Visiting beautiful Catalonia? Before you head straight to its capital Barcelona, check out underrated Girona, to the North. Here is our guide to the best districts to stay in Girona!
Located in northeastern Spain, Girona is the eleventh largest city in Catalonia and has 99,013 inhabitants spread over 38.97 km². Blessed with rich cultural heritage, Girona is a city of sheer, contemplative beauty. The Catalonian town attracts nearly 300,000 visitors per year, three times more than its own population! Divided in two by the Onyar River, Girona’s modern side sits on the left bank, while the older part of the town extends on the right bank of the river. Often dubbed “Little Florence“, the city is home to many historical landmarks. It is an essential link between France and Barcelona.
La Força Vella – an ancient Roman quarter, where the old medieval quarter was built – is home to old fortifications, churches, Arab baths, bridges of the Onyar or museums. Regardless of where you choose to stay in Girona, you won’t be bored. Here is our selection of neighborhoods to stay in Girona.
The Old Town
The old town– Barri Vell in Catalan – is an open-air museum, having successively witnessed different cultural influences by the Romans, Visigoths, Franks, Umayyads, and Spaniards. The old town is bounded by the medieval walls and modern-day bastions. It’s impossible to miss the imposing St. Mary’s Cathedral, perched on a monumental staircase of 86 steps and topped by its Gothic nave (which would be the largest in the Christian world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome). The cathedral was built between the 10th and 13th centuries and features elements of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture. Not far away, enjoy a cultural halt at the Arab baths, before visiting the Archaeological Museum of Catalonia, located in the former palace of graphic arts. You can also explore the collections of the Museum of History of Girona (Museu d’Història de la Ciutat).
In addition to the area’s monuments, many restaurants, and ice-cream parlors, many cafés-terraces dot the alleys of the old town. The Park and gardens of La Devesa offer a green lung between two arms of the Onyar River.
Finally, don’t miss a visit to the Jewish quarter (El Call), another very small but must-see area in Força Vella, the medieval city. Explore this maze of alleyways and patios exuding a unique atmosphere reminiscent of the medieval era. The Jewish quarter is said to be one of the best preserved in the world. Indeed, Catalonia did not suffer the barbarism and destruction of Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Centrally located, and offering all you need within walking distance, the old town is an excellent place to stay in Girona.
The Modern City
South of the old quarter, you’ll find a much more modern area: before wandering through this part of the city, pass by the Sant Feliu bell tower and cross the Pedra Bridge to enjoy a beautiful view of the town below and the facades painted in ochre, indigo blue, and copper hues. As you pass, you will see the houses suspended above the river. The area houses beautiful Art Nouveau monuments, stores showcasing international brands, tapas bars, and excellent restaurants. Home to Girona’s central station, the area also features the Parc Central, a green space to relax and recharge your batteries.
Don’t miss wandering around the Plaça de Catalunya (Catalonia Square), the Rambla (the former main avenue of the medieval city, now a popular public space) and the Independence Square. Centrally located, the modern city is a convenient area to stay in Girona: less frequented than the old town, it exudes a quieter atmosphere.
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