Best Things to Do in Girona Spain: Perfect 1 Day Itinerary
About an hour from Barcelona is the city of Girona, Spain. The medieval gem is full of perfectly preserved architectural marvels and offers visitors just so much more than a day trip dash from the big city.
Did I mention it’s actually the location Game of Thrones?
In this Girona tourist guide you’ll learn how to get to Girona, what the major points of interest are, how to grab a good bite to eat, and much more.
A Girona One Day Itinerary
If you needed to do just one day trip from Barcelona I suggest grabbing one of the many trains that connect the two cities (this will be explained in the last portion of the article).
Once you’ve arrived in Girona you’ll have to get central: from the train station it’s a brisk 15 minute walk.
To get there you’ll have to cross the Onyar River: one of the city’s four rivers. The river is crossed by various bridges but you can take whichever to get central.
Girona’s Bridges and Markets
I like Pont de les Peixateries Veilles (the ‘Bridge of Old Seafood Shops’) for its famous rust-coloured cage ironwork and because it was built by the same company who built the Eiffel Tower. The ‘eiffel bridge’ is a great place for photos.
There’s also Pont de Pedra (‘Stone Bridge’) where every between March and June and October to December) you’ll occasionally find a market full of crafts and artisan products.
Les Cases de l’Onyar
The first attraction on our Girona tour are the Onyar River Houses.
These peculiar houses look as if they’re hanging above the river, their facades following a very specific autumn colour scheme by the Catalan painter Enric Ansesa. Their reflection on the river is breathtaking.
The Girona Jewish Quarter + Museum
Continuing the walk you’ll pass the Jewish Quarter, one of the most well-preserved in Spain.
Here you’ll admire traces of the original streets like Carrer de Sant Llorenç and Carrer Cundaro. If you’re really interested it’s also worth a visit to the Jewish History Museum.
In July and August the museum is open weekdays from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm while Sundays and holidays it’s open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The rest of the year it’s open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and Monday, Sunday, and holidays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Tickets cost 6 euro and it’s possible to enter up to 30 minutes before closing time.
The museum is closed New Year’s Day, January 6th, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
The Girona Cathedral
Further down the road at Carrer de la Força we reach the city’s 11th century cathedral in just a few minutes. The original name of the church is Saint Mary’s of Girona.
Head up the stairs and see it from the inside to admire the masterful nave that’s famous for being the longest Gothic nave in Europe (22.98 m or 75 feet) and the second longest nave in total behind Saint Peter’s at the Vatican (25 m or 82 feet).
Keep on going to the Esgelsia de Sant Feliu (Church of Saint Felix), the seat of the old bishop of Girona before the position was moved to the cathedral. The bell and the monumental staircase found here are undoubtedly two of the city’s greatest symbols.
Visiting the cathedral has only recently become paid though the visit does include a handy audio guide. The cost is €7.00 for adults, €5.00 for students and pensioners, €1.20 for minors under 16, and free for kids under 7.
The opening hours can be found here.
La Lleona (or the “Lion’s Bum”)
Head over to the little square that opens up in front of Sant Feliu and pay homage to Leona, one of the essential things to see in Girona for any tourist.
Leona is a neo-Gothic lion sculpture left over from the 12th century, famous with Gironians for their local mantra: “he who doesn’t kiss Leona’s bum doesn’t love Girona”.
Visitors line up by the hundreds to have the privilege – so get in line.
At one time there was a little staircase leading up to the statue’s behind (which is a couple meters above the floor) for easy access but this was removed after a French tourist fell to their death in 2015.
The Arab Baths
I would dedicate the afternoon to visiting the Arab Baths (Els Banys Arabs in Catalan) which date back to 1194. The simplistic Romanesque building is divided into various rooms from cold water to hot. The 8 sided pool outside the vestibule is the centerpiece.
The visit of this very well preserved monument should last about 20 minutes.
From October to March you’ll be able to access the baths from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm from Monday to Saturday and from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sundays and holidays.
From April to September you can visit daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm on Sundays and holidays.
The baths are closed New Year’s Day, January 6th, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.
Girona’s Arab Baths cost 2 euro to enter.
The Medieval Walls
The longest Carolingian walls in Europe date back to the 9th century and are connected via various towers: from here you’ll get great views of the city and even the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees.
Though many were destroyed in the 19th century to allow for city expansion, you’ll be happy to know that they’ve been recently reconstructed as part of the Passeig de la Muralla (‘the wall walk’) – one of Girona’s top attractions.
The Girona Game of Thrones Self-Guided Tour
First off I need to issue a spoiler alert – skip this if you haven’t seen season six! If you didn’t know, Girona was selected by Game of Thrones producers as a set of many season 6 scenes.
You’ll see it a ton in the first episodes as the city of Braavos, the village where Arya Stark trains to get powers from the Faceless Men in order to become a trained killer.
Some notable locations:
- Carrer di Bisbe Cartañá. This little street is where a blind and begging Arya has her fidelity to the faceless men put to the test with a series of beatings.
- Carrer di Sant Cristòfor. It’s here where the young Arya fights her tormentor “the Orphan”.
- Plaça dels Jurats. This is the square where Arya attends the play which later traces the episode of her father’s death and other scenes related to her family.
- Pujada de Sant Domenech. While trying to escape the Orphan, Arya falls and tumbles down the stairs in front of the market. The youngest Stark however is able to escape and reach the Arab Baths where she’s finally able to kill her nemesis.
Other than playing the city of Braavos, Girona is also the backdrop to a beautiful scene depicting the arrival of the king. In the sixth episode Jamie Lannister rides in on horseback to confront the High Sparrow and demand the release of Queen Margaery without being subjected to the Walk of Atonement.
This fantastic scene takes place right on the stairs of the Girona Cathedral, which is clearly visible in the background. The sea and harbour that you see were recreated digitally.
Where to Eat in Girona
Carrer dels Calderers 16 | Average price: €10.00
When people ask me where to go in Girona for a quick bite this one always pops up.
It’s really just a Spanish fast food chain that serves tons of local favourites, right in the centre of town, and at minuscule prices.
Some say they serve the best patatas bravas (chunky potatoes with a spicy sauce) in the city. It gets packed during peak hours so I suggest going a little early (this won’t be a problem for non-Spaniards!) like noon or 6 or 7 pm.
Carrer de l’Albereda 15 | Average price: €10.00
Right near the Ponte de Pedra is this delicious place that serves tapas with a great price-quality ratio. Their calling card? Their speed! This is another great place to eat something tasty and quick to get back on the tourist trail.
Here you’ll find bright, fresh dishes using produce only from their own garden. A great spot for craft beer options as well as vegetarian food.
River Café Girona
Carrer de la Barca 2 | Average price: €10.00-€15.00
A great choice for people with special dietary needs like those looking for gluten-free dining – and apparently Bruce Springsteen wrote a song about this place.
The midday set menu starts at just €11.50 and is adapt for vegetarians, celiacs, and travellers with other sorts of intolerance. Meat eaters? Not to fear! There’s something for you too so grab a seat on the river-view terrace and dig in.
Plaça de la Independència 5-6 | Average price: €20.00
Not far from the Saint Augustine Bridge, on the other side of the old town, is this 130 year old Girona institution. The menu is full of traditional Catalan dishes, a must for anybody looking to experience true local cuisine.
Of the more than 40 dishes here the real local flavours are duck with pear, veal sirloin with foie gras, and fideua noodles (a type of Catalan paella).
Girona is a city that usually has a ton of events on no matter the time of year.
Here I’ve included the two biggest festivals of the year – in the chances you aren’t in the city during those times don’t fear, I’ve included a link to Giron’as official events page (it’s in Catalan but browser translations are easily understandable).
Sant Narcís Fair and Festival
The Saint Narcís Fair (aka the Girona Fair) is the one of the most important things to do in Girona for locals: it’s naturally dedicated to the city’s patron saint Sant Narcís.
The festival runs the week of the 27th of October and plays host to castellers (human towers), el gegants (paper mache giants), a correfoc (a fire run), concerts, markets, kids games and much more.
For more information visit the Fires de Sant Narcís website.
Temps de Flors (the Girona Flower Festival)
Another beautiful Girona festival is the Temps de Flors (the horribly sounding ‘Flower Time’ in English), a festival that was born in 1955 and has grown in importance every year since.
What was once a simple flower exhibition organised by the San Domenico church is now an event that involves the city turning entire streets into flower art pieces. 200,00 people visit every year. Look for amazing flower installations on the cathedral stairs and city hall.
The 2020 version of this festival runs May 9th-17th.
How to Get from Barcelona to Girona
There are a few trains that offer Barcelona to Girona service starting with the MD (‘middle distance’) which costs €11.25 and takes one hour and fifteen minutes. They depart from Sants, Passeig de Gracia, and El Clot.
There are also two types of regional trains: one which takes an hour and thirty minutes and another which takes 2 hours and ten minutes.
The first costs €8.40 and departs from Sants, Passeig de Gracia, El Clot, and Sant Andreu.
The second one also costs €8.40 and departs from Sants, Passeig de Gracia, Plaça de Catalunya, and Arc de Triomf.
If you’re not looking to spend a lot of time on trains to Girona you can also take the high-speed services (called AVANT or AVE) which will get you there in 40 minutes. The AVANT costs €17.40 per trip (€27.80 return) while the AVE is much more expensive with prices depending on seat availability.
Both depart from Sants.
You can consult Barcelona to Girona train times on the official Spanish rail website – from here you’ll also be able to book your tickets for all trains save the regional ones. These must be bought at the automated ticket machines at every station.
From the Estació del Nord bus station (near Arc du Triomf and the Born District) there are buses to Girona. Trip times vary between 90 minutes and two hours depending on the amount of stops per service.
The return ticket price is €24.00.
For schedules and buying channels consult the Estacio del Nord website.
If you’re looking for more flexibility and don’t mind ponying up a bit more cash this is for you.
The 105 km trip takes about 1 hour and 27 minutes taking the AP-7 highway north. You will encounter a few toll booths costing €1.25 and €0.90 each.
For the best rates on renting a car to go to Girona I always suggest readers use Rentalcars.com.
Girona Airport to Girona City Centre
Girona city centre is connected to Girona airport via a variety of buses that depart from the little square outside the train station.
Ryanair actually has a deal with the bus company called Sagales, with buses departing Girona airport for the city every hour from 4:00 am until midnight. The trip takes about 25 minutes.
If you’re heading to the city from the airport the same service runs hourly at thirty minutes past the hour. The ticket costs 2.75 one way. For more information consult the official Sagales website.
How to get from Girona Airport to Barcelona City Centre
If you’ve got yourself one of those great deal Ryanair flights you’ll be able to get central easily using the shuttle service offered by Ryanair and Sagales. Each shuttle departs timed with the arrival of a new flight.
The travel time is 1 hour and 15 minutes and you’ll arrive at the Estació del Nord bus station.
You can buy tickets online using my link in the button below:
Once you’ve arrived in Barcelona you’ll be able to walk about 2 minutes across the street to grab the metro, a bus, or even a taxi.
Looking to Visit Girona?
I’ve covered a ton of Girona Spain but what about the things that I missed? If you’ve got any follow up questions about your day trip or anything else regarding your Barcelona holiday I am here to help.
Fire away 🙂
November 13, 2019 at 11:12 pmHi again Ash! I was about to purchase train tickets to go to Girona (in mid-Dec), but wasn't sure if it's safe to travel there due to the protesting. It sounds like the protesting has quieted down as of late, but thought I'd check in with you since you would know best.
November 14, 2019 at 12:08 pmHi Karen, Nothing major has happened in weeks and there are no big plans for anything bigger. Tough to predict, but I don't think you should have any issues in mid December. If anything major happens I update it on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/barcelonahacks/ Cheers, Ash
August 9, 2019 at 4:13 pmVery helpful article. Will make all of these stops while there, including the Game of Thrones spots. I am just going to go in the order of your list to each spot. :) I heard of a website called omio.com where you can buy tickets online from Barcelona to Girona and have them on the mobile app after purchase. Have you heard of this company. Is it a good option? I would prefer to have tickets online to avoid looking for the ticket stations if you think it's a good idea. We are staying at ibis Styles Barcelona city Bogatell. What would you recommend to get there from this hotel? Thank you!!!
August 2, 2019 at 10:11 amHi Ash! We’re going to Barcelona on the 31st of August to the 3rd, we arrive really early and leave really late so we have maximum time! With only four days would you say a trip here would be worth it? As were big game of thrones fans! We’re staying at occidental athena mar, what would be the best way to get there? Thanks!
August 2, 2019 at 11:13 amHi Jessica, If you've followed my three day itinerary for Barcelona then you've probably squeezed the city for all its worth and you can probably afford a day trip on day four (or perhaps day three so it's not a travel day)... since you're big GOT fans I'm gonna say go for it! It's one of the most popular day trips and the city is beautiful so you can't go wrong. From your location you won't need to go all the way back into the city to get to Girona. Simply get to El Clot Arago train station, which is about a 20-25 minute walk from your hotel :) Cheers, Ash
May 6, 2019 at 12:37 pmHi Ash You've done it again! Everytime I'm looking for info, Barcelona Hacks has just what I need. We are doing a day trip to Girona for the flower festival and sights and your tour highlights will be so useful. We even have a Gluten Free place to eat so thank you! Great website and if you ever do an app I'd buy it.
May 6, 2019 at 12:43 pmThat is a so great to hear Sue! Please be in touch if you need any more help :)
May 7, 2019 at 6:14 pmHi Ash Actually I do have a question, is the tourist information easy to find? I'm following your list of what to do but apparently they have a map of the flower installations. Thanks Sue
May 8, 2019 at 11:48 amHi Sue, I've never been but it appears quite close to the main train station... should be an easy walk with a bit of cautious planning :) Here's the link to the route here. Ash
May 13, 2019 at 3:27 pmThanks again Ash, great info, I'm in Barcelona tomorrow and can't wait. Girona Wednesday looking forward to the sun and tapas!
May 14, 2019 at 11:52 amNo problem! Please let me know how it all goes :)
February 1, 2019 at 3:43 pmThanks Ash!
February 2, 2019 at 10:58 amNo problem! :)
January 31, 2019 at 6:44 pmHi Ash, I love your blog. There is so much helpful information. I will be in Barcelona from the 14th to the 17th of August. What is the best area to tour during the Gracia festival? What time of the day should I go? I am also considering a day tour heading north outside the city to see some of the Catalonia medieval towns or the Costa Brava area. Could you suggest a bus tour that is less than 90 euros per person? What bars offer tapas along with Jazz in the Gothic Quarter?
February 1, 2019 at 10:34 amHi Gail, Thanks so much for the kind words :) There really is no perfect place to see the Gracia festival since every individual neighbourhood changes their decor and offerings every year, so the best place could literally be anywhere! If you're looking to avoid the madness I would simply go in the late afternoon when the temperatures go down a bit... get off the metro at Fontana and just walk in and get lost. The best tour I can think of is the full day bus tour I have listed above, it covers quite a bit of ground for a one day trip and is about as much as you can fit in in one day :) As for the jazz plus tapas in the Gothic Quarter, unfortunately Harlem Jazz Club does not have a food menu but I've heard there are some jazz offerings at Balius. You may want to check out their schedule here: https://www.facebook.com/BaliusBar/ Hope this helps! Ash
February 1, 2019 at 2:16 pmHello Ash, Thanks for the prompt reply and the suggestions. Balius looks like a worthwhile stop. I hope I don't get lost during the Gracia festival as I don't speak Spanish. Is there a good app for converting Spanish to English I could use while I am in Spain for two weeks? Gail
February 1, 2019 at 2:38 pmHi Gail, I had a 45 minute conversation with somebody in Russia by simply using the Google Translate app... I would just download that and input whatever you want to say when needed. It will speak it out loud in Spanish. That said, mostly locals have a working level of English so it shouldn't be so bad! Ash
September 9, 2018 at 5:57 pmHi Ashly, We are planning a day trip to Girona and Costa Brava but have heard and read about the small town of Rupit. I was wondering if it is possible to see all in one day? Or even just Rupit and Girona? I saw it is best to reach Rupit by car. Would it be possible to catch a train, then a cab? Wondering what your recommendations are on this? Super excited we are headed there next week! Thanks so much for this amazing blog with tons of info and great recommendations, as well as your willingness to help!
September 10, 2018 at 5:59 amHi September, Thanks so much for the compliments on the site, I am glad I can help :) Unfortunately Rupit is a bit outside of my expertise since I've never been myself, nor even talked to anybody who has... a rarity that I haven't ;) To me though after some research it looks about impossible without getting a bus then a very expensive and long cab at Les Plans d'Hostoles... I wouldn't opt for this unless I had a car. This makes it easier then to see some of the Costa Brava since more is reachable with a direct bus. It is certainly doable to do some day trips using Girona as a base. Ash