Planning Your Day in Girona
Girona, situated in the northeastern part of Catalonia, is a city rich in history dating to the Roman era. Because it sits at the confluence of four rivers, it was a strategic point for the Iberians, Romans, Moors, and Christians, who all fought for control of the region throughout the centuries. Today, Girona's historic center is considered one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In addition to its religious history, Girona is known for its role in the Spanish Civil War. The city was a stronghold of the Republican forces, and its residents played a crucial role in the resistance against General Francisco Franco's Nationalist powers. Today, you can learn more about this unique history at the Museu d'Història de Girona and the Archives of the Civil War. Other iconic landmarks include the impressive Gothic cathedral, the medieval city walls, the "red bridge," and the charming cobbled lanes featured in the "Game of Thrones" series.
When visiting Girona, many travelers fly into Barcelona. Combing Barcelona and the Costa Brava is one of the most popular trips for kimkim travelers. You can stay a few days in Barcelona to explore the city or head straight to the Costa Brava. Though the area's beaches and coastal townlets are the bigger draw, spending at least 24 hours in Girona is worth your time. With a compact historic core, visiting museums, cathedrals, parks, and other attractions on foot and within one day is relatively easy. For inspiration on spending 24 hours in Girona, read the detailed sample itinerary that maximizes your time in the city.
9:00 am: Grab Coffee & a Pastry
Like every country, Spain has its own gastronomic culture, and breakfast typically involves coffee and a sweet pastry. Do as the locals and partake in this morning tradition at one of the city's cafés. Federal Café is a good choice, with locations in other big Spanish cities, though La Comuna Café is a favorite and conveniently next to the cathedral. Another choice is Espresso Mafia Coffee, one of Girona's up-and-coming specialty coffee shops.
10:00 am: Visit the Cathedral
One of the most iconic landmarks in Girona is its towering cathedral, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture and the city's centerpiece since the 11th century. The Cathedral of Girona houses a rich art collection, including a tapestry museum, a Gothic nave, a stunning stained-glass window, a beautiful abbey, and a Baroque altarpiece. It combines Gothic and Renaissance styles and is one of Spain's largest and most impressive cathedrals.
While inside, you can visit the Museum of the Cathedral, which showcases the history of the building and its art and architecture. If you're a "Game of Thrones" fan, you'll undoubtedly recognize the landmark, its staircase, and the adjacent plaza. You can even enjoy a "Game of Thrones" walk in Girona if you'd like to see more sites from the series. Either way, don't miss climbing the bell tower, which rises over 230 feet (70 m) and offers spectacular views of the city and its surroundings.
11:30 am: Explore the Jewish Quarter & Walk the City Walls
After visiting the cathedral, explore Girona's old quarter, the Jewish Quarter or El Call. This maze of narrow streets and quaint buildings offers a glimpse into the city's past. Girona's historic core is one of the world's best-preserved Jewish quarters and truly feels like you're taking a step back in time, especially while strolling down charming lanes, like Carrer de la Força, Carrer de Sant Llorenç, and Carrer Manuel Cundaro. These cobbled streets are lined with boutiques, cafés, old houses, and ancient doorways.
You'll also find the Museum of Jewish History in this area, which is well worth a visit. The museum is dedicated to Girona's history of Jewish residents and culture, showcasing artifacts, documents, and exhibits. You also might want to save some time to visit the City History Museum, Museu d'Historia de Girona. It's uniquely set in an old Capuchin convent and offers a nice overview of Girona's history, including its Jewish history.
Next, navigate the French Gardens and German Gardens to the city's wall and take in the views. The wall, built during the Roman Empire, offers panoramic vistas of the city and the surrounding countryside. This is a great way to get your bearings and appreciate Girona's beauty. The city wall extends for over 1 mile (2 km), dotted with watchtowers and gates.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
2:00 pm: Try Some Local Cuisine
You're probably ready for some lunch at this point in the day. There are plenty of cafés in Girona, but regardless of where you end up, try the local delicacy, xu xu. This traditional dish is made with potatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic and is a staple of Catalan gastronomy. Xu xu is a hearty and flavorful dish that's perfect for a quick lunch, and you'll see it on the menu at many local restaurants. Check out the streets within Old Town, especially Carrer de les Ballesteries and Carrer de la Força, to find a perfect spot.
3:00 pm: Visit the Arab Baths
Though not functioning today, it's still fun to check out the city's unique Arab Baths, a well-preserved example of Moorish architecture. Built in the 12th century, the baths are a testament to the influence of Islamic culture in Spain during the Middle Ages. The complex features a series of vaulted rooms, including a hot bath, a warm bath, and a cold bath, all connected by a system of arches and columns. View the original horseshoe-shaped arcs and intricate stonework that make the baths so special.
4:00 pm: Get a Local Snack & Walk Across the River
It's time for an afternoon sweet treat, and no one does this better than the residents of Girona. You'll likely see a sugarcoated pastry called Xuixo (pronounced shoo-shoo) in nearly all the bakeries you'll pass. The locals also love this donut-like delicacy for breakfast, though it's also tasty in the afternoon. It's a deep-fried, sugarcoated pastry filled with crema catalana, the cream stuffed within Catalonia's version of crème brûlée.
Since this signature treat is a little messy, you might want to take it to go and sit by the river. Be sure to cross over the "red bridge" (Pont de les Peixateries Velles), designed by the architect of the Eiffel Tower. This bridge offers stunning river views and is a great place to take photos. After crossing the river, find a bench to sit, relax, indulge, and watch the activity of Girona.
5:00 pm: Take a Break or Enjoy a Museum
It's been a big day, so feel free to take a break before dinner and relax at your accommodation or in one of the city's gardens. Since it's likely the hottest point in the day, another idea is to sneak into a cool museum. If you didn't pop into the Museum of Jewish History or City History Museum earlier, those come highly recommended. Other options include the following:
Girona Art Museum. This museum houses a collection of Catalan art from the Romanesque period to the present day, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.
Cinema Museum. Enjoy exploring the history of cinema with a focus on the pioneering work of the Lumière brothers. You can view original equipment, films, and posters from the early days of cinema.
Museum of Archaeology of Catalonia-Girona. From the prehistoric to the medieval period, you'll find a vast collection of historical artifacts focusing on the ancient Iberian civilization.
Museum of Jewish Art and Culture. Unlike the Jewish History Museum, this option displays the religious and cultural artifacts of the Jewish community, including menorahs, Torah scrolls, and other ritual objects.
Casa Masó. This museum is dedicated to the life and work of the architect Rafael Masó, whose family home was preserved and turned into a museum. View Masó's personal belongings, architectural drawings, and photographs.
8:00 pm: Grab Dinner in the Old Town or Across the River
Girona's historic streets are home to numerous eateries serving a range of cuisine, from traditional Catalan dishes to unique fusion food. Go with what your taste buds are craving, but the following are a few recommendations to get you started:
Vintages. Cozy yet modern, this restaurant offers a Mediterranean-inspired menu focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients. The menu frequently changes to reflect the availability of local produce.
LaFerla. A highly recommended traditional eatery, LaFerla serves authentic Catalan cuisine in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu includes local specialties such as botifarra (a type of sausage) and pa amb tomàquet (bread with tomato).
Divinum. Here, you'll dine in a beautiful, historic building in the heart of Girona and enjoy traditional Catalan cuisine with an extensive wine list.
Bionbo Café Restaurant. This stylish restaurant offers Mediterranean-inspired cuisine using fresh, local ingredients and is a great choice for vegetarians and vegans.
El Celler de Can Roca. You might have heard of this restaurant if you're a foodie. It's a world-renowned eatery run by the Roca brothers and has been named the best restaurant in the world several times. It serves innovative, modern cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
L'Assaig 1901. This is an excellent option if you're after a Michelin-starred experience and/or want to try some of the region's famed seafood. You'll eat in a historic building in the center of Girona while enjoying creative, contemporary cuisine using ingredients from the surrounding area.
10:00 pm: Enjoy a Nightcap & Late-night Stroll
Girona and the Empordà wine region go hand-in-hand; mixing the two is one of the best things to do in the Costa Brava. If you'd like to try some of the region's varietals, consider a nightcap before heading to bed.
If you decide to dine at Divinum or El Cellar de Can Roca from the list above, you can stay and sip a glass at the end of your meal. Divinum has a selection of over 100 local and regional wines, and El Cellar de Can Roca offers a massive list of 1,000 wines worldwide. Another option is La Malabarista Vermuteria, a lively pick known for its vermouth (a fortified wine popular in Spain) and other spirits and wines.
After dinner, stroll through the city as it glows at night, returning to your accommodation and settling in. If you need some trip inspiration for how to spend your time in Spain, Catalonia, and/or Girona, past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries: