Secrets of Spain: gorgeous Girona

Explore chic boutiques, gastrobars and galleries, some of which can be found in delightful Art Nouveau buildings and even in Medieval palaces, in the gorgeous city of Girona. A city of fascinating contrasts, Girona enjoyed wealth during the Medieval period, which means that visitors can see fine Gothic and Romanesque architecture: buildings which still remain despite numerous sieges and attacks.

Girona Bridge Decorated Flower Festival-1

A colourful ancient walled city

Barri Vell, its ancient walled city, sits by the striking collection of colourfully painted buildings, which seem to huddle around the Cathedral, on the River Onyar’s right bank. The Cathedral, which was built between the 11th to 18th centuries, provides the perfect landmark reference when exploring the city’s treasures.

Girona Cathedral At Night-1

A Mecca of Medieval architecture

Also known as the City of Four Rivers, Girona is a Mecca of Medieval architecture, with its Medieval Quarter being one of its two fortified enclosures. Wander around magical, winding streets which are filled with Medieval mansions, churches, courtyards and gardens. Of course it’s impossible to miss it’s magnificent Cathedral which crowns all of this.

Girona old town Cathedral rooftops-1

A city of contrasts

The other fortified enclosure is the Força Vella, which dates to between the 1st century BC and the 10th century A.D., going back to its Roman foundations. Over its history Girona has been called home by the Moors, Greeks, Visigoths and Franks, as well as the Romans. This along with its 21st contemporary lifestyle and culture, makes it a city of contrasts. Amongst its highlights are the city’s Arabic Baths, and the Jewish quarter – El Call, which is considered to be the best preserved in Europe.

Arab Baths Girona-1

The world’s best restaurant

Girona is home to El Celler de Can Roca, which in 2015 reclaimed the honour of being the world’s best restaurant, along with numerous other accolades, TripAdvisor also named it the Best Place To Eat On the Planet! As you can imagine, thousands of people fly specially to Girona each year to enjoy the world’s and planet’s best food, along with its extremely special hospitality and unpretentiousness.

Gastronomic Girona

Girona city and province, as well as the rest of Catalonia, are rated high in the world’s top centres of culinary creation. Feel this culinary vitality, and sample locally sourced ingredients from the nearby sea and mountains, used in traditional, International and avant-garde cuisine. Also hitting the city’s busy festival schedule is the Girona Gastronomy week, in March, and the Gastronomy Forum, every second year.

Girona El Fort Restaurant Ullastret

Cultural events

For a small city, Girona has a whole lot of cultural events happening. It plays host each year to a large number of festivals, across an interesting range of disciplines, such as classical guitar, international theatre, street art, jazz, black music, Catalan rumba, cinema and art.

Fabulous flower festival

Out of the numerous events and festivals that happen in Girona, the most photographed is the fabulous flower festival, which is called – Girona, Temps de Flors, which means Time of the Flowers. For ten days in May, the buildings, gardens and courtyards of the old quarter are decked out with beautiful floral displays and art installations. There’s also a program of fine dining, cultural events and some commercial activities. 2016 is the 61st edition of the festival.

   Fabulous flower festival  Out of the numerous events and festivals that happen in Girona, the most photographed is the fabulous flower festival, which is called - Girona, Temps de Flors, which means Time of the Flowers. For 10 days in May, the buildings, gardens and courtyards of the old quarter are decked out with beautiful floral displays and art installations. There's also a programme of fine dining, cultural events and some commercial activities.

Museums & galleries

There are over ten art galleries dotted around the city, as well as seven museums. These include the Museum of Jewish History, the Museum of Cinema, the Art Museum and the Archaeology Museum of Catalonia.

Chic boutiques in streets full of character

Girona is a great city for shopping also, with a fabulous range of offerings for any type of shopper, and plenty of chic boutiques in streets that are full of character. Choose from traditional shops, crafts and antiques, avant-garde decoration, designer boutiques, top International brands and Catalan delicatessen produce. During the months of April, May and June, the shopkeepers extend their offerings onto the streets, so that street markets are formed in these main shopping areas.

Girona Streets-1

Close to the beach

Within half an hour’s drive from Girona, you can reach the coast of the Costa Brava (Wild Coast), which is scattered with plenty of beautiful beaches and intimate coves. The closest coastal towns are Platja d’Aro, Palamos and Lloret de Mar. However this wonderful coast has many more stunning seaside sights to explore, including Empuries which is a 40 minute drive, where you can see Roman ruins by the sea.

Salguer Beach Palamos-1

Dalí fans

The three locations that make up the Dalí Triangle are within a 25 minute to 1-hour drive from Girona. These are Pubol (Gala Dalí Castle House), Cadaques (Dalí’s Home Workshop) and Figueres (Dalí Theatre Museum).

Figueres Dali Theatre Museum-1

Quick facts

  • Situated in the north-east of Catalonia, the province of Girona meets up with the French border.
  • Girona-Costa Brava Airport is located 29 km (18 miles) from the city centre and is also regarded as the gateway to the Costa Brava.
  • Girona is 116 km (72 miles) north, and slightly inland from Barcelona.
  • The city has one 5-star hotel and eight 4-star hotels.
  • There are 13 restaurants with Michelin stars in the Province of Girona.

Jackie de Burca is Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.

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Comments (3)

  1. Taya says:

    When I googled on top cities to visit in Spain, Girona was not even in top 10 list. If not for you article, I would not have googled further more into Girona. I got more excited by the culinary side of this city, as only yesterday I watched the last episode of Masterchef Australia :) and still that lovely dish is fresh in my mind.
    It was also equally exciting to know the city was home for Franks, Greeks, Romans & Moors. If it is not much of an expensive city to live in (hoping), it will actually be a perfect place for a travel blogger to spend few months to soak the city in. Do suggest on it!

  2. Edwina says:

    Taya, all of Catalonia has fantastic food and a rich cultural & historical heritage. It’s a great place for a travel blogger to explore. I’ve lived there for years and still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface.

  3. Hi Taya & Edwina,
    Girona does get overlooked, and to be honest I am not sure why. It would make a very good base for you, I believe. Another wonderful overlooked city in Catalonia is Tarragona.

    Edwina’s comments are 100% spot on, Catalonia is an amazing place, with so much to see and experience. The Catalans are very proud people, with superb culture and gastronomy.

    I hope you do it :)
    Warm regards

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