seven things to know before you visit girona

If you're looking for a great little European city break, then Girona is likely to be perfect for you. After all, some cities (Barcelona, Paris, London) are big old beasts and, having just a few nights in them will only allow you to scratch the surface.

Girona, on the other hand, is perfectly sized for a couple of days' exploration between your Monday to Friday work routine. Although you'll want to stay for longer, 48 hours will let you discover plenty of the wonders of this pretty Spanish city at your own pace. 

Here are eight things to know before you visit Girona.


that language you see and hear is catalan

It may surprise you to know that there is not one, but five official languages in Spain. And, whilst most of those living here will be fluent in Castilian (what we all know as Spanish), in day to day life, in many parts of this diverse country, you will hear something quite different.

Girona, deep in the heart of Catalonia, is one such place.

Fiercely nationalistic, there is a strong independence movement here. Wander the streets and it's not the red and yellow of the Spanish flag that you'll see here but one of the several flags of Catalonia, alongside signs declaring 'Si'.

It's a complex subject, and not one we'll even attempt to dive into here, but if you plan to spend a while in the area, it would definitely be worth getting to grips a little with the region's history.

Flags of Catalonia - Girona, Spain

For a weekend tourist, it won't have too much direct impact on your experience - you'll still be able to speak your garbled version of Spanish and be understood - but you'll note that street signs and menus will be in Catalan primarily, rather than Castellano.

 

it's only 20 minutes from the airport to the centre

Whilst this is not usually one of our determining factors on whether we should hop on a plane somewhere, it IS an important consideration if you're only visiting for a couple of days and want to squeeze as much fun as possible into your stay. After all, nobody wants to land in an airport two hours outside of the city the airline sold you a ticket to...

Girona, Spain

With a taxi, you can be out of Girona–Costa Brava Airport and checked-in at your hotel in less than 30 minutes, removing many of the complications of a weekend break and providing several extra hours for the stuff you actually want to do on your holiday.

For more information and prices on travel to and from Girona Airport, see this link.

 

you can walk everywhere

A weekend break spent somewhere relatively compact has a whole lot of unforeseen benefits: you save money, don't have to spend time working out how the local public transport system operates or do lots of research about the best value tickets.

Girona, Spain

But the biggest benefit of Girona's size is that it allows you to cover all of the main places of interest from the medieval old town to the city walls or the more modern parts of the city on two feet. And, for us, that always means we can have a richer, more intimate experience of a place in comparison to sticking to lines on a subway or a bus route.

In Girona, it was lovely to know that we were only a half hour or so from wherever we needed to be - and that the walk to and from there would be always be beautiful.

 

siesta is a thing

As much as we love late dinners and nights out sampling the local bars, when we travel, we always try to get up nice and early at least a couple of times in a new place to capture the photos of beautiful streets without people of traffic in our way.

In Girona however, it transpired that the alarm clock needn't be set nearly as early as we'd anticipated - on Saturday, there was hardly another soul around until 9 a.m.! 

Girona, Spain

It seems that although fewer Spaniards are taking the traditional siesta, the daily rhythms in Girona continue to follow a more traditional approach - it will be unusual for you to find many places open between 2 pm and 5 pm aside from a few bars or eateries, so plan accordingly, and don't expect your dinner at 6.30 pm!

 

yes, game of thrones was filmed here

Someone may mention that to you between now and by the time you leave Girona!

Game of Thrones Locations - Girona, Spain

Although the actual number of scenes from Season Six of HBO's flagship show filmed in Girona are sparse against the actual hours in each series, proper fans will undoubted feel a little tingle as they walk the streets in the old town which shaped Arya or climb the same cathedral steps as Jaime Lannister.

 

it gets seriously busy in may

Whilst July is the hottest month in Girona, but the busiest time for tourism is actually May due to the Temps de Flors festival. Running for around a week, it sees this already delightful city become even more beautiful as the colour and scent of thousands of flower arrangements fill the squares and streets. And of course, no festival in Spain would be complete without a good going party mood, with various cultural activities happening throughout. Read more about it here.

Sant Joan Festival, Girona, Spain

In June, there are also parades, music, bonfires and firecrackers for the Sant Joan Festival, which marks the start of summer for locals. If visiting at either of these times, make sure to book ahead. 

 

it is incredibly pretty

From the cathedrals, narrow streets and staircases of the medieval old town to the colourful houses which line, and the myriad of bridgse which cross, the River Onyar, all of Girona is a joy to behold and discover.

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Photographer's will love it, whilst for any visiting couple it will feel like your own romantic citadel replete with good wine, regular sunshine, great food and a friendly, welcoming local crowd.


You'd be silly not to spend a weekend here, so why not check out our complete guide to a weekend in Girona, filled with our recommendations on the best things to do, things you can't miss, information on where to stay, where to find the best Game of Thrones spots and the most incredible ice-cream, plus more of our photography from this beautiful city - go and read it here.


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