Here Are Some Things to Do in Girona, Spain That You Shouldn’t Miss!
Natalie here: Roman ruins, Gothic cathedrals, Arab bath houses, volcanoes, and… Game of Thrones? Girona, España is a city that has it all steeped in history and full of incredibly well-preserved architecture. You could spend months wandering the streets and never tire of it.
There are ancient buildings spanning different periods of history, museums filled with private collections and prehistoric artefacts, and real-life filming locations from modern-day series and films.
Further outside the city, you can discover more ancient history, beautiful lakes, and volcanoes. A visit to Girona is absolutely worth the trip, so here is a selection of the best things to do in Girona – with a few additional recommendations and trip planning tips!
Girona Quick Guide
Best Time to Visit: Aim for late Spring or early Autumn to avoid rain and enjoy the perfect temperatures for exploring outdoor attractions.
Getting Around: Walking is the best way to get around the city itself. If you want to go further afield without a tour you will need to rent a car.
Top Things to Do: Cathedral and Museum, Walking Tour of the Old Town, Game of Thrones Sites, and exploring nearby medieval towns and villages.
Where to Stay: The Old Town to experience the heart of Girona. For modern elegance Hotel Nord 1901, for budget comfort Pensió Bellmirall, and for Old Town luxury Hotel Històric.
Things to Do in Girona, Spain
In this top section, let’s dive into some of the top things to do in Girona, Spain.
In the latter part of the article, we’ll share some helpful Girona information that will guide you in planning your Spain trip!
Explore Girona Cathedral and Museum
Address: Pl. de la Catedral, s/n, 17004 Girona, Spain
Girona Cathedral is an incredibly important piece of history. Architecturally, it boasts styles from several different eras with the oldest parts being a 12th-century Romanesque bell tower and cloisters.
It also has the widest Gothic nave in the world which is almost double the width of Notre Dame in Paris!
The Cathedral was also used in Game of Thrones with the exterior shown as the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing.
There has been a place of worship on the site since Iberian times. At first, it was a church and then after the Islamic conquest in 717, it was converted into a mosque.
Then in 908, it was reconsecrated as a church under Charlamagne. It has been under construction in some part from the 1600s right up until the 1960s – hence the mixture of styles.
Explore Three of Girona’s Top Attractions with One Pass!
Next to the Cathedral is the Girona Museum (Museu Tresor de la Catedral). This Museum is home to the Tapestry of Creation with a piece as important as the Bayeux Tapestry which dates back to the 11th century and shows scenes from Christian mythology.
Walk the City Walls (Muralles de Girona)
Address: Carrer dels Alemanys, 20, 17004 Girona, Spain
In the older part of the city, you can find the ancient walls which have protected Girona through the many sieges it has endured over the centuries.
Dating back to Roman times, these walls are remarkably well preserved. They were expanded in the 800s and again in the 14th century before being officially restored as a tourist attraction in more recent times.
Those wondering what to do in Girona should simply stroll along the walls (like you can in Dubrovnik) taking in the views of the city. You can join them at a few different spots, e.g. at the Muralles de Girona point on Google Maps. If you have visited the Cathedral, you can also reach them from there.
Enjoy Game of Thrones Sites
For Game of Thrones fans, it is absolutely required you visit the many sites used in the series. Do your research and you will be able to find many corners, small streets, and buildings used to portray the city of Braavos and King’s Landing in the iconic series.
The Cathedral is a great place to start, then explore the medieval old town to see where a blind Ayra was begging on the streets.
Stroll over to the festival square, Plaça dels Jurats, and visit the Sant Pere de Galligants monastery which was used as part of the Citadel of Oldtown.
The monastery is worth a visit for non-GoT reasons, too. It is part of the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia – home to artefacts from prehistoric times up until the Visigothic Kingdom in the 8th century.
If you don’t want to miss anything, it is better to book a Game of Thrones tour. The guides are very knowledgeable and have insider knowledge from filming sites.
Wander the Jewish Neighbourhood
Location: El Call, Girona
One of the things Girona is well known for is having the most well-preserved Jewish Quarter in Europe.
The area, historically known as El Call, was inhabited by a large Jewish community for around 300 years before they were banished from Spain in 1492.
This part of the city is a maze of tiny streets, staircases, hidden patios and houses. There is also an old synagogue which is now used as a Museum of Jewish History in the area.
Look out for hidden carvings, stonework, and archways as you explore. It is a wonderful trip back in time and absolutely worth getting lost in.
Taking a tour with a guide is a great way to discover this part of the city and learn about the history of the buildings and the community that lived there.
Explore the Girona Film Museum
Address: Carrer de la Sèquia, 1, 17001 Girona, Spain
Unique to Spain is the Girona Film Museum (Museu del Cinema), otherwise known as Tomàs Mallol Collection.
Created as a private collection by Spanish filmmaker and enthusiast Tomàs Mallol, the museum is home to around 12,000 items shown chronologically from pre-cinema in the 17th century up until 1970.
It is known to be the most important film museum in Spain and one of the best in Europe. The museum has won awards, as well as been a finalist for “European Museum of the Year” in 2000.
The collection is fascinating even for those who are not film and cinema fanatics.
It’s great to explore how film has evolved over the years to become what we know it today. There is also a great collection of movie memorabilia from classic early cinema.
Visit the Arab Baths
Address: Carrer del Rei Ferran el Catòlic, s/n, 17004 Girona, Spain
Another example of the beautifully preserved history in Girona is the Arab Baths, known as the Banys Àrabs. This Romanesque bathhouse was constructed in the 13th century but the first mention in records shows baths at the site in 1194.
The building was partially destroyed by the French in 1285 but rebuilt for public use. Among other uses (like as a convent), they were also a central part of the Jewish community and used for mikveh.
In the 1920s, the building was acknowledged as historically and scientifically important and bought by the Girona Provincial Council. It was restored and made available to the public as a site of historical interest.
These days, the building is maintained in excellent condition. You can explore the relaxation space in a huge vaulted room with the centrepiece pool and ornate stone carvings while learning more about the building’s history.
Discover Medieval Villages & Towns
Unsurprisingly, Girona is surrounded by quaint medieval villages which were built as Girona expanded as a city.
You could spend days exploring all of them but a few favourites to explore are Besalú, Peralada, and Castellfollit de la Roca.
Besalú is definitely not one to miss. This town dates back to the Middle Ages when it was the capital of La Garrotxa (which was then an independent county). It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Catalonia.
The Sant Pere church dates back to 1022 and the bath house dates back to the 7th century. Stroll along the town walls, and pick up an audio tour from the Tourism Office that also provides accessibility information as well as important historical facts.
Another great example to check out is Peralada. The highlight of this town is the 14th-century Castell de Peralada.
This manor house has large tin towers and ancient trees, however, it is privately owned and only open to the public for rare occasions and festivals.
You can visit the museum and convent close by which has an impressive ancient library worth exploring.
The library contains over 80,000 books, many dating back to the 9th century. There are also around 1000 copies of Don Quixote written in over 100 languages.
If that is too dry for you, visit the wine museum which is home to a medieval wine cellar and is a good example of this wine region.
Castellfollit de la Roca
For those with a head for heights, Castellfollit de la Roca is a breathtaking place to visit. This town is famous for its cliffside location and sheer drop views across the Nature Park of the Volcanic Area of Garrotxa and the Pyrenees mountains.
The town is also unique in that it has a museum of cured meats, El Museu de l’Embotit. Learn about the history of meat curing in the region as well as the process and machinery used throughout the years.
Explore Lake Banyoles
Location: 42°07’31.3″N 2°45’27.4″E
Half an hour driving from Girona is Catalonia’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Banyoles. In the summer it is a wonderful place to cool off and swim or to relax in the cafes and restaurants on the lakeside.
The lake is also a popular place for rowing and was used in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. It is now regularly used for training by local and international rowing teams.
If you prefer to stay dry, there are lots of trails around the lake which provide great views of the lake and the Pyrenees in the background. Alternatively, you can rent a boat or join an organized lake cruise.
Close to the lake is a town called Banyoles which has an old town built around the Sant Esteve monastery. It is a small town but worth a little stroll around the ancient winding streets.
Visit the Santa Margarida Volcano
Location: 42°08’33.8″N 2°32’29.4″E
Did you think visiting Girona would also include a visit to a volcano?
The Santa Margarida Volcano is most certainly extinct, with geologists estimating its last eruption around 11,500 years ago. So, it is a safe place to visit!
The volcano gets its name from the hermitage that was built in the centre of the crater in the 12th century (and rebuilt in 1865 following an earthquake).
The sight of the tiny building in the crater is really unusual but cool to see. You can hike around the crater before exploring the crater itself. It is worth a day trip to explore the nature of the region.
Things to Consider When Visiting Girona
Now that we’ve discussed some Girona attractions, be sure to read through these other points to learn all about the best time to visit, where to stay, and much more!
Best Time to Visit Girona
Similar to Costa Daurada, the coastline and climate of the Costa Brava is fairly temperate year-round. Winters are colder as it is further north so be prepared for a chill from late December and through January.
As Girona is inland it doesn’t benefit from a sea breeze. The summer can be incredibly hot – and it is also the peak holiday season so expect everything to be packed.
Aim for late spring around April and early May, which is also when the Temps de Flors (flower festival) is held. Alternatively, visit in fall/autumn when the tourist season has eased and the temperatures are great for exploring.
Getting Around Girona
The city is fairly walkable aside from a few hilly streets and steps. There is also a reliable bus service running throughout the city.
If you plan to go further afield without a tour, you will need a car as most places are not accessible by public transport.
Car rentals in Spain are not particularly expensive as long as you avoid the peak seasons. The roads are generally very well maintained on the way to sites outside the city.
Where to Stay in Girona
When visiting Girona, the most obvious choice is to stay in the Old Town. You can sleep in ancient buildings and have the main attractions on your doorstep.
While it is the more popular place to stay in the city, you won’t experience quite the noise levels and high price points expected in cities like Barcelona.
Check for Hotels and Other Accommodations in Girona here.
A fantastic budget option is the Pensió Bellmirall which is just 100m from the Cathedral and decorated with antique furniture.
The building itself is as old as you would expect in this part of town, with the exposed brick walls and charming walled garden as great examples of the history of the place.
For something a little more luxurious while still keeping the historical element, the Hotel Històric in the heart of the medieval part of town is a beautiful place to stay.
Rooms have large four-poster beds and huge stone baths, and there are also studios available if you want to have access to your own kitchen.
If you prefer a modern place to stay while still enjoying the Old Town atmosphere, the Hotel Nord 1901 has all the features and styling of a modern hotel but is in an old building as expected for this part of the city.
It is also the only hotel with an outdoor swimming pool in the centre of the city.
Thinking about exploring Spain? Whether you’re visiting top attractions or planning a Spanish itinerary, here are a few guides that might interest you:
- Great Places to Visit in Barcelona
- Spending One Day in Barcelona
- Great Day Trips from Barcelona
- Things to Do in Tarragona, Spain
- Our Guide to Visiting Montserrat
And there you have it – some great things to do in Girona, Spain! In the end, there’s so much to explore – from historic sites to modern wonders. Enjoy your time in the city and in the beautiful surroundings of Catalonia!
As always, Happy Waddlin’,
After leaving England in 2017, Natalie lived in a surfer town in Morocco for a few years before settling in Barcelona with her foundling street dog Zina. She is a writer and affiliate manager and co-manages a surf brand in the UK. Her travel style is slow travel, exploring cute European towns and quiet beaches, and indulging in the culture of local food and wine.