Planning a 2 to 3 days in Girona itinerary isn’t something that is usually on everyone’s Spain travel wishlists. With a major metropolis like nearby Barcelona often outshining smaller and more laid-back Girona, many visitors to Catalonia don’t even think to spend any time in this gorgeous city at all.
That is a shame, however, as Girona is not only absolutely beautiful but it is also packed with interesting things to see and do. So if you want to venture a bit off the beaten tourist path and do more than simply a Girona day trip, then this is the article for you.
Packed with beautiful winding streets, wonderful restaurants and bars, historical sites and even some filming locations for Game of Thrones fans, you’re not going to be sorry for planning a visit to Girona.
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How Many Days in Girona?
Because of its small size and the fact that it is relatively off the beaten tourist path in Catalonia, many potential visits to this city wonder how many days to spend in Girona.
If possible, try to spend a couple of days in the city at least. While you definitely can cover a lot of ground and see the majority of the sites over the course of a day trip, spending 2 days in Girona will allow you to really get to know this city and get a feel for its culture.
If you have even more time, I’d recommend planning to spend around 3 days in the city because the city is situated in a great location to explore some smaller towns as easy day trips.
No matter how long you choose to spend in the city of Girona, you certainly won’t regret slowing down and actually spending a bit of time there.
Getting To and Around Girona
Now that you’ve figured out how many days to spend in Girona, we need to talk about how to get to the city and how to get around once you’re there.
If you want to visit Girona as a short city break destination, there are a few options available to you. First off, Girona is actually home to its own small international airport that is located just outside of the city centre. It serves a number of different airlines and destinations across Europe.
You can also easily reach Girona even if you arrive into Barcelona Airport. The city is located about 100km north of the centre of Barcelona (a bit further from the airport as it’s located south of Barcelona centre) and it takes roughly an hour to drive to Girona.
There are also lots of trains and buses from Barcelona to Girona which can have you in the city in about 45 minutes to one hour.
The train is a more comfortable option but can be a bit more expensive. Buses are frequent but not quite as comfortable, however, they can be significantly less expensive. Both the train station and bus station are walking distance to the centre of Girona. You can check schedules and prices here.
Once you are in Girona, getting around the city is remarkably easy. The sites in this itinerary are all located very close to one another and all within easy walking distance. So there is no need to bother with public transit (let alone driving) when in Girona proper.
However, if you’re planning on going on any day trips from Girona (as outlined in day three of this itinerary) you will find that having a car is the easiest option. If you need to rent a car for your trip, we recommend using Rentalcars.com in order to find great deals across major car hire companies.
For any day trips, places are accessible via public transit or organised tour, as well, if you don’t want to hire a car while visiting Spain.
2 to 3 Days in Girona Itinerary
Without further ado, this is the best things to do in Girona over 2 to 3 days to help you plan the perfect trip to this beautiful Catalonian city.
Day 1: Old Town Highlights
The first day will take you around the historic centre and all of the top sites to see here. If you would like to see most of these sites on a guided walking tour, then this small-group tour of Girona will cover a number of places listed in this itinerary.
City Walls of Girona
Begin your first day at the city walls. Located in the upper part of the old town, the city walls don’t encircle the entire city, however, they are quite vast and very well restored. They’re also completely free to enter and walk along.
You can get a great view of the city from the top of the walls and there are many towers along them that you can climb in order to get a good vantage point. There are also a number of nice gardens along the base of the walls that are worth wandering through, as well.
Wander a bit down from the city walls before you get to the gorgeous Girona Cathedral – officially known as the Cathedral of St Mary of Girona. This is the main focal point of the Girona skyline (along with the Basicila de Sant Feliu) and the building is absolutely magnificent.
Though a primitive Christian church existed on this same site before the Moorish conquest of the Iberian peninsula, the site was turned into a Mosque in 717 CE. Once the Franks reconquered this region, it was converted back into a church. The official reconsecration of the Girona Cathedral was in 908.
The Cathedral is known for its imposing staircase leading to the entrance an it really is something to see. The building itself is also absolutely beautiful and definitely a highlight of visiting this lovely Catalonian city.
Wandering down one of the beautiful lanes away from the Cathedral will lead you to another major site – the Arab Baths. Don’t be fooled by assuming these baths were built during the Moorish rule in Catalonia. They weren’t!
The earliest they date back to is 1194, which was after this region was reconquered. They just happen to be Arab in style. In fact, there is evidence that they were even used as a Mikvah for the city’s once large Jewish community.
The baths are famous today for being featured in Game of Thrones. In fact, much of Girona’s old town was used when filming scenes of Braavos in the famed HBO series (you can even go on a Game of Thrones tour of Girona).
Entry into the baths is €3 per person and there are explanations in English (along with Spanish, French and Catalan).
Museum of Archaeology
Another great place to visit on the first day of your trip is the Museum of Archaeology. Located in the beautiful Sant Pere de Galligants Benedictine abbey, this museum has an impressive collection of historic artefacts with great descriptions in Catalan, Spanish, French and English.
Entry into the museum is €7 per person unless you are fortunate enough to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, in which case entry is free of charge. It’s very much worth visiting if you’re interested in the archaeological history of the region.
Basilica de Sant Feliu
Moving closer to the lovely Onyar river is the other major building that makes up the Girona skyline, the Basilica de Sant Feliu, or the St Felix Basilica. This church is absolutely gorgeous, with an impressive tower that dominates the view of the city.
It was constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries and is a beautiful building and a perfect place to visit on your first day.
Placa de la Independencia
It’s now time to meander across the river and visit Girona’s main square, the Placa de la Independencia.
Located just over the Onyar from the Old Town, this main square is like so many others from around the country. The square is lined by cafes and there is a large open space in the centre. When we were visiting in December, this is where that main Christmas market was set up.
This is a great place for people watching or to grab a drink and relax for a little bit. The energy here is fantastic.
Cases de l’Onyar
If you want Girona to charm you even further, take a short stroll along the River Onyar and take in the beautiful houses (cases or casas in Catalan and Spanish respectively) that hang over the river.
These buildings are colourful and unique and definitely a highlight to the beauty of Girona’s Old Town.
Pont de les Peixateries Velles
Make your final stop on this first day the beautiful Pont de les Peixateries Velles – more commonly referred to as the Eiffel Bridge. This bridge was designed by Gustave Eiffel – the same man whose company designed the famed Eiffel Tower.
This bridge is distinctive in the fact that it is completely enclosed with intricate red metal caging. It is certainly the most striking of Girona’s eleven bridges!
Day 2: Markets, Museums & Historical Sites
If you only have 2 days, make sure to follow day one and day two of this itinerary. Day 2 in Girona will take you to a few more of the top sites, some museums, and some more in-depth haunts, as well.
Pont de Pedra
Begin your day by admiring another of Girona’s lovely bridges, the Pont de Pedra. This is the largest bridge in Girona’s Old Town and it is an imposing thoroughfare made of stone.
In the times leading up to Christmas, there are actually market stalls set up on the bridge where local handicrafts and sweets are sold.
Placa de Catalunya
On the other end of the Pont de Pedra is the other major square near to Girona’s Old Town, the Placa de Catalunya. Though this square isn’t quite as impressive as the Placa de Independencia, this is still a major gathering place in the city.
There are plenty of benches and a few cafes and shops lining the area, as well.
Mercat de Lleó
A stone’s throw from the Placa de Catalunya is the main marketplace of the city, the Mercat de Lleó. Market culture is incredibly pervasive throughout Spain and there is really no better place to visit if you want to see what the local diet is like.
There are lots of stalls selling everything from charcuterie, cheese, fish, meat and olives. You can also find little bars and coffee shops within the market to have a drink before or after you do your shopping.
This is a great place to get some local gastronomic bites without paying an arm and a leg at a nicer restaurant. This is also a fantastic place to pick up a small picnic or even some food for dinner later.
By purchasing things through the market, you are supporting the local economy rather than a multinational super market chain while also participating in an important part of Spanish and Catalonian culture.
Museu del Cinema
If you’re interested in hitting a museum after wandering through the market, then you may want to consider heading to the Museu del Cinema (the Cinema Museum).
Located close to the Mercat de Lleó, this museum will take you through the history of cinema and how it relates to Girona. The city has been featured and a number of films and TV shows over the years, most notably in Game of Thrones.
Admission into the museum is €6 per person with discounts available for students and seniors. Opening hours can vary depending on the season so be sure to check the hours depending on when you plan to visit.
Parc de la Devesa
If you want to relax a little bit after all of the sightseeing that you’ve been doing in Girona thus far, then make sure to spend some time in the lovely Parc de la Devesa.
This city park is quite large and is lined with tall trees, walking trails and plenty of benches. It is a very tranquil place to escape the energy and crowds of the city centre.
Museu d’História dels Jueus
Heading back into the Old Town, it’s time to hit another museum – this time the Jewish History Museum. Girona once had quite a large Jewish population — one of the largest in Spain, in fact — before the Jews were either forced to convert or were expelled from Spain in 1492.
The museum explains the history of Jews in Girona and in the region and is worth going to if you want to learn more about it. If you want to combine your museum visit with a tour of the Jewish Quarter of Girona, this Girona Jewish heritage tour is a great option for you.
Otherwise, the museum is open daily but the hours can vary depending on the season. Entry is €4 per person with discounts available for students, seniors etc.
Escales de Sant Martí
A little bit of a stroll away from the Jewish Museum is another part of Girona that is both incredibly beautiful and also featured in Game of Thrones – the Escales de Sant Martí.
There are countless of charming stone staircases winding throughout old Girona, however, this staircase may be one of the most picturesque.
Placa de Ví
This square is smaller and less grandiose than the Placa de la Independencia, however, it is still very much worth visiting.
Lined with a number of different cafes and bars (we recommend Sol Gastrobar here!), this is a great, more local place to sit and take in the city at the end of two active days of sightseeing.
Day 3: Day Trip to Figueres or Besalú (or both!)
If you have 3 days, then spend your final day on a day trip to one (or even a few) of the smaller towns and attractions nearby to Girona. The towns of Figueres and Besalú are great options for day trips.
One of the most popular day trips from Girona (and, by extension, from Barcelona) is to the small city of Figures.
This city is absolutely charming and has a lot to offer, but it is most notable for being the birthplace of the famous surrealist Salvador Dalí and is home to the absolutely bizarre and fantastical Dalí Theatre-Museum.
If you want to spend an entire day in Figueres, we recommend beginning your time at the Castell de Sant Ferran – an imposing 18th Century fortification that is very interesting to explore.
You can then mosy into the town of Figueres after that, taking in the Dalí sites, going to the museum (you’re going to need at least 1.5-2 hours there) and maybe even taking in the Toy Museum there, as well.
If you don’t want to go on this day trip on your own, you can opt to take this guided tour to Figueres in order to see some more Dalí sites.
Another absolutely lovely day trip to take from Girona is to the beautiful medieval town of Besalú. For some reason, this gorgeous town doesn’t get much attention, however, it’s sure to take your heart as soon as you spot the imposing bridge leading to the town centre.
If you don’t care to visit the fortress in Figueres, it is definitely possible to visit Besalú in the morning before driving to Figueres and enjoying the sites and museums in that city. This option is really only possible, however, if you have your car.
If you’re interested in visiting Besalú as part of a guided tour, then this full-day tour of Besalú, the volcano area and Banyoles Lake from Girona is a great option.
Girona Restaurants, Bars & Cafes
Like pretty much everywhere in Spain, Girona is packed to the brim with fantastic places to eat and drink. If you’re looking for some recommendations in Girona, here were some of the favourite places we ate when we were in the city:
Espresso Mafia – An excellent coffee shop that has great espresso drinks along with sandwiches and cakes available.
Federal Cafe – A great cafe located close to the Jewish Museum. They have great coffee and also serve food and alcoholic drinks for later in the day.
La Garrina – A wonderful natural wine bar with plenty of outdoor seating and great sharing platters available. This place gets popular and tends to fill up as soon as it opens, so get here early!
Malabarista Vermutería – A great place for a tapa and a glass of vermouth located in a quite square on the outer edges of the historic centre.
Taverna d’El Foment – Located a stone’s throw from Placa de Ví, this place occupies its own space in a small square and serves a great array of Catalán dishes along with great wine, vermouth and some local craft beers.
La Tapeta – Situated on the other side of the river, a bit away from Placa de Catalunya, this place has a number of great tapas, outdoor seating and good prices.
Sol Gastrobar – Located right on Placa de Ví, this is a great place for tasty tapas and a good drinks along with fantastic people watching along the square.
Fénix Restaurant – If you’re interested in venturing a bit away from the Old Town, this restaurant is a good option. They have a wonderful daily menu at a good price and delicious food.
Where to Stay in Girona
If you’re spending time in Girona, then you’re going to need to find a great place to rest your head in this lovely Catalonian city.
Luckily, there are plenty of accommodation options available in Girona that can suit all kinds of travel styles.
Hotel Nord 1901 Superior – If you’re after a luxury option in Girona, then this locally-run hotel is a great choice. They have a range of plush rooms available, a swimming pool, garden and bar on-site, free parking, and breakfast is included.
Hotel Costabella – A great option for those looking for something a bit more mid-range is this family-run hotel. Located within walking distance of all of its top sites, they have a range of great rooms available, a swimming pool, gym and sauna on site and include parking, as well.
Little Home Girona – If you’d rather have your own apartment in Girona than stay in a hotel, then these flats are an excellent option. You can choose from a one or two-bedroom depending on your needs and you can also enjoy a fully equipped kitchen.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Girona hotels!
Planning the perfect Girona itinerary is not a hard task as there is so much to see and do in the beautiful Catalonian city.
Are you planning to visit Girona? Have any questions about what to do in the city? Let us know in the comments!