Set about an hour and a half outside Barcelona, the medieval city of Girona offers a slice of historic and cultural Catalonian life tucked away amongst rustic architecture and world-class restaurants. In the Jewish Quarter of the city, you can meander down twisting laneways that lead to charming stores filled with handmade goods and locally produced foodie delights. Around every twist and turn there’s a new surprise, from quiet bars hidden down backstreets to squares that open out into lively affairs. Elsewhere, the River Onyar flows through the town against a colourful parade of pastel houses in reds, yellows, and oranges. When crossing one of its many bridges you can catch a glimpse into local life, whether it’s someone hanging their washing out over the water or two elderly ladies having a natter across balconies. As well as picturesque sights and an old quarter that’s achingly pretty, Girona is a hotbed for Spanish cuisine, with plenty of high-end restaurants peppering its streets. It’s known as one of the most up and coming foodie regions in Spain, with a collection of nouveau restaurants that serve everything from experimental tapas to food inspired from miles-away destinations. The best way to explore Girona is by foot, taking in the eclectic mixture of sights and allowing yourself to get lost down rabbit-warren lanes. If you’re looking for a firmer itinerary, here are a few of the best things to see and do in the city.
Standing proudly at the top of a wide stone staircase, Girona’s cathedral looks out over the city like a watchful parent. It’s Romanesque and Gothic design styles combine to create an impressive piece of architecture that’s difficult to take your eyes off. Even if you don’t venture inside, the intricate detailing and grand old exterior is enough to get your jaw dropping in no time.
Sant Pere de Rodes
This former Benedictine Monastery carves a rustic silhouette against Girona’s skyline. Set on top of a mountain, it’s Romanesque design and motley array of ruins cast a pretty spectacular scene, whether you’re into historic architecture or not. As well as a grand old design, the gardens and surrounding scenery are well worth exploring, too.
Girona Art Museum
Art lovers might want to hotfoot it to the Museu d’Art, or Girona’s Art Musuem. Set inside a typically Romanesque building (a popular design style in the city), the gallery showcases a range of artworks covering a number of decades. Many of the pieces were created by Catalonians, providing a glimpse into the culture of the region.
Lake of Banyoles
As well as food, architecture, and art, Girona also boasts some stunning natural scenery (it pretty much has it all!). The Lake of Banyoles sits just outside the centre, providing a peaceful place to reflect and relax. It’s an expansive park, made up mostly of a serene and stunning lake, but there is also a plethora of wildlife to enjoy, too.
If you’re looking to step back in time for a day and explore a region of Catalonia that remains both in the past yet still has the makings of a modern city, Girona is the place to go. You can tuck into tasty treats, marvel at age-old art, and shop until your heart’s content, all set against a stunning selection of medieval architecture.
For more interesting trips from Barcelona, visit our page 13 Awesome Day Trips From Barcelona.