It’s often overshadowed by its big sister Barcelona down the road filled with great modern architecture, world-class art museums and a great nightlife. But little Girona accessible by both bus, train and even RyanAir flights, is architecturally beautiful, culinarily delightful, and politically interesting, it is worth a visit if only for a day.
Reason #1 – Discover architectural gems by Rafael Maso
This Catalan architecture studied architecture in Barcelona in the early 1900s and joined the artists and writers who created the Noucentisme movement as an alternative to Modernisme. He then returned to his hometown where he married and honeymooned in Germany, France and Italy. It was during his honeymoon through Europe that he was inspired by the Art-Deco movement and returned to Girona and began developing a unique style blending the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Deco.
To learn more about his style and interior designs, a visit to the Maso house is a must. As Maso’s nephew currently resides in part of the home, a guided tour is a the only way to visit the estate. But the tour guide provides informative background and the views from the galleries over the river make it well worth the €5 entrance fee. The guide then provided a map with the addresses Maso’s other works around town which, given the size of Girona, it’s easy to see all buildings within an hour.
Official Web site
Reason #2 – Fewer crowds, slower pace
Fewer crowds mean shorter line-ups and fewer people wandering through the tiny alleyways.
The Jewish Quarter, known as the calle, is lovely to wander through and the Jewish Museum is an insightful place to spend an hour.
Reason #3 – Great food
Restaurants and indie cafes are abundant in the old city and serve some great Catalan cuisine using local ingredients. I spent time in the countryside surrounding Girona in the spring and the farm-to-table movement was bustling and is worth exploring. The artisan beers and wine from Catalonia are worth trying as well and are for sale at little shops throughout the old town.
Reason #4 – Stunning countryside
Get out of the city and stay in one of the small surrounding villages for a true Catalan experience. With a current push on rural tourism, there are great cycling trails and delicious local restaurants along the way for sampling the best of true Catalan cuisine at very reasonable prices. Sunday markets are still common in small villages and are popular with the locals.
Reason #5 – Cafe culture
Scattered throughout the old town are some adorable little cafes brewing up great cafe au laits to sip on the terraces while watching the world go by. Some little chocolaterias serve up fabulous churrios and chocolate. Diet-friendly no, delicious yes!
Have you been to Girona? Do you recommend it?