Though the beautiful medieval city of Girona is easy enough to visit as a day trip from Barcelona, it’s well worth visiting as a weekend break in its own right. Filled with historical experiences and authentic Catalonian cuisine, this European destination is perfect for both foodie enthusiasts and culture lovers alike. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best-hidden gems and secret spots in Girona.
Pont de les Peixateries Velles (Eiffel Bridge)
In the middle of where you’d least expect, there’s a red steel structure that spans both sides of the River Onyar, linking the medieval town to the newer 19th-century expansion. Offering picture-perfect views of the old town (including the cathedral), this bridge was actually constructed by none other than Gustave Eiffel, of the Eiffel Tower in Paris variety!
Installed prior to the installation of the Iron Lady in the French Capital, the metallic construction dates back to the 1870s and is bright red in colour. Head just around the corner and you’ll soon discover the delicious ice cream at Rocambolesc where you can pick up some of the tastiest sweets in town.
Though the most famous museum in the historic city is undoubtedly the impressive Catalonia Archaeological Museum which is housed in a former church, the Cinema Museum is a little quirky and off the beaten path thing to do in Girona.
Prior to what you may think, the Museum actually covers over four hundred years of history and documents not only the first films, but also the lead up in how moving images were first created. Housed within the 19th-century-built expansion of the city, the cultural hub is open from Tuesday through to Saturday and was originally opened to the public in 1998.
Banys Arabs (Arab Baths)
One of the prettiest places to visit in Girona is undoubtedly the small and compact Banys Arabs. Situated just a few streets away from the Cathedral, the four covered rooms once formed a public bathing suite and were constructed in the 12th-century after the Roman style. Today, the Arab Baths give an informative insight into how public baths would have looked like and operated in the past.
Well preserved (though you’ll want to visit on a sunny day if possible to as to enjoy the rooms in the best lighting), this tiny complex costs €3 to visit. You can pay by card or cash and take yourself on a self-guided tour, with the help of signs giving a description of how each room was used in both English and Spanish. It’s also worth noting that the Baths were used for filming a scene in Game of Thrones.
Caserna dels Alemanys
Chapel of Sant Cristòfol
Steps away from the Cathedral and sheltered underneath a former Girona fortification which you can wander along to enjoy some of the best views of the city, the tiny Chapel of Saint Cristobal is an open-air ecclesiastical building nestled into the rock face.
Nearby, the Portal de Sant Cristòfol is a medieval structure dating back to 1399 and was once one of the main city gates guarding the entryway to the walled city. With this being said, the stone gate you see today is by and large the results of 18th-century restoration work.
Kiss the Lion’s Bottom!
Those who wish to return to Girona once more after departing need to (allegedly) do just one thing prior to leaving: kiss the lion’s bottom. And yes, you read that correctly, though, in actual fact, the lion is a stone carving! Though I would insist that the statue in old-town Girona actually resembles a dog or dragon as opposed to a lion, this Romanesque statue dates all the way back to the 12th-century.
Set atop a stone poll, legend has it that if you kiss the lion statue’s bottom, then you’ll return to Girona, or Gerona as it is known in Spanish. And while the current statue is actually a replica of the original (the latter now housed within the archaeology museum), my most recent visit to Girona was my second- so I’ll let you do the maths!
Game of Thrones Shield, Rocambolesc
If you’re in search of a Game of Thrones Easter Egg in real life, then you simply must head to the Rocambolesc Ice Cream shop, which is operated by the Roca brothers, who are famous for running one of the top Michelin-star restaurants in Spain (with waiting times to match!)
Originally conceived as an ice cream cart which would be rolled around town to sell the sweet treats, instead the Roca brothers opened a fantastical shop with mouthwateringly beautiful decor to match. The queue for the dessert is often out the door, meaning you should give yourself plenty of time should you wish to buy a sweet for yourself!
One of the best secret spots in Girona is actually to be found on the left-hand wall of the ice cream parlour after you walk through the door. For there, there’s actually a shield from the series, framed and sitting in pride of place above row upon row of ice cream cup. Game of Thrones fans will also be delighted to discover that one of the Ice Lollies on sale in the shop is shaped like the hand of Jamie Lannister.
Hotel View from the AC Bellavista
For one of the best views in Girona, be sure to book yourself into the four-star luxury hotel where we enjoyed a stunning few days during our time in the city. Perched high above the rest of the town, the accommodation even has its own rooftop bar (complete with a small pool) where you can enjoy a crisp glass of rosé at sunset, all the while admiring the Pyrenées in the distance. See the full details here!
Jardins John Lennon
One of the more secret spots in Girona is that of the John Lennon gardens. Located around a ten-minute walk away from Girona’s Cathedral, this small green space offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. Quiet and secluded, this park is the perfect spot for a picnic or for finding a little corner in which to read a book. Just know before you go that there are a great number of steps leading up to the John Lennon park!
Take a day trip to Besalú
Easy enough to reach as a day trip from Girona, if you’re looking for an off the beaten track activity then you simply need to head to the medieval village of Besalu. Once a powerful hub during the early medieval period, today Besalú is home to attractions such as plenty of medieval architecture, including a well-preserved arch bridge, many historical churches, and some incredibly beautiful vistas.