, or the Tapestry of Creation, which is an 11th century embroidered panel that has been impeccably preserved. This particular site seeing tour includes an entrance to the church.
Wander the Basilica de Sant Feliu
Sitting just next to the cathedral is Basilica de Sant Feliu, the former Girona Cathedral. The basilica is also up a lengthy flight of steps and served as the main house of worship until the one that’s standing today was built.
While the Cathedral de Santa Maria is really a sight to behold, a visit to the basilica is a cool one because you can see how far Girona progressed in technological advancement, from one structure to the next.
The basilica is actually full of tombs, the most notable one being the tomb of St. Narcissus, who was the patron saint of the city. There are eight other tombs in here which date all the way back to the 3rd and 4th centuries, as well as Christian artwork that has serious significance!
Editor’s Note: Take a look at our Spain Travel Guide for in-depth recommendations for each area.
Explore El Call, Girona’s Jewish Quarter
Besides all of the Christian and Catholic influences in Girona, this city was also once home to a thriving Jewish population. They lived in the city from the year 982 before being expelled in 1492. There are still remnants of this community in El Call, the Jewish Quarter of Girona.
Strolling through El Call is the best way to transport yourself back 2,000 years, as you weave through narrow stone alleys and walk on cobblestone streets. Find yourself in hidden squares or walking down a flight of stairs leading to the unknown.
It’s a mysterious place that’s full of charm, making exploring here one of the best things to do while in Girona.
Head to Carrer de la Forca, which lies in the heart of the Jewish Quarter and enjoy wandering the medieval streets, passing by doorways from ancient times, some of the oldest houses in the city, and plenty of boutiques and restaurants.
Other streets that are great for walking in this area are Carrer de Sant Llorenc and Carrer Manuel Cundaro, both of which feature narrow pathways and soaring stone structures on either side of the street.
Learn at the Museum of Jewish History
In the heart of El Call is the Jewish History Museum, which colorfully chronicles the Jewish past in Spain. Housed in a 15th century synagogue, and the museum is full of artifacts relating to the Jewish population living in Girona and the surrounding areas.
Besides telling the stories of Jewish communities that once lived here, there’s a gorgeous courtyard in the back of the museum which has a Star of David made of tiles surrounded by stone arches with overgrown ivy on them. It’s a beautiful place to visit and take a moment of reflection.
Time Travel at the Arab Baths
Built in the 12th century, Girona is home to Arab baths that were inspired by both the Arab people and the Romans. They were fully functional until the 14th century, but after that they just became something nice to look at in the city.
Entry to the baths is only €2, making it an awesome budget-friendly activity in Girona!
Relax in a Thermal Bath
If the Arab baths were particularly tempting, make your way to Aqva, an urban spa that’s designed in the style of Roman baths. The best part? You can actually bathe in them!
Aqva is in the former hospital of Girona which means it’s a mesmerizing stone structure full of secrets of the past. The spa offers different bathing and sensory experiences, making for the perfect activity to unwind.
Aqva is open Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm and a 90-minute thermal bath costs €37.
Have a Canyoning Adventure (AH)
If you like the idea of splashing around in Girona but baths aren’t too appealing, take a canyoning adventure to get soaked by the natural waters of the Riera d’Osor!
On this excursion, you’ll be met by canyoning staff in Girona who will then transport you to the starting point. It’s an easy canyon to traverse, making this activity well-suited for all experience levels — there’s lots to explore and fun to be had!
After weaving your way through the canyon for two or three hours, you’ll get the chance to chill out and sip on fresh drinks. This is an ideal activity for anyone looking for something adventurous to do near Girona!
Enjoy Architecture at Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants
It’s time to explore historic Girona with a trip to the Sant Pere Monastery.
This Benedictine monastery is a stunning place to visit with its sprawling gardens, tall arches, and stone columns. A prime example of Romanesque architecture, it’s actually one of the best places to see this style in all of Catalonia.
Built in the 12th century, there’s actually evidence that this building has been standing since the 10th century… or earlier! This is a lovely place for an afternoon stroll, and yet another site that will transport you to a time long ago.
Venture Out to Monasterio de Sant Daniel
While we’re riding the monastery wave, Monasterio de Sant Daniel is another great place to visit. It is easily accessible via public transportation, albeit being slightly outside of the city.
This monastery is the resting place for Saint Daniel, with his tomb buried deep inside the walls. The structure was crafted by Aloi de Monbrai, a famous sculptor, and you can see a beautiful blend of Romanesque and Gothic covered walks dating back to between the 12th and 15th centuries!
If you have some time during your trip to Girona, you should definitely make it out to this stellar site. Sitting in a green valley surrounded by hilly treetops, you can escape city life for an afternoon while still learning about the deep history of the place
Peek at Artifacts at the Archaeology Museum
Speaking of deep history, there’s no better way to learn about Girona’s past than with a trip to the Archaeology Museum.
Founded in 1846, this is the oldest museum in Girona, so you should definitely pay it a visit if you’d like to have a deeper understanding of the city’s past.Situated in Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants, it has been laid out to show off the age-old architecture while presenting engaging exhibitions about Girona’s past.
At the Museum of Archaeology, you’ll find collections dating back to prehistory and all the way to medieval times. There are even tools and objects made by prehistoric people! There’s plenty of artifacts that date back to the Roman period as well, along with tombstones from noteworthy Girona residents.
Learn about the City’s Past at the Girona History Museum
Also housed in a former monastery (that of St. Anthony), the Girona History Museum is the best place to come to learn about the people who have inhabited the city since way back when.
The museum covers the history of Girona from Roman rule until present day. It’s full of captivating exhibits and information about how the city became what it is today. Once you finish walking through all of the galleries, make your way to the museum terrace which has a gorgeous view of a typical Girona street!
View Masterpieces at the Girona Art Museum
Holding great treasures within the halls of the former Episcopal Palace is the Girona Art Museum, a true gem in the art world.
It has the best collection of art in the region, with works from Roman times all the way up to the 20th century. You’ll find an interesting blend of Gothic, Romance, Renaissance and Baroque works, so this is a great place to come if you’d like a taste of a little bit of everything.
Sip on Coffee (or Something Stronger!) at Plaça de la Independència
Like most Spanish cities, Girona is full of squares that act as meeting places for locals and good hangout spots for everyone else.
Plaça de la Independència is the largest square in Girona, and is full of cafes and restaurants for coffee, a quick bite or leisurely afternoon drink. Situated just minutes from Old Town, it is one of the loveliest open-air spaces to hang out in the city.
Kick Back at Parc de la Devesa
While we’re on the topic of open-air spaces in Girona, you won’t be disappointed with an afternoon spent in Parc de la Devesa, the largest city park in all of Catalonia!
You’ll see locals jogging, young couples lounging and kids playing about, giving you a taste of what true Girona life looks like. Pack a picnic and enjoy people watching, sunshine and fresh air. If you want to relax and enjoy a slice of local life, Parc de la Devesa is the place to be!
Enjoy the Greenery at the Jardins dels Alemanys
As you make your way back towards the cathedral area and city walls, stop at Jardins dels Alemanys to see how nature interacts with medieval stones after so many years.
This garden is a hearty mix of old city ruins and sprawling plants and trees. The greenery climbs its way up old arches and circles around hidden stone coves, making for an extremely interesting blend of nature versus human creation.
Besides this gorgeous contrast, this little hidden garden holds historical significance as well. It used to be the location of the German barracks during the Peninsular War in the 19th century, thus why the area is called the “German Gardens.”
Eat Your Heart Out
One thing that’s impossible to miss while in Girona is Catalonian cuisine. Some of the richest, most delectable food in the world, Catalonian cuisine is a hearty mix of flavors and spices, grilled vegetables, tender meat, melting cheese, and velvety wines.
You’ll have your fair pick of food options when it comes to Girona but here are some spots in the city that are certainly worth your while.
La Fabrica is a Girona staple, and where you can find local cyclists in abundance. Yes, this is a cafe catered towards avid bicycle riders, which there are plenty of in Girona. But even if you aren’t great on two wheels, there’s still a spot for you at this cozy eatery. Come for breakfast, bunch, or an early lunch to munch on some of the best food in the city. You’ll see why it’s so popular after a single bite.
Cafe Le Bistrot is where you want to head for the most charming local atmosphere. Enjoy an outdoor meal at the foot of the steps of Pujada de Sant Domenec, surrounded by stacked stones and buildings as old as time. The best part about this magical little eatery is it’s freakishly affordable, with meals of about €10 per person!
El Celler de Can Roca is a final Girona dining hot spot, and with good reason too. This restaurant has been named number one in the world not once, but twice! So it’s safe to say that no matter what you eat here, you’ll be in heaven. This is certainly the most well-known restaurant in Girona and the surrounding areas, so if you want a meal here on during your holiday, keep in mind that you’ll need to book a table months in advance!
Munch at Mercat del Lleo
If you’re inspired by Catalonian cuisine, head right to the source of fresh, local ingredients: the market.
Mercat del Lleo is an indoor market in Girona that’s been around since 1944, and it’s the place to be when it comes to all things food. While it may not be as giant as other Spanish markets, it still has more than 60 stalls selling and serving up Girona’s finest produce and products.
The market is open year-round from Monday to Saturday, typically from 7.00am to 3.00pm. You can also visit it on Friday evenings when it’s open from 5.00pm to 8:30pm!
Delve into the Museum of Cinema
For all the film buffs visiting Girona, don’t miss a stop at the Museum of Cinema. Opened in 1998, it is the first museum of its kind in all of Spain!
On display, you’ll find objects that date back to the pre-cinema days and give insight as to how the movie industry became what it is today. The museum covers more than 400 years of movie-making. You’ll find everything from shadow puppet paraphernalia to modern movie-making techniques through plenty of permanent exhibitions.
There are also frequent temporary exhibitions that cover different subjects, so be sure to check out the calendar before you go to see what’s on display.
Tour Casa Maso
One last museum to check out while in Girona isn’t a traditional museum. Rather, it’s a house that chronicles the life of the most famous Catalan architect from the early 20th century.
Formerly the home of Rafael Maso i Valenti’s, Casa Maso is open to visitors so that you can see all the changes made by the great design genius and understand how he influenced Spanish architecture. This is a marvelous place to visit for anyone interested in architecture, art, and Girona’s history.
Casa Maso is actually four houses merged into one by Rafael himself, and is considered to be one of the most important works of architecture in all of Girona. It sits right on the river and is open to the public for small group tours, so long as you book in advance.
Kiss a Lion’s Bottom
As you wrap up your trip to Girona, there’s one thing you simply cannot miss out on — kissing a lion’s bottom.
Okay, I know this sounds weird but it’s one of the most traditional things for visitors to do in this city! Plus, it’s not even a real lion. Instead, it’s a statue of a lion, and you’re supposed to go up to it and kiss it on the bottom. They’ve even built stairs to make access easier.
Come find the lion statue in the Plaça de Sant Feliu. It is generally easy to spot because of the people surrounding it. Doing this means that you’ll come back to Girona, so don’t be surprised if there’s a line of people waiting!
Explore the Rest of Catalonia
Once you’ve fallen in love with Girona (which is pretty much inevitable), you’ll probably feel that travel itch coming on and pointing you to other cities and towns around Catalonia. As one of the most beautiful regions of Spain (and the entire world!) you should give yourself some time to explore the areas surrounding Girona.
Visit large Catalonian cities like Barcelona to feel the real hustle and bustle of things, or head to places like Sitges for some chilled out beach time. No matter where you choose to visit in the region, it’ll have that Catalan charm but offer you something starkly different from Girona.
As you can see, there’s really no shortage of things to do in Girona. No matter what you’re looking for from your Spanish vacay, you’ll find it here! Good food, deep history, and endless places to snap photos for the #gram…
You’re going to be wishing for a lifetime here after a quick visit!
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