After three years of becoming friends online, thanks to our blogs and Instagram, we finally met up with our pal Claudia of My Adventures across the World. Claudia lives in Sardinia, so as soon as we moved to Spain, we made plans to meet somewhere in the middle that would be a good place to bring the dogs. We decided that place would be Girona, Spain.
The colorful Catalonian city of Girona is well known as one of the culinary capitals of the world. The gastronomic recognition draws high quality chefs, and plant-based cuisine is no exception. With plenty of vegan options, dog-friendly cafes, cobbled roads on which to get lost, and natural areas and trails to explore, visiting Girona with a dog makes for a great vacation.
Our Favorite Spots to Visit in Girona with a Dog
Walk along the Rio Onyar
Eleven bridges link the banks of the Rio Oynar, including the beautiful Pont de Ferro, a red iron bridge also known as the Eiffel Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Yes, as in the same fellow who designed the Eiffel Tower.
Lining the banks of the river are the iconic multi-colored houses, just begging to be photographed. They certainly stand out in contrast to the Medieval stone buildings throughout the rest of the city.
Be sure to check out the Pont de Pedra craft fair on Saturdays. The stone bridge leading into Old Town hosts the market every Saturday and features a variety of food and craft artisans selling their goods.
Wander among the Cobbled Streets of Old Town
Plan an afternoon to simply walk along the cobbled streets of Barri Vell as it’s called locally. Discover cafes, narrow streets, stores, and hidden gardens throughout Old Town Girona. Wandering will lead you to the city’s famous cathedral and the city walls.
Known as the Paseig de la Muralla, the steep climb to the half-mile long wall will give you views of the city below and Pyrenees on a clear day. There are several entrances to the wall, but the least steep is through the garden behind the cathedral.
For a summer treat, pick up popsicles from the cart just outside L’Exquisit. Made with 100% fruit and no added sugar, I bought a watermelon one for Sora and Laila to share as well. We also enjoyed lunch at Om, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that serves international dishes with a Spanish flair. Each week, the restaurant carefully selects produce from the local farmers’ market attempting to create locally-sourced meals. The outside patio is dog-friendly.
Visit Parc de la Devesa
The largest urban park in all of Catalonia, Parc de la Devesa covers 40 hectares and is surrounded by three rivers: the Tel, Güell, and Onyar. There are over 2500 Platanus trees in the park, providing welcome shade on a hot summer day. Most of the trees were planted in the 1850s and some stand as high as 55 meters.
The park also links to a very well-labeled trail system that connects neighboring towns. If you’re a runner, this is the place to head.
Just outside of Girona in Salt, a short drive or bike ride from the city center, La Black Flag is hidden in an industrial garage. I noticed a sign that said craft beer as we were leaving of Girona and made Dave turn around. We don’t pass on the chance to sample local craft beer!
The owner is super chill and let us bring in Sora and Laila while we sampled a few beers. The brewery also doubles as a store that sells craft beer from all over the world. We even spotted a few bottles from Cascade Barrel Brewing in Portland! If you are a craft beer fan, then don’t pass on a visit to La Black Flag.
Walk the Rambla de la Libertat
Situated on the east side of the river, one street over from the bridges, la Rambla de la Libertat is one of the busiest streets in Girona. It really starts to get hopping at night, when locals go out for drinks and meals. On Saturdays, a local tradition is to purchase flowers from one of the many floral shops on the street.
We were pretty happy to find Coffee & Greens, a dog-friendly (inside, too!!) cafe with great coffee and a quiet place to catch up on Internet. They also serve açai bowls topped with granola and fruit, fantastic coffee and teas, and brunch on the weekends.
Rent a Bike
From road cycling, to touring, and mountain biking, Gironans love getting around on two wheels. Many pro cyclists have called Girona home (including Lance Armstrong) and for good reason. There are endless roads winding along the Pyrenees that will get you sweating and enjoying some spectacular views.
For those who prefer a slower pace, grab your panniers and head toward one of the many cycle paths leading out of the city. Most are rails to trails conversions and provide great car-free riding. Finally, with great year-round weather, mountain bikers can enjoy challenging single track trails that link mountain villages.
The Girona tourism board provides a large list of places to rent a bike if you can’t bring your own. Also, if you’re a cycling fanatic, don’t skip out on coffee from La Fabrica, owned by pro cyclist Christian Meier, who arguably serves the best coffee in the city.
Eat at Rocambolesc Ice Cream
When we got in the long line at Rocambolesc, I thought it was pure luck that we had just happened upon the best ice cream shop in town. We just saw the line and stood in it. It was hot and humid and we wanted ice cream.
It wasn’t until we made our way inside that I spotted a cookbook by Jordi Roca and remembered the Chef’s Table episode that featured El Celler de Can Roca. No big deal, the restaurant only has three Michelin stars and has been twice ranked the number one restaurant in the world. Jordi is the pastry chef at the famous restaurant and this is his frozen creation.
We had no trouble finding vegan sorbet options like mojito and vanilla lemon blueberry. However, the shop is really famous for the popsicles that come in shapes like Jordi’s nose, a finger, and Darth Vader. Also, Casamoner, the bakery across the street has fantastic bread.
Where to Stay in Girona with a Dog
For a number of reasons, we opted to stay in the mountains, about 45 minutes from Girona. Located pretty much in the woods at the top of a mountain overlooking the Susqueda Valley below, Hostal de Coll. During the time of our visit, we practically had the enormous place to ourselves.
The rooms are simple and the Internet is so, so. There’s a big, clean communal kitchen, two dining rooms, plus a giant outdoor patio to enjoy your meal. A large grassy area is perfect for those traveling with kids or dogs. Trails branch off just about in every direction, perfect for long runs and dog walks. The owners were super accommodating and met us when we came in at 11PM to give us the key.
My favorite part of this whole stay was the early morning. I’d look out our window and just stare at the clouds snaking through the mountains. The drive to Girona is beautiful and passes through several small villages. The nearest grocery store is about 15 minutes down the hill.
Budget: River Apartments
For those who still want to be close to the city center, but want more of a neighborhood feel, River Apartments is a great option. The apartments come with fully-equipped kitchens, air conditioning, and pet are welcome.
High End: Apartaments Plaça del Vi
Located in Old Town, Apartaments Plaça del Vi is just steps away from just about anywhere you’d want to go in Girona. The pet-friendly apartments include fully-equipped kitchens, dining rooms, air conditioning, and flat-screen TVs. For those who want a bit of pampering, guests can use the indoor swimming pool, professional spinning room, or get a massage.
How to Get to Girona
The airport is located just 10 kilometers from the city center and many European carriers fly here. A taxi into the city should cost around 30€ and take about 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the 30-minute bus ride if you’re traveling without a dog.
Several train options exists from Barcelona, including: the regional train (1 hour 35 minutes), the slightly faster slow train (1 hour 15 minutes), or the AVE, Spain’s high speed train (37 minutes).
Only small dogs weighing no more than 10kg are allowed on Spanish trains, unfortunately. They must be transported in a carrier. For more information on booking a trip with a pet, see here.