Girona is often overshadowed by Barcelona, but it ‘deserves more attention’
Often overshadowed by Barcelona, Girona deserves more attention. Led by the Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca, the city is home to fantastic restaurants. And the medieval old town, world-class cycling and buzzing wine and beer scene complete the makings of an excellent weekend.
Where to stay
Tucked just behind the cathedral in the prettiest part of the old town, this seven-room hotel is housed in a 13th-century building. There’s exposed stone and wooden floors throughout, with each room decorated uniquely and finished with original art. Don’t miss its charming courtyard which is centred around an ancient well.
Doubles B&B from £85, pensio-bellmirall-guest-house-girona.booked.net.
The Spanish city of Girona makes for an excellent weekend away. Check into Pensio Bellmirall tucked just behind the cathedral (above) in the old town
Hotel Ciutat de Girona
On the left bank of the river close to the bars and restaurants in Placa de la Independencia, this contemporary hotel has well-sized rooms, an indoor pool, spa and fitness room.
Doubles B&B from £75, hotelciutatdegirona.com.
Nord 1901 Hotel
The shady garden with a pool at Nord 1901 Hotel (above) is an ideal escape in the summer months
Dating back to 1901, as the name suggests, this unassuming hotel in the centre of town has been tastefully brought into the modern day. The comfortable rooms embrace a warm colour palette with stylish furniture and useful additions like kettles and coffee-makers. The shady garden with pool and daybeds is an ideal escape in the summer months.
Doubles from £94, nord1901.com.
What to see and do
Explore on foot
The colours of Girona: Bright buildings along the river, known as Cases de l’Onyar
Above is the rust-red iron El Pont de Ferro designed by Gustave Eiffel of Paris fame
A compact city, the best way to discover historic sites is by walking. Girona is known for its 11 bridges, most notably the fairytale Pont de Pedra and the rust-red iron El Pont de Ferro designed by Gustave Eiffel of Paris fame.
You also get the best view (and perfect picture) of the colourful houses that line the river (Cases de l’Onyar). Don’t miss the cathedral with its impressive stained-glass windows and flight of 86 steps made famous by Game of Thrones.
Take in the views
You will be rewarded by sweeping views of the city when you walk along the restored medieval walls of Girona
Built by the Romans, the restored medieval walls that protected Girona provide a great way to see the city from above. Once you have clambered up the cathedral head a little further up (look for ‘Passeig de la Muralla’ on the map) and join the ancient walkway. You will be rewarded by sweeping views of the city, the countryside and, at times, the snow-capped Pyrenees in the distance.
Hire a bike
Girona is a hub for cycling. With a community of pros living here and amateurs flocking for holidays, you will be sure to spot cyclists whizzing past. If you fancy joining, it’s a great way to explore the nearby nature. Electric bikes are available if you don’t fancy crawling up those hills (prices start at £35 for the day at Bike Rental Girona, bikerentalgirona.com).
Where to eat and drink
Le Bistrot restaurant is perched on the steps of Pujada de Sant Domenec (above)
In terms of charming locations, Le Bistrot trumps them all.
Perched on the steps of Pujada de Sant Domènec, bag yourself one of the four outdoor tables and enjoy the view of this photogenic winding street above and below.
The best value time to visit is lunch where you can enjoy the cut-price menu del dia (menu of the day: £17 for three courses, bread and a glass of wine). Dishes featured include braised pork with grated almonds and cod with tomato and aioli salsa (Pujada de Sant Domènec, 4).
With the French border in almost shouting distance, it’s no surprise there’s a decent creperie.
This restaurant serves up Breton-style crepes at reasonable prices (from £4.20) in a quirky setting decked with vintage film posters and second-hand finds — don’t miss the bathrooms hidden in an old school bus (Carrer de la Cort Reial, 14).
Try some innovative ice-cream flavours at Rocambolesc, pictured
Get a taste of the desserts served at El Celler de Can Roca without the eye-watering prices at Jordi Roca’s ice cream parlour.
The youngest Roca brother once held the title of the World’s Best Pastry Chef and has put this creativity into his ice cream venture. The Willy Wonka-style shop serves up innovative flavours, bonkers popsicles and famed brioche ice cream sandwiches (prices start at £2.80, Carrer de Santa Clara, 50).
Ryanair (ryanair.com) London Stansted to Girona from £22. The hourly 607 and 663 buses take you from Girona airport to the centre of town in 15 minutes (£2).
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