Welcome to Girona, one of the most charming cities in Catalonia and a perfect escape from the hustling and bustling streets of Barcelona. From medieval walls, winding old town streets, and colorful houses located by the river to the well-preserved Jewish Quarter and filming locations of… Game of Thrones! Girona offers a lot and so much more. No matter if you’re a history buff or just looking for a picturesque getaway – this city will satisfy each traveler’s interests and needs. Do you want to learn more? Stay with us and discover the best things to do in Girona old town, Spain in one day.
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Girona, Spain FAQ
Girona is located in mainland Catalonia in the Province of Girona in Spain. It lies about 100km from Barcelona and 60 km from the French border which makes it a great one-day trip idea both from Catalonia in Spain and Occitanie in the South of France.
Yes, Girona is totally worth visiting, especially its old town area. Charming streets full of secrets and history, great views over the surroundings that include medieval city walls, tidbits for Game of Thrones fans, and picturesque riverbank full of colorful hanging houses… Girona is a truly gorgeous city, very pleasant to discover.
Girona is best known for its old town full of historic landmarks like the Cathedral, Europe’s best-preserved Jewish Quarter, city walls, colorful hanging houses, and the Basilica of Sant Feliu. Nowadays it’s also a popular travel spot for Game of Thrones fans who want to see where their beloved TV series was filmed.
Girona is a perfect destination for one-day trips, great weekends, and even longer stays. Without rushing it’s easy to see all Girona’s old town attractions in one day. But if you want to know the city even better, we recommend staying for at least 3 days.
All the main things to do in Girona old town are located in close proximity to each other and it’s very easy to reach each on foot. But some of them, like walking on medieval walls, climbing Cathedral stairs, or exploring the Jewish Quarter require walking uphills and on many stairs. Those who might have problems with that should stay closer to the lower parts of the city.
No, Girona doesn’t have a beach. The nearest beaches are located about 40km from the city.
Yes, some parts of Girona served as filming locations during the 6th season of Game of Thrones.
Things to do in Girona Old Town, Spain in one day
Girona Old Town streets
Girona old town is full of charming streets and some cozy squares. Just take a slow stroll, get lost, and soak in the city’s unique vibe. Wander around charming buildings, distinctive bridges, small boutique shops, filming locations, restaurants, and cafes… And all of that without huge crowds! Can there be a better thing to do in Girona? We doubt that!
Don’t miss spots like Plaza de la Independencia – a cozy square perfect for a short dinner or coffee break, and Rambla de la Llibertat – the main pedestrian street in Girona that since the 13th century hosted a town’s market and now is filled with shops and restaurants.
Before 2020 a unique thing to do in Girona old town was to… kiss a lioness’s butt that is standing on Plaça De Sant Feliu. Yes, you’ve read right! Now you can only admire the statue as the small, helpful stairs were taken and a sign informing about no-kissing has been erected. Why did people start to do that in the first place? Well, there was a legend that if a traveler touched the lioness’s butt, they’d return or never leave Girona. Somehow legend evolved and touching became kissing. But then Covid came and took it all away. What a shame!
Among Girona’s old town streets, you’ll find points of interest like the Cathedral, Arab baths, Jewish Quarter, medieval walls, Basilica of Sant Feliu, colorful hanging houses along the Onyar River, the Eiffel Bridge, and some interesting museums. Let’s go and take a closer look at them.
Girona city walls
One of the best things to do in Girona’s old town is to walk on the city’s medieval walls (es. Passeig de la Muralla) which are the most complete walls in the whole of Spain. Wall was built in the 14th century in order to protect the inhabitants from attacks and during the next years it underwent several restorations and improvements.
Later, in the late 19th century walls were partially destroyed to make way for city expansion. Fortunately, many of the missing pieces have been reconstructed and nowadays you can walk along them enjoying stunning views over Girona city and its surroundings. What’s more – this Girona attraction is totally free (November 2023).
There are 4 access points, but we think that the best views are from Mirador de Santa Llúcia in its northern sector, near the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants.
Basilica of Sant Feliu
Before the construction of Girona Cathedral started in the 10th century, the Basilica of Sant Feliu (es. Basílica de Sant Feliu) was the main church of the city. Its first version dates back to the 4th century, although the current appearance is from the 14th century. Nowadays, due to many reconstructions, the church features a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. Its imposing bell tower, which is visible from many places around the town, was added between the 14th and 16th centuries.
Inside the Basilica of Sant Feliu, you’ll find eight Roman and early Christian sarcophagi (dating back to the 3rd and 4th centuries) and a Recumbent Christ sculpture from the 14th century.
Without a doubt, the basilica is one of the most representative and eye-catching buildings in Girona. And it looks a bit like a castle! Don’t you think? Also, in our opinion, it’s even more spectacular than Girona Cathedral.
To enter the Basilica of Sant Feliu you need to buy a combined ticket with Girona Cathedral. It costs €7.5 for adults, and €5 for children (November 2023). Price includes audioguide. For current prices and opening hours visit catedraldegirona.cat website.
One of the main things to do in Girona old town is to visit the Cathedral and its stairs. Girona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona (es. Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Gérone), sits at the top of the hill and dominates the city skyline. It was built between the 11th and 13th centuries, in Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. The second bell tower was added later, in the 18th century.
Girona Cathedral features the widest Gothic nave in the world (23m) and the second-widest of any church. Only St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican is wider.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Then you should recognize the Cathedral staircase! They were used in season 6 of the show.
Entrance to Girona Cathedral costs €7.5 for adults, and €5 for children (November 2023). The price includes an audio guide and entrance to the Basilica of Sant Feliu For current prices and opening hours visit catedraldegirona.cat website.
Girona Jewish Quarter – El Call
In the middle of Girona old town, you’ll find El Call, the Jewish Quarter, which was home to a large Jewish community between the 12th and 15th centuries. Actually, it was one of the largest Jewish neighborhoods in the world! At least until 1492, when all the Jews were expelled from Spain by Catholic Monarchs.
Nowadays, the Girona Jewish Quarter is one of the best preserved in the world, almost intact. Wander around a maze of narrow cobblestone streets, admire ancient buildings, discover hidden gardens and stairways, and enjoy a unique glimpse into the life and traditions of the medieval Jewish community.
Museum of Jewish History
If you want to learn more about Jewish history, life, and traditions be sure to visit the Museum of Jewish History (es. Museu d’Història dels Jueus) which is located in the former synagogue. The aim of the museum is to preserve the history of the Jews of all of Catalonia but with a focus on the history of El Call. Exhibits include an exceptional collection of artifacts, documents, and multimedia presentations, that showcase the Jewish community’s contributions to Girona’s history and their interactions with other cultures.
General entrance to the Museum of Jewish History costs €4 and €2 reduced one (November 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit girona.cat website.
Colorful houses on the River Onyar
Admiring colorful houses on the River Onyar (es. Cases de l’Onyar) is one of the best things to do in Girona old town that definitely can’t be missed. This postcard-like view of hanging houses and their reflections on the water surface can be admired from Girona bridges like Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Eiffel Bridge), Pont de Sant Agustí, Pont de Pedra, or Pont d’en Gómez o de la princesa. It’s a truly captivating visual spectacle that is totally free of charge!
Eiffel Bridge, also known as Pont de les Peixateries Velles, is the most famous bridge in Girona that spans over the River Onyar. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel himself (yes, the man behind the iconic Eiffel Tower) and built-in 1877. It’s a unique and beautiful piece of architecture from which you can get great views of the colorful hanging houses.
Museum of Cinema
Are you a cinema/movies fan? Then you definitely should visit the Museum of Cinema (es. Museu del Cinema). Thanks to a wide variety of pieces from pre-cinema times (like Chinese shadow theater) up to 1970, you’ll go on a fascinating journey during which you’ll learn about the evolution of cinema step by step. You’ll see movie equipment, vintage projectors, cameras, movie posters, and so much more. Visiting the Museum of Cinema is a must-have thing to do in Girona for movie buffs.
General entrance to the Museum of Cinema costs €7 and €3.5 reduced one (November 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit girona.cat website.
Other things to do in Girona Old Town, Spain in one day
Follow Game of Thrones footsteps in Girona
Girona Old Town is also a real treat for Game of Thrones fans. There you can follow the footsteps of the movie crew who used quite a few spots as filming locations for Braavos city in season 6. There are stairs of the Cathedral, Jewish Quarter, Arab Baths, Plaça dels Jurats, or Sant Pere de Galligants just to name a few…
You can research and then visit all the spots on your own or you can book this popular and well-rated Game of Thrones guided tour during which you’ll not only visit filming locations but you’ll also learn about Girona’s history.
Arab Baths (es. Banys Àrabs) is the next great place to visit in Girona, especially for history lovers. These well-preserved public baths were built in 1194 in order to improve hygiene among the town’s population. Their design was inspired by Roman and Arab baths. They were restored in 1932 and opened to the public to give a glimpse into life in the Middle Ages.
Nowadays you can’t use the baths but you can take a self-guided tour and look around. Entrance to the Arab Baths costs €3 (November 2023). For current prices and opening hours visit banysarabs.cat website.
Sant Pere de Galligants & Archeological Museum of Catalonia
Sant Pere de Galligants (es. Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants) is a former monastery dating back to the 12th century. Thanks to its characteristic bell tower and Romanesque architecture it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in Girona. Nowadays, the monastery is home to an Archeological Museum of Catalonia (es. Museu d’Arqueologia de Catalunya) showcasing a collection of archeological findings in the region from prehistory all the way to the Middle Ages.
General entrance to the Archeological Museum costs €7 and €5 reduced one (November 2023). Also, entrance is free of charge on each first Sunday of the month. For the current prices and opening hours visit macgirona.cat website.
Girona Art Museum
Girona Art Museum (es. Museu d’Art de Girona) is located in a former Episcopal Palace and boasts a large collection of over 8000 items like paintings, sculptures, ceramics, glassware, and liturgical art. All spanning from Roman times up to the 20th century.
General entrance to the Girona Art Museum costs €6 and €4 reduced one (November 2023). For the current prices and opening hours visit museuart.cat website.
How to get to Girona, Spain?
Where to park in Girona?
If you’re traveling by car you can choose from many parking lots in town. We left our car in this free parking lot, located only about 8min on foot from the Girona old town.
Airports near Girona
The closest airport to Girona is located in Girona itself, about 15min from the city center. The next one is located in Barcelona, about 115km away. All airports offer bus connections to Girona. To learn more about connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website. You can also hire a car in Girona or Barcelona airport and get to any place in the city.
To Girona by train
From many places like Barcelona, Tarragona, Figueres, Perpignan, or Narbonne you can easily get to Girona by train. You can check out a map of available train connections on the acprail.com or rome2rio.com website. For great train ticket deals visit the Trainline website.
To Girona by bus
You can also easily reach Girona by bus. For example, a trip from Barcelona will take about 1h15min (€6-15), and 3h from Tarragona (€14-24). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Things to do in Girona old town, Spain in one day – Summing up
So here you have it, your guide to the best things to do in Girona, Spain in one day. Rich history, fascinating sites, charming old town, interesting museums, Game of Thrones locations, and so much more… Quite a lot to choose from, right? We are sure no traveler will be bored there. We hope you’ll find our guide useful and you’ll have a nice time in Girona.
Our video from Girona
Our opinion about Girona
For us, a visit to Girona was a one-day trip from Saint-Cyprien in France where we lived for a few weeks. We visited it in early December and during that time the city was quiet, without lots of tourists. Back then Plaza de la Independencia was the busiest spot as it was a place where Christmas Market was taking place. We managed to see all the places we wanted in about 7 hours.
Overall we really enjoyed our time in Girona. We didn’t expect anything spectacular but the city surprised us with its beauty and fascinating history. We loved wandering among its old town streets and historic sites – they have such a great vibe!
We also loved the Museum of Cinema and spent quite a lot of time there. In our opinion, Girona is the most beautiful spot in Catalonia (at least among the ones we visited) and one of the best places in the whole of Spain we’ve seen so far.
If you’re looking for a great place to eat we can recommend La Fabrica Girona – we won’t lie when we say it was the best restaurant in Spain we’ve eaten so far (and it’s open in “normal” dinner hours!).
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Girona?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Girona:
Where to sleep in Girona?
Hotel Palau de Bellavista
Hotel Palau de Bellavista in Girona stands out as a luxurious and stylish accommodation option. Nestled near the historic city center, this hotel offers breathtaking views of Girona's landscape, including the iconic Cathedral and the Pyrenees in the distance. With its sophisticated design, modern amenities, and a gourmet restaurant it provides a memorable and indulgent experience for guests.
Apartaments Placa Del Vi
Situated in the heart of Girona, Apartaments Placa Del Vi offers a charming and comfortable stay in a historic setting. The well-appointed apartments are located on the picturesque Placa del Vi, providing guests with easy access to Girona's cultural attractions, shops, and restaurants. With a blend of modern amenities and the enchanting ambiance of the Old Town, these apartments offer a delightful retreat for those looking to immerse themselves in the rich history and vibrant atmosphere of Girona.
Carlemany Girona stands as a modern and sophisticated accommodation option in the heart of Girona. With its contemporary design and comfortable amenities, the hotel caters to both business and leisure travelers. Its central location allows guests to explore Girona's historic sites, cultural attractions, and vibrant dining scene with ease, while the well-appointed rooms provide a relaxing retreat after a day of exploration.
Best Western Premier
Best Western Premier is a stylish and modern hotel offering a comfortable stay in Girona. Located conveniently close to the city center, guests can explore Girona's historic landmarks, charming streets, and cultural attractions with ease. The hotel boasts well-appointed rooms, contemporary amenities, and a commitment to providing a welcoming experience for both business and leisure travelers.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com