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.
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 touristy 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.
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Girona has a mild climate. In winter temperatures can drop to below −5 °C (23 °F). In summer temperatures often soar to 30–40 °C (86–104 °F). Rain is common in winter and spring and thunderstorms often occur.
If you want to see the near Costa Brava plan your trip for the months between May to October.
Girona is located 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. It is also 98 km (61 miles) away from Barcelona.
Girona Airport is 1hr bus ride from Barcelona center. Ryanair mentions "Barcelona" in their description of Girona airport to suggest it being closer than it actually is. You can make connection between the airport and Barcelona. There is also an hourly bus into Girona from the airport, which is a 25min ride and connects the airport with Girona's railway station.
If you want to travel to Girona from Barcelona city you can take a bus. That bus stops in the center of Barcelona, in Estació d'Autobusos Barcelona Nord (Barcelona's main bus terminal). However, service is scarce (at most 5 buses a day, 2 on weekends) and more expensive than train. Reaching Girona from other sites than Barcelona or Figueres like Costa Brava, Banyoles or Olot will require a bus trip. The main bus operators are Teisa and Sarfa. There is also a bus service from Perpignan to Girona and its airport (Frogbus)
There are commuter trains to Girona leaving from Barcelona every 30 minutes in peak hours, hourly otherwise. All trains start at Barcelona Sants station with other stops at Passeig de Gràcia and Clot Aragó. Trains run 6am-10pm on weekdays, 7am-10pm Saturdays, 8am-10pm Sundays. The journey takes between 1h20m and 1h35m from/to Barcelona Sants and the ticket costs between 8,5€ and 12€: MD trains are faster, more comfortable but quite expensive; R trains call at almost all stations and its seats are not designed for long trips but are 30% cheaper. There are no round trip discounts but 10 trip travelcards are available, 60€ for R trains only, 70€ for R and MD trains, valid for 90 days after purchase and allowing multiple passengers on the same trip, so it's convenient for small groups from 4 people onwards or repeating trips. On weekdays there are also some direct trains from the Maresme coastal zone to Girona (Mataró, Arenys, Calella, Santa Susanna...), on weekends changing trains in Maçanet is required and due to poor schedule coordination you may find yourself waiting for 50 minutes in a station far away from everywhere. Timetables (line R11 from Barcelona, RG1 from Maresme region). As almost all trains continue to Figueres, there's also one train every 30 minutes on peak hours. From Portbou and the French border, however, trains run only once every two hours.
On the other hand, you can use high speed trains coming from either Madrid and Barcelona (AVE) or Paris, Perpignan and several other southern France cities (TGV). The schedule is quite irregular and changes frequently, check with Renfe and SNCF respectively. Both AVE and TGV trains have all compulsory reservation. AVE trains on Barcelona only stop at Sants station and take 40 minutes to reach Girona. Fares are 16€ single with a 20% discount for round trips. Note that a round trip is only slightly more expensive on AVE than MD but the travel time is sharply shorter, however there are no convenient travelcards usable for small groups. From places farther than Barcelona and from France tickets are cheaper if bought well in advance. Also note that if boarding an AVE train in Spain you'll need to pass through a security scan and all luggage will be X-rayed: take this into account to get to the station with enough time.
Other than Madrid, Zaragoza, Lleida and Tarragona, there are no direct trains from other Spanish cities.
Both the Old Town and the New Town across the river are highly pedestrianized.
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.
There are local buses, but their routes can be quite confusing for non-locals. Furthermore, all touristic areas are near one from another. Single ticket is 1,30€
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.
Girona have the same problems that plague other major European cities, but in a minor scale; traffic jams and narrow streets in some areas, coupled with a very complicated road system.
Having a driving map is essential as few bridges over the river makes it difficult to get from one riverside to the other.
Navigating with an average tourist map is frequently misleading: many streets are one-way; left turns are more rare than rights (and are unpredictable).
The 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.
- Banys Arabs (Arab baths), c/de Ferran Catolic. Apr-Sept: Mon-Fri 10AM-7PM, Sun and holidays: 10AM-2PM. Oct-March: 10AM-2PM daily (?). €1.5.
- Catedral de Girona (Girona Cathedral), Plaça de la Catedral (there are a stairs to the main door of the cathedral on the la Força street).
- Església de Sant Feliu (Sant Feliu Church). second church in the city. Closed for renovation as of Sept 2007.
- El riu Onyar (The Onyar river) (from a metallic pedestrian only bridge on the old town.). 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.
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), ☎ +34972 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.
- 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, ☎ +34 972 22 37 74. Excellent and good value local Catalonian dishes.
- König. Sandwiches and hamburgers
- Frankfurter König Girona Nord, ☎ +34 972 297 504. Cheap food such us pizzas, steak, french fries; and also a place to have a drink.
- Frankfurter König 2, Pl. Independència, 2, ☎ +34 972 202 099.
- Koenig Sandwiches, c/Calderers 16 (right under Esglesia de Sant Feliu), ☎ +34 972 225 782. 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.
- König Bar-Restaurant, C.C. Espai Gironès, Salt, ☎ +34 972 439 123.
- La Dolce Vitta, Plaça Independencia. Italian food for everyone at reasonable prices.
- 1900, C/ Obra, 2 (in a small square, between Pont de Pedra and Pont de Ferro). 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.
- DO taverna catalana, Plaça Independencia, 16, ☎ +34 972 222 740. Toasts and tipical "tapas", salads and cold cuts
- Basque Restaurants:. Basque typical tapas called pintxos
- 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!)
- Zanpanzar, Carrer Cort-Reial, 10, 17004, ☎ +34 972 21 28 43. Fantastic atmosphere, good for a quick tapa and beer
- Lizarran, Plaça de la Independència, 14, 17001. One of the 200 Lizarran restaurants across 8 different countries
- Rocambolesc, Carrer Santa Clara, 50, 17001. Ice cream parlor by one of the brothers of "El Celler de Can Roca (3 Michelin star)". 2-3€.
- Llagurt, Carrer Argenteria, 3. Wide variety of artisan and organic iogurts.
- La Recuiteria, Rambla de la Llibertat, 41, ☎ +34 679 301 059. Curd ("recuit"), iogurt or ice cream from the milk of their own cattle. 2-3€.
- 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).
- Crepdequè, C/Ballesteries 49 Girona. Grab a crêpe in this tiny and classic place of Girona.
Good quality Restaurants (20€ - 30€)
- Divinum, C/Albereda, 7, ☎ +34 872 080 218. Great wine and cheese tasting, tapas, sometimes live Jazz music. Reasonable price. It's a small place, so you might need to book.
- La Poma, Carrer Cort-Reial, 16, 17004, ☎ +34 972 21 29 09. Cosy and modern place with exquisite dishes and a wide and varied wine list.
- Vintages, Carrer Cort-Reial, 15, 17004, ☎ +34 972 206 326. Seasonal products and dishes. Wide wine list.
- 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.
- Vinil, Carrer Cort-Reial, 17, 17004. Small and friendly place with excellent and tasty food.
- La Penyora, Carrer del Teatre, 3, 17004. Great food and atmosphere, with a particular decoration. Located in a preety little street in the old town.
- Els Jardins de la Mercè. Peaceful and charming place with a fantastic garden in which to eat and drink. Excellent food and staff.
- Mimolet, Carrer Pou Rodó, 12, 17004, ☎ +34 972 202 124. Amazing food with a delicious set menu and wines. Great location.
- LlevaTaps, Plaça de l'Oli, 1, 17004, ☎ +34 972099112. Creative, fresh and seasonal products, along with wines from Empordà.
- Vinomi, Passeig Sant Joan Bosco, 59-61, 17007. Wide range of wines and pretty good food. A bit far from the center.
- El Cau del Llop, Carrer de Sacsimort, 5, ☎ +34 972 220 211. Traditional and simple cuisine with an extremely accurate selection of the products.
- L'Alqueria, Ginesta núm. 8. 17001, ☎ +34 972 22 18 82. Traditional Valencian food, with an extensive range of rice dishes.
- 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
- 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".
- 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.
High quality Restaurants (over 40€)
- El Celler de Can Roca, Can Sunyer, 48 17007, ☎ +34 972 222 157. closed Christmas, Easter, 1 week end Aug/beginning Sept, Sun and Mon. 3 Michelin stars. Considered nowadays "the best restaurant in the world". It won the 1st position in "The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2013". Reservation required menu € 130-180 (2013).
- La Massana, Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 10, 17001, ☎ +34 942 212820. 1 Michelin star menu € 80, a-la-carte € 52-67.
- Nu, Carrer d'Abeuradors, 4, 17004, ☎ +34 972 22 52 30. menu € 36-45, A-la-carte € 31-35. Excellent and creative menu. The owner also owns La Massana which has a michelin star. closed 1 week in Jun and Nov, Sun.
- Il piccolo cafe, Passeig Canalejas. to 9am to 12pm ( to 3am on thursday, friday and saturday). Very good atmosphere. Next to the river, Plaza Independencia and the car park area, Gayfriendly bar and good ambient.
- 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.
- The River Cafè, Carrer de les Ballesteries, 23, 17004. Live music, drinks and food. Opened all day.
- Context Cafè-Bar, Carrer Pou Rodó, 21. Cafè and Book shop: Drinks, good food, books, live music and many other activities.
- La Placeta, Carrer Bonaventura Carreras Peralta, 7, 17004, ☎ +34 972 22 02 18. Pretty small but friendly place with drinks and food.
- Babel, Carrer de Cort-Reial 3. Nice bar, nice food and cosy place to have a few. English friendly.
- Mckiernan's, Rambla de la Llibertat, 32, 17004. An Irish pub, crowded on weekends. Suitable place to have a drink. English friendly.
- 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.
- Siddharta, Pedret, 116, 17007. A suitable place to try the drink named "tisana" (in Catalan).
- Cu-Cut!, Plaça independència, 10, 17001. Nice place for the first drink(s), and maybe the last too.
- Lola cafe, Carrer Bonaventura Carreras Peralta, 7. Spanish rumba pub, every day there is a guest rumba band playing live . The maids are the nicest neighborhood.
- Equity Point Girona, Plaça Catalunya 23, ☎ +34 93 231 2045, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hostel that has clean and cheap rooms. The staff also plan activities for the evening for visitors. From €15 including breakfast, internet access and bottom linen.
- Room In Girona, Santa Clara, 9 (On the heart of the old quarter), ☎ +34 972 426 480. From €18.
- Xanascat. Alberg Cerverí, Carrer Dels Ciutadans, 9, 17004, ☎ +34 972 21 80 03, e-mail: email@example.com. 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.
- Bells Oficis, Germans Busquets, 2, 2d floor (Old town, near the river on Rambla Llibertat. At the second flat.), ☎ +34 972 228 170, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Small bed and breakfast From €40.
- Borràs Guesthouse (Pension Borràs), Travesía Auriga, 6, principal-2ª, ☎ +34 972 22 40 08, e-mail: email@example.com. From €23 one person, €38 two persons.
- Coll Guesthouse (Hostal Coll), Hortes, 24. From €30 one person, €45 two persons.
- Ibis Girona Costa Brava, C/ FRANCESC. FERRER 16-18, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. From €39.
- Viladomat Guesthouse (Pensió Viladomat), Ciutadans, 5. From €23 one person, €38 two persons.
- Hotel Bellavista, Pujada Polvorins, 1. The only 5 star hotel in Girona.
- Hotel Carlemany, Plaça Miquel Santaló.
- Hotel Ciutat de Girona, Carrer Nord, 2, ☎ +34 972 48 30 38. Another 4 star hotel located near the downtown. From 80€/night.
- Hotel Ultonia, Gran Via de Jaume I, 22, ☎ +034 972 203 850. a modern four star hotel open to the public recently
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.
- Costa Brava - Rocky cliffs and a mix of pebble beaches and sandy beaches at Blanes, Cadaqués, Tossa de Mar ...
- Girona Pyrenees - Monumental mountain towns, skying resorts and la Garrotxa volcanoes.