Girona is certainly a spectacular city with a rich historic past, full of life and color. Located just north of Barcelona along the Costa Brava, it is the perfect town for a day trip. The medieval city is full of beautiful buildings influenced by the Modernist and Noucentista periods, historical landmarks such as the Cathedral of Girona, and is well known for being the filming location of Game of Thrones. The city gets its vibrant notability from the Cases de l’Onyar which overlooks the river. Moreover, Girona is often called the city of three rivers, located in the valley of the Ter between the rivers Güell, Galligants, and Onyar.
Subsequently, the city boasts the great urban park of the Dehesa, perfect for a Saturday stroll. It further covers around 40 hectares of land and has more than 2,500 banana trees over 50 meters tall. The centre of the old city is marked by the layout of the old neighbourhood. In this zone, the old Benedictine monastery Sant Pere de Galligants can be found. Likewise, the Walk of the Wall, the church of Sant Feliu, and the Arabian Baths are located in this area.
Highlights of Girona
Most importantly, Girona is a must for fans of the famous HBO series The Game of Thrones. Girona is the real-life imaginary city of Braavos and home to many scenes of season 6. If you want to follow the steps of Arya Stark performed by Maisie Williams, or witness the place where one of the most famous scenes taking place in the King’s Landing was filmed, you must put Girona on your travel bucket list. In addition, there are many city guided tours which focus on famous filming spots of the series.
The Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants and Chapel of Sant Nicolau are beautiful examples of Lombard-style Romanesque buildings from the 12th century AD. The monastery itself was occupied by the Benedictine order. This site will further captivate you by its imposing scale, and its remarkable cloister that stores a collection of important Jewish ornaments that date from when the old Hebrew community lived in medieval Girona, for instance. Today, you will find Girona’s Museum of Archaeology inside the monastery, as well as a fine representation of Catalan Romanesque architecture.
Next you can pay a visit to the Colegiata of Sant Feliu, a traditional landmark in the town. The building incorporates different architectural styles. The Roman style interior, Gothic ship and Baroque east Catalan. Inside, you can view early Christian tombs from Italy and the Gothic, Catalan sculpture, el Cristo Yacente. This is just, for instance, one of the many renowned monuments Girona has to offer.
Other activities and things to do whilst on your visit
Girona is a beautiful city all year round, but in the month of May, Girona is continuously lit with festivals. In May you can enjoy the Festival of Religious Music, the Fair of Sant Narcís and the Statue Procession on Good Friday. In addition, if you are looking to see where the city’s radiant reputation stems from, a May trip is the perfect time to do so!
- Walk along the ancient walls for excellent views of the city.
- Check out the numerous Museums that Girona has to offer.
- Enjoy the numerous cafes which are especially atmospheric at night.
- Discover the ancient narrow streets of the old Jewish quarter.
- Check out Girona’s lively club scene.
- Play golf on all the fantastic golf courses in the surroundings.
Bringing the old architecture to modern times
The Arabian Bath in Girona used to work for public bathing. Although the name may suggest otherwise, this building is, in fact, Romanesque; in design and architecture and takes inspiration from the old Roman baths. There are, however, some influences of Muslim architecture inside. Inside you will find 3 rooms: the frigidarium (cold pool), caldarium (hot pool), and tepidarium (warm pool). Of these 3 rooms, the frigidarium stands out the most for its striking design and layout.
Casas de l’Onyar, houses that make Girona really stand out, coming from the Middle Ages. They feature brightly coloured stone which is reflected in the river. These houses offer spectacular views of plazas with pillars and columns, surrounded by steep alleys. Casas de l’Onyar really are one of the most colorful sights in Girona and definitely a must-see on your visit here.
Girona has kept intact numerous modern and medieval spaces; with strong influences of its Roman, Arab and Jewish past obvious in the architecture and design around the plazas, uneven alleys, narrow winding streets, and buildings of extraordinary beauty. The town appears to remain untouched as if time has stood still.
How to get there
Girona is a perfect destination for a one-day trip from Barcelona. You can easily reach it by bus or train from Barcelona’s city center stations.
- Train: Take the AVE TRAIN from the Sans Estació in a direction to Figueres Vilafant.
- Bus: Travel by a BUS number 602 departing from Estació d’Autobuses de Fabra i Puig.
- Car: Head up north along the coast from Barcelona and follow the route AP-7
Girona has also an Airport that facilitates access to various popular tourist destinations, Costa Brava, Andorra, Perpignan, and Barcelona. Its popularity has increased in recent years with the rise of low-cost airlines operating at the airport. The airport is about 10 km from Girona and 85 kilometers from Barcelona, but there is easy access to both cities.