Girona holidays 2019
Discover the ancient culture of Spain with a visit to historic Girona. The Romans founded this settlement, which became a thriving city before being ruled by the Moors, the French, and others. Nicknamed “the city of a thousand sieges,” Girona’s architecture highlights the vast range of cultures that have called it home over the centuries. Although it’s often overlooked in favour of holidays to nearby Barcelona, Girona is a hidden gem chock-a-block with museums, medieval architecture and a festive spirit.
Although it’s inland, Girona offers easy access to all of the beaches of the Costa Brava and is surrounded by the undulating green hills of Catalonia. This makes Girona ideal if you’re seeking a 2019 holiday destination to explore authentic Spanish culture. Vibrantly-painted houses line one side of the river Onyar, while the city’s ancient walled quarter sits just across the water. Girona’s centre is walkable, making it a real pleasure to explore on foot as you uncover hidden stone passageways and underground eateries that have stood the passage of time.
Although Girona’s old town offers no shortage of head-turning architecture, chief among these attractions is its splendid cathedral. With a stately Romanesque façade, Baroque staircase and gilded altar, the cathedral is hard to miss in its grandeur. Visit its 12th-century cloisters or head to the cathedral’s museum, featuring a treasure trove of religious artefacts. Simply wandering through the medieval streets is one of the greatest pleasures of any Girona holidays. You can walk along the walls of the old city, which date back to the era of Charlemagne. From the top, you’ll be able to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the cobblestoned alleyways below.
Meander through the enchanting Jewish Quarter and stop off at one of its bustling cafes and outdoor restaurants, or relax in the gardens of Passeig Archeologic near the cathedral. The eerie Arab Baths are well worth a visit, with a cupola-covered central pool and vaulted underground pathways.
Although Barcelona’s culinary scene is world-famous, nearby Girona is another must-visit destination for Catalonian cuisine. Girona is home to El Celler de Can Roca, which has been deemed the World’s Best Restaurant, holding three Michelin stars. Dining here is an out-of-this-world gastronomic experience. You can visit for the tasting menu, which offers seven to fourteen courses of innovative, modern fare using the freshest local ingredients. The focus is on authentic Spanish and Mediterranean cuisine, with exquisite presentations on each plate.
For something a bit more down-to-earth, Girona’s squares and alleyways offer a wide selection of tapas bars and traditional Spanish restaurants. Taste Catalan specialties featuring freshly-caught fish from the Costa Brava, or seasonal desserts showcasing local cheese like recuit. The Jewish Quarter is a hotbed of elegant vermouth bars and laid-back cafes, where you can sit in an outdoor courtyard and pair your wine or vermouth with small plates of ham, cheese, anchovies and bread.
A walk through Girona’s old quarter brings history to life for children, who can vividly imagine the long-gone days of fortresses, knights and the legendary battles fought here. Pedestrian-friendly Girona invites families to slow down and soak in its centuries of history in a safe, inviting environment. Explore the Passeig Arqueologic to view many of the city’s most iconic sights, reading about the legends and folklore along the way. Girona holidays offer all of the tradition and culture of a visit to Barcelona, but tucked into a small, mellow city. Enjoy meals in a courtyard where children can play freely into the evening, or venture to the Costa Brava to take advantage of all of the sun and surf of a seaside holiday.
There are plentiful parks within Girona’s city limits. Domeny Park offers everything needed for a day out in the Spanish sunshine, with zip lines, a climbing wall, table tennis and a children’s play park. Picnic tables are also on hand for al fresco family lunches. The Park of the Ter Riverbanks is a short 15-minute walk from the city centre, following the riverside with the Illa del Ter island in the centre. Here you can spot a staggering variety of bird life from buzzards to herons, along with wild rabbits and mink.
Action & Adventure
The city may be famous for its old city, museums, and monuments, yet Girona holidays also offer plenty of opportunities to get active. It’s positioned at the meeting point of four rivers, with much of its surrounding landscaped preserved for biodiversity. Go walking, cycling, kayaking or running along the city’s numerous trails and waterways. Segway tours are a popular way to get about the city, while rowing clubs offer boating trips along its multiple rivers.
Girona serves as an excellent home base for exploring the rugged cliffs of the Costa Brava and mountain peaks of the Girona Pyrenees. These nearby mountains offer the chance to ski in your choice of five resorts, surrounded by spectacular scenery. If you prefer to get out on the water, the Costa Brava features over 200km of unspoilt coastline and 30 diving centres to choose from.
The city of Girona may not have a beach of its own beyond the placid riverbanks, but it’s within a stone’s throw of many of the Costa Brava’s top beaches. This makes it easy to take a day trip to the beach of your choice during any holidays in Girona. Empuriabrava is a top Costa Brava beach, with a Blue Flag rating and an array of water sports. From its golden sands, you’ll be able to spot the mountains in the distance or walk along the promenade between resort towns Les Llaunes and La Rubina.
Tamariu is another popular day trip option, located just an hour’s drive outside of Girona’s city centre via the A-7 motorway. It’s the beach of choice for local families, due to its crystal waters and extensive facilities. You can hire kayaks, visit the diving club, or go sailing off the coast here. The tree-lined beach features soft, powdery sand and never seems to get too crowded. Venture to a beachside restaurant to enjoy tapas or a seafood-based menu del dia.
The city’s nightlife is diverse, ensuring there’s something for everyone whether you’re in the mood to sit in an intimate jazz club or bust a move on a sprawling dance floor. Girona’s calendar of events covers the whole week, and you’ll find a variety of pubs, clubs, and tapas bars to choose from throughout the city centre. La Rambla offers a bustling hive of evening activity, where you can do everything from sipping a beer in an Irish pub to sampling innovative tapas in chic gastro-bars.
Nightclubs and live music venues in Girona are on hand for entertainment. Visit Lola Café for cool cocktails and baroque décor. This friendly café hosts live rumba music and pop concerts, making it a top destination for weeknight partying. And for a classic disco experience, visit Lux to dance the night away with top resident DJs.
Girona holidays are tailor-made for romance and glamour. You’ll feel as if you’re lost in time as you wander through the charming cobbled streets and hidden gardens of the city centre. Stroll past the colourful houses of the River Onyar’s waterfront, connected to the old town by the iconic red Pont de les Peixateries Velles. Constructed by the same masterminds behind the Eiffel Tower, it’s an unforgettably romantic sight. Take a picnic to the gardens near the cathedral, or simply relax in a boutique hotel courtyard.
Get out into the countryside of the Girona province, where you can explore the volcanic landscapes of the La Garrotxa National Park. There are plentiful walking trails, or you can soar above the greenery in a hot air balloon. Venture a bit further afield to the town of Cadaques, one of the most attractive hidden getaways on the Costa Brava. Whitewashed buildings house chic art galleries and fresh seafood restaurants in this favourite getaway of everyone from Salvador Dali to the Rolling Stones.
The well-preserved city centre could be viewed as its own living museum, but there’s no shortage of other cultural destinations to visit during your holidays to Girona - starting with its grand Cathedral. Learn more about the city’s centuries of history at the Girona History Museum, housed in an 18th-century Capuchin monastery. The Girona Art Museum is another standout destination for fans of art and culture. Located in the dramatic setting of an Episcopal Palace, it showcases paintings, sculptures and artefacts from Romanesque to modern eras. The Archaeological Museum of Catalonia and Museum of Jewish History are also both well worth a visit.
The River Onyar is lined with colourful and intriguing buildings, with the Casa Maso a standout. This is the family home of famous architect Rafael Maso, who designed its vibrant interior and exterior. Open to the public, it’s filled to the brim with patterned tiles, art deco glasswork and other fine details.