Though you could easily spend 2 or 3 days in Girona, planning to go on a Girona day trip from Barcelona is an excellent option for those who don’t have unlimited time to devote to their trips to Catalonia. This compact city to the north of Spain’s second-largest city is absolutely charming and doesn’t really get the recognition it truly deserves.
If you’re looking for the ultimate day trip from Barcelona, then Girona is an excellent option – especially if you’re after a larger city rather than something like smaller Figueres or a natural attraction like Montserrat. Girona is compact and you can see the majority of the city’s many sites in the span of one day and still not get bored.
How to Get from Barcelona to Girona
Before we get into all of the best things to do in Girona for a day, we need to talk about how you plan to get to the city from Barcelona. There are four main ways that you can reach the city: by car, by bus, by train or by organised tour.
If you want to take the active planning out of your day trip to Girona, then going via organised tour is an excellent choice for you. There are lots of options available that can suit all kinds of travellers.
For instance, this half-day tour from Barcelona takes off from the main bus station in Barcelona and includes a guided walking tour of all of the top sites in Girona. You will also get some free time to explore Girona on your own before catching the coach back to Barcelona.
If you’re interested in visiting both Girona and the Costa Brava but you’re short on time, then this full-day tour could be a great option. Limited to 8 people, the tour not only stops in Girona and takes you around the main sites of the city but also includes a stop in a fishing village on the Costa Brava.
Alternatively, if you’re a fan of Salvador Dalí, then this small-group tour includes both a stop in Girona alongwith a visit to Figueres and the Dalí Museum. This is a great option for lovers of the surrealist movement.
Or if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then this day tour is an excellent option. You’ll visit the top sites of the city along with all of the locations that were used in the popular series.
If you’ve decided to visit Girona independently, one of the easiest and quickest ways to do this is via the train.
There are countless trains available daily and the journey time between Barcelona and Girona is only about 40 minutes. If you book far enough in advance, it can be a fairly affordable option, as well. The train station in Girona is walking distance to the main attractions of the city.
If you want to take the train to Girona, you can book tickets online here.
Another option to get to Girona is by bus. This can be a bit more affordable than going by train, however, the buses are less frequent and they take about double the time to get there than the train – roughly one hour and 50 minutes.
If you choose to visit Girona by bus, you can book online in advance here in order to secure your seat.
If you want to make some stops along the way or have the ultimate flexibility in Girona, then getting to the city by car is the best bet.
You can drive from Barcelona to Girona in around 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on the traffic. There is plenty of paid parking available near the city centre.
If you want to rent a car, we like using RentalCars.com in order to find a compare prices across major car hire companies.
Girona Day Trip Itinerary
Now that we’ve covered how to get there, let’s get into all of the things to do. Because of its small size, it’s easy to pack a lot into just a short amount of time.
City Walls of Girona
Begin your one day in Girona at the city walls. Located in the Old Town, these walls are the perfect place to get an excellent vantage point of the city and to get your bearings at the start of the day.
They’re free to enter and they are well-maintained to walk along. You will also find a couple of towers that you can climb in order to get a better view over the city.
After enjoying the city walls, walk into the old town and visit the incredible Girona Cathedral. One of the main focal points of the Girona skyline, this church has an impressive staircase leading up to the main entrance that makes the building look absolutely magnificent.
Like many cathedrals in Spain, this building was, at one point, a mosque before the region was reconquered.
You can opt to go inside the cathedral if you’re visiting outside of worship hours, however, it is also just as beautiful and impactful to simply enjoy it from the outside.
If you want to see some Game of Thrones filming locations along with visiting interesting historic sites, then make sure to visit the Arab Baths. Located in the Old Town, these baths actually were not constructed during the Moorish rule of Girona but rather afterwards in the style of Arabic baths.
Dating back to the 12th century, these baths have had a lot of historic significance in the city. At one point used as a mikveh for the city’s once-thriving Jewish community, the baths now serve as a museum.
You can tour them for €3 per person and there are explanations in English.
As mentioned in the previous stop, Girona once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the entirety of Spain and boasts one of the best-preserved Jewish quarters in the country.
If you want to learn more about the history of Jews in Girona, Catalonia and Spain in general, then make sure to head to the Jewish Museum, located in the Old Town.
The museum is open daily and the price for entry is €4 per person with discounts available for qualifying concessions.
Basilica de Sant Feliu
Heading down toward the river, you will reach the other beautiful church that features as a major focal point of the city’s skyline – the Basilica de Sant Feliu. This church was constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries and is just another example of the gorgeous architecture that Girona boasts.
This basilica is most notable for its imposing spire that is incredibly striking. If you’d like, you can visit the interior of the church, as well.
Regardless of whether you enjoy the Basilica de Sant Feliu from the inside or simply from the outside, you can’t miss this beautiful church.
After a busy morning of sightseeing, it’s very likely that you’ve worked up quite an appetite. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic places within easy reach of the top sites of Girona where you can get a delicious, affordable and authentic bite to eat.
Some of our favourite spots for lunch include Taverna d’El Foment which is located in its own small square and has a large menu serving Catalonian specialities.
If you’re interested in venturing a bit away from the city centre and want a local experience, then consider heading to Fénix Restaurant where they have an excellent set daily menu for a great price.
After a nice, leisurely lunch, it’s time to take a stroll along the river. Girona is known for its beautiful houses that overlook the small river — known as Cases de l’Onyar — along with its many bridges.
Perhaps the most famous bridge in Girona is the Pont de les Peixateries Velles, more commonly referred to as the Eiffel Bridge. It is so-called because it was designed by Gustave Eiffel – the same man whose company designed Paris’ eponymous tower!
There are a number of other bridges across the Onyar, with another notable one being the Pont de la Pedra. This larger stone bridge is located close to the Placa de Catalunya and, during the winter season, there are even Christmas market stalls set up on the bridge.
Placa de la Independencia
Just across the river from the old town lies Girona’s main square – the Placa de la Independencia.
Though it looks similar to most other main plazas in small Spanish cities, this is really the beating heart of the city and it is worth visiting when you’re on your day trip.
The square is lined with a number of cafes and restaurants, meaning that it’s a great place to stop for a drink and to people watch (it’s probably best to eat a meal a little bit further away from the main square, however). In the winter, this is where the main Christmas market is set up, as well.
Parc de la Devesa
If you’re looking for a bit of peace and tranquillity after your busy day of exploring, then make sure to wander over to the lovely Parc de la Devesa.
This massive city park is located only a stone’s throw from the old town but it feels like a different world. There are lots of pathways, benches and plenty of trees where you can spend as much or as little time as you’d like taking in the peaceful vibes here.
Museum of Archaeology
After you’ve rejuvenated yourself in the park, make your way back into the old town and visit one final museum, the Museum of Archaeology.
This museum is situated in the historic Sant Pere de Galligants Benedictine abbey and includes countless artefacts from around the region. For a small, regional museum there is an impressive collection here and there are also descriptions in English (along with Catalan, Spanish and French).
Unless you happen to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, entry into the museum is €6 per person. If you are at all interested in archaeology and want to know about the ancient history of Girona and the surrounding region, then make sure not to miss this museum.
Placa de Ví
End your day in another square in the Girona Old Town – the lovely Paca de Ví.
Though this plaza is not nearly as grand as the Placa de la Independencia or as big as the Placa de Catalunya, there are a number of different restaurants and bars lining it and it has a definite more laid-back vibe.
It is the perfect place to have a drink, grab a snack and people watch until you need to head back to Barcelona.
Have More Time in Girona?
If you have more than a day in Girona to spend, there are plenty of things to see and do in and around the city.
If you have two full days to spend in Girona, take the time to visit more sites and museums within the city itself. There are lots of places where you won’t regret spending your time and going at a slower pace through the city is sure to boost your appreciation of this gorgeous Catalonian gem.
You can also use Girona as a base to go on a number of day trips in the region. For instance, the city is located closer to Salvador Dalí’s birthplace of Figueres than Barcelona.
Other places that are worth visiting include the incredible Medieval town of Besalú, Banyoles Lake and even the Volcanic Zone nearby.
Planning a Barcelona to Girona day trip is not a hard thing to do considering how many options there are to choose from to get to the city. There are countless things to do in Girona that can occupy you for a full day (or even 2 or 3)!
Are you planning to visit Girona from Barcelona? Have any questions about this Catalonian city? Let us know in the comments!