I love Girona!
So much so that I’ve been there five times in the past 2 years. It’s one of those places that keeps drawing you back. Located just 100km from Barcelona, it’s an easy train ride and has a completely different feel than Barcelona. It’s definitely worth at least a day trip. Although spend a couple of days there if you have the time or use it as a base for other activities in the area.
You can easily spend hours getting lost in the cobblestone streets, wandering from one cafe to another, sampling some of its famous Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham) which is always one of my favorite things to do regardless of where I am in Catalonia.
But my very favorite thing to do in Girona? Hands down, that would be volunteering with chimps at MONA, a chimpanzee and macaque sanctuary located just outside of the city. Yep, chimps….in Catalonia. These are chimps with tragic pasts. Some have been rescued from circuses, others were kept as pets, but as they grew larger and more aggressive, carelessly given away. MONA is a sanctuary and not open to the general public, but if you’re interested in working with chimps, I highly recommend volunteering there. The staff is beyond inspirational, but I digress.
Related Reading: Self-Guided Coastal Hike from Catalonia, Spain to France.
So my 1st favorite tourist thing to do in Girona?
(since I’m assuming that volunteering with chimps isn’t that high up on most people’s lists).
Related Reading: Gaudi Barcelona: Architectural Marvels You Must See For Yourself.
Walking the ancient city wall!
The city wall was built in Roman times and dates back to the 1st century BC. Unlike most city walls, you can actually walk the entire length of this one. Ambitious visitors can even climb the towers for gorgeous views overlooking Girona and reaching to the Pyrenees.
The city wall was of extreme importance to Girona which has undergone a whopping 25 sieges and been captured seven times. Yet it still looks so pretty. It has aged very well don’t you think?
Related Reading: Hiking the Vall de Nuria in the Pyrenees
After all that walking, you’ll probably have worked up an appetite – at least I did. I recommend Restaurant Can Roca, not to be confused with El Cellar de Can Roca, the world’s best restaurant, which at the time of writing had a 9-month waitlist. Both restaurants are run by the Roca family, but Restaurant Can Roca is run by the mother of the men who run El Cellar de Can Roca. It’s MUCH more casual, but you know she can cook and her sons still eat lunch regularly at her restaurant!
Related Reading: What It’s Like to Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Costa Brava.
Related Reading: Castell de Montsoriu: The Greatest Gothic Castle in Catalonia.
Have I convinced you?
So what else can you do in Girona, besides walking the ancient city wall?
Volunteer with chimps…OK I know I said that just had to slip it in again. But it also makes a great base for adventures. I’ve done a cycling trip through Catalonia that started in Girona and has used it as a base for hot air ballooning.
It’s also close enough for a day trip to the Pyrenees and a short drive to the famed Costa Brava Coast where you enjoy the beaches or go sailing. Or do my self-guided multi-day coastal hike from Catalonia to France, my personal recommendation.
For even more travel ideas about Girona and the region check out this post by Emma.