Planning a Barcelona to Girona day trip? The medieval city offers striking historic landmarks, a charming ambience, and fabulous food and drink, making for a captivating one day in Girona.
With a unique location at the confluence of four rivers: the Ter, the Onyar, the Galligants, and the Güell, Girona is a popular destination for fans of Game of Thrones.
Girona’s historic quarter is located on hilly terrain on the right bank of the Onyar River, while the modern city is set on the plains on the left bank.
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Girona is compact and less than 40 minutes away by high-speed train: no wonder it’s one of the most popular day trips from Barcelona!
With one day in Girona, you can take in the highlights of this delightful Catalonian town, from the impressive Girona Cathedral and the walls of the medieval town to the picturesque bridges on the Onyar River and the narrow alleys of the Jewish Quarter.
Best Things to Do in Girona in one Day
Walk the Walls: Passeig de la Muralla
Walking the walls of the medieval city, also known as the Passeig de la Muralla, is one of the best things to do in Girona.
First built during Roman times to protect the town, the walls of Girona were extended in medieval times and are punctuated by towers.
Portions of the walls were destroyed intentionally to allow the city to expand, but have since been restored such that you can walk the entire length.
It’s a fabulous walk on a nice weather day!
The circuit is 3 kilometers (about 1.86 miles) and there are a number of places where you can enter or exit the walls. Get a tourist map that indicates the points of access: they aren’t signposted for the most part.
From the walls, enjoy expansive views over the town as well as the surrounding countryside. The towers offer even more spectacular views.
Snap photos of the Girona Cathedral, the Church of Sant Feliu, and the rooftops of the old quarter.
On a clear day, you may even see the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees in the distance.
There is no fee to walk the walls. Bring a hat, and drinking water, and plan to do the walk early in the day.
This 3-hour small-group walking tour of Girona includes the walls and is an excellent way to get an overview of the major attractions while learning about the history of Girona.
Visit the Impressive Girona Cathedral
The Girona Cathedral, or the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, has an impressive main facade, with a stunning flight of 80+ steps leading up from the plaza.
Visiting the gorgeous cathedral is one of the best things to do on your day trip to Girona, especially if you enjoy history, art, and architecture.
The Baroque steps, one of the most striking features of the Girona Cathedral, are from the early 17th century, and featured in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. So did the cathedral!
Construction on the cathedral started in Romanesque style in the 11th century. The Romanesque bell tower still survives, as does the cloister. The complex was redesigned in the Gothic style later.
Inside, admire the second-widest nave in the world, and wander around to view the many chapels. The high altar features white marble.
Be sure to visit the Romanesque cloister, which features columns with sculptures of fantastic creatures, and the Cathedral Museum, to gaze in awe at the breathtaking Tapestry of Creation, considered a Romanesque masterpiece.
Wander El Call, the Picturesque Jewish Quarter
El Call de Girona is one of the most wonderfully preserved Jewish Quarters in the world, and wandering the labyrinthine alleys is a must on your one day in Girona.
The quarter dates back to the 12th century. Jews lived here until they were expelled from the country in 1492.
The narrow cobblestones alleys, the many stone staircases and archways, tranquil courtyards, small shops, and intimate eateries are very atmospheric. Getting lost here for a bit was the best part of our day trip to Girona!
Calle de la Força, the main street, used to be the center of trade in Girona in Roman times. Most of the other alleys in the quarter feed into this main street.
Browse the small shops for Spanish pottery and other unique souvenirs. Snap lots of photos: you’ll find a scene to capture every few yards!
If you want to learn more, allow about 30-45 minutes to walk through the Museum of Jewish History (more later in this article).
Scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed in El Call.
If you are a fan of the show, check out this highly-rated 2.5-hour walking tour of Game of Thrones locations in Girona to learn about the town’s history and the filming as you explore.
Stroll across the Eiffel Bridge
Designed by Gustave Eiffel and built in 1877, the engineer that designed the renowned Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Eiffel Bridge in Girona is a striking red, made for photos.
It is one of 11 bridges in Girona!
Officially the Pont de les Peixateries Velles, the Eiffel Bridge is a metal foot bridge built over the Onyar River, and connects the old town of Girona with the new city.
Strolling the Eiffel Bridge is one of the coolest things to do on your Girona day trip. Look for the giant carp in the water!
You’ll get beautiful views of the river and the colorful houses along its banks from the bridge, and the red lattices of the bridge make it a great photo subject as well.
Step inside the Church of Sant Feliu
The Basilica of Sant Feliu used to be Girona’s main church until the 10th century.
While its castle-like exterior and lovely bell tower are worth admiring, you’ll want to step inside this beautiful church on your one day in Girona.
The nave, with its ribbed vaulted ceiling, is Gothic and the highlight is the ornate Chapel of Saint Narcissus.
You’ll find some notable art to view, from the 14th century alabaster statue of the Recumbent Christ to the Roman and Early Christian sarcophagi from the 2nd to the 4th centuries. One of the oldest shows Pluto bearing Persephone off to the nether world.
If you are visiting independently, get the audio guide, it’s hugely helpful in learning about what you see.
You can buy a combined ticket for the Girona Cathedral and the Basilica de Sant Feliu.
Visit the Arab Baths
With a modest entrance fee, the Arab Baths of Girona make for a quick but beautiful stop on your Girona day trip.
The Banys Àrabs are located in the heart of the old town, near the Girona Cathedral and the Basilica de Sant Feliu, and featured in Game of Thrones.
Dating back at least to the 12th century, the Arab Baths of Girona are built in Romanesque style.
There are four rooms, the first of which, the changing room, is the grandest. The beautiful main pool is supported by slender columns with ornate capitals.
You can also visit the rooftop for more views of the baths and the stone dome with its skylight.
Snap photos of the Pujada de Sant Domènec
One of the best photo spots in Girona’s Old Town, the Pujada de Sant Domènec is a set of steep steps that leads up to the Iglesia de Sant Marti Sacosta.
The Baroque staircase featured in Game of Thrones: remember the scene where the Waif chases Arya?
The area can be very crowded during the day in season, so visit in the later part of the afternoon, when the light is also better for photos.
Visit the Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants
A short walk from the Girona Cathedral, you’ll find the Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants, a Romanesque structure that dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries.
If you enjoy history and architecture, the monastery is a must-visit on your one day in Girona.
The cloister is gorgeous: it features double columns with sculptures of mythical creatures on the capitals. Admire the lovely bell tower and the architectural elements in the church.
The monastery houses the archaeological museum of the city, with Early Christian sarcophagi and Roman mosaics.
Stroll the Rambla de la Llibertat
Similar to the famous La Rambla in Barcelona, La Rambla de La Llibertat in Girona is a pedestrianized street in the Old Town. It is a lot less chaotic than La Rambla in Barcelona, though!
A short street that runs parallel to the Onyar River, La Rambla makes for a great stroll on your Girona day trip.
Admire the beautiful architecture: Casa Norat has a Modernist facade from the early 20th century. Browse the many shops, and enjoy a drink in one of the many cafes or bars.
Chill for a bit in the Plaça de la Independència
If you walk from one side of the river to the other, the Plaça de la Independència, in the new city, is a good place to stop for a drink (or a gelato!) and to people watch for a bit.
Located near the river, Independence Plaza features neoclassical architecture, a statue commemorating the defenders of Girona in the middle, and cafes and restaurants along the sides.
Enjoy ice cream at Rocambolesc Gelateria
Founded by Jordi Roca, the pastry chef at the famed El Celler de Can Roca, Rocambolesc serves ice cream inspired by his desserts.
If you love sweet treats, you’ll want to stop by the shop when you visit Girona!
Although there aren’t a ton of flavors on any given day, you will likely find one you’ll love. We had the chocolate with almond topping, and the baked apple with caramelized basil topping, and we loved both!
We also tried the brioche ice cream (vanilla, and salted caramel) on a different day and they were great as well.
More than the ice cream, we thought the toppings were creative and tasted delicious!
Admire the Hanging Houses of Girona and the Onyar River
The most photographed feature in Girona are the Houses on the Onyar, the colorful houses on both banks of the Onyar River. The bridges over the river are the ideal spots for taking in the stunning views and photographing them.
While the Eiffel Bridge is a must-walk, also check out the Pont de Sant Agusti and the Pont d’en Gómez, easily accessed from the Plaça de la Independència.
In our opinion, either of these two bridges offers the perfect photo op of the red and yellow facades and their reflections in the river. Plus, you can get nice shots of the Eiffel Bridge from the Pont de Sant Agusti.
Kiss El Cul de la Lleona
If you want to return to Girona, the saying goes, you have to kiss the backside of the lioness: the statue is set at the top of a column near the Pont de Sant Feliu.
The statue is a replica: the original statue, which dates back to the 12th century, is in the Girona Museum of Art.
One Day in Girona Itinerary
Here’s how you can organize your day in Girona, taking in the highlights we’ve described above. Arrive as early as you can, because there’s a lot to see and do on your Girona day trip!
If you’d like a more relaxed day, you can pick and choose from the highlights, and spend the rest of your time wandering the old town.
In the morning:
Access the walls of Girona near the Girona Cathedral, and walk the Passeig de la Muralla. The walls are free to enter and always open.
Visit the Girona Cathedral.
Step inside the Banys Arabes.
Walk up to the Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants.
Have lunch at Cafe le Bistrot!
In the afternoon:
Wander El Call and visit the Jewish Museum of History.
Admire the Pujada de Sant Domenec.
Visit the Basilica de Sant Feliu and the Statue of the Lioness.
Stroll La Rambla.
Cross the Eiffel Bridge.
Visit the Plaça de la Independència.
Have ice cream at Rocambolesc!
If you have more time, visit some of the other bridges to snap photos, and enjoy dinner and drinks at one of the many topnotch restaurants in Girona before taking a late train back to Barcelona!
With More Time in Girona
While Girona makes for a great day trip from Barcelona, you can spend longer than one day in this lovely Catalonian city.
With more time, you can take in more of the sights at leisure, enjoy the river views at quieter times of day, eat more of the great food, and bask in the medieval ambience.
Girona also makes a good base from which to explore the Costa Brava or the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
In our opinion, Girona is one of the best places to visit in Spain, no matter whether you visit for the day or spend a few days here.
Here are some other things to do in Girona, with more time!
Visit a Museum
If you enjoy museums, check out these museums in Girona!
The Jewish History Museum is located in El Call. Exhibits in the museum showcase the history and culture of the Jewish community in Girona, and adds a lot of context to your exploration of the Jewish Quarter.
At the Antic Hospital de Santa Caterina, you’ll find the oldest pharmacy in Catalonia, dating back to the 17th century. The building has a beautiful facade and a lovely courtyard!
The Museo de Arte de Gerona, Girona’s Art Museum, is housed in the former Bishop’s Palace, which dates all the way back to the 10th century.
The museum houses an impressive collection, with thousands of artworks spanning a period from Romanesque times to the first part of the 20th century.
You can buy a combination ticket for the art museum with the Girona Cathedral and the Basilica de Sant Feliu.
The Cinema Museum Girona showcases the history of cinema (and theater). It features lots of old posters and equipment. Look for the first film projector of the Lumiere brothers, and the camera obscura.
While it’s a must-visit for cinema buffs, the museum also has fun exhibits for casual visitors and for kids.
From Catalan-style cod to botifarra sausage and xuixo (a deep-dried sugar-coated pastry with a cream filling), you’ll find many foods to try in Girona.
Girona is known for its many topnotch eateries, and you definitely must bring your appetite when you visit, and try as many restaurants as you can.
If you want to eat at El Celler de Can Roca, you have to be lucky enough to score a reservation. The three-Michelin-star restaurant routinely makes lists of the top restaurants in the world.
Founded by the three Roca brothers, the restaurant serves Catalan food using fresh seasonal ingredients and innovative techniques.
Lunch reservations are easier to come by than dinner reservations.
You can also try Can Roca, their traditional family restaurant, for delicious comfort food that’s great value for money as well.
Divinum Girona is located in Barri Vell. The menu is made up of Catalan dishes with a modern twist, presented artfully. It’s a great option for lunch in Girona.
Nu Girona, also located in Barri Vell, offers Asian-fusion dishes using local ingredients.
Massana, owned by the same family, is a Michelin-starred restaurant with a fabulous tasting menu…and reservations are a little bit easier to get.
El Cul du Mon Girona is a bit of a walk from the town center (it’s up the hill, about a 10-minute walk past the Monestir de Sant Pere de Galligants), but you’ll be rewarded with a great lunch here. The menu is a mix of Catalan and Moroccan dishes.
Café le Bistrot has a lovely outdoor seating area with a great view, and the food is delicious as well. Save room for dessert: the chocolate mousse we had here was decadent.
Admire Casa Masó
Casa Maso is the family home of Rafael Masó, a renowned Catalan architect of the early 20th century.
One of the most important architectural works in Girona, this is the only one of the famous houses over the Onyar River that you can visit.
Maso combined four dwellings to create the house, and made significant changes to the exterior and interior.
Inside, the furnishings have been preserved. The style, Noucentisme, is one Masó helped create.
If you are an architecture or interior design enthusiast, you’ll want to visit!
Visit the Sant Daniel Monastery
Dating back to the 11th century, the Sant Daniel Monastery, was originally set up as a nunnery.
The cloister is stunning: it has two levels. The bottom cloister, from the 13th century, is Romanesque. The double columns have Corinthian capitals. The top cloister, from the 15th century, is Gothic.
The monastery is located in the midst of nature, up the hill from the town center. It is about a 15-minute walk from the Girona Cathedral.
We enjoyed the walk and the tranquility of the monastery!
Wander the Jardins dels Alemanys
The Jardins dels Alemanys make for a delightful stroll. Girona’s green space features many mature trees and a variety of plants, making a walk here a respite from the hustle and bustle of the town.
The gardens get their name from the fact that barracks for German soldiers that fought in the Peninsular War of the early 19th century were located here.
The Jardins dels Alemanys are located by the walls of Girona, about a 7-minute walk from the Girona Cathedral.
Visit the Dali Museum in Figueres
If you are a fan of Salvador Dali, plan a visit to the Dali Museum in Figueres, his hometown.
The Dali Theatre-Museum is housed in a building with a unique facade: the colorful facade is topped by giant white eggs.
Inside, you will find one of the world’s largest collections of Dali’s works. Some of the masterpieces here are Basket of Bread, Galatea of the Spheres, and Port Alguer, which dates back to 1924.
You’ll also find works here that Dali specifically created for the museum, as well as a collection of jewelry he designed.
Dali is buried here in a crypt beneath the stage in the theatre.
Figueres is just 42.8 kilometers (about 26.5 miles) from Girona, and you can get there by train or bus, or drive yourself if you have a car.
Experience the charm of the Costa Brava
With Girona as your base, you can conveniently explore the beautiful Costa Brava, especially if have a car. Girona is situated just 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) from the coast.
Visit the tiny fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell: it’s one of the prettiest white villages in Spain. The beaches are gorgeous, and there’s an old lighthouse you can visit.
Cadaqués is another picturesque coastal destination, with many pristine beaches and bays. In Portlligat, you can tour Salvador Dali’s house. The house was his studio and workshop for many years, and contains many of his works and peeks into his eccentric life.
South of Callela, in Tossa de Ma, you’ll find some of the best beaches along the coast: Platja Gran, Platja Mar Menuda, and Cala Pola.
If you do not have a car, you can take the public bus from Girona to the some of the towns on the coast. You’ll find current routes and schedules at the Girona bus station.
Taxis, although not inexpensive, are also an option.
Getting to Girona
Girona is located about 85 kilometers (53 miles) northeast of Barcelona. To get from Barcelona to Girona and back, you can drive yourself, use the train or bus, or join a guided tour.
By High-Speed Train
The most convenient way to get to Girona from Barcelona for a day trip is the AVE high-speed train, which gets you there in about 38 minutes.
There are multiple departures in both directions everyday.
There are slower trains as well, and trains that do not travel directly to Girona, so make sure to pick the AVE for the shortest travel time.
In Girona, the train station is just a 10-minute walk from the city center.
We use Omio to book train (and bus) travel in Europe. The website is in English and easy to navigate and the booking and payment process is hassle-free. You can also book on Renfe, although we find their site difficult to navigate.
To get the best prices on train fares, book well ahead of your visit.
Book your high-speed train tickets for Girona ahead of time for the best prices and to reserve your seats.
By Guided Tour
If you’d rather leave the planning of your Girona day trip to someone else, a guided tour is the perfect choice! You can sit back and enjoy your day as a knowledgable guide takes you to Girona and back.
These are our picks for the best guided tours to Girona. You have several options from which to choose.
This popular and highly-rated small-group tour includes hotel pick-up in Barcelona. The 10-hour tour combines a visit to Girona with an excursion to the Costa Brava, with guided walking tours of Girona, Pals, and Calella de Palafrugell (one of the prettiest white villages in Spain!).
Plus, you’ll have beautiful views of the coast on the drive.
Another popular option is a combined tour of Girona and Figueres. This highly-rated tour takes 11.5 hours, and includes guided walking tours of Girona and the renowned Dali Museum in Figueres, with time to explore Figueres on your own.
If you like the Girona and Dali Museum combination, you can also opt for this well-reviewed option, a slightly shorter day at 10 hours. The group is limited to eight participants.
Game of Thrones fans can opt for this highly-rated guided tour of Girona from Barcelona that follows in the footsteps of key characters and allows for free time to walk the walls and explore Girona on your own afterwards.
And this 6-hour guided tour takes you to just Girona. It includes a 2-hour walking tour of the highlights of Girona, and one hour of free time to explore on your own.
If you have a car, you can drive yourself from Barcelona to Girona and back (see map). In normal traffic, the drive takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes each way, a little longer than the train.
You can even drive along the beautiful Costa Brava a part of the way if you start early!
You can also take the public bus from the Estació d’Autobusos Nord in Barcelona to Girona.
The journey each way takes 1 hour and 50 minutes, cutting into your sightseeing time in Girona.
Departures are fewer as well.
Getting Around in Girona
The historic center of Girona is compact and you can walk everywhere.
In fact, exploring Girona on foot is a joy, criss-crossing from the old town to the new along the bridges and stopping to take in the gorgeous views.
If you do need wheels, you can rent bicycles, or take the local bus. There are taxis as well.
Where to Stay in Girona
If you decide to overnight in Girona, good for you! You can experience the town early and late in the day.
Early in the day, the old quarter is quiet and peaceful, ideal for taking those perfect photos. And Girona after dark is magical, with lively squares and excellent dining.
Hotel Nord 1901 is located just a 5-minute walk from the Girona Cathedral, convenient for sightseeing and dining in the Old Town. The hotel offers a garden terrace and a small swimming pool. Rooms are elegantly furnished.
Hotel Ciutat de Girona has a great location in Girona’s historic district, walking distance to sights, shops, restaurants, and bars. Rooms are well-appointed and comfortable, and breakfast, if you opt for it, is highly rated.
Hotel Gran Ultonia is located centrally, with restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Rooms are comfortable and well-appointed and showers have good water pressure. Breakfast, if you opt for it, is highly rated.
The Best Time to Visit Girona
Spring and fall are ideal times for visiting Girona, with pleasant weather and lower crowds.
Summer offers long daylight hours but daytime temperatures can get into the high 80s Fahrenheit and you will likely encounter crowds during the day.
Winter daytime highs are mild, in the high 50s Fahrenheit, so if you dress warmly, you can visit Girona in the winter with very low crowds and good deals on accommodations.
May is a wonderful time to visit Girona, because that’s when the town hosts its Flower Festival, the Temps de Flors.
Over a span of ten days, many locations in town, like the steps of the Girona Cathedral, are decorated with flowers and plants. Private patios are decorated and opened, much like in Cordoba.
The town also hosts the Festival Internacional de Música A Cappella in May, as well as a food and wine festival.
From late October until early November, Girona celebrates the Fires de Sant Narcis, a fair held in honor of the city’s patron saint, St. Narcis (the Saint of Flies).
There’s a grand opening ceremony with a parade, and in the days following, many market stalls selling local foods and arts and crafts pop up all over town. Music shows and street performances are held throughout the festival period.
More Spain Travel Inspiration
And if you are planning a winter trip, we have a complete guide to Seville in winter. The city is dazzling during the holidays and relatively mild temperatures mean that you can explore outdoors in comfort.
Also be sure to visit Granada, home of the famous Alhambra.
If you are wondering whether to visit Granada or Seville, we have some information that may help you decide, although we recommend you put both cities on your itinerary!
Looking for smaller places to add to your itinerary for Andalusia? Check out the charming white village of Casares, or spend one day in Ronda, with its Puente Nuevo and stunning views of the countryside.
If you have just 3 days to spend in Andalusia, click here to see the top 5 monuments in Andalusia you must see!
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