Do you love walking, ramparts and beautiful views? Thought so! So, why are you asking yourself, “what to do in Girona?” Get your boots on and make for the Passeig de la Muralla. Or, to you and me, the three-kilometer stretch of wall that wraps itself around the medieval old town of the Catalonian city of Girona. Parts of this wall are said to date as far back as the 1st century. And, although significant chunks of the wall fell victim to demolition in the 19th century for the sake of city expansion, they have since been restored. Now you take a seamless walk all the way around the city while enjoying fantastic views of the medieval town below, the city’s immense gothic Cathedral and (depending on the season) the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees. Girona sightseeing has never been easier. What’s more, the whole experience is entirely free!
Sitting at the highest point in the city and at the top of a mammoth climb of 90 steps (even Rocky would have a hard time getting up them) is the Cathedral of Girona. This immense structure, which began life as a primitive Christian church, is now the symbol of the city and the best of what to see in Girona. The Cathedral’s exterior features include the impressive Gothic portal of St. Michael, the portico of the Apostles and the tower of Charlemagne. But, it is the facade of this colossal edifice that steals the show, combining both Baroque and Classical architectural styles. Inside, the Cathedral boasts the second largest nave in the world with only that of St. Peter’s Basilica beating it. You’ll also find inside a collection of artwork among which is the Tapestry of Creation, one of the masterworks of Romanesque tapestry. This Cathedral is reason enough for a Girona day trip.
If you don’t know what to do in Girona and eco-tourism is your thing, then Burricleta is here to save the day. What is Burricleta you say? It’s a self-guided tour that uses electric bikes to explore the natural surrounds of Girona. Operating since 2010, Burricleta works to provide an authentic and inclusive experience that prioritizes the effortless enjoyment of a nature cycling tour. Girona is well established as a cycling city. In fact, Lance Armstrong often used it as a base when he was training for the Tour de France and the city boasts some genuinely spectacular routes and countryside. Great then that Burricleta offers an opportunity to experience all that without the sweaty itch of Lycra. With the twist of the handle, the need for peddling is all, but gone. Burricleta’s Girona tour is 18 kilometers and takes you through the city, exploring both its heritage and monuments.
In 785, under the rule of Charlemagne, the area was assimilated into Catalonia, becoming one of the 14 original counties. And, shortly after the Moors were finally driven out of the region in 1015, it was declared a city.
By the 12th century, a Jewish community had settled in Girona and begun to flourish. However, in 1492, after the Catholic Monarchs had outlawed Judaism, the population was expelled. The remnants of their presence, though, can be enjoyed in one of the best preserved medieval Jewish quarters in all of Spain.
In the years since Girona experienced over 20 more sieges and was captured seven times. The old town and medieval ramparts help to tell that story and rank among the top Girona attractions. Today, the city offers up a smaller, quieter alternative to the frenetic pace of Barcelona. That is not to relegate it to day-trip itineraries. To visit Girona and experience the full beauty of the city, be sure to commit at least a couple days to the place.
What to expect from Girona experience? The Onyar River that snakes its way through the city is beautiful in the summer sun and the multi-colored homes that overhang its banks are idyllic. You can wander through the city’s streets window shopping as you slowly make your way up into the “The Call” (the Jewish Quarter) with its labyrinth of narrow streets and medieval atmosphere. Overlooking the city is Girona’s imposing Cathedral. Its Baroque façade is nothing short of breathtaking. All this is without even beginning to explore the multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants that populate the city. From avant-garde Michelin starred restaurant El Celler de Can Roca to the cycle café La Fabrica, there are things to do in Girona for everyone.