Girona Car Hire
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So you’re off to gorgeous Girona? If you’ve not been before, you’re in for a real treat. The largest city in Northern Catalonia, it’s a hidden gem that’s as rewarding in its own way as its more famous neighbour Barcelona. Withing its medieval walls you’ll find a network of charming cobbled streets peppered with galleries, museums and grand Gothic churches, while the shimmering Riu Onyar separates the historic old town from the contemporary commercial centre.
Fought over by Visigoths, Moors and Franks over the centuries, Girona earned the nickname ‘City of 1000 Sieges’ and its starring role in the 6th season of Game of Thrones has attracted more peaceful visitors recently. Foodies are attracted by the multiple-Michelin starred El Celler de Can Roca (also named the world’s top restaurant in the San Pellegrino awards) and between the pleasant climate, fascinating history and sociable culture, it’s an ideal spot for a weekend getaway.
Hire a car in Girona and the sublime Catalonian countryside is your oyster. Picking the right model for your needs is fast and simple with Enjoy Travel and you’ll grab a moneysaving deal if you book in plenty of time. For example, an economy-sized car like a Nissan Micra costs around £27 a day to hire, a compact Kia Cerato 1.6 is £29 a day, and an intermediate car like a sporty Volkswagen golf is around £35 a day.
Guide of Girona
Girona was formerly named Gerunda, and the first inhabitants of this ancient city were the Iberian Ausetani people. The Romans subsequently built a citadel in the same area, it was then captured by the Visigoths, the Moors conquered in 715AD and in 793AD Charlemagne retook it and named it one of the original counties of Catalonia. The wonderfully named Wilfred the Hairy made Girona part of the County of Barcelona in 878AD and it had a thriving Jewish community from the 12th century until the faith was outlawed by Catholic monarchs in 1492. From the late 17th to the early 18th centuries, it was besieged several times by French royal armies and Napoleonic troops but thankfully the only invaders today are hordes of tourists.
Culture in Girona
The city and municipality of Girona has a wealth of cultural riches – from palaeolithic settlements to Iberian, Greek and Roman ruins, and Romanesque art to surrealist works by Salvador Dali. You can marvel at amazing art from across the centuries at the Girona Museum of Art, and Casa Maso, the family home of architect Rafael Maso, is always worth a look. Meanwhile, the castles and fortresses that dominate strategic points across the region bear witness to its tumultuous past and this is another area where the stylistic influence of Modernism can be seen everywhere from private mansions to high-class social clubs. The Costa Brava and Girona Pyrenees also have a packed cultural calendar, with several annual music, theatre, dance and magic festivals held throughout the year.
Girona has produced its fair share of famous faces over the years. For instance, well-known people born here include musician Xavier Cugat, scholar and rabbi Nahmanides, singer Toni Cruz, and medieval astronomer Nissim of Gerona. And that’s not all – other notable faces from the area include journalist Gemma Nierga Barris, architect and Valencian Gothic master Pere Compte, footballer Francesc Arnau, and author Jaime Nuno. The city is also home to football club Girona FC – founded in 1930, it plays at Estadi Montilivi and won the Supercopa de Catalunya in 2019.
Things To Do in Girona
Walk the walls
Fancy a commanding view of Girona? Walking around the fortified walls for a morning is where it’s at. Officially called the Passeig de la Muralla, they were originally built by the Romans, strengthened in the 14th century and had some sections removed in the 19th century to provide room for the city’s expansion. Thanks to restorations, these days they’re intact again and afford amazing views of the city skyline and surrounding countryside. Start your trek from the riverbank at Placa Catalunya and as you work your way round you’ll see iconic landmarks like the cathedral, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Pyrenees in the distance. Wear sensible shoes and take your time – some sections of the walls are narrower than others and the surface can be a little uneven.
Take a Game of Thrones tour
Fan of Game of Thrones? You’ll be in your element in Girona because during season six it doubled as the city of Braavos. You can either take a DIY tour at your leisure or a guided half-day tour – the latter option is recommended if you’re a real fan because the guide will likely provide some insider insights you haven’t heard before. Filming locations in the city include Girona Cathedral (portrayed as the Great Sept of Balor during Queen Marjorie’s atonement), Plaza Del Jurats (where Arya watches a play as she plots the demise of Lady Crane), and the bridge over Riu Galligants (where Arya is depicted gazing across Braavos). Another key spot is the archaeological museum, which became the citadel housing the world’s largest library in the series.
Explore the Arab baths
If you like unusual attractions, the Arab baths close to the cathedral should certainly float your boat. Originally housed outside the city limits when the city was much smaller, this luxuriant medieval complex is designed in the Greek and Arab tradition and features a cold room, warm bath and steam room. The changing room is the most ornate – it boasts an octagonal pool with eight columns and intricate carvings. Take a step back in time to see how weary citizens unwound and revitalised themselves.
Eating Out in Girona
It would be remiss to visit Girona and not see what all the fuss is about with the world’s best restaurant. A trip to El Cellar de Can Roca doesn’t disappoint and if you’re a fan of haute cuisine, you’ll be in seventh heaven. The dining room is a triangular cloister bathed in natural light from a central interior forest and the concept is a perpetual dance of the senses. Enough fancy design though, what about the food? Highlights include global fusion snacks like Thai chicken curry with coconut, coriander and lime, and Korean panko fried bread with bacon, soy and kimchi. There’s also pork kidneys with sherry, meat cannelloni with Parmigiano Reggiano, and pigeon parfait with a flavourful cream liqueur. There’s a 15-course feast menu if you want to really treat yourself, or a more modest 7-course tasting menu. Naturally, the selection of wines and liquors is exceptional.
Fancy some Catalan favourites served in elegant surroundings? Divinum is located in a historic old town building and run by two culinary disciples of El Cellar’s Roca brothers – Joan Morillo and Laura Tejero. Only the freshest local ingredients are used and popular dishes include grilled oysters with pickles, tuna, apple and black garlic, and roast cannelloni with truffle. You can also try delish desserts like hazelnut coulant and fermented apple with puff pastry ice cream.
For something a little more casual but uncompromisingly delicious, try Café le Bistrot on the atmospheric steps of the 17th century Esglesia de Sant Marti Sacosta. The French-Catalan menu has long been a hit with locals and includes signature pizza made from authentic Catalan bread and locally-sourced cheese, veggies and meat. For a romantic snack that won’t break the bank, Café le Bistrot fits the bill.
Transport in Girona
The nearest airport to Girona is Girona-Costa Brava Airport (GRO), which is 14km from the city centre. You can easily pick up your hire car of choice here and it serves several national and international destinations. Carriers include Delta, Iberia, Jet2, Ryanair and TUI.
The main mode of public transport in Girona is the bus service. There are 10 local bus routes which cover every neighbourhood and intercity buses are also operational. You can buy single journey tickets or travel cards from the driver. The local bus operator is Transports Metropolitans del Girones and other services are run by SARFA and TEISA.
Provided you observe the speed limits and rules of the road, driving is easy and convenient in Girona. Manageable road trips include Cadaques, Besalu and Pals. If you’re an art fan meanwhile, you may also want to visit the Salvador Dali Theatre-Museum at Figueres.
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