Slap bang in the north-eastern corner of Catalonia
Perfectly situated as a jumping-off point for the Costa Brava, Girona is a highly photogenic walled river city with an ancient heart that dates back to the Roman period. At the confluence of the rivers Ter and Onyar, there are many bridges to cross... and as many waterfront cafes to hang out in and take in a slice of Catalan style.
Girona is a stylish shopping destination with a liberal supply of attractive shops. There’s much to satisfy foodies, with a delectable range of patisseries and delis offering local produce and tempting baked treats. There are some recognisable international brand names, but the pleasure of shopping in Girona is found in the browsing of boutiques and scouting out unique items. In the Old Town, independent shops are filled with interesting finds, including jewellery and quirky homeware. A good rummage through stalls selling the likes of clothes and handicrafts can be had on Tuesday and Saturday at the market at Parc de la Devesa.
Food & Drink
Vibrant Catalonian flavours are in rich supply across this beautiful historic city. The three-Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca (Can Sunyer 48) is currently sitting proudly atop the World’s Best Restaurants list, run by the Roca brothers. Find traditional Spanish ingredients presented with truly innovative culinary skill. For a rainbow of Basque flavours, head to Restaurant Txalaka (Bonastruc Porta 4), well loved by locals and visitors alike. Traditional tapas take on plenty of inventive twists at +Cub (Albereda 15) while diners enjoy a more old-school vibe at Café Le Bistrot (Pujada Sant Domènec 4), with its Catalan and French dishes set amid beige interiors.
Girona Temps de Flors
In May, Girona becomes a floral masterpiece, filled with the joys of springtime bursting into bloom, thanks to the Girona Temps de Flors (Time of Flowers) festival. Visitors can see previously nondescript and tucked-away corners of the city erupt into colourful displays, as well as more famous landmarks such as the cathedral.
An hour’s drive away in Barcelona, dance all night to the bands and musicians of the day at the über trendy Primavera Sound – a festival that sees visitors from across the globe jet into sunny Spain for a hedonistic five days of revelling.
World Sacred Music Festival
During the first 10 days of July, hear a tapestry of music from across the world at various venues across Girona, spanning all manner of cultures and faiths.
For a festival with a local feel and ancient ties, head to the coastal town of Begur for three days in early September. Music, dance and more celebrate the area’s historic links with the Americas – particularly Cuba. Many people left Begur for Cuba in the 19th century, then returned home bringing with them strands of Cuba’s colourful culture. The festival brings international markets to Begur’s pretty streets, Caribbean music to lively audiences and some fascinating exhibitions.
Girona Film Festival
The second week of October sees this popular film festival bring a selection of films to audiences in Girona.
Sip icy drinks on the terrace at Hotel Carlemany (Plaça Miquel Santaló), a contemporary hotel near the main shopping area and within walking distance of Girona’s cathedral, while the stately Hotel Gran Ultonia (Gran Vía de Jaume I 22B) is close to the Barri Vell neighbourhood and Plaça Independencia’s buzzing social scene. For a rooftop pool and calming neutral rooms flecked with fresh colour, head to Hotel URH Girona (Joan Pons 1). For a more straightforward place to lay your head, there’s Hotel Condal (Joan Maragall 10) in the historic quarter, right near the train and bus station.