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Girona: My New Favorite City In Spain


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Sib Ley



Welcome to Girona, my new favorite city in Spain. Nestled in the heart of Catalonia, Girona is a hidden gem that offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. With its stunning architecture, charming old town, delightful cuisine, and exciting festivals, Girona has something to offer for every visitor.


Girona is a city that has managed to preserve its ancient roots while embracing modernity. As you wander through its cobblestone streets, you can’t help but be awe-struck by the impressive Gothic and Romanesque architecture that graces every corner. The city’s rich history is palpable as you explore the well-preserved medieval walls and visit the stunning Girona Cathedral.


But Girona is not just a city for history buffs. Its vibrant culinary scene is a true delight for food lovers. From traditional Catalan dishes to innovative gastronomic creations, Girona offers a wide range of culinary experiences. Make sure to try the local specialty, “xuixo,” a sweet pastry filled with cream, and indulge in the delights of the Michelin-starred restaurants that have put Girona on the gastronomic map.


The old town of Girona is a photographer’s dream, with narrow alleyways, colorful houses, and picturesque squares. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets and soak in the atmosphere of this enchanting place. Don’t miss a visit to the iconic Eiffel Bridge, built by Gustave Eiffel himself, and take a stroll along the ancient city walls for breathtaking views of the city.


If you have the time, Girona also serves as a perfect base for exploring the stunning natural beauty of the region. From the breathtaking Costa Brava coastline with its crystal-clear waters and charming seaside villages, to the majestic Pyrenees mountains, there are endless opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and cycling.


Throughout the year, Girona comes alive with festivals and events that celebrate its culture and traditions. The Girona Flower Festival, where the city is transformed into a sea of vibrant colors and scents, is a sight to behold. The Temps de Flors event showcases the city’s botanical heritage, with stunning floral displays adorning historic buildings.


Getting around Girona is a breeze, thanks to its efficient transportation system. The city is well-connected by train and bus, making it easy to explore the surrounding areas. Renting a bike or taking a leisurely stroll are also great ways to get around and fully experience the city.


In this article, we will delve deeper into the rich history of Girona, explore its awe-inspiring architecture, discover its culinary delights, provide tips on exploring the old town, suggest exciting day trips, and highlight the various outdoor activities to enjoy. Join me on this virtual journey as I share why Girona has become my new favorite city in Spain.


History of Girona

Girona boasts a captivating history that dates back over 2,000 years. The city’s strategic location along the Onyar River made it a highly sought-after territory for various civilizations throughout the ages. Traces of these ancient civilizations, including the Iberians, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, can still be found within the city.


The Romans were the first to leave a significant mark on Girona, establishing a fortified settlement known as Gerunda. The city flourished under Roman rule and became an important hub for trade and commerce. Remnants of Roman walls and buildings, such as the impressive fortress-like Sant Feliu Church, can still be admired today.


During the medieval period, Girona experienced a period of prosperity and growth. The city became a major center of religious authority and education, with the construction of numerous churches and monasteries. Girona’s Jewish Quarter, the Call, flourished as one of the most important Jewish communities in Spain. The labyrinthine streets and well-preserved buildings of the Call provide a glimpse into the Jewish heritage of the city.


Girona’s strategic location also made it a target for conquest. The city changed hands several times between the Christians and the Moors during the centuries-long Reconquista. It wasn’t until the 12th century that Girona finally fell under Christian control.


The 14th and 15th centuries marked a period of great cultural and artistic development for Girona. The construction of the impressive Girona Cathedral began during this time, combining various architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque. The cathedral’s iconic bell tower is a symbol of the city and offers panoramic views of Girona and its surroundings.


Girona’s rich history also includes its role as a stronghold during conflicts such as the Peninsular War and the Spanish Civil War. The city’s defensive walls played a crucial role in its survival during these challenging times.


Today, Girona stands as a testament to its storied past. Its well-preserved historic center transports visitors back in time, allowing them to immerse themselves in the layers of history that have shaped the city. From Roman ruins to medieval architecture and modern influences, Girona’s history is etched into its very streets, waiting to be discovered and appreciated by all who visit.


Architecture and Landmarks

Girona is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, showcasing a diverse range of styles from different periods in history. The city’s rich architectural heritage is evident in its landmarks and buildings, which tell the story of its evolution over the centuries.


One of the most iconic landmarks in Girona is its grand Cathedral, locally known as the Catedral de Santa Maria. This impressive structure sits atop the highest point in the city and dominates the skyline with its towering bell tower. The cathedral is a masterpiece of architectural styles, blending Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque elements. Don’t miss the chance to climb the 90 steps of the bell tower for breathtaking panoramic views of the city.


Another must-visit landmark in Girona is the well-preserved Jewish Quarter, also known as the Call. This historic neighborhood dates back to the Middle Ages and offers a glimpse into the rich Jewish heritage of the city. Explore the narrow, winding streets lined with centuries-old buildings, visit the Museum of Jewish History, and step inside the ancient synagogue, one of the oldest in Europe.


As you wander through the city, you’ll encounter the imposing city walls, which have stood the test of time for centuries. These fortifications were built to protect Girona from invaders and offer spectacular views of the city. Take a leisurely walk along the walls and imagine the city’s medieval past as you marvel at the surrounding landscapes.


The Eiffel Bridge, designed by the renowned Gustave Eiffel himself, is another architectural gem in Girona. This iron bridge spans the Onyar River and connects the old town with the more modern parts of the city. Its intricate lattice design, reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, adds a touch of elegance to the cityscape.


Girona boasts numerous churches and monasteries that are worth exploring for their architectural beauty. The Sant Pere de Galligants is a Romanesque church that houses the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia. The Basilica of Sant Feliu, with its striking blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, is another must-visit religious landmark.


When it comes to modern architecture, Girona doesn’t disappoint. The Auditorium and Congress Palace, designed by architect Rafael Moneo, is a striking contemporary building that hosts a variety of cultural events. The Girona Art Museum, housed in a former convent, combines historical elements with modern interventions, providing a unique backdrop for its impressive art collection.


Whether it’s the centuries-old structures or the modern architectural marvels, each landmark in Girona tells a story and contributes to the city’s unique character. Exploring these architectural wonders is like embarking on a journey through time, where the past and present coexist harmoniously in a city that embraces its rich heritage.


Culinary Delights

Girona is a food lover’s paradise, offering a culinary experience that is as diverse as it is enticing. From traditional Catalan dishes to innovative gastronomic creations, the city boasts a vibrant food scene that will delight even the most discerning palate.


When it comes to traditional Catalan cuisine, Girona does not disappoint. Indulge in hearty dishes like “escudella i carn d’olla,” a comforting meat and vegetable stew, or “suquet de peix,” a savory fish stew bursting with flavors from the Mediterranean Sea. For a taste of the region’s charcuterie, try the cured sausages and hams made from the finest locally sourced ingredients.


Girona is also known for its seafood, thanks to its proximity to the Costa Brava coastline. Enjoy fresh grilled sardines, succulent prawns, or the famous “anxoves de l’Escala,” anchovies from the nearby town of l’Escala, known for their exceptional quality. The coastal influence is also evident in the city’s rice dishes, such as “arròs de marisc,” a seafood paella bursting with flavors.


While traditional cuisine holds a special place in Girona’s culinary landscape, the city has also become a hub for innovation and gastronomic experimentation. Several renowned restaurants with Michelin-starred chefs have put Girona on the global gastronomic map. From El Celler de Can Roca, consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world, to the avant-garde creations of chef Jordi Cruz at Àbac, dining at these establishments is a feast for the senses.


For a more casual culinary experience, Girona’s food markets and tapas bars offer a taste of the city’s vibrant food culture. Visit the Mercat del Lleó or the Mercat de Santa Caterina to sample a wide variety of local produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and cured meats. Explore the winding streets of the old town and discover hidden gems offering delicious tapas, ranging from traditional favorites like “pan con tomate” (bread with tomato) to innovative bites that fuse Catalan and international flavors.


To satisfy your sweet tooth, Girona offers a delectable array of desserts and pastries. Don’t miss the chance to try the famous “xuixo,” a deep-fried sweet pastry filled with cream or custard. Another local treat is the “turrón de Agramunt,” a nougat made with almonds and honey that is typically enjoyed during the Christmas season. Pair these sweet delights with a cup of traditional Catalan “cava” or a glass of local wine for the perfect indulgence.


Whether you choose to indulge in traditional Catalan dishes, savor Michelin-starred cuisine, or explore the local food markets and tapas bars, Girona’s culinary delights will leave you craving more. Embark on a gastronomic journey through the city and discover why Girona is a true foodie’s paradise.


Exploring the Old Town

Girona’s old town is a captivating maze of narrow streets, medieval walls, and well-preserved buildings that transport visitors back in time. Exploring this historic quarter is like stepping into a fairy tale, with every corner revealing a new hidden gem.


Begin your journey through the old town by strolling along the iconic Rambla de la Llibertat. This vibrant promenade is lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it the perfect place to soak in the atmosphere and watch the world go by. From here, venture into the heart of the old town and get lost in its labyrinthine alleys.


As you wander through the old town, you’ll come across picturesque squares, such as Plaça de la Independència and Plaça de la Catedral, where you can relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of local wine. Admire the impressive facades of the colorful houses that surround these squares, each with its own unique charm.


Make sure to visit the iconic Girona Cathedral, a towering masterpiece that dominates the skyline. Step inside and marvel at the stunning Gothic nave, the intricate Baroque main altar, and the elegant cloister. Don’t forget to climb the cathedral’s bell tower for panoramic views of the city.


Discover the history of Girona by visiting the ancient city walls, which once served as a defensive barrier. Take a leisurely walk along the walls and enjoy breathtaking views of the old town and the surrounding landscapes. Keep an eye out for the strategically placed watchtowers, such as the Torre Gironella and the Torre de Sant Domènec, which offer unique vantage points.


Continue your exploration of the old town by immersing yourself in its rich Jewish heritage. The Jewish Quarter, known as the Call, is one of the best-preserved in Europe. Walk through its narrow streets, visit the Jewish History Museum, and step inside the ancient synagogue. Learn about the vibrant Jewish community that once thrived in Girona and discover their contributions to the city’s culture and history.


No visit to the old town would be complete without crossing the Eiffel Bridge. Designed by Gustave Eiffel, this iron bridge connects the old town with the modern part of the city. Take a leisurely stroll across the bridge and admire the stunning views of the colorful houses that line the banks of the Onyar River.


Throughout the old town, you’ll find unique boutiques, art galleries, and artisan shops. Browse for locally crafted products, such as ceramics, textiles, and jewelry, and take home a piece of Girona’s rich artistic heritage.


Exploring the old town of Girona is like stepping back in time. Lose yourself in its enchanting streets, soak in the atmosphere of the historic squares, and discover the rich history and cultural treasures that make this quarter truly special.


Day Trips from Girona

While Girona itself has plenty to offer, it also serves as an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region. From picturesque coastal towns to charming medieval villages, there are numerous day trip options that will enrich your Girona experience.


Just a short drive from Girona lies the stunning Costa Brava coastline, known for its rugged cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and beautiful sandy beaches. Visit the picturesque town of Cadaqués, famous for its whitewashed houses and its association with renowned artist Salvador Dalí. Explore the charming seaside village of Tossa de Mar, with its medieval walls and narrow streets that lead to a picturesque beach. Enjoy the sun, sand, and sea at the idyllic beaches of Begur or relax in the quaint fishing village of Tamariu.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to the medieval village of Besalú is a must. This remarkably preserved village is home to an impressive 12th-century Romanesque bridge and a well-preserved Jewish quarter. Wander through its narrow streets, visit the Jewish baths, and marvel at the beautifully restored buildings.


Head further inland to the town of Figueres to visit the Dalí Theatre-Museum, dedicated to the famous surrealist artist Salvador Dalí. Delve into the eccentric world of Dalí as you explore the museum’s extensive collection of his works and immerse yourself in his surreal creations.


If you’re a nature lover, a visit to the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park is a must. This unique natural park is home to over 40 dormant volcanoes and offers stunning hiking trails that meander through birch and beech forests. Explore the Fageda d’en Jordà, a beech forest that is particularly enchanting during autumn when its leaves turn golden.


For wine enthusiasts, a day trip to the Empordà wine region is highly recommended. Explore the vineyards, visit renowned wineries, and indulge in wine tastings of the region’s delicious wines, such as the robust reds and the refreshing whites.


Whether you’re seeking coastal beauty, cultural immersion, natural wonders, or culinary delights, the day trips from Girona offer a diverse range of experiences to suit every taste. Immerse yourself in the rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and vibrant culture of the surrounding region, and make the most of your visit to Girona.


Outdoor Activities

Girona and its surrounding region are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, offering a wide range of activities that allow visitors to connect with nature and enjoy the stunning landscapes.


One of the most popular outdoor activities in Girona is hiking. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the numerous trails that weave through the region’s diverse natural landscapes. From coastal paths that offer breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea to mountain trails that lead to panoramic vistas, there are hiking routes for every level of experience. Don’t miss the iconic Camí de Ronda, a coastal trail that stretches along the Costa Brava, offering stunning views of hidden coves and dramatic cliffs.


The mountainous terrain surrounding Girona is also perfect for cycling enthusiasts. Rent a bike and explore the well-marked cycling routes that wind through the countryside. From gentle rides through vineyards and quaint villages to challenging mountain ascents for the more experienced riders, there is a cycling route to suit every preference. The annual Girona Cycling Festival is also a great opportunity to join group rides and experience the cycling culture in the region.


Water activities abound on the Costa Brava, making it a paradise for water sports enthusiasts. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the underwater world through scuba diving or snorkeling. The coastline is dotted with diving centers that offer courses for beginners and guided diving trips to explore the vibrant marine life and captivating underwater landscapes.


If you’re seeking adventure, head to the nearby Pyrenees mountains. From white-water rafting down rushing rivers to canyoning in breathtaking gorges, there are adrenaline-pumping activities for thrill-seekers. You can also go rock climbing, paragliding, or even try your hand at hot air ballooning for a unique perspective of the region’s stunning landscapes.


For those looking for a more relaxed and leisurely outdoor experience, pack a picnic and head to one of the beautiful parks or botanical gardens in Girona. The Devesa Park, with its lush greenery and peaceful atmosphere, is ideal for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with family and friends. The Cap Roig Botanical Garden, located on the Costa Brava, is a stunning Mediterranean garden that showcases a vast variety of plants and flowers against the backdrop of the sea.


Whether you prefer hiking through picturesque landscapes, cycling along scenic routes, diving into the clear waters of the Mediterranean, seeking thrills in the mountains, or simply enjoying a leisurely outdoor experience surrounded by nature, Girona and its surroundings offer endless options for outdoor activities that will leave you feeling invigorated and rejuvenated.


Festivals and Events

Girona is a city that knows how to celebrate, and throughout the year, it hosts a myriad of vibrant festivals and events that showcase its rich cultural heritage and provide unforgettable experiences for locals and visitors alike.


One of the most famous events in Girona is the Girona Flower Festival. Every spring, the city is transformed into a stunning floral exhibition, with colorful floral displays adorning the streets, squares, and historic buildings. The fragrance of flowers fills the air, creating a magical atmosphere that attracts visitors from far and wide. Take a leisurely stroll through the city and marvel at the creativity and artistry of the floral arrangements.


The Temps de Flors event is another festival that embraces Girona’s botanical heritage. During this festival, historic buildings and landmarks are adorned with breathtaking flower decorations, creating a captivating fusion of nature and architecture. Immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and scents as you explore the city and admire the stunning floral displays around every corner.


For those who enjoy music, the Girona International Music Festival is a must-attend event. Held during the summer months, this festival brings together renowned national and international musicians for a series of concerts across different venues in the city. From classical music performances in historic churches to jazz and contemporary music shows in unique settings, the festival offers a diverse range of musical genres to suit all tastes.


Throughout the year, Girona also celebrates its traditions and history through various festivals. The Girona Film Festival showcases the best of Catalan and international films, attracting film enthusiasts from near and far. The Sant Narcís Festival, held in honor of the city’s patron saint, includes a wide range of activities such as parades, concerts, traditional dances, and the famous “correfoc,” a fiery parade where performers dressed as devils run through the streets wielding fiery sparks.


For food lovers, the Girona Gastronomy Week is a true delight. During this culinary event, local restaurants offer special menus and gastronomic experiences that showcase the region’s traditional flavors and innovative cuisine. From cooking workshops to food tastings, this week-long celebration of gastronomy is a feast for the senses.


It’s important to note that festival dates and events may vary from year to year, so it’s advisable to check the official Girona tourism website for the most up-to-date information on specific festivals and events.


Whether you’re immersed in a sea of flowers during the Girona Flower Festival, tapping your feet to the rhythm of music during the International Music Festival, or marveling at the fiery spectacle of the “correfoc” during the Sant Narcís Festival, the festivals and events in Girona are a testament to the city’s vibrant culture and provide unique opportunities to immerse yourself in its rich traditions and lively atmosphere.


Transportation and Getting Around

Girona is well-connected and easily accessible, making it convenient for visitors to explore the city and its surrounding areas. Whether you’re arriving by air, train, or bus, transportation options in Girona ensure a seamless and enjoyable journey.


If you’re arriving by air, Girona-Costa Brava Airport is located just a short distance from the city center. The airport offers connections to various European cities, catering to both budget and regular airlines. From the airport, you can easily reach the city center by taking a taxi, or by using public transportation such as buses or the Girona Airport Bus, which provides direct transportation to the city.


Girona’s train station, known as Girona Estació, is conveniently located near the city center and offers excellent rail connections. High-speed trains (AVE) and regional trains operate regularly, connecting Girona to major cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, and Figueres. The train station is also a hub for local train services, allowing for easy access to nearby towns and villages.


Public buses are another convenient option for getting around Girona and exploring the surrounding region. The main bus station, known as Estació d’Autobusos, is located next to the train station. Buses operate regularly and provide connections to nearby towns, as well as popular tourist destinations along the Costa Brava.


Getting around Girona itself is easy and enjoyable, thanks to its compact and pedestrian-friendly city center. The old town is best explored on foot, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of its narrow streets and historic landmarks. Walking also gives you the opportunity to discover hidden corners and stumble upon unexpected surprises.


If you prefer not to walk, Girona also offers a reliable and efficient public transportation system. Buses operate throughout the city, connecting different neighborhoods and attractions. The city’s bicycle-sharing program, Girocleta, is also a popular option for getting around. Renting a bike allows you to explore the city at your own pace and enjoy the extensive network of bike lanes and paths.


For those who prefer the convenience of taxis, Girona has a well-established taxi service. Taxis can be found at designated taxi stands throughout the city or can be hailed on the street. Ride-sharing services are also available in Girona, providing additional options for getting around.


Lastly, if you’re looking to venture beyond the city limits, renting a car gives you the freedom to explore the surrounding region at your own pace. Girona is well-connected to major highways, making it easy to reach nearby towns, beaches, and natural parks. Rental car agencies can be found at the airport, train station, and in the city center.


With its convenient transportation options, getting around Girona and exploring the region is a breeze. Whether you choose to walk, take public transportation, or rent a car, the city’s accessibility ensures that you make the most of your visit and enjoy all that Girona and its surroundings have to offer.



Girona, with its rich history, stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and natural beauty, is a city that captures the hearts of all who visit. Whether you’re exploring the ancient streets of the old town, indulging in the culinary delights of its restaurants, or embarking on outdoor adventures in the surrounding region, Girona offers a truly unforgettable experience.


From its Roman and medieval roots to its modern-day allure, Girona’s architecture tells a story of centuries past, with landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Jewish Quarter, and the city walls taking center stage. The city’s culinary scene is a delectable journey through traditional Catalan dishes and innovative gastronomic creations, while its festivals and events showcase the vibrant culture and traditions of the region.


Exploring the old town of Girona is like stepping back in time, with its winding streets, picturesque squares, and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. The surrounding region offers a multitude of day trip options, from coastal towns and medieval villages to natural parks and vineyards, providing endless opportunities to explore and connect with nature.


Transportation in Girona is effortless, ensuring easy access to and from the city and convenient ways to get around. Whether traveling by air, train, bus, or car, Girona’s accessibility allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the city and its surroundings.


In conclusion, Girona is a city that encapsulates the best of Catalonia’s history, culture, and natural splendor. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, an outdoor adventurer, or simply a traveler seeking new experiences, Girona has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to Girona – your new favorite city in Spain awaits.