Girona, Spain – A Hipster’s Barcelona

This Tip is provided by our Barcelona based English Explorer: Matt Mills

Girona may not be a name you’ve heard much – or ever – but if you’re a bit of a hipster when it comes to destination choice, then this is the city for you. The walls ooze with history and the nightlife is surprisingly dynamic.

Selecting the authentic over the polished landing-place (yes, Girona has an airport) is a sign of a real traveler, turning their noses away from the beaten track. Granted, some of these “real travelers” don’t smell too great and you have to go to Barcelona first, but an hour journey north on the train takes you to a medieval European city, like, and yet unlike, any other. It was here that the last season of Game of Thrones was filmed and the locals have many a tale of sitting in a bar sharing a few too many with our favourite cast members.

It’s immediately clear to see why this little city was selected for, and for a couple of months taken over by, the show. The architecture is gloomy, gothic and grey but it is hard to stop trying to take it all in. At this time of year, each building seems to share the attitude that winter has finally come but in summer the place transforms into what you imagine when you think of a real, historic Spanish town. Orange trees dripping with fruit, a river with far more bridges than seems necessary and countless little plazas to discover.

There is also a strange statue of a lioness climbing a pole in Plaza de Sant Félix. Legend has it that if you kiss the lioness’ bottom you will return to Girona someday. However, make sure you kiss the right bottom as many a tourist has been seen unwittingly kissing the bottom of another lion statue which has absolutely no folklore surrounding it – just a lot of germs! The street art is also something that strikes you straight away; it gives the place an attitude and, although it may not be to everyone’s taste, some of the artwork is several stories high and hard not to be impressed by.

street art-2
Street Art

Not a Game of Thrones fan? Don’t fancy traveling to Spain to kiss bums? Then maybe fine dining is more your cup of milkless tea (that’s how they do it here – be warned fellow Brits); well, Girona is also home to the world’s best restaurant, cooking grounds of the globally renowned famous Roca brothers. However, if you’re thinking of booking a table at El Celler de Can Roca for the coming weekend, you may be disappointed. Although relatively reasonably priced, the waiting list for a table is almost a year long, so hopefully you’re not too hungry to sample Jordi and Joan’s expertise!

Girona has a little something for everyone and what you would imagine to be a bit of a quiet retirement town has a lively student population and a buzzing community of young people, and they’re always very eager to practice their English, so why not go and say “hello”?

Bridge pano
Girona Bridge

Photo Credits: Author’s Own

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