Girona On a Budget
SightsAside from the extensive medieval wall, another major Girona landmark is the Cathedral at the north end of the wall and old town. The Roman Catholic Girona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona, is best known for having the widest Gothic nave in the world. Its construction began in the 11th century and features Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles. Other important churches in Girona include Esglesia de Sant Feliu, which dates to the early days of Christianity, and Sant Pere de Galligants, which is now home to the Catalan Museum of Archaeology. Other museums include the Cinema Museum, Girona Art Museum, and the Jewish History Museum.
Additional sights of note include Romanesque public baths at Banys Àrabs, the beautiful gardens of Temps de Flors (usually open in May), and the beauty of yellow ochre buildings and red-tiled roofs that can be seen by wandering the city on foot.
NeighborhoodsGirona has an ancient past as a medieval walled city, situated along the banks of the River Onyar. Its compact historic center is easy to see on foot, with many narrow, winding alleys concentrated around the river. Placa Catalunya sits on the river as if an island, marking the center of the city, with the old town to the east of the river and the new town largely situated on the west side. This main square is also near the Tourist Information Office where visitors can acquire a map of the city. While the old town is best for historical appeal and sightseeing, the new town is also attractive with plenty of shops and boutiques. The street that runs parallel with the river on the old town side is called Rambla de la Llibertat and is a great hub for cafes and bars, especially in the evenings. Following this road to the north end of the old town, visitors will find the Placa dels Apostles and the Girona Cathedral. The Passeig Arqueologic is another path worth exploring on the eastern edge of old town.
ActivitiesThe best activity when visiting Girona is to explore its medieval labyrinth of narrow streets on foot, stopping and admiring landmarks along the way. Views from above the alleys can also be had from the Passeig Arqueologic, which offers an opportunity to experience Girona's impressive medieval walls. The most popular access point is opposite the Banys Àrabs at the north end of the old town, where steps lead up into beautiful gardens. The path then continues to the south end of the city, ending near the Placa Catalunya. Along the wall, some of the best views can be seen from the Tower of Sant Domenec.
Food and DiningFood in Girona largely follows the Catalan traditions of northeastern Spain. It is categorized as Western Mediterranean cuisine, and implements ingredients such as tomato, garlic, eggplant, artichoke, and other fresh vegetables, as well as mushrooms, legumes, bread, pasta, olive oils, all kinds of cheese, and wines. Inland (as is the case with Girona), pork is the staple meat product, while fish such as sardine, anchovy, tuna, and cod are specialties for coastal Catalonia. There are many stews, including escudella (characterized by the use of a large meatball called a pilota, as well as celery, carrots, cabbage, other vegetables, and sometimes additional meat) which dates back to the 14th century, as well as ollada which is a thicker, casserole-type stew made with meat and vegetables. Botifarra, or pork and bean sausage, is also very central to Catalan cooking, while allioli is a common sauce made of garlic and olive oil to coat grilled meats or vegetables.
There are also a number of Catalan wine-growing regions, which makes Girona a great home base for sampling vintages. And finally, there are the desserts. Throughout the region visitors will find crema catalana, the famous yellow cream made with egg yolk, milk and sugar. A Girona specialty, however, are xuixos-fried pastries stuffed with crema catalane and coated with sugar. Girona itself has been put on the map by culinary achievement. Be sure to visit El Celler de Can Roca, a restaurant that was voted the best in the world by Restaurant magazine for multiple years.
TransportationThe area is served by Girona Airport, which is located about 20 kilometers south of the city. A bus between Girona and the airport is about a 30-minute journey.
There are also long-distance buses that connect Girona with several cities in Spain and France. Barcelona is the nearest major Spanish city, and so many buses travel to and from here.
Trains is another way to navigate between European cities. Direct trains run from Paris to Barcelona on a high-speed line. From there, travelers can take one of the trains directly to Girona, which depart about every hour.