Forget Barcelona. If you’re looking for a Spanish getaway, one with style, culture and spirit, you can’t go wrong with Girona. The university town, about 90 minutes drive from Barcelona, is beautiful, compact and stays true to it’s lively minded Catalonian personality… and it’s not half as crowded as Barcelona.
Girona’s old town, on the east bank of the river, boasts cobbled streets, winding alleyways and ancient stone staircases. The Onyar river that twists through the centre of the city is straddled by a collection of bridges and colourful apartments which decorate the river banks like bunting. The church and the cathedral overlook the city’s modern frivolities from their perches at the top of the hill.
It’s history is written in every turn and step of the old quarter. Since it was built, Girona has been fought over in almost every century and has gained the nickname ‘city of a thousand sieges’. You can stroll the superb old fortifications and the remains of Iberian walls. It has one of the best preserved Jewish quarters in Spain. And the city’s Cathedral has the widest Gothic span in the world.
The food here is amazing, the nightlife is even better. I asked a good friend of mine, who has lived here for 5 years, where she goes to eat, drink and dance the night away. Which Catalonians do (a lot) here in Girona. Here’s where she’d recommend.
You’ll feel distinctly Catalan just wandering the streets to find this restaurant. It is a beautiful, ancient building at the top of the old town overlooked by the city walls. The garden is wonderfully quaint, but get there early if you want a table in the courtyard area.
Perfect for lunches, dinners and evening drinks. (I had the duck here. Oh my goodness, it was beautiful.)
A four star hotel in the heart of the city, Hotel Gran Ultonia has an open roof-terrace bar in the summer which is lovely on hot nights. It has a fantastic view of the cathedral lit up at night.
A more up-market restaurant with a great menu of the day deal for 10€.
The menu boasts dishes such as ‘Zucchini Carpaccio with tomato, pine nuts and parmesan cheese’ and for desert, the rather tempting ‘chocolatissimo’!
El didal restaurant
Found up the winding roads, just past the cathedral. It’s name means ‘thimble’ and when you go in you can see why.
It’s a very cute, very small place decorated with old sewing tables, hangers and spools of thread. El didal serves a varied range of tapas.
Fabulous for fish and seafood, right off the main square. Menu includes appealing dishes such as ‘Galician Sea Stones’, ‘Cod Cheeks’ and ‘Sea Flowers’.
Perfect for cheap and cheerful fast food. Very good burgers and hotdogs and the best patatas bravas in town! Right in the main Square. The big outdoor terrace is a bonus aswell.
A small bar/venue in the old town that has live, often Spanish, bands midweek. The DJ at weekends is usually very good. It is free to get in but can get crowded.