Girona has been a city I have wanted to visit for many years, and my trip was delayed due to the Covid pandemic. My interest in Girona as a city was sparked by the TV show Game of Thrones. If you’ve ever seen GOT then you may be aware that the walk of shame of Queen Margaery was filmed at the Church here (Santa Maria Cathedral) and the city of Girona also doubled up as Essos – home of Arya Stark. If you are inspired to visit this fabulous walkable European city, then you will be pleased to know that it is possible to take a Girona Day trip from Barcelona. Here’s how…
Girona – When to Visit
The best times to visit Girona are the summer months when the weather is warmer and less rainy. So May to September are good times to go. You may want to also avoid August which is the busiest and hottest month. Be aware of Spanish holidays which may affect opening hours and transport.
Regarding the best time of day to set out for a Girona day trip from Barcelona, it is a good idea to set out as early as possible. Aim to get to the station (Barcelona Sants) by 8am in order to be on a train around half past. This should get you there by around 10am and give you a full day in the city.
How long do you need to spend in Girona?
As I have mentioned, it is possible to do a Girona day trip from Barcelona, but I wouldn’t advise doing the group tours and I wouldn’t advise combining it with anything else. Tour guides will tell you that you can combine your Girona day trip with a trip to the Dali Museum in Figueres. Well, that’s what we did and I have to tell you that although it was an amazing day, it was EXHAUSTING! If you combine Girona with the Dali Museum either on a tour group or independently you will find that you only get about 3 hours in Girona, and it’s not enough.
I recommend that you do Girona independently (without a guide) for a whole day and plan to spend at least 5 or 6 hours in the city. Of course, if your schedule allows it, stay overnight there. I would happily spend a full weekend in Girona – it’s just that I didn’t have time in my schedule this trip.
How to get from Barcelona to Girona
You can easily take the train from Barcelona to Girona and it will take around one hour to an hour and a half depending on whether you get the fast train or the local train which will stop at every stop. Head to Barcelona Sants station which is also a Metro station called Santa Estacio on the green and blue lines. You can book mainland train tickets on https://www.renfe.com/es/en, but also you can just buy them at the ticket machine on the day. There are assistants available to help you and many are English speaking.
When you arrive at Girona station, it’s just a short 20 minute walk up to Sant Feliu and the Cathedral of Girona. Pass by Placa de la Indepenencia and over the river Onyar. You can then use these Churches as your starting point and central navigation point for exploring the city.
Where to Stay
If you are planning on taking a day trip from Barcelona to Girona then you might want to book a hotel nearby Barcelona Sants station to make your journey easier. Here are some recommendations:
- Hotel Barceló Sants – This contemporary hotel is just 2 minutes walk from Barcelona Sants. It is minimalist in style with black and white decor and has two restaurants, a bar and a spa.
- Hotel NH Sants Barcelona – A comfortable 4* hotel with a Catalan bar and restaurant and an on site gym. 5 minutes walk from Sants Metro and 5 minutes walk from La Sagrada Familia.
- AC Hotel by Marriott Sants – Another popular 4* hotel near Sants with light dining, a bar, gym and a business centre. This modern hotel is an 8-minute walk from Barcelona Sants train station and 4.4 km from La Sagrada Familia.
What to do on your Girona Day trip from Barcelona
As you now know, Girona is a small and compact city that can be easily reached on foot from Girona train station. I recommend walking through Placa de la Indepenencia and over the Sant Feliu bridge ready to start your exploration at the Basilica Sant Feliu. There you can buy a triple ticket that will include the Basilica of Sant Feliu, Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona and the Art Museum of Girona.
If time allows you can then go on to also explore the Banys Arabs (Baths) and the Passeig de la Muralla. If you are interested in Jewish history then explore the beautiful streets of the Jewish Quarter and head to the Museum of Jewish History. This will be plenty to fill your day with a tapas in-between.
Placa de la Indepenencia
Placa de la Indepenencia or independence square is one of the largest squares in Girona. It’s perfect for photo opportunities and an outdoor meal and/or drink. If you are looking to grace a few bars while you are in Girona, this is one of the best places for Girona nightlife.
Basilica Sant Feliu
Head straight to the Basilica Sant Feliu from the train station. It’s important that you get the ‘Girona Episcopal’ ticket which will give you access to the Girona Cathedral and the Art Museum. For these three you should allow approximately 3 hours. At these attractions you get an audio guide included in the price of the ticket.
Basilica Sant Feliu is one of the earliest Gothic structures built in Girona and was the first main Church in Girona before the Cathedral. It was actually built from the 12th to 17th Centuries and has a Romanesque construction with a later added Gothic Nave and Baroque Facade. Highlights inside the Church include the reclining Christ, the tomb of Saint Narcissus and 4th century tomb stone carvings.
Girona Cathedral is my favourite building in Girona. Towering over the city from its highest point, this is one of the most astounding Cathedrals I’ve ever seen. The staircase leading up to the Cathedral has 95 steps that took 5 years to build! These were the stairs used in the ‘walk of shame’ on Game of Thrones.
The Cathedral has a Romanesque cloister and tower, gothic nave and Baroque facade. Girona Cathedral has the largest gothic nave in the world!
Inside the Cathedral you will see a series of chapels dedicated to various Catholic Saints. There is also a ‘Tapestry of Creation’ housed in the Cathedral which dates back to the year 1000 and is on a par with the Bayeux Tapestry in terms of historic importance.
Lunch Stop – Cafe L’Arc
Cafe L’Arc at the front of Girona Cathedral is a great little convenient place to stop for a drink and a snack. I recommend the ham croquettas. Although it may be slightly pricier than some of the tapas places outside of the old city, it’s certainly still good value by normal standards (especially if you are travelling from the UK or USA). It is definitely not worth worrying about finding somewhere cheaper when you are on a Girona day trip from Barcelona – the time you would waste is simply not worth the effort!
Art Museum of Girona
The third place to use your Episcopal ticket is the Art Museum of Girona. It’s a short walk from Girona Cathedral (approx 5 minutes) and is home to a number of excellent examples of liturgical art, sculptures and pottery which are chronologically presented through from the 5th to 20th Centuries.
If you still have more time on your hands after seeing these 3 main sites then lucky you…you can fit in even more amazing sites of Girona…
Banys Arabs (Baths)
Also walkable from the Cathedral is Banys Arabs – the Arab baths which potentially date back to 1134. The historical building withstood the siege of French troops in the 13th Century. An entrance ticket is just €3 and under 8’s are free.
If time allows, you might also like to explore Passeig de la Muralla, the Jewish Quarter and the Museum of Jewish history. It makes sense geographically to do the day tour in this order because you can walk through the Jewish quarter on the way back to get back to the station.
Passeig de la Muralla
Passeig de la Muralla is the old city wall of Girona that makes a pleasant walk with fantastic views over the city. These medieval city walls were built between 9th and 15th centuries.
The Jewish quarter of Girona is located in the old town to the South of the Cathedral and near the river Onyar. Dating back to the 12th Century the Jewish Quarter of Girona is one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in Europe. It’s also called El Call. Enjoy a roam through the cobbled streets and medieval buildings with beautiful archways. The streets are lined with flowers, trees and cafes. It’s a lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.
Museum of Jewish History
The Museum of Jewish history is actually housed in an old Synagogue and gives an insight into the Jewish history of Girona and also Spain on the whole. Highlights include medieval tombstones from the Montjuïc Jewish cemetery in Barcelona and a reconstruction of the figure of the famous Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman (https://theculturetrip.com)
Pont de les Peixateries Velles
After visiting the Jewish Quarter and the Jewish History Museum, you will be able to head back over the water on a more Southern bridge than the Pont de les Peixateries Velles which is also known as the Eiffel bridge.
Did you enjoy your day trip to Girona? Is there anything that you think I should add? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. Please comment on my blog below.
Further Reading on Girona and Barcelona
If you enjoyed this article on how to take a Girona day trip from Barcelona, you might also be interested in these articles…
- Visiting Tibidabo Church – Take the Funicular right up to the best viewpoint in Barcelona and visit a beautiful two-tier church with a Gothic Facade that resembles Montmartre in Paris.
- Things to do in Barcelona at Night – Enjoy Flamenco shows, tapas tours and the Montjuic Magic Fountain!
- Montserrat Monastery Barcelona – Another fabulous day rip from Barcelona. Just on a train to discover a Monastery on Montserrat Mountain that houses the Black Madonna.
- Sant Pau Hospital – A stunning art nouveau hospital in Barcelona which was built in 1902, at a time of drastic change for Barcelona with the expansion of the city.