While many visitors to the fiercely passionate Catalunya region are drawn to Barcelona, if you’re not a fan of bustling streets and crowds then the old cobbled lanes and medieval walls of Girona offer the ideal laidback alternative. What’s more it makes a perfect weekend stop on any touring route heading further south into Spain.
Cities have not been high on our agenda on The Big European Odyssey, what with our collective love of the mountains and wide open spaces, however, Girona won our hearts with its relaxed cafe culture, historical treasures, multitude of exceptional bakeries and charming buildings.
Here’s our pick of all that makes Girona a must visit destination on your travels into Spain…..
Best for Brunch in Girona
For a region known for its food it will come as little surprise to learn that there are a wide range of wonderful eateries in the city, especially in the old town and alongside the river. Our favourite is Hors Categorie which is owned by professional cyclist Robert Gesink, which goes a long way to explain the cycling theme that runs throughout. However, you don’t need to be a cyclist or lover of two-wheeled adventures to come here.
It serves a wonderfully diverse menu with dishes ranging from traditional Mexican tacos, delicious homemade burgers and hearty bowls of noodles through to avocado on toast (something of a staple in Girona), fresh poke bowls and a wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Best for Lunch in Girona
There are, as you might expect for a region known for its meat and cheese, a host of excellent traditional restaurants that cater to those looking for Catalan food. However, Girona is so much more than Catalan food when it comes to restaurants, and we strongly suggest broadening your horizons when it comes to food. One such example is Restaurant Mimolet, which serves an array of contemporary dishes influenced by different regions of the world.
Best for Coffee in Girona
Girona is blessed with a multitude of excellent coffee shops and cafes, many with outside seating allowing you the ability to watch the world go by as you enjoy your daily fix of caffeine. The best of these are situated in the heart of the old town where Espresso Mafia and La Fabrica stand out from the crowd.
Best for Cycling in Girona
Ever since a certain American cyclist made it his base Girona has been something of a Mecca for cyclists of all abilities, and to this day a large number of professional cyclists reside here.
There are several climbs leading out of the city, the most accessible and enjoyable of these being the 10km meandering climb up to Els Angels, where there are lovely views back down to Girona itself. For those looking for a more challenging ride consider the much steeper climb up to , or the ‘Hincapie Loop’.
You can also take a look at our guide to six cycle trails to try in Britain, if you’re after some more routes to try out.
Best for Shopping
The mix of shops, boutiques, markets and craft fairs makes Girona a great place to while away a few hours shopping. The old town has a series of charming streets lined with all manner of unique shops, selling everything from the latest fashion through to local art.
If like us you are food lovers then make sure you head to El Lleó, the city’s main food market which Alsop happens to be where many of the top restaurants source their fresh produce. There is also an artisan food fair on the first Saturday of every month on the Rambla Llibertat.
Best For Culture
As you would expect from a city whose history stretches back hundreds of years there are an abundance of museums and historical buildings that help bring the past to life. Girona History Museum is a great starting point, after which a visit to the Museum of Jewish History is recommended.
For art lovers a visit to Girona’s biggest and most important art museum, the Museu d’Art de Girona, housed in the city’s old Episcopal Palace, is a must.
There are a few aire style parking options in and around Girona that make for perfect bases from which to explore the city. The most centrally located is Parking Vayreda la Devesa, which is a large security protected car park with grey and black water emptying points, as well as electric hook up (metered using €1 coins) in the heart of the city.
You collect a ticket on arrival and pay on departure and it costs €18 per 24 hours. A little further out is Parking de Autocaravanas Girona, which while free to use doesn’t offer any additional facilities or security.
If you enjoyed this, catch up on more from the Big European Odyssey here:
- Marcus Leach and family share what they wish they’d known before embarking on a motorhome tour of Europe.
- Marcus Leach shares six of the best campsites in the Balkans.
- The family enjoy a stop off in Switzerland.
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