Even if it weren’t for its awesome cycling credentials, Girona is an excellent city break destination.
The old town is truly wonderful, and if you stay centrally, you’ll get to enjoy it when it’s at its best; before and after the tourist buses have left.
To give you a taste of what’s on offer, here are our top five recommendations for things to do in Girona, Spain:
1. Wander through the old town
Girona has an amazingly well preserved old town that dates from Roman times, two thousand years ago. It is a joy to walk over the River Onyar, past the brightly painted façades of the houses flanking the river, and get lost in the winding, cobbled streets. You’ll find ancient courtyards, rocky overhangs, beautiful street lamps and ornate stone buildings.
What we loved is that despite the town’s important heritage, it feels alive. This is no dry skeleton, all the buildings have been adapted to modern life and are full of bars, restaurants and boutique shops. We found it particularly special in the evening when the warm lights from busy bars and restaurants floods the meandering lanes and makes them glow.
2. Be wowed by the architechture
These were the buildings we were most impressed with. Add them to your list of what to see in Girona:
3. Walk the city walls
You can walk for about 2km along the city walls, but the best section is between the point marked “Muralles” and “Passeig Arqueològie” on the map. You get far-reaching views of the city, and this section is particularly impressive as it’s around the old town.
Tip: there are loads of steep steps to get up and down the walls, and also up and down the towers on the walls, so not one for before or after a big ride!
4. Eat and drink like kings
Girona has a reputation for its outstanding cuisine. Like the town itself, it combines traditional with avant-garde.
If you want a table at its most famous restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca (three Michelin stars and proclaimed by Restaurant Magazine as the third best restaurant in the world), you’ll need to book at least 11 months ahead. Well, that’s what we were told when we tried to get a table anyway. If you don't get in, at least you can console yourself with a fabulous icrecream from Rocambolesc, which is run by the Roca brothers, the team behind El Celler de Can Roca.
World famous restaurants aside, Girona has serious strength and depth on the restaurant front. There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from. We ate fantastically well without having made any prior reservations.
Had we not had to get up early for a big ride the next day, we would have been sorely tempted by the nine-course tasting menu with wine pairings (and at 66 euros this would have been a steal). As it was, the cured pork, goats cheese and pistachio soufflé with shavings of black truffle followed by filet of beef with black garlic cream and wild blackberries was incredible.
5. Get a massage in Girona's old town
Girona and the surrounding areas have a great range of spas to choose from.
Our choice would be Aqus Banys Romans, located in the heart of the old town. The spa is housed in an ancient building that was Girona’s first hospital (in use between 12th and 17th centuries). The building was converted in 2015 and sympathetically incorporates the ancient heritage into its design.
There are three rooms with water at different temperatures: Frigidarium (cold), Tepidarium (warm) and Calidarium (hot). There is also space for relaxation and massages, a hammam and salt sauna.
What did you do when you visited Girona? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re planning a cycling trip to Girona, don’t miss our:
Looking for a guide?
Dave, Saskia, and the team at our partner Bike Breaks Girona Cycle Centre, would love to help you with anything from a day of guiding to a fully guided tour. They also offer bike hire, transfers, servicing - you name it, if it relates to cycling in Girona, they can help.