Girona  is an ancient town several thousand years old in Catalonia, Spain. The city has approximately 100,000 people and serves as the capital of the Girona Province in Catalonia which includes the counties (or comarques) of Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà, Garrotxa, Gironès, Pla de l'Estany, Ripollès.
The town has an attractive Jewish quarter and is often overlooked by budget fliers arriving at Girona-Barcelona airport. Girona makes an excellent stop-off as part of a tour of Catalonia or escape from the noise and speed of Barcelona or as a long weekend getaway with one of those budget airlines.
The towers of Sant Feliu and the Cathedral above the Sant Feliu Bridge across the Onyar River
Girona is said to consistently win a country-wide poll of citizens on preferred city to live in. Geographically set at the confluence of the Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell rivers, it has been a focal point of this region in Catalonia since prior to being part of the Roman Empire.
The Old Town is on the east bank of the river, with pedestrianized narrow streets surrounded by the old city walls. The "Rambla", running parallel to the river, contains many street cafés and touristic restaurants. Tourist information is at the south end of the Rambla, beside the river.
The newer town center on the west bank has wider streets contains more shops and hotels, plus slightly cheaper restaurants.
In August, the city becomes very quiet on Sat and Sun, as most citizens escape to the sea.
Girona is located 98 km (61 miles) north of Barcelona and can be reached from there by bus, train, or one's own car. There is an airport close to the town with a wide range of connections on Ryanair.
Girona Airport is 1hr bus ride from Barcelona center. Ryanair mentions "Barcelona" in their description of Girona airport as you can make the connection between the airport and Barcelona. There is also an hourly bus into Girona from the airport.
Bus: If you want to travel to Girona from Barcelona city you can take a bus. That bus (€16) stops in the center of Barcelona, in Estació d'Autobusos Barcelona Nord (Barcelona's main bus terminal). See barcelonatransfers.com
Trains from Barcelona to Girona leaves approximately every hour from Barcelona Estació de Sants (with other stops at Passeig de Gràcia/Aragó and Clot). The journey takes 35m from Girona to Barcelona Sants and the ticket costs about 14€, that's if you take the new high speed AVE (AVANT) service. There are slower options that cost half as much, but Media Distancia takes 1h30 and Regional takes 1h45. There is no train station at the airport, so the only route is from the station in the city centre. If you are arriving at the airport a taxi will cost approx €20 to reach the train station . You can check it at Renfe's Train Time Tables page:
- bus service from Girona airport to Perpignan Express
- Time Tables Renfe's
There are also now direct trains from Paris on the high speed line to Barcelona.
Both the Old Town and the New Town across the river are highly pedestrianized. A car is not only unnecessary in Girona, but also quite cumbersome. Rentals are available for those wishing to make day trips to the outlying villages and castles in the area.
It should be noted that most of the streets in the Old Town have large cobblestones and steep stairs going up the hill upon which Girona is built. Walking in high heels or with rolling luggage is quite difficult at some points, so plan accordingly.
- The Old Town's architecture is varied and atmospheric resulting from the myriad of occupations and invasions with many narrow streets, a castle, and impressive walled section.
- Catedral de Girona, cathedral which its interior includes the widest Gothic nave in the world
- Església de Sant Feliu, second church in the city. Closed for renovation as of Sept 2007.
- Banys Arabs (Arab baths), c/de Ferran Catolic. Apr-Sept: Mon-Sat 10AM-7PM, Sun and holidays: 10AM-2PM. Oct-March: 10AM-2PM daily (?). €1.5. edit
- Cul de la lleona, (female lion's butt). As the legend says, you'll only come back if you kiss the lion's butt.
- Sant Pere de Galligans, benedictine abbey. It is also home to the Archaeological Museum.
- The Walls, the extension of the Roman walls during the medieval ages today enables visitors to stroll along a walkway following some sections of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe (9th century). The various towers are excellent vantage points offering views over the city and the surrounding areas
- El Pont de Ferro, (Eiffel's bridge). Colorful and unique bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel just before the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
- Farinera Teixidor, modernist building.
- Casa Teixidor (La Punxa)
- Casa Masó, Masó's birthplace.
- Casa Cots
- Casa Batlle
- Casa Masramon
- Casa Gispert-Saüch
- The river, although it dries up in the summer (and gets a bit stinky!), and the houses along it are very pretty.
- Walk along the ancient walls (yes, you can get on there) for excellent views of the city
- Enjoy the numerous cafes which are especially atmospheric at night
- The ancient narrow streets of the old Jewish section.
- Check out Girona's lively "discoteca" club scene.
- Play Golf on all the fantastic courses in the surroundings
The old town contains mostly touristy shops.
There is also a good selection of modern shops selling the latest clothes.
Market on Saturday. Cheap goods market along river bank in the park north-west of town centre. Craft stalls in the old town.
- Glass design @ noutalledevidre, C/Hortes 2 (next to Eiffel's red bridge), ☎ 972 416 330, . nou glass design is a creative space dedicated to local crafts specialising in glass making. A beautiful designed gallery and shop where everything is individually made creating special, original and unique pieces from contemporary jewellery, glassware, to interior design features including glass picture hanging and contemporary stained panels. You may even have the opportunity to see the two artists at work, melting the crystal glass with the torch, or preparing the kiln for fusing which is amazing to see. edit
In the old town, many touristy cafes offer menu del dia for €10-13, even on Sun. Areas with dense coverage of faceless touristy cafes are: Plaça Independencia; Rambla de la Lliberitat (near cathedrals). However, try to avoid the restaurants at and near Rambla de la Llibertat, they are very touristy, waiters do not speak English and even if you do find menus in English they are usually poorly translated and the dish you get can vary substantially from its description in the menu. Especially avoid tapas at these restaurants, aside that it is not an authentic Catalunian dish, you will get just a poorly styled mish-mash at one small plate.
Like any other Catalan city, cafes are closed from 4PM until dinner time (about 8-8:30PM). Exceptions are only touristy cafes at Rambla de la Lliberitat.
- Le Bistrot, Pujada de Sant Domenec, 4 (halfway on going down from Catedral by either side of Pujada de Sant Domenec), ☎ +34(972)21-8803. Very prominent location, with outdoor tables on arguably most spectacular staircase in the town. Alternatively, consider indoor seats near backyard windows. Frequented by students of the local university. Menu del dia: €17 / €20, available on Sun also; no traditional menu. edit
- Gran Muralla, Francesc Eiximenis. The best selection of Japanese and Chinese food, featuring sushi, beijing duck, thai salad. 
- El Pou del Call, C/ Força, 14, ☎ 972 22 37 74. Excellent and good value local Catalonian dishes. edit
- Frankfurter König 1, Avinguda Jaume I, 1, ☎ 972 212 621. Cheap food such as pizzas, steak, french fries; and also a place to have a drink. edit
- Frankfurter König 2, Pl. Independència, 2, ☎ 972 202 099. edit
- Braseria-Pizzeria König, Av. Jaume I, 8, ☎ 972 416 122. edit
- Koenig Sandwiches, c/Calderers 16 (right under Esglesia de Sant Feliu), ☎ 972 225 782. Modern minimalistic design interior; two floors; well-airconditioned; some WiFi coverage for outdoor tables. Combined dishes (salad+main+side dish): €5.8-6.5; salads €5-7; focaccia sandwiches €3.8-4.5; hamburgers €2.5-3.5; toast sandwiches: €3.6-4. edit
- König Bar-Restaurant, C.C. Espai Gironès, Salt, ☎ 972 439 123. edit
- La Dolce Vitta, Plaça Independencia. Italian food for everyone at reasonable prices.
- 1900, C/ Obra, 2 (in a small square, near the Ponta de Pedra). Coffees, teas, and hot chocolates. Simple selection of pastries and waffle. Reasonably priced and delicious with the bonus of free wi-fi. Beautiful place with gorgeous, clean bathrooms. Drinks €1-4. edit
- Basque Restaurants:. edit
- Txalaka, Carrer Bonastruc de Porta 4. Very good Basque restaurant serving pintxos (similar to tapas). Can be crowded with locals in the evening after 22:00 (which is a good sign for a restaurant!) edit
- Zanpanzar, Carrer Cort-Reial, 10, 17004, ☎ 972 21 28 43. Fantastic atmosphere, good for a quick tapa and beer edit
- Lizarran, Plaça de la Independència, 14, 17001, . One of the 200 Lizarran restaurants across 8 different countries edit
- L'Alqueria, Ginesta núm. 8. 17001, ☎ 972 22 18 82, . Traditional Valencian food, with an extensive range of rice dishes. edit
- Rocambolesc, Carrer Santa Clara, 50, 17001, . From 2€ - 3€. Ice cream parlor by one of the brothers of "El Celler de Can Roca (3 Michelin star)". (41.9847285,2.8234599) edit
- Llagurt, Carrer Argenteria, 3, . Wide variety of artisan and organic iogurts. edit
- La Recuiteria, Rambla Llibertat, 41, ☎ 679301059, . Curd ("recuit"), iogurt or ice cream from the milk of their own cattle. 2-3€. (41.9845317,2.8243237) edit
- Xocolateria l'Antiga, Placa del vi 8. Charming and classical place in the old town where you can enjoy a typical cup of "xocolata calenta" (hot chocolate). (41.983089,2.824553) edit
- Crepdequè, C/Ballesteries 49 Girona. Grab a crêpe in this tiny and classic place of Girona. (41.986514,2.824588) edit
Good quality Restaurants (20€ - 30€)
- Divinum, Carrer del General Fournàs, 2, 17004, ☎ 872 080 218, . Great wine and cheese tasting, tapas, sometimes live Jazz music. Reasonable price. It's a small place, so you might need to book. edit
- La Poma, Carrer Cort-Reial, 16, 17004, ☎ 972 21 29 09, . Cosy and modern place with exquisite dishes and a wide and varied wine list. edit
- Vintages, Carrer Cort-Reial, 15, 17004, ☎ 972 206 326. Seasonal products and dishes. Wide wine list. edit
- Draps, Carrer Cort-reial, 2, 17004, . Good dishes. Most of them are made to share in 2 people, so the prices have to be divided in 2. edit
- Vinil, Carrer Cort-Reial, 17, 17004, . Small and friendly place with excellent and tasty food. edit
- La Penyora, Carrer del Teatre, 3, 17004, . Great food and atmosphere, with a particular decoration. Located in a pretty little street in the old town. edit
- Els Jardins de la Mercè, . Peaceful and charming place with a fantastic garden in which to eat and drink. Excellent food and staff. edit
- Mimolet, Carrer Pou Rodó, 12, 17004, ☎ 972 202 124, . Amazing food with a delicious set menu and wines. Great location. edit
- LlevaTaps, Plaça de l'Oli, 1, 17004, ☎ 972099112, . Creative, fresh and seasonal products, along with wines from Empordà. edit
- Vinomi, Passeig Sant Joan Bosco, 59-61, 17007, . Wide range of wines and pretty good food. A bit far from the center. edit
- El Cau del Llop, Carrer de Sacsimort, 5, . Traditional and simple cuisine with an extremely accurate selection of the products. (41.9886785,2.8256492) edit
- L'Alqueria, Ginesta núm. 8. 17001, ☎ +34 972 22 18 82, . Traditional Valencian food, with an extensive range of rice dishes. (41.981758,2.822234) edit
- Arròs i Peix, C/ Ciutadans 20, ☎ +34 972 426 300, . Fish and seafood: Pick out your fresh fish and have it cooked while you enjoy a glass of cava. (41.984435,2.825637) edit
- El Didal, C/Lluís Batlle i Prat, 4, ☎ +34 972487898, . Decorated with old irons as wall lights, ironing boards and sewing patterns. "El Didal" means "The Thimble". (41.986353,2.825792) edit
- Cal Ros, ☎ +34 972 219 176, . With more than a century of history, this restaurant serves traditional Catalan food but with twists to a new modern and creative cuisine. (41.984887,2.825025) edit
High quality Restaurants (over 40€)
- El Celler de Can Roca, Can Sunyer, 48 17007, ☎ 972 222 157, . 3 Michelin stars.1st position in "The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2013" and 2nd position in "The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2012" edit
- La Massana, Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 10, 17001, . 1 Michelin star edit
- Nu, Carrer d'Abeuradors, 4, 17004, ☎ 972 22 52 30, . Excellent and creative menu. The owner also owns La Massana which has a michelin star. edit
- La Bodega, Carrer Bonaventura Carreras i Peralta, 2, . Very good atmosphere. Small winery situated in the heart of the Old Town, where people stand outside drinking wine or beer. Each cup costs around 2€, with some snacks included. edit
- The River Cafè, Carrer de les Ballesteries, 23, 17004. Live music, drinks and food. Opened all day. edit
- La Placeta, Carrer Bonaventura Carreras Peralta, 7, 17004, ☎ 972 22 02 18, . Pretty small but friendly place with drinks and food. edit
- Babel, Carrer de Cort-Reial 3, . Nice bar, nice food and cosy place to have a few. English friendly. edit
- Context Cafè-Bar, Carrer Pou Rodó, 21, . Drinks, food, books, live music,... edit
- Mckiernan's, Rambla de la Llibertat, 32, 17004. An Irish pub, crowded on weekends. Suitable place to have a drink. English friendly. edit
- Sunset Jazz Club, Carrer de Jaume Pons Martí, 12, 17004, . Live music shows, some of the top musicians of the national and international scenes, in addition to the great live jazz shows. Wide selection of the international classics and self created cocktails. Very cosy place. edit
- Siddharta, Pedret, 116, 17007. A suitable place to try the drink named "tisana" (in Catalan). edit
- Cu-Cut!, Plaça independència, 10, 17001, . Nice place for the first(s) drink(s), and maybe the last too. edit
- City Arms, Güell. English pub edit
Hostels. Good prices.
- Xanascat. Alberg Cerverí, Carrer Dels Ciutadans, 9, 17004, ☎ +34 972 21 80 03 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . It is located in the centre of the city, only a 100 meters away from the Town hall and from the Avenue From €15 including breakfast, internet access. edit
- Hotel Ultonia, Gran Via de Jaume I, 22, ☎ +034 972 203 850, . edit
- Gran Hotel Ultonia, Gran Via de Jaume I, 22, ☎ +034 972 203 850, . a modern four star hotel open to the public recently edit
- Hotel Carlemany, Joan Maragall.
- Hotel Ciutat de Girona, Hortes. Another 4 star hotel located near the downtown.
- Hotel Bellavista. The only 5 star hotel in Girona.
As is typical with these region of Catalonia, it can get quite hot in the summer. Take care and drink plenty of water throughout the day. There are a number of public water fountains which anyone can make use of and they are clearly marked on the city maps you get from the tourists office.
As for crime, Girona is generally a very safe town with a vigilant local population. It experiences crime that is typical of any city its size, but visitors have little to worry about from the town itself beyond possibly pickpocketing in large crowds. However, it is not uncommon to see local drunks and other vagabonds at the entrances to the footbridges across the Onyar River, especially on the Old Town side. While they generally keep to themselves, they will often beg for change.
While not the destination that Barcelona is for "stag" parties from Northern Europe, Girona does see its fair share of them given that many of them fly in to the Girona Airport on their way to Barcelona.
It should go without saying as it would seem obvious, but don't attempt to jump in to the Onyar River from any of the bridges across it. In addition to being difficult to get back out of, the water simply isn't deep enough for the height and you will sustain any number of grievous injuries upon landing.
- Barcelona - An hour to the south by train and the capital of Catalonia with an endless list of things to see and do.
- Cadaqués- An hour and a half from Girona by car and on the coast, touristically famous for its Dalí House in Port Lligat or Cap de Creus.
- Figueres - A town approximately 30 minutes to the north by train with the famous Dalí museum and an active Old Town core.
- Hostalric - An old walled town south of Girona.
- Madremanya - Old, compact Medieval village boasting a Michelin rated restaurant. About 15 minutes from Girona by car.
- Torroella de Montgrí - A pleasant old town that was once the capital of the Empúries kingdom. Now it sits at the base of a mountain that goes up to a castle. A good day hike for those inclined.
- Tossa de Mar - While unfortunately deeply slathered in beach tourists, the original old town of the city is quite lovely to walk.