Girona is a colourful and vibrant city in the northeast corner of Spain. Visiting the city is a step back in time, and thanks to that it was featured prominently in Game of Thrones. However, it’s a fantastic place to go even for those who don’t watch the series! After a recent visit, I decided I wanted to share the best Girona Game of Thrones locations, but also what else you can see and why you don’t need to know anything about it to visit!
I seem to have a thing with visiting Game of Thrones filming locations, and it’s not even on purpose. The most recent has been exploring Girona, Game of Thrones locations included, and much more! But first, there was Northern Ireland, then came Dubrovnik, Split, Almería, Córdoba, Seville, and a return trip to Iceland that included some top filming spots.
Many people skip over Girona as they travel from Barcelona to Figueres to see the Dalí Museum, but it is a city that deserves at least several hours of your time on its own, if not days. There really are a lot of awesome things to do in Girona!
Not every TV series or film inspires fans to visit the locations where it was filmed but Game of Thrones has had a notable effect on many places across Europe. It may be that the fantasy series has taken advantage of already gorgeous destinations when choosing where to fil, and that the genre lends itself well to the historical and scenic places of Europe that I and many others already love to explore. Or it could be that the use of those locations in the films is now driving more people to want to see these types of places. In many cases, I’ve only found out once I was in a place that it was used in the series, but there are definitely people who are seeking out the world in the Game of Thrones in real life!
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Girona Game of Thrones film locations
*Potential spoiler alerts below!*
Jaime Lannister on his white horse at the Great Sept of Baelor
The Girona Cathedral is located at the highest point in the town, with plenty of steps to climb to see the inside. Construction began in 1417 but the cathedral has had many additions over time. It was featured as a season 6 Game of Thrones location, with the archway you pass through to get into the small square below it being the same one Jaime Lannister and his troops went through to prevent Margaery’s atonement. And of course, Jaime Lannister riding up the stairs on his white horse!
If you watch closely in the final episode of the season you’ll also see the Girona Cathedral briefly as the Great Sept of Baelor is exploding.
It’s 7 euros to enter the Cathedral or free on Sundays.
Medieval Streets of Girona
Arya Stark begging in Braavos
The major use of Girona as a Game of Thrones location was as the town of Braavos in season 6 (fitting given it’s on the Costa Brava!). The well-preserved medieval streets lend themselves perfectly to the show, with little editing needed in many places. Even those who don’t know Game of Thrones won’t fail to appreciate them!
Arya stark can be seen begging on the streets of Braavos, so see if you can spot the corners and steps where she did so!
Sant Pere de Galligants Monastery and Plaza del Jurats
The Maesters’ Citadel and outdoor theatre
The 11th-century Monastery building is now an Archeology Museum that you can visit as part of your Girona explorations, however, it was also the Maesters’ citadel where Samwell, Gilly, and Sam Jr. approaches the Maesters’ desk. The architecture of the building is beautiful and worth well taking in with a walk around the outside.
Out the back of the Monastery, you’ll see a dry creek bed where a river was added through CGI for the show. Across a bridge, you’ll find Plaza del Jurats where Arya watched her family be mocked by actors at the outdoor theatre.
When we wandered through there was a music lesson going on for students at the music school.
Market scenes in Braavos
The Arab Baths are actually an imitation of Muslim Baths built in Roman times. However, they do date back to the 12th century and remain largely intact. You can visit the baths just to see what they would have looked like then, and even walk around the roof area for more views.
Outside of the Baths is where the Girona Game of Thrones film location where the market scenes in Braavos took place. Arya is pursued here by the Waif and enters the baths to try and escape.
Steps of Sant Domenec
Arya and the Waif
As you walk to the steps of Sant Domenec along Carrer de la Forca from the Cathedral, make sure you glance up the alleyways on your left where more scenes with Arya and the Waif were filmed. The beautiful steps of Sant Domenec are said to be one of the most romantic places in Europe. With the sought after tables of Le Bistrot dotted across the wider parts of the stairs, it’s not hard to see why. They were the location where Arya jumps out the window and lands in the middle of the market and knocks the oranges.
Other awesome things to do in Girona
Girona was the first or last city on the pathway to and from the Pyrenees, making it an important centre in medieval times and the reason why it has so much fantastic architecture. By visiting the Game of Thrones location above you’ll be able to see some of the best of it, but there is more, and other things to do in Girona too!
Icecream at Rocambolesc
Girona has plenty of gelaterias, but there’s something special about this one! The three Roca brothers are the team behind the best restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca, located in Girona. They are inventive with their food, providing a visual and mystical experience as well as a delight for the taste buds. However, the youngest brother also decided to open up Rocambolesc to provide ice cream and frozen desserts with a gastronomic flair.
The first shop was opened in Girona, and unique flavours of ice cream are served with various interesting toppings. You can even get your ice cream served in a panini type bread! Sounds weird but it’s like an ice cream sandwich. I went for the more standard (but rich and amazing) chocolate flavour, with chocolate covered popping candy, candy stars, and delicious caramel sauce. There are also funny shaped ice blocks (and one is the hand of Jaime Lannister!).
Temps de Flors/Girona Flower Festival
In May Girona comes alive with art installations, music, lights, and thousands and thousands of flower displays. It’s a really busy time to visit the city, but also an interesting and beautiful one! There will be all sorts of different displays everywhere that change every year, including often having flowers cascading down the steps in front of the Cathedral.
Walk across the bridges
Girona lies on the River Onyar, and as such there are several bridges connecting the old and new parts of the city. I believe there are 11 altogether, although only 5 which connect through to the old town. Of these, 4 are exclusively for pedestrian use. You’ll find some of the best views along the river, so it’s well worth walking across several!
Our guide explained how the colourful buildings in Girona were originally painted by the owners, and when it was realised how pleasing it looked some rules were implemented that now govern how historic buildings can be painted, with certain colours being allowed. The best place to see these is along the river, particularly if it’s calm and they are reflected in the water!
The Eiffel Bridge is probably the most famous because it was designed by Gustav Eiffel of Eiffel Tower fame. He actually designed a large number of buildings and bridges in Europe (including one of my favourites in Porto!) and when you know this you can begin to see his style. It was originally called the Pont de les Peixateries Velles but locals call this bridge El Pont de Ferro.
Other beautiful bridges to check out include the Pont de Pedra which allows bicycles as well as pedestrians, the romantic Pont de la Princesa (Princess Bridge) and the Pont de Sant Agusti near Independence Square.
Wander the Medieval Walls
Although parts of the 14th-century walls, known as Passeig de la Muralla, have been destroyed as the city of Girona expanded, much of it has been restored and reconstructed and it’s now possible to walk along them and take in panoramic views of the city and beyond to the Pyrenees.
In the centre of the Old Town of Girona are the Jardins dels Alemanys, or German Gardens. During the Peninsula War in the 19th century many Germans were stationed in Girona and it is still possible to see the remains of the old barracks they lived in. Through the spring and summer, there are beautiful flowers in bloom, and there are often musical and other events taking place here.
Kiss the butt of the Lion
If you cross over the Pont de Sant Feliu into Girona Old Town you’ll spy a concrete pole with some steps below it leading up to a curious looking statue of a creature. It’s actually a lion, and legend has it that if you kiss the butt of the lion you’ll return to Girona. It’s a way to declare your love for the city and desire to return.
The name of the Square actually refers to the independence of the city from France. It’s lined with restaurants and bars, many with al fresco tables allowing you to enjoy the atmosphere. We ate at Casa Marieta which has been operating for over 100 years, since 1892. They specialise in traditional Catalan dishes.
Look out for the flies
You might spot some flies as you walk around Girona. Not just normal flies, but statues of flies stuck to the walls of buildings. This is because of the legend of Sant Narcis and the flies. In 1285 Girona was surrounded by French troops and even though the city didn’t fight them they ransacked and damaged many buildings, including the church of Sant Felix which held the body of the patron saint of the city, Sant Narcis. Unfortunately for them giant flies flew out of the body and killed many of them, giving the city back to the people. The fly is now basically the hero of the city!
Visit the Museums
- The Museum of Archaeology based in the old Monastery
- The Museum of Cinema showcasing why Girona is such a popular place for filming
- The Museum of Jewish History with its beautiful garden and tiled Star of David, explaining how important Jewish people were to the development of Catalonia and how they were forced to live in the cramped alleyways off main streets
- The Girona Art Museum housing both modern and historical Catalan works
Get lost in the Old Town
Honestly, the best thing to do in Girona is to just lose yourself in the Old Town and find hidden gems for yourself. There are so many winding alleyways and streets that at times you’ll find yourself alone and at other times you’ll stumble across busy plazas, shopping areas, or cute looking cafes and restaurants.
What to see around the Costa Brava
Girona is the gateway to the Costa Brava, which I absolutely love and where you can spend plenty more days exploring all the amazing things to see and do! Here are just a few of the highlights:
Dalí Theatre & Museum at Figueres
Figueres is the hometown of Salvador Dalí. Before his death, he designed this museum in an old theatre, and he is now buried in a crypt beneath what was the main stage.
I want my museum to be a single block, a labyrinth, a great surrealist object. It will be [a] totally theatrical museum. The people who come to see it will leave with the sensation of having had a theatrical dream.
— Salvador Dalí
And honestly, this is exactly how I felt upon leaving. The museum contains many of his stunning works. I wouldn’t have understood the majority of it without our guide, however!
Costa Brava Coastal Path
The towns along the coast of the Costa Brava from Port Bou in the north to Blanes in the south are connected by a 200km long pathway. It takes around 10 days to walk the whole thing, but you can choose a small section to enjoy as well. We walked the most accessible part from S’ Arago.
Town of Besalú
The fairytale town of Besalú makes a great detour between Girona and Figueres. Its medieval streets will have you feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. The beautiful bridge into the town is over 1000 years old!
Coastal villages and towns
The Costa Brava is full of charming medieval towns along the coast and inland. You could spend a long time trying to explore them all! We stayed in Tossa de Mar, which has a gorgeous fortress right next to the sea. There’s also the Santa Clotilde Gardens at Lloret de Mar, snorkelling and diving off many of the beaches and opportunities to cycle through medieval streets and between villages.
The best time to visit Girona
The best time to visit Girona is in June, after the crowds of the flower festival in May but before the influx of tourists in the hotter months of July and August, although you could then go to the beach to cool off! Earlier in spring, like in April is also a great time, as well as later in the summer season.
Thanks to the Mediterranean climate, Girona doesn’t get too cold through the winter (for me being from Scotland anyway!) although January would be the coldest month. On the coast, you’ll find many places may close and you’re less inclined to want to spend time at the beach of course, but in the city of Girona, it’s a time for locals, making it a great time to visit if you want to go without the crowds.
Girona is a great place to visit for Game of Thrones lovers, but there’s far more to the city than that! Give yourself plenty of time to get lost in the Old Town and you won’t regret it.
My trip to Girona was organised with Jet2 flights from Edinburgh to Girona and with Costa Brava Tourism, but as always, all opinions are entirely my own!
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