Barcelona to Girona is a quick, easy, and beyond worthwhile day trip. Girona had been on my list of places to visit as it’s a Game of Thrones filming location. Scenes from Braavos, Kings Landing, and interior shots of the Citadel were all filmed in Giriona. The moment you step foot in the city center you will see why Game of Thrones picked this city. Its cobblestoned streets, dramatic stairways and cathedrals, and narrow twisting streets make quite the impression. Even if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan, I can guarantee a day trip from Barcelona to Girona will not disappoint. This city is as picturesque as can be, less crowded than Barcelona, and feels worlds away in some parts. Continue reading my Barcelona to Girona day trip guide for a list of the must visit sights, how to get there, and how to plan your time!
Where is Girona
Girona in located about 104 kilometers (65 miles) northeast of Barcelona in the Catalunya region. It’s not located near the ocean like Barcelona, but has two rivers, the Onyar and Ter, that converge into one near the city center.
How to get to Girona: Barcelona to Girona Train
Girona’s close proximity to Barcelona makes for a perfect day trip. The quickest and easiest way to reach Girona is by train. Renfe offers a non-stop service from the Barcelona Sants station. The ride is approximately 38 minutes each way. If you book tickets ahead of time you can snag a price for as low as €9.40 each way. I usually book directly with the train provider to ensure I get the cheapest price, Renfe in this situation, but you can also get tickets from Omio or Trainline. Trains depart every 1.5 to 2 hours.
It’s a 10 minute walk from the Girona train station to the historic city center. This makes taking the train a no brainer. I recommend buying your tickets in advance to ensure you get the best price. You could get your tickets the day of, but I don’t recommend it. You risk paying a higher price as the cheaper tickets sell out quickly and you’re taking the chance that all the seats are sold out if you’re traveling during high season or a holiday.
Barcelona to Girona via bus or car is another option but it honestly doesn’t make much sense. Bus tickets are more expensive, around €15 each way, and it takes 1.5 hours each way. You also only have one or two departure times each day.
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HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED IN GIRONA?
Plan on spending a minimum of 4 hours in Girona. This will give you enough time to see the main sights and have a coffee break. 6 hours is ideal if you want time to wander, revisit some of your favorite streets a few times, and have a lunch break. Girona isn’t nearly as crowded as Barcelona, but it does get busy with day trippers and tour groups starting around 10:00am. I highly recommend getting there as early as possible. I took the 8:20am train and arrived just before 9:00am. I had a good hour of empty streets and was able to see the dramatic cathedral steps without a soul in sight. It was absolutely worth getting the earlier train as Girona felt magical in the crisp morning with the sights empty and quiet.
Getting Around Girona Spain
The city center of Girona is extremely compact and 100% walkable. The fact alone that the train station is a mere 10 minutes from the city center shows how small the city core is. All the sights worth seeing are within walking distance.
Best Things to do in Girona Spain
Girona Cathedral – this should be your first stop as the entrance to the cathedral gets very crowded in the afternoon. Try to arrive around or before 9:00am. You may just have the place to yourself. One of the most impressive parts of the cathedral are the wide steps that lead up to the façade. This very spot was the filming location for the entrance of the Great Sept of Baelor in Game of Thrones. A memorable scene is when Jamie Lannister gallops up the steps on his white horse to confront the High Sparrow. Climb up the stairs and turn around to admire the view of Plaça de la Catedral below. Return after 10:00am, when the cathedral opens, to tour the inside. Tickets are €7 and include an audio guide.
Wander Old Town and the Jewish Quarter – after the cathedral start wandering the streets around the cathedral. The Jewish Quarter in Girona is one of the most well preserved in Spain, if not in the world. Getting lost in the twists and turns of the narrow streets was one of my favorite things to do in Girona Spain. The street right behind the cathedral, Carrer del Bisbe Josep Cartañà, is very picturesque and was used for filming homeless and blind Arya in Braavos. Be sure to stop by Sant Marti Sacosta church. The stairs leading up to the church is a perfect spot for pictures and another Game of Thrones filming location.
If you’re into history and want to make sure you see everything in Old Town, consider booking a walking tour for a little more insight than if you wander on your own. Girona Explorers has some great walking tours including a free one that includes the Jewish Quarter.
Walk along the Onyar river – admire the 11 bridges that cross over the river and the colorful buildings on either side. The most famous bridge is the Pont de les Peixateries Velles, aka Eiffle Bridge. This bridge was designed by Gustav Eiffle just before the Eiffle tower was built.
Walk the Walls – walking the ancient walls of Girona, also called Passeig de la Muralla, is one of the best things to do in Girona, Spain. There are over 1.5 miles of elevated walkways that offer wonderful views of the city below. Climb up the watchtowers for an even better viewpoint. This is a great way to orient yourself with Girona. I recommend entering behind the Girona Cathedral in the Jardins dels Alemanys. This shows you exactly where the wall entrance is. Walking from the entrance by the cathedral and ending near Placa de Catalunya shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Game of Thrones walking tour – this is a must if you’re a GOT fan. A guided tour will show you all the filming sites and be able to go into detail on exactly what scenes were filmed here.
Arab Baths – visit ancient baths from the 12th century. It’s a 2 minute walk from the cathedral and the entrance fee is a meager €2…so even if you skim through them it’s still worth the stop. The Arab Baths are another Game of Thrones filming site. This is where Arya hides from the waif and walks through steamy rooms of men taking a steam.
La Fabrica – one of my favorite cafes ever! La Fabrica is a popular hangout with cyclists, so you’ll probably see a group here outfitted for their ride. The atmosphere is cozy and the menu is a mix of healthy items like avocado toast, chia bowls, salads, and yogurt bowls, along with sandwiches and pastries. The menu is not only delicious but also Instagrammable with plenty of edible flowers, exotic fruits, and solid latte art.
Placa de la Independencia – this lively European square is a popular spot to take a break for a coffee, lunch, or ice cream.
El Celler de Can Roca – foodies will already know about El Celler de Can Roca. This restaurant has made the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world multiple times and took home 1st place in 2013. They are open for lunch 12:30-2:30 Wednesday – Saturday and dinner 8:00-9:30 Tuesday – Saturday. Book up to 11 months in advance, they fill up quickly, and be prepared for a hefty bill.
These are all the must visit sights in Girona, though I’m sure you’ll discover a few favorites of your own as you explore. Barcelona to Girona via train makes for an incredibly quick and easy day trip. It’s the perfect escape and change of pace from busy Barcelona. I hope this guide helps in planning your day trip to Girona. I promise you’ll be happy you added this city to your itinerary.
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