Though the gorgeous medieval city of Girona is simple enough to visit as a day trip from Barcelona, it’s really worth visiting as a saturday and sunday on its own. Filled with historical experiences and authentic Catalonian cuisine, this European destination is ideal for both foodie enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best-hidden gems and secret spots in Girona.
Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Eiffel Bridge)
In the center of where you’d least expect, there’s a red steel structure that spans each side of the River Onyar, linking the medieval town to the newer 19th-century expansion. Offering picture-perfect views of the old town (including the cathedral), this bridge was really constructed by none other than Gustave Eiffel, of the Eiffel Tower in Paris variety!
Installed before the installation of the Iron Lady within the French Capital, the metallic construction goes back towards the 1870s and is bright red in colour. Head coming and you’ll soon discover the delicious frozen treats at Rocambolesc where you can pick up some of the tastiest sweets around.
Though the favourite museum in the historic city is undoubtedly the impressive Catalonia Archaeological Museum that is housed inside a former church, the Cinema Museum is a touch quirky and from the beaten path move to make in Girona.
Prior to what it may seem, the Museum actually covers over 500 years of history and documents not only the very first films, but also the lead up in how moving images were first created. Housed inside the 19th-century-built growth of the city, the cultural hub is open from Tuesday right through to Saturday and was originally opened towards the public in 1998.
Banys Arabs (Arab Baths)
One from the prettiest places to visit in Girona is undoubtedly the small and compact Banys Arabs. Situated just a few streets away from the Cathedral, the 4 covered rooms once formed a public bathing suite and were constructed within the 12th-century after the Roman style. Today, the Arab Baths give an interesting understanding of how public baths might have looked like and operated previously.
Well preserved (though you’ll be interested in on a sunny day if possible to regarding benefit from the rooms within the best lighting), this tiny complex costs EUR3 to visit. You can pay by card or cash and take your self on a self-guided tour, with the help of signs giving an account of methods each room was used both in English and Spanish. It’s also worth noting that the Baths were utilised for filming a scene in Game of Thrones.
Caserna dels Alemanys
Now an attractive walled garden offering a handful of cosy benches, secret leafy corners, and a plethora of beautiful vistas within the rest of Girona, the Caserna dels Alemanys are the remains of 17th-century barracks. So-called since the encampment once housed a garrison of central European soldiers, the military complex was constructed because of ongoing wars with nearby France.
Visit today and you can expect to find one of the best-kept secrets of Girona: a concealed oasis among the maze of busy medieval cobbled lanes that the city is so renowned for. Nearby, there’s a walkway up to the Girona City walls, that are an attractive mixture of Roman and medieval fortifications spanning around half miles which you can wander along for free.
Chapel of Sant Cristòfol
Steps away from the Cathedral and sheltered underneath an old Girona fortification which you can wander along to enjoy some of the best views of the city, the small Chapel of Saint Cristobal is definitely an open-air ecclesiastical building nestled in to the rock face.
Nearby, the Portal de Sant Cristòfol is really a medieval structure dating back 1399 and used to be one of the main city gates guarding the entryway towards the walled city. With this being said, the stone gate you see today is by and large the results of 18th-century restoration work.
Kiss the Lion’s Bottom!
Those who would like to return to Girona once more after departing need to (allegedly) do just one thing prior to leaving: kiss the lion’s bottom. And yes, you read that correctly, though, in fact, the lion is really a stone carving! Though I would insist the statue in old-town Girona actually resembles your dog or dragon instead of a lion, this Romanesque statue dates all the way back to the 12th-century.
Set atop a stone poll, legend has it when you kiss the lion statue's bottom, then you'll go back to Girona, or Gerona as it is known in Spanish. And while the present statue is really a replica from the original (the latter now housed inside the archaeology museum), my newest visit to Girona was my second- so I'll allow you to perform the maths!
Game of Thrones Shield, Rocambolesc
If you’re in search of a Game of Thrones Easter Egg in real life, then you definitely simply must go to the Rocambolesc Ice Cream shop, which is operated by the Roca brothers, who're famous for running one of the top Michelin-star restaurants in Spain (with waiting times to match!)
Originally conceived being an ice cream cart which would be rolled around town to sell the goodies, instead the Roca brothers opened a fantastical shop with mouthwateringly beautiful decor to match. The queue for the dessert is often out the door, meaning you need to give yourself plenty of time should you wish to purchase a sweet on your own!
One of the greatest secret spots in Girona is actually found on the left-hand wall of the frozen treats parlour after you walk through the door. For there, there’s is a shield in the series, framed and sitting in pride of place above row upon row of frozen treats cup. Bet on Thrones fans will also be delighted to discover that among the Ice Lollies on sale in the shop is in the shape of the hand of Jamie Lannister.
Hotel View in the AC Bellavista
For among the best views in Girona, make sure to book yourself into the four-star luxury hotel where we enjoyed a sensational couple of days during our amount of time in the city. Perched high above the rest of the town, the accommodation even has its own rooftop bar (complete with a small pool) where you can have a crisp glass of rosé at sunset, all the while admiring the Pyrenées within the distance. See the full details here!
Jardins John Lennon
One from the more secret spots in Girona is the John Lennon gardens. Located around a ten-minute walk away from Girona’s Cathedral, this small green space provides an avoid the hustle and bustle of the remaining city. Quiet and secluded, this park is the best spot for a picnic or for finding a little corner to read a book. Just know before you go that there are a lot of steps prior to the John Lennon park!
Take a day trip to Besalú
Easy enough to achieve as a day trip from Girona, if you’re looking for the best from the beaten track activity then you must head to the medieval village of Besalu. Once a powerful hub during the early medieval period, today Besalú hosts attractions such as plenty of medieval architecture, including a well-preserved arch bridge, many historical churches, and some incredibly beautiful vistas.