To some, Girona is an airport, first and foremost, regarded as a cheap way of getting to Spain from European destinations, and not much more. But those treating Girona as solely a transit point are missing out. With its medieval features and claim to fame as a location setting for "Game of Thrones"—it filled in for Braavos and King's Landing—Girona is a great first stop for a Spanish vacation slightly off the beaten path.
Located about 65 miles northeast of Barcelona, Girona makes for a popular day trip or overnight getaway from the Catalonian capital, with a number of squares, churches, and narrow streets to explore. It's close to the town of Figueres and its popular Salvador Dali Museum too, so many travelers pair visits to both destinations.
Best Time to Visit Girona
Pleasant temperatures greet visitors to Girona most of the year, though summer months can get toasty and rain can fall throughout the year. A great time to visit is during Girona's annual flower festival, the Temps de Flors Festival, which transforms the city with elaborate art installations and infuses the air with the scent of thousands of flowers each May.
Things to Do in Girona
Whether you have a few hours for wandering or a long weekend ahead, Girona provides plenty of cultural experiences and vantage points for great photographs. If you're coming to Girona for a "Game of Thrones" tour, you can spend your first day wandering the city, imagining yourself on the Iron Throne.
For an introductory stroll from the bus/train station at Carrer de Barcelona, walk to Gran Via de Jaume I and then make your way across the Onyar River to the tourist information center on Rambla de la Libertad. Grab a good map of the area here.
The streets and squares around the information center such as Carrer dels Ciutadans and Plaça del Vi have a number of pleasant cafes and bars. They vary greatly in price and quality, though. Avoid the really cheap stuff aimed at tourists and go for something 2 or 3 euros more. It'll be worth it.
Beyond these streets is where things get really interesting, with a number of squares and alleys great for wandering before you come across Girona's cathedral. An 11th-century gothic gem with a stupendous nave, it's poised in a grandiose fashion above a precipitous cascade of steps. West of the cathedral awaits the Passeig Archeologic, a beautiful set of gardens.
Back along the Onyar River, check out the colorful houses stacked along the riverfront. They're called casas penjades, or "hanging houses," and add a bit of Florence style to Catalonia.
Girona's history is evident throughout the city. Visitors can stroll along some of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe, dating back to the 9th century and providing breathtaking views of Girona's old town and the surrounding mountains.
Other attractions include the Arabic Baths, which date to the 12th century, and The Call, Girona's traditional Jewish Quarter, south of the cathedral. For a dose of culture (or in case of rain), check out the Girona Art Museum or Cinema Museum.
Distance to Girona
If you're not traveling to Girona by air or on a guided tour, transportation options are a bit limited. From Barcelona, 17 trains depart daily for the 40-minute, 100-kilometer trip. But there are no direct trains from Madrid or Seville, and bus service from Barcelona is sporadic.
Driving times vary if you're arriving by car. From Barcelona, plan about an hour for the 100-kilometer drive. From Madrid, it's 700 kilometers and about 7 hours by car, while the trip from Seville covers about 1,100 kilometers in about 12 hours.