There are few places in the world that can take you back to the times of medieval wars by way of powerful structures and historically rich buildings while also completely taking your breath away.
Girona has a way of doing all this and more.
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Known for having one of Spain’s last surviving Jewish Quarters, spectacular yearly flower festival – Temps de Flors, and most recently for portraying the mythical city of Braavos in a little TV show called Game of Thrones, the city is packed with some of the most interesting things to see and learn about in all of Spain.
Only an hour and a half drive from Barcelona and about a 30-minute cab ride from the airport, Girona is the perfect day or weekend trip to get away from the crowded city streets and overwhelming tourists.
One of my favorite things about this city is that due to its size, you can walk to all of the main points of interest. This means, no need to waste time and money! on trains or buses.
And honestly, you’d be missing out on the little cobblestone alleyways and architectural details that make this city so beautiful.
WALK ALONG THE CAROLINGIAN WALL
Otherwise known as the most Insta-picture worthy spot in the city.
Girona has faced 25 sieges in its history which explains why it is completely surrounded by high fortifications that are still standing today.
The most amazing of these are the ancient walls built during the Roman period in the first century BC.
If you decide to make your way up do it do it do it!, you will be walking on the most extensive Carolingian Wall of Europe and will be awarded the most breathtaking views of the city.
Important to Note:
Making your way up to the wall is tedious as there are some very narrow stairways and uphill tracks. It’s not recommended for anyone with trouble walking or climbing on an incline.
I was unable to climb up on my most recent trip as I was recovering from an ankle fracture and the stress from the uneven cobblestone streets wreaked havoc on my foot.
The wall images are from my previous trip to Girona prior to my ankle fracture!
CATHEDRAL OF SANTA MARIA DE GIRONA
What European blog post is complete without a mention of a church?
Well, even for those of you who aren’t religious, you can’t help but stop and stare at this majestic building mainly because it’s right in the center of the city but also because its sheer size and intricate details will take your breath away.
Want to know the secret to getting a picture completely devoid of tourists? Head to Girona on a weekday, preferably early in the morning!
Do you have a sudden overwhelming feeling of deja-vu?
Don’t worry – you’re not crazy. This cathedral was a main focal point in season 6 of Game of Thrones, where Girona was transformed into the city of Braavos!
TEMPS DE FLORS
My absolute favorite time of year to be in Girona is for the spectacular flower festival, Temps de Flors. Every year since its launch in 1954, the festival transforms the city into a living art instillation for one week in May filling the streets with magnificent colors and flowers from all over the world.
Each visitor receives a festival map you’d be lost without it that takes you through every single instillation in the city. While some are in plain view, others are hidden in secret underground cave tunnels, Arabic baths or inside museums.
Some attractions, such as the Jewish Museum and the Arabic baths Banys Àrabs, usually charge an entrance fee but are free and open to the public during the festival!
While you definitely need to take advantage of these exhibits, keep in mind that lines are much longer than usual on weekends during the festival.
I’ve been to Temps de Flors two years in a row now and while I’m there I swear my head spins. The creators have a gift for making ordinary things come to life with beautiful colors and arrangements in the most ingenious ways!
It is spectacular to see and something you cannot miss if you are visiting Spain. The festival only runs for a week, but includes 2 weekends for all visitors to enjoy.
A PEACEFUL RETREAT
Among all the wonderful things that make Girona the unique and breathtaking place it is, one of its best features is that it is a quiet and peaceful city.
Walking along the Rambla de la Libertad – a smaller, quieter version of La Rambla in Barcelona, you are surrounded by shops and restaurants, as well as trees, green areas and courtyards.
While speaking to some of the locals, it was interesting to learn that although there are many tourists that come yearly, the population of senior citizens that move in has grown considerably over the last 20 years. The beauty, history and overall tranquility of the city has made it the perfect place to retire.
I definitely wouldn’t mind retiring in a place like this!
On my last visit to Girona, I found myself in a lovely Italian restaurant called L’Arcada. I actually got there at that weird time of the day where most restaurants in Spain are closed – too late for lunch and too early for dinner.
L’Arcada was not only open, but welcomed me to sit and enjoy with open arms!
Never one to turn down a chance to try Italian food in any part of the world, I happily obliged.
Do you want to try the best crepes you will EVER have?
You must stop by Crepdequè.
Yes, I had stracciatella ice cream with lunch AND a nutella crepe for dinner. I’m ignoring your judgement.
Be warned – due to their ridiculous deliciousness, lines can get pretty long clearly – the rain didn’t even stop me, but trust me – it’s totally worth it!
Girona is a small city filled with a rich history, breathtaking architecture and many activities to take part in.
There are musical and cultural activities every month of the year!
I don’t know about you, but I have a feeling this is one of those cities I will continue to return to for many years to come.
Have you been to Girona?
What was your favorite part? …I’m torn between the flowers and Arya Stark 😉
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