A day trip to Girona | the beautiful little city in Catalonia

Girona is situated only 100 km (62 miles) north-east from Barcelona in Spain. It’s a 38-minute train ride from Barcelona with the high speed train, arriving directly in the center of Girona. Despite all those practical advantages and many recommendations from my friends , it took me almost 3 years before I decided to visit Girona with my kids.

When you are walking through Girona you might notice a fair amount of Catalan flags and yellow ribbons which is the symbol of the Catalan independence movement. The Catalans have many quirky customs and tradition which are very different from the rest of the country. The most iconic tradition is the “Els Castells”, or human tower. It represents solidarity and team spirit among Catalan people. To complete a tower, a child of the team climbs up to airy heights of more than eight meters. The experience of watching a team of castelleres forming a tower is quite breath-taking.

Catalans are fascinated with poop! One of the custom is the Cacaner, which means ‘the shitting one’ in Catalan. This porcelain figurine is placed in the Nativity scene during Christmas. It is a part of many kids’ favorite tradition of finding the hidden figurine. You can find all kind of different figurines representing well known personalities like Emmanuelle Macron, Lady Gaga or Donald Trump with the pants down and …

Crisscross the eleven Bridges

Girona’s old town is car free which makes it very pleasant to visit and stroll around this part of the city with kids. When you arrive at the Plaça de Catalunya you will see the Onyar river, separating the old from the new town. Girona has eleven puentes, each with a distinctive style and perspective on the city. The Pont de Ferra is the most famous and photogenic, made of rust red iron by the french architect Gustave Eiffel (yes, the one who built the Eiffel Tour in Paris).

When you are crisscrossing the bridges you have a beautiful view on the brightly painted patchwork of houses overlooking the Onyar river. The color swatches from yellow to deep orange or brown is a result of the work of two Catalan painters, Enric Ansesa and Jaume Faixó.

If you want to enter one of the houses over the Onyar river, you can visit the family home of architect Rafael Masó. It is one of his most important work and open to the public.

Casa Masó | Bellesteries, 29 | Girona

Walk the Roman City Walls

To enjoy the best view of the city you should climb up the “Passeig de la Muralla”, Girona’s old city wall. Located east of the Onyar River, the wall spans around 3 km and has seven towers. We started our visit with a walk through the beautiful Jardins de la Francesa which is situated behind the Cathedral. From there you can climb up the spiral staircases and start your walk along the wall with a beautiful view on Girona.

We would suggest avoiding the afternoon sun as it can get really hot in Girona during the summer month.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring suncream, sun hats for your kids and a bottle of water!

Get lost in Girona’s Old town

The Old Town is the most picturesque part and has the majority of places of interest. It’s a small area and you can walk easily from one sight to another. It’s a magical part of the city with labyrinthine cobbled streets, lined with stone buildings from Girona’s medieval past.

Put away your map and let your kids guide you and chose the next direction to go. We are sure you will come along some beautiful unexpected places, hidden gardens and small patios you would never have found following the map.

Girona has a rich history and hosts some interesting museums and historical locations that can help you to understand what shaped Girona, its culture and its people.  

The Museum of Cinema:

A real paradise for cinephiles. This museum exhibits Tomàs Mallol’s valuable collection of pre-cinema pieces, from the first moving images from shadow theatres to today’s cinema.

Museum of Jewish History:

The museum is actually housed in an old synagogue, and gives visitors a great in-depth look at the culture of the Jews in Catalonia, and in Girona itself. 

Museum of Archaeology:

It’s located in the Monestir de Sant Pere Galligantsis, one of the most notable examples of Catalan Romanesque architecture from the 12th century.  The museum contains materials found during archaeological excavations at various sites in the province of Girona, dating from prehistory to the Middle Ages.

Museu d’Art:

Girona’s Art Museum is a must for Romantic and Gothic Art lover.

Climb up the Cathedral stairs

You can notice characteristics of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles as the cathedral combines architectural styles from several periods and was built between the 11th and 18th centuries.

If we counted well, we climbed up over 90 stairs to the top.  If you are a righteous person, you will count an even number of steps, and if you are a sinner, the number of steps will be odd. But even in this case you should not worry as there is another popular belief, according to which each step up the stairs removes one of your sins!

A city for all Game of Thrones Lovers

I never really managed to finish a Game of Throne saison. But I can completely understand that Girona has been selected as one of the top location for the famous tv show, mainly for the season 6. You can find awesome locations and hidden places around the old town and the jewish quarter, taking you back into a sober mid-century mood. We visited (not on purpose) several “Game of Thrones” location like the stairs of the Cathedral de Girona or the Arab bath which was built in the 12th century.

The Arab bath | Ferran el Catòlic s/h | Girona

Enty price: 2 Euros

You can check out this article if you want to do your own self-guided Game of Thrones tour.

Restaurants in Girona

  • El Celler de Can Roca is THE food place in Catalonia and has gained a worldwide prestige after winning the World’s best Restaurant title twice. The three Catalonian brothers who grew up locally with a love of Catalan cuisine. Joan, a chef, Josep, a sommelier and Jordi, a pâtissier have combined forced to create an experience that is authentic to the core. But if you’re a foodie, and have a special celebration coming up, there’s no place I can recommend more highly.

El Celler de Can Roca | Carrer de Can Sunyer, 48, 17007 Girona

  • And if not, there’s always the off-shoot ice cream shop in the heart of Girona, Rocambolesc Gelateria.

Rocambolesc | Carrer Sta. Clara 50 | Girona

  • La Fabrica is a nice place to take your lunch when you in the old town. Former pro-cyclist Christian Meier opened this coffee shop and lunch place together with his wife.

La Fabrica | 17004, Carrer de la Llebre, 3 | 17004 Girona

  • Bionèctar is a bio restaurant in the center of Girona with a small concept store.

Bionèctar | Carrer D’en Francesc Eiximenis, 8, 17001 Girona

Hotels in Girona

HOTELS/APPARTMENTS

Hotel Nord 1901 Superior

This family-run hotel is only a 5-minute walk from the Cathedral and offers a nice garden terrace with a small swimming pool to relax after the city visit.

Price per night from 150 Euros for a double room with extra bed.  Click here to check the prices and availability.

Alemanys 5

This beautiful and typical stone house from the sixteenth century was restored recently. The Alemanys 5 house can be rented as a single large home (5 bedrooms), but it can also be divided into two independent apartments: El Badiu (3 bedrooms) and El Jardí (2 bedrooms). Click here to discover more.

Bed & Breakfast Bells Oficis

The charming 19th-century town house is very well situated in Girona’s old town. It’s the cheapest on our list with prices from 80 Euros. Click here to check the prices and availability.

AIRBNB

A historical Appartment with a vintage touch | A perfect combination between contemporary modernity and early 20th century architecture. The apartment has great tranquility, natural light in all rooms and beautiful views. It has 3 double bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, living room and balcony. Click here for more information.

Great appartement with a huge terrasse | It’s a spacious and very bright appartement, with large windows to the pedestrian street, well equipped kitchen, two cozy and spacious double rooms and a bathroom. You can enjoy the beautiful views of the “Barri Vell” from the sunny roof terrace. The building is part of the Architectural Heritage of Catalonia.

If you love apartments but aren’t a fan of Airbnb, then follow this link to find lots of other options.

HOTEL OUTSIDE GIRONA:

When you have the chance to stay a couple of days longer in Catalonia, we can recommend the Eco Country Hotel Mas Pelegri.  The hotel is set in the countryside with beautiful views over the Garrotxa volcanic national park and close to the lake Banyoles.

Hotel Mas Pelegri | Serinyà | Girona (Outside Girona, 40 Minutes by car)

PRACTICAL FACTS

Girona Airport:

The Girona Airport is only a short 20 minutes taxi drive from the city centre. The price is around 30 Euros. Alternatively, the airport is serviced by several local bus routes – see here for further details.

Barcelona Girona Train:

Girona is a great day trip when you are based in Barcelona. You can book the high speed train easily online on renfe.com which takes you in only 38 minutes from Barcelona Sants to Girona. You have trains every hour in both directions. The ticket price is depending the day and hour of your trip and costs between 10 and 30 Euro (one way). Children under 14 years will get a 40% discount and kids under 4 years can travel for free.

Costa Brava:

Girona is only a 45 minute drive away from the Costa Brava. When you are staying a couple of days, we can recommend you the lovely cost village Begun or a visit to Cadaques and the Dali Museum.

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