Just under two hours’ flight time from the UK is the delightful Spanish city of Girona. It’s a Catalan beauty; full of quaint, cobbled streets, crumbling medieval walls and gastronomical delights.
And its spectacular sights might look familiar; beautiful Girona features on Game of Thrones as the fictional city of Braavos.
Perhaps you could class our Girona getaway as a babymoon – a break before our lives get turned upside down in a matter of weeks (as everyone seems to delight in telling us!). But, in truth, it was a complete spur of the moment getaway after I saw bargain flights and took a punt. Don’t you love trips like that!
Because of the last-minuteness of it all we turned up with no expectations other than checking the weather report and crossing our fingers for a huge dollop of Spanish sun. Turns out, Girona is small enough that you could tick off these little tips in a busy day or, like we did, take your time and soak up the sunny Catalan atmosphere over a long weekend. They do say good things come in small packages…
// STAY //
Get a bus from Girona airport to the town centre (just €2.50 instead of €30 in a taxi) and stay in the old town. Taxis are rare to come by, which only adds to the charm of this place, but you can get anywhere within 20 minutes or so.
We stayed in the most adorable Airbnb apartment (a complete bargain compared to some of the steep hotel prices I found) in a great location, owned by the super friendly Erica who even met us for a drink to share her advice on places to go! Now that is type of service you don’t get in the Holiday Inn.
// DO //
Walk the medieval walls to get a stunning view of the sprawling city, making sure to pack a picnic to eat under the shade of a pretty park as your reward.
Mooch around the Sunday flea market by the river. Bonus points if you try haggling in Catalan!
Eat! Girona has so many gelatarias, street cafes and individual restaurants that it would be a crime not to indulge yourself whilst you’re here. Thank God I could get away with the whole eating for two thing as I stuffed myself silly.
Get lost in the Jewish quarter. Ditch the map and head down winding alleys, stopping when the mood takes you for a coffee at a sun-dappled terrace cafe. Here’s also where hardcore GoT fans can take a self-guided tour to test their knowledge – the 91 steps of Cathedral Santa Maria and the Arab baths should be very familiar indeed.
Head to Barcelona. We were planning on a cheeky excursion to spend the day in Barcelona as it’s only 30 minutes by train but it wasn’t meant to be. After overdoing it exploring on the first day my 7 month pregnant body was screaming at me to just take it easy! I’m planning on doing a ‘travel whilst pregnant’ post soon, as I learnt A LOT on this trip that I’d love to share with other expectant mamas.
// EAT //
This is pretty much the perfect day for any food lover:
Start with a breakfast of freshly baked croissants and strong coffee by the riverside for just €2
Wander around the Jewish Quarter to stop for brunch in Federal, a little hipsterfied but tasty and healthy nonetheless.
Spend your lunchtime grazing with never-ending tapas dishes brought out to you at Konig bar & restaurant as you people watch. The patatas bravas here are a must, if only to work out what that ingredient is in the sauce that makes them taste SO good!
Cool down with an artisan ice cream (the ricotta and fig was insanely good) at La Bombonera in Plaza de Independence whilst trying to avoid the many tour groups who flock to this place, or freshen up with a super sweet iced coffee at La Gioconda.
End the day with a delicious three course evening dinner at Cafe Le Bistrot on the Sant Domenec stairs that lead to the convent (another GoT setting) as the sun goes down. Alternatively, hidden up a steep street at the south of the Old Town lies Els Jardins De La Merce for traditional dishes served in a gorgeous garden setting.
From not really knowing what to expect when I booked the cheap flights, and with little research before we turned up, I quickly fell in love with this place.
Girona deserves to be a destination in itself rather than a brief stop-off en route to Barcelona. It’s perfect for those who want a taste of Catalan life but without the crowds, cost and noise of busy Barcelona. The only problem is that once you discover a hidden gem like this it’s probably best if you keep it to yourself …