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Girona city guide: From must-visit to hidden-gems

Girona city guide: From must-visit to hidden-gems

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Girona, a gem in Catalonia, Spain, is the perfect blend of historical sights and hidden spots waiting to be discovered. Here’s your guide to exploring the best of Girona, combining both the well-trodden paths and those lesser-known treasures.

Must-Visit Attractions

Girona Cathedral:

girona cathedral

Perched atop an 86-step staircase from Plaça de la Catedral, the majestic cathedral of Girona belies its ancient origins beneath a grand baroque exterior. Constructed on the site of a former Roman forum, its foundation includes elements that trace back to the 5th century. The cathedral's present appearance is largely defined by 14th-century Gothic elements, which were built upon an earlier 11th-century Romanesque structure. Notably, it features a stunning 12th-century Romanesque cloister with double columns. Boasting the world's second-largest Gothic nave, the cathedral offers a breathtaking experience for visitors, enhanced by the availability of audio guides.

Admission: 7.50€ adult.

The Arab Baths:

arab bath girona

A beautifully preserved Romanesque building that offers a glimpse into the city's Moorish past. Feel the tranquility in Apodyterium, a fantastically preserved room with an impressive octagonal bathing pool in the centre.

Admission: €3 for adults but concessions are available (under 8years old go free).

The City Walls (Passeig de la Muralla):

To enjoy some of the most magnificent panoramas of the city, encapsulating both its historic and modern sections, with the Pyrenees stretching in the backdrop, consider dedicating an hour or two to traverse the ancient city fortifications, known as the Passeig de la Muralla.

This path, a blend of Roman foundations and 14th-century construction, beautifully restored in recent times, extends nearly a half mile. It invites you on a journey featuring ascents up spiral staircases within watchtowers, meanders through hidden gardens and enigmatic corners, and is best experienced during the enchanting 'golden hours' of early morning or late afternoon for optimal photographic opportunities.

Starting your journey at the Alemanys can ease your route, offering a gentler ascent.

Your exploration concludes near a memorial dedicated to the Spanish Civil War, leaving you merely a brief stroll away from the city’s bridges.

The duration of your walk could range from 30 minutes to an hour, varying with the number of photographic pauses you make. And it’s worth noting: the breathtaking vistas will likely inspire frequent stops!

Jewish Quarter (El Call):

One of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in Europe, its narrow alleys and historic atmosphere are mesmerizing. Stroll down this path to discover the Jewish History Museum and the City History Museum nestled along it. Along the way, you'll come across ancient doorways and historic Jewish residences, in addition to charming boutiques and eateries. Don't miss exploring Carrer de Sant Llorenç and Carrer Manuel Cundaro; these streets are quintessential of the Jewish Quarter, characterized by their constricted alleyways, precipitous stone staircases, and large stone windows.

Hidden Gems

Café Le Bistrot:

Located on Pujada de Sant Domènec, known for its steps featured in "Game of Thrones". It's the perfect spot for a cozy meal. Le Bistrot Restaurant focuses more on creating a unique ambiance and setting rather than positioning itself as a haven for culinary aficionados. It's quiet in the morning, making it ideal for photography enthusiasts. However, as the day transitions into late afternoon, tables and chairs are arranged on the steps of Pujada de Sant Domènec, an enchantingly perfect little street that captures the essence of the city's charm. In this magical spot, under the gentle warmth of the evening with a bottle of chilled white wine, you can enjoy a meal in one of the city's most romantic locales.

The highlight? It's remarkably affordable.

The menu features a Catalan favorite, les pizzes de pagès, priced at less than €10 per person. This dish is essentially a hearty piece of crusty white farmhouse bread topped with melted cheese and an assortment of toppings, offering a simple yet delightful dining experience.

Jardins dels Alemanys:

These gardens offer a quiet retreat with stunning views of the old city.
Nestled within the Old Town, the German Gardens are steeped in history, harboring remnants of ancient barracks that once housed German mercenaries dispatched to Girona during the Peninsular War in the 19th century.

Libreria 22:

A haven f or book lovers, this bookstore hosts readings and musical performances, nestled in the heart of the city.

Casa Masó:

Overlooking the Onyar River, Casa Masó is the birthplace of architect Rafael Masó. It’s the only house open to the public on the riverfront and offers insight into early 20th-century Catalan life. The Masó family acquired and amalgamated four houses, with its present look stemming from renovations carried out by Masó in 1919. The house retains its 'noucentista' era (early 20th century) furniture and decor, providing unique city vistas. It stands out as the sole residence among those lining the Onyar River that welcomes the public.
Admission: €5. Reduced: €2.50.

Opening hours: Wed-Sun 10am-6pm

Experiences

Kiss a lion's bottom: Despite some skepticism over its authenticity as more than a tourist jest, it appears essential for Girona visitors to partake in the quirky tradition of kissing the somewhat weasel-like lioness statue. Originally marking the spot of a medieval hostel, this ritual evolved into a symbolic welcome for newcomers after registering in the city, promising safe return for locals and a future revisit for tourists. The saying goes, "No pot ser veí de Girona qui no faci un petó al cul de la lleona," meaning you're not a Girona resident until you've kissed the lioness's backside. Due to wear from countless kisses, the original statue was moved to the Girona Museum of Art in 1986, replaced by a replica accessible by steps for easier reach.
Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, kissing the lioness is no longer possible.

Culinary Tour: Girona is known for its culinary scene. From high-end restaurants like El Celler de Can Roca to local tapas bars, a food tour is a must.

Cycling: Rent a bike to explore the city and its surroundings. The "Via Verde" route from Girona to the coastal town of Sant Feliu de Guíxols is particularly scenic.

Museum of Cinema: A unique museum offering a journey through the history of cinema. It's interactive and fun for all ages.

Travel Tips

Stay in the Old Town: For the best experience, choose accommodations in the Old Town. You’ll be within walking distance of most attractions.

Best Time to Visit: Spring (April-May) and Fall (September-October) are ideal, with pleasant weather and fewer tourists.

Language: While Catalan and Spanish are the main languages, many locals speak English, especially in tourist areas.

Planning Your Trip with Tryp.com

For transportation, accommodations, and possibly even food options in Girona, consider using Tryp.com. With their commitment to making travel easy and affordable, you can customize your trip to include all the must-sees and hidden gems of Girona. Remember, with Tryp.com, you’re protected by the Danish Holiday Fund, ensuring a worry-free travel experience.

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Ready to Explore Girona?

With its rich history, vibrant culinary scene, and hidden nooks waiting to be discovered, Girona promises an unforgettable journey. Whether you’re marveling at the architectural wonders, enjoying a quiet moment in a secluded garden, or indulging in the local cuisine, Girona has something for every traveler.

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