Off The Bike: Taking Time To Explore Girona, Spain
It can be tempting to hopscotch from city to city when traveling all the way to Europe for a limited vacation period; however, for travelers who like to get a taste of the very essence of a new place and culture, sometimes staying put for 5-7 days is the best option.
When coupled with a variety of bike riding options that allow a cyclist to do a new route for every day of the week, there are some unique locations in Europe that are better experienced by unpacking the suitcase for a few days and diving into the local rhythm.
Girona is the perfect example. It’s no wonder why so many pro cyclists choose to call it home. The terrain varies from coastal cliffs to twisty canyons to forested mountain climbs, and at the end of the day, there’s a town with a seemingly endless amount of restaurants, cafés, museums, parks, bars and shops all housed in some of the most beautiful architecture Europe has to offer. Girona is often bypassed for the big name cities like Barcelona, or simply visited on a day trip, so spending the week living in the town quickly gives a local feel to your vacation and creates meaningful memories and stories that won’t soon be forgotten.
For visitors who plan to bike during the day and explore Girona in the afternoons and evenings, here are 5 reasons why this wonderful town is worth a longer stay:
1. Experience the tides of Girona. The Catalan rhythm of life is like a tide. It ebbs and flows throughout the day. The streets are packed in the mornings with deliveries and locals hustling to work or buying groceries at the markets. The shops closes and restaurants are packed early afternoon for a long lunch. Late afternoon, the city feels quiet as many people go home for siesta, but by early evening, the streets are packed again with friends, families and visitors heading out for a drink before dinner. Dinner is served until midnight and it’s not uncommon to find restaurants rather full until late into the evening. The light and atmosphere changes from hour to hour, and it takes the better part of the week to get a feel for Girona in all its moods.
2. Eating in Girona.To truly get to eat your way around Girona, you would probably need at least a full summer. The cuisine is top notch and the variety is fantastic. From multiple course menus showcasing the specialties of the region to simple fresh salads or tapas, this town has something to please every taste, night after night.
3. The Architecture. Even off the bike, you’ll be getting in a workout from climbing all the stairs of Girona while wandering the winding paths dotted with cafés, churches and shops. The white stone and cobbled streets make Girona charming, and the varying elevations of this town only add to its beauty. Every church, bridge or set of stairs is unique, and a week can easily be spent admiring it all.
4. Hidden Sights. Girona if full of museums, overlooks and attractions, but it takes time to visit them all. Even days after arriving, you will still find yourself stumbling over new sights that would have been missed during a quick visit to Girona. Some off-the-beaten-path highlights that we enjoy are the Arab Baths and the old city walls that skirt the the backside of the old town.
5. Café Culture. Who doesn’t enjoy a good coffee or drink after a day of riding? In the late afternoon, it might seem like every living person in Girona is out enjoying good conversation with friends. When cafés fill up, it’s not unusual to see people enjoying their drink sitting on one of the old stone walls or many sets of stairs leading through the city. This is a very cheerful time meant to be spent with friends and families and most definitely a quintessential part of your Girona experience.