Though 24 hours might not seem very long for a visit to the historic Catalan city of Girona, with careful planning you can get more than a taste of what this Spanish spot has to offer. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of your time in this fascinating city.
Start out bright and early – you’ll want to pack as much into your 24 hours in Girona as possible. Begin your day on one of the bridges that cross the River Onyar, and watch as the morning light touches the famous multi-coloured houses hanging over the edge. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, you’ll find yourself in the Old Town – by far the most fascinating part of the city.
Stop for breakfast at La Fabrica, one of Girona’s best coffee and breakfast cafés – think avocado toast, organic coffee, and homemade bread topped with roasted almond butter, bananas, toasted coconut and maple syrup. If that doesn’t grab your fancy, take a look at a list of our 10 best breakfast and brunch spots in Girona to find somewhere to best suit you.
When you’ve finished breakfast, head for the magnificent Girona Cathedral – it’s quite a sight to behold, and one of the city’s most famous recognisable buildings. Built between the 11th and 18th centuries, it has the widest Gothic nave in the world and towers over the city, up a long flight of stone steps.
Stop for lunch at Crêperie Bretonne for French-style crêpes (after all, you’re only around 80 km (50 miles) from the French border). This quirky restaurant is filled with all manner of odd curios and knick-knacks, as well as parts of old vehicles – the crêpes are cooked out of an old VW Campervan, while the bathrooms are inside old school buses. If you don’t fancy French however, and prefer something more Catalan or Spanish, check out our lists of Girona’s best restaurants or best vegetarian restaurants, to sample local dishes.
After lunch, take a Game of Thrones tour of the city, as much of series six of the show was actually filmed in the city. Even if you’re not a fan of the series, this is a great way to get to know Girona, as it takes visitors to see almost all of the important buildings and areas of the city, including the Arabic Baths, the Old Jewish Quarter, the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants and the Convent of Sant Domènec.
When your tour is done, head to the Girona History Museum to get an overview of the city’s past, from its founding during Roman times through to the modern day – split into 14 themed rooms, the museum teaches visitors a lot about Catalan culture too. Fans of architecture will appreciate the museum’s setting in a monastery, worth a visit for the structure alone
Stop for a late-afternoon/early-evening ice cream at the famous Roca brothers’ (the chefs behind one of the world’s best restaurants – El Celler de Can Roca) ice cream and candy store – Rocambolesc, a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style shop, selling innovative flavours and sweet creations.
As shops and attractions are open late, you still have time to wander around the old Jewish Quarter to look for souvenirs or to check out other museums, such as the Girona Art Museum or the Museum of Cinema.
It’s not customary to eat dinner here until at least 9pm, and most restaurants won’t even open before 8pm, so make sure you’re on Spanish time. Girona has some great tapas bars – try Cúrcuma with its innovative and creative tapas bites, such as duck confit dumplings with apple and raisins or wild mushroom cannelloni.
Girona is a small city, so you won’t find a huge amount of nightlife. However, there are some cute cocktail bars, cafés with live music and even a couple of clubs, if you feel like making it a big night out. Read our ultimate nightlife guide to Girona to find out where best to experience the city until the small hours of the morning.