A detailed guide for a day trip to Girona from Barcelona. Discover how to get there, what to do in Girona for a day, how to plan your time, and more! I'll also answer the question "is Girona worth visiting?".
A day trip to Girona from Barcelona is quick, easy, and beyond worthwhile. 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 Girona, Spain.
The moment you step foot in the city center you'll 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 Barcelona to Girona day trip 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 to learn how to get there, what to do in Girona for a day, how much time you need, top sights, and more!
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Is Girona worth visiting?
Let's start with the question "is Girona worth visiting?". You've come all the way to Spain and you're wondering if it's wise to carve out time to visit Girona.
It really depends on how much time you have dedicated to Barcelona and Spain in general.
If time is limited in Spain, then I would say it's ok to skip a day trip to Girona. Especially if it's your first visit to Spain and you're trying to squeeze in all the musts.
I would only recommend a day trip to Girona if you have more than 3 days in Barcelona. Trying to squeeze in a day trip to Girona with less time would create a very rushed and hectic itinerary.
If you have extra time in Barcelona, then Girona is 100% worth visiting. Out of all the day trip options from Barcelona, Girona is hands down my favorite.
The city oozes character and medieval vibes. It's beyond picturesque. Game of Thrones fans will love it as many scenes were filmed here. The compact layout of the city center makes it easy to explore in just 4 to 6 hours.
I also appreciate that it's calmer than Barcelona. Yes, there are tour groups and certain areas can get crowded, but overall, it's pretty peaceful.
Girona is a nice way to round out a Barcelona experience. A day trip to Girona allows you to see another city in the Catalonia region that isn't as tourist-heavy as Barcelona.
So, is Girona worth visiting? To sum it up, Girona is a worthwhile day trip if you have more than 3 days in Barcelona and are looking to change things up.
The fact that it's a 38-minute train ride from Barcelona also makes it an easy day trip to add to your itinerary (potentially even last minute).
Where is Girona
Girona is located in the northeastern part of the Catalonia region in Spain. Just 70 kilometers south of the French border.
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 far is Girona from Barcelona
Girona is about 104 kilometers (65 miles) northeast of Barcelona. It takes 38 minutes to get to Girona from Barcelona via train or 1-2 hours by car or bus.
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 €15 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 buy 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 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. If you're traveling during high season or a holiday, there's the chance that the departure time you want is sold out.
Barcelona to Girona via bus or car is another option but it doesn’t make much sense. The travel time is almost triple at 1.5 hours each way. Price-wise, it's about the same at €20 each way. You also have fewer departure times to choose from.
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 10:00 am.
Plan to get there as early as possible. I've done two day trips to Girona from Barcelona and both times I took the 8:20 am train. My train arrived just before 9:00 am, which meant I had a good hour of empty streets. I was able to see the dramatic cathedral steps without a soul in sight.
You won't regret booking the early train. Girona felt magical in the crisp morning air 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.
What to do in Girona for a day - top sights
This should be your first stop as the entrance to the cathedral gets very crowded in the afternoon. Try to arrive around or before 9:00 am. You may just have the place to yourself.
One of the most impressive parts of the cathedral is 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 10:00 am, when the cathedral opens, to tour the inside. Tickets are €7.50 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.
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 Eiffel Bridge. This bridge was designed by Gustav Eiffel just before the Eiffel Tower was built.
Walk the Girona Walls
Walking the ancient walls of Girona, also called Passeig de la Muralla, should be at the top of your list for what to do in Girona for a day. 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.
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 Game of Thrones guided tour will show you all the filming sites and detail exactly what scenes were filmed here.
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.
Coffee break at 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.
Idle Hands Girona is another solid option. Their food is fantastic, most notably the pancakes and shakshuka.
Placa de la Independencia
This lively European square is a popular spot to take a break for 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.
El Celler de Can Roca is 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 top things to do for a day trip to Girona from Barcelona. 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 answer the question of what to do in Girona for a day and how to best plan your time. I promise you’ll be happy you added this city to your itinerary.