Come and enjoy a relaxing break in the comfort of our lovely bed
& breakfast - lying on the fringe of Girona's Barri Vell (old town),
Casa Maria provides a wonderful opportunity to unwind for a few days or
At the heart of the old town are the enchanting cobbled streets and
houses of El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter, which for hundreds of
years lay buried and long forgotten. Lying alongside the cathedral, the
medieval town was rediscovered (to the astonishment of Girona's
residents) as late as the 1970s. Whilst many streets and buildings have
now been restored to their former glory, the process of excavation is
set to continue for many years to come.
Given its location between mountains and sea, Girona has become a
popular base, all year round, for exploring this fascinating region of
Spain. The rugged coastline of the Costa Brava is only 30 minutes away
by car (or 45 minutes by bus) with the Pyrenees Mountains an hour to the
north. Other favourite day trips include the Dali museum at Figueres,
and the cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, both a short train ride or drive
Casa Maria is a short stroll from some of Girona's finest
restaurants, where locals and tourists alike enjoy the tapas and local
cuisine. The English owned bed & breakfast is tucked away in a quiet
and secluded corner of town, enjoying a completely traffic free
environment, with the apartment's sun drenched balcony overlooking a
peaceful garden courtyard. Casa Maria has excellent access to public
transport, lying just a ten minute walk from mainline train and bus
stations, and a 20 minute taxi ride from Girona airport.
For 2006 we are pleased to announce the following guaranteed special
- Rate reductions for stays of two nights or more - the longer your
stay, the lower the daily rate!
- Further discounts are available for families and groups of three
or more people.
- Additional discounts are also available for spring and autumn
bookings (April to June; and September/October).
- And even greater discounts are available for winter bookings
(November to March).
For a twin room, the daily group rate is as follows, based on a three
- Summer (July/August) - €108 per night
- Spring (April to June) & Autumn (September/October) - €87
- Winter (November to March) - €83 per night
For three adults, the daily group rate is as follows, based on a
three night stay:
- Summer (July/August) - €133 per group per night
- Spring (April to June) & Autumn (September/October) - €107
per group per night
- Winter (November to March) - €106 per group per night
For a family of two adults and two children, the daily group rate is
as follows, based on a three night stay:
- Summer (July/August) - €136 per group per night
- Spring (April to June) & Autumn (September/October) - €128
per group per night
- Winter (November to March) - €112 per group per night
To illustrate the rate reductions available for stays of more than
one night, the rates for a twin room in June are as follows:
- 1 night at €99
- 2 nights at €90 per night = €180
- 3 nights at €87 per night = €261
- 4 nights at €86 per night = €344
- 5 nights at €86 per night = €430
- 6 nights at €86 per night = €516
- 7 nights at €86 per night = €602
If you have further questions about our special discounts, please
feel free to send us an email at anytime.
We have a capacity of four adults (two twin rooms) or two adults with
four children (two twin rooms and one single room plus a sofa bed). Upon
arrival you will be welcomed with a friendly smile and a complementary
glass of local wine or sherry (or a pot of coffee or tea for the really
thirsty). This can either be enjoyed whilst relaxing in our cosy living
room, or whilst soaking up the sun on our south-facing terrace.
A tasty buffet breakfast is served between 8.30 AM and 10 in the
dining room or on the terrace, consisting of freshly squeezed orange
juice or tomato juice, cereals, fresh bread & croissants, jam, honey
& marmalade, ham & cheese, yoghurt, pastries, cake and fresh
We try to make your stay as comfortable as possible, providing a wide
range of refreshments, including a variety of teas and coffees. You are
very welcome to unwind in our comfortable guests' living room, which is
exclusively for guests' use, where our honesty bar is well-stocked with
a selection of Spanish wines & cavas and chilled beers & juices.
Egyptian cotton bed linen and towels, toiletries and a hairdryer are all
provided for your convenience. Use of our washing machine and laundry
facilities is also available at no extra charge.
Activities & Attractions:
Many of Girona’s sports facilities lie nearby, including swimming,
tennis and squash. Within a short drive, the Pyrenees offer great
climbing, cycling and winter skiing. Wind surfing and sailing clubs can
be found on the coast. Catalunya also boasts some of the finest golf
courses in Spain. For those searching for creative inspiration, Girona
provides a perfect retreat for writing, painting and photography.
Whilst Girona is best known for its fine Catalan and Spanish cuisine,
we can also recommend some of our favourite French and Basque
restaurants in town (we are happy to make reservations if required.)
Girona’s cafes and restaurants provide outstanding value for money -
however, one word of warning is offered to those on a budget – the
town is a shopper’s paradise, hosting many top designer brands from
around the world. Girona is in fact reputed to have more fashion
boutiques per head than any other town in Spain - don’t say you
You are welcome to make use of our extensive range of guides to
Girona and the surrounding area, including maps and suggested
itineraries (as well as pinching ideas from the guestbook!). You are
also invited to pick our brains, either in advance or during your visit
– if we can’t answer your questions directly, we’re sure to know a
man who can!
About Girona & Catalunya:
For many, Girona’s charm is best enjoyed by lingering in one of the
outdoor cafes along the tree lined Rambla, or from elegant squares such
as Plaza de Independencia, where the most energetic occupation is
watching the world pass by.
For the adventurous with a keen sense of direction (or a long ball of
string) exploring the maze of jumbled alleys and passageways of the old
town is highly recommended (search and rescue parties can be arranged
for those not home by midnight - seven days notice required). For the
lucky few who successfully recover their bearings, strolling up the
Carrer de la Forca leads to the city’s dramatic cathedral, which
dominates the skyline for miles around.
Beyond the cathedral, the walk along the old town wall provides
wonderful views of the low-lying countryside surrounding Girona. The
crescent of hills which forms the backdrop to this vista melts into the
Pyrenees to the north. Twenty miles to the southeast, the hills suddenly
plunge into the sea on the coast.
Venturing beyond the town wall, within a few minutes you find
yourself wandering through the valley of Sant Daniel, heading into
wooded countryside. For the energetic, the three hour climb up to the
ruins of the monastery of Sant Miguel is well worth the effort,
producing breathtaking views over the Bay of Roses hundreds of feet
Girona's fascinating history derives from its strategic military
importance, standing on a fortress-like hill, high above the confluence
of the Onyar and Ter rivers. It was founded by Iberians, the remains of
whose walls can still be seen. The Romans named it Gerunda and
established it as an important stopping point on the Via Augusta,
linking Iberia with Rome. Owing to its strategic importance, it has been
fought over in almost every century since its foundation, and, perhaps
more than any other place in Catalunya, it retains the distinct flavor
of its erstwhile inhabitants. Following the Moorish conquest of Spain,
Girona was an Arab town for over three generations, a fact apparent in
the maze of narrow streets in the centre, and there was a continuous
Jewish presence here for over six hundred years. The intricate former
Jewish quarter of houses, shops, and community buildings is now visible
again after centuries of neglect.
By the eighteenth century, Girona had been besieged on twenty-one
occasions, and in the nineteenth it earned the nickname
"Immortal" by surviving five attacks, of which the longest was
a seven-month assault by the 35,000-strong Napoleonic forces in 1809.
Not surprisingly, all this attention has bequeathed the city a
hodge-podge of architectural styles, from Roman classicism to
art-nouveau, yet the overall impression is of an overwhelmingly
beautiful medieval city, whose attraction is heightened by its river
setting, and lovely views of the distant Pyrenees. Considering that
Girona's nearby airport serves most of the Costa Brava's resorts, the
city is oddly devoid of tourists, which makes browsing around the
streets and cool churches doubly enticing.
It's easy to orient oneself in Girona. The skyline is dominated by
the Romanesque bell-tower of the cathedral. As you walk across one of
the bridges, stop to admire the tall multi-hued row of houses that rise
sheer from the river, with the cathedral in its elevated position
soaring above in what looks like a faded Italian scene of medieval life.
Once in the old quarter you are engulfed in a labyrinth of steep, narrow
streets, especially in the atmospheric and sensitively restored Jewish
quarter, the Call, one of the best preserved juderías in Europe.
The Call was home to over a thousand Jews until 1492, when, on March
31st, the Catholic Kings Fernando and Isabel pronounced an edict
expelling the Jews from Spain, bringing to an end the renowned Girona
School of Kabalists, who for centuries managed to preserve and spread
the mystical teachings of Judaism in the West. The Isaac el Cec Center
on San Llorenç, and the Kabalist School on carrer la Força, are the
newly-restored spiritual centres, once attended by Jews, Muslims, and
Christians alike. The city of Girona is eager to recoup some of the
prestige it once enjoyed as one of the capitals of Jewish thought, and
in December of 1998, a multitudinous Januka ceremony presided by a Rabbi
from Israel was celebrated here for the first time in 506 years.
The main street in the old town is the arcaded Rambla de la Libertat,
with pavement cafés, a couple of modernist buildings, and a steady flow
of strollers. In the sloping side-streets leading up to the cathedral
you'll chance upon all sorts of curious shops, from antique dealers to
arts and crafts shops.
The cathedral has the world's widest Gothic nave, 23m, only surpassed by
the 25m-wide Baroque nave of Sant Peter's in Rome. Don't miss the
Cloisters, and the Chapter museum, one a number of museums in the town
well worth a visit.
Forming a dramatic centrepiece of the old city, the cathedral is a
mighty Gothic structure built on the hillside and approached by a
magnificent flight of seventeenth-century Baroque steps. Local legend
has it that if a single person sits in Charlemagne's Chair, at the back
of the nave, they will remain single; if a couple sit their they will
get married. This area has been a place of worship since Roman times,
and a Moorish mosque stood on the site before the foundation of the
cathedral in 1038. Much of the present building dates from the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but a few earlier parts can still be
seen – including the eleventh century north tower and the Romanesque
cloisters with their exquisite sculpted capitals.
The main facade, remodelled in the eighteenth century, bursts with
exuberant decoration: faces, bodies, coats of arms, and with saints
Peter and Paul flanking the door. Inside, the cathedral is awesome –
there are no aisles, just one tremendous single-naved Gothic vault with
a span of 22m, the largest Gothic nave in the world. This emphasis on
width and height is a feature of Catalan-Gothic with its "hall
churches", of which, unsurprisingly, Girona's is the ultimate
example. Contemporary sceptics declared the vault to be unsafe, and
building only went ahead after an appeal by its designer, Guillermo
Bofill, to a panel of architects.
The Museu d'Art is housed on the southeastern side of the cathedral
in the restored Episcopal Palace. The early rooms deal with Romanesque
art, including some impressive Majestats (wooden images of Christ
wrapped in a tunic) taken from the province's churches. Among the
manuscripts on display are an eleventh-century copy of Bede's works and
an amazing martyrology from the monastery of Poblet. The collection then
progresses chronologically as you climb the floors, passing a room of
bright fifteenth-century retables (their intricate scenes almost 3D in
effect), some splendid Renaixement works – such as a lovely set of
sixteenth-century liturgical items – and nineteenth- and
twentieth-century Catalan art on the top two floors.
Again within the cathedral complex, the Chapter museum houses the
famous 11C tapestry depicting the Creation. Within ten minutes' walk
from the cathedral are the Arab baths, Monestir de Sant Pere de
Galligants - now site of the Museu Arqueològic, and the Promenade along
the Medieval ramparts.
Housed in an eighteenth-century convent, the fascinating Museu d'Història
de la Ciutat on Carrer la Força contains the preserved bodies of past
inhabitants. As well as providing insights into how Girona developed as
a city, which is explained through text, exhibits and photos, there is
also a hotch potch of more modern inventions, including old radios from
the 1930s, a 1925 Olivetti typewriter, a printing press, cameras,
machine tools, engines and a dozen other mechanical and electrical
Of more modern vintage, there is a delightful Cinema Museum just
across the river from the old town on Carrer Sèquia.
The Costa Brava has something for everyone. For beaches and water
sports, it has a few lively resorts. But for the most part, modern
high-rise building has somehow thankfully bypassed much of the coast,
which continues to boast traditional fishing villages and unspoilt,
isolated coves. Most beaches enjoy fine, clean sand, and benefit from
safe swimming conditions and life guards during the summer.
The Costa Brava begins at Portbou, on the French border, and
continues 220km south to Blanes, 60km north of Barcelona. There are 120
official beaches, totalling more than 50km in length - a quarter of the
entire coastline. The climate is very pleasant all year round, and much
more comfortable in the summer than southern Spain, particularly for
northern Europeans. The average summer temperature is 26 degrees, with
more than 200 days of sunshine a year. Most of the coast lies within a
30-60 minute drive from Girona, with a number of resorts also accessible
There follows a brief description of some of the best-known resorts -
starting with Sant Feliu, which is quickest to get to from Girona. We
then look at the resorts to the south of Sant Feliu, before heading
northwards up the coast towards the French border. Sant Feliu de Guixols
lies southeast of Girona, just 30 minutes away by car, or 45 minutes by
bus. It enjoys a pleasant promenade over looking a crescent-shaped
beach, which is sheltered by the harbour. The restaurants which run
parallel to the promenade are particularly recommended, with seasonal
fish dishes dependent on last night's catch.
To the south of Sant Feliu lies Tossa de Mar, known as the
"flower of the sea", and believed by many to be the Costa
Brava's most attractive resort. Tossa's horseshoe beach lies directly
below the walled medieval village which has looked out across the bay
for the past 800 years. Beneath the old town, and leading down to the
beach, the so-called "Vila Nova" (New Town) features 19th
century houses around the parish church, and a warren of lively
back-streets of craft shops and restaurants.
Further south, and in complete contrast to Tossa, lies Lloret de Mar,
one of the biggest and busiest resorts on the Costa Brava, particularly
popular with the British "Club 18-30" crowd. A typical day
consists of enjoying the beach during the afternoon, followed by
plunging into the crowd of shoppers beseiging the narrow streets for an
hour's bargain-hunting in the evening rush hour, before the serious
night life begins around midnight. Lloret is about 45 minutes by car
from Girona, or an hour by bus.
Further south, Blanes also has a popular beach, although the resort is
not quite as busy or lively as Lloret. Lying just 60 km north of
Barcelona, it also attracts many day-trippers, particularly during
summer weekends. It also has a bus service from Girona.
Heading north of Sant Feliu, we come to the beach at Sant Pol, which
is a small holiday resort. (It used to be possible to take an attractive
coastal walk from Sant Feliu to Sant Pol, but for the past few months
(late 2004) the path has been blocked by a landslide).
There is however an attractive, tarmac walk along the coast from Sant
Pol via S'Agaro to the pretty beach of Sa Conga, and then via the marina
of Port D'Aro on to the resort of Playa D'Aro, whose town planners
clearly put a lot of thought into its design and layout. Although the
town's shopping district suffers from constant traffic throughout the
summer months, the beach itself is separated from this hub-bub by a
residential area of surprisingly peaceful back streets. The result is to
create a long, wide beach which benefits from a typically relaxed,
Mediterranean atmosphere, as well as some excellent tapa bars
overlooking the sea front. There are also pleasant views across the bay
to Palamos. There is an attractive walk up the coast from Playa d'Aro,
which takes in some pretty coves and inlets. (However, just south of
Palamos, the path was also blocked towards the end of last year (2004)
by a landslide. It will be interesting to see if/when these paths are
re-opened. Any news would be appreciated).
Palamos itself is a busy commercial town with high rise hotels
overlooking a long promenade and beach.
Beyond Palamos, we come to the pretty resorts of Calella de
Palafrugell and Llafranc, which are linked by an attractive coastal
footpath. The beachfront restaurant at Calella provides idyllic views
across the bay, whilst Llafranc enjoys a pleasant crescent-shaped beach,
which ends at a small marina.
The beach at Tamariu enjoys a particularly attractive setting.
Seafood restaurants overlook the wide promenade, which forms the
starting point for a short but envigorating walk around the headland.
North of Tamariu lies a number of enchanting coves and sparkling
turquoise bays - Aiguablava, Fornells, Sa Riera, Aiguafreda and Sa Tuna.
These are reached by long, winding roads down to the coast from the
hilltop town of Begur - but the drive is well worth the effort.
L'Estartit is a busy, modern resort, which caters for a wide range of
watersports. The beach enjoys a very gentle gradient, in contrast to
parts of the Costa Brava, which makes for a shallow sea which is
particularly well-suited for children. The boat trip from L'Estartit to
the Medes Islands makes for a fascinating afternoon. The islands harbour
a rich diversity of plant and animal life, and in 1985 were declared
Spain's first marine nature reserve. The islands' coral reefs are
popular with divers, and can be viewed from glass-bottomed boats in
L'Escala is a major holiday resort, with popular beaches on either
side of the town.
Empuries was once a Greek and Roman trading port, and recent
excavations have revealed a fascinating insight into the commercial life
of the city. The Romans arrived at Empuries in 218 BC, from which their
colonisation of Spain began. The Roman city was abandoned in the third
century, and was only rediscovered in 1908. The dramatic story of the
Greek and Roman occupations is told through exhibits and a slide show at
the on-site museum.
Once we reach the beach of Pals, we leave behind for a time the
dramatic, rugged cliffs of the Costa Brava, and the coast flattens out
until we reach Cadaques further north.
Before Cadaques, we reach Roses, which is the largest resort on this
northern stretch of the Costa Brava, lying an hour from Girona by car
(or 90 minutes by bus). For most of the year, it enjoys a pleasant
Mediterranean climate along with the rest of the Costa Brava; but in
winter, it is frequently subjected to bitter winds rushing down from the
North of Roses, we reach Cadaques, via the stunning Parc Natural del
Cap de Creus, a jagged peninsula where the Pyrenees plunge into the sea.
This is a place of untamed beauty and vicious winds, and was the
inspiration for much of Dali's work. The pretty, whitewashed houses of
Cadaques itself provide a stark contrast to the wild landscape which
forms a dramatic backdrop to the resort. It's associations with Dali and
avant garde heritage have made it popular with artists and tourists
alike. An enjoyable day trip, though its traffic congestion is best
avoided in mid-summer.
The most northerly resort on our journey is El Port de la Selva, which
nestles immediately below Cap de Creus, providing an attractive
sheltered bay enjoying shallow water and a long, sandy beach.
Walkers are spoilt for choice:
- Girona itself is best explored on foot, particularly around the
old town and along the rebuilt city wall.
- Farmland and wooded hillsides are within a ten minute walk of the
cathedral, with one of our favourites being the walk along the Sant
Daniel Valley, climbing into the hills surrounding Girona, following
the old pilgrim trail up to the ruins of the monastery of Sant
Miguel. This three hour return walk provides dramatic views of the
Bay of Roses hundreds of feet below.
- The Costa Brava offers some very attractive coastal walking, very
much along the lines of Cornwall (in south west England).
- A little further afield, day trips to the Cap de Creus Natural
Park, Montseny Natural Park and the Pyrenees Mountains provide some
stunning walking scenery. (We have a number of walking guide books
and local maps which you are more than welcome to make use of during
Dali Museum at Figueres:
Figueres is a 30 minute drive north of Girona, or 45 minutes by bus
or train. The Salvador Dali Museum is the third most popular museum in
Spain, beaten in the popularity stakes only by the Guggenheim in Bilbao
and Madrid's Prado. Even the building itself is an eye-opener, decorated
as it is by Dali's loaves of bread and eggs on each corner. The entrance
queues can be horrendous, so an early arrival is highly recommended.
Restaurants and Tapa Bars:
Girona is blessed with a wide range of outstanding restaurants and
tapa bars, most of which offer excellent value for money. For diners on
a budget, an even better deal is usually the menu del dia, which offers
a limited-choice menu at lunchtime (1 to 4pm). In the evening,
restaurants open at 8.30, with the locals usually arriving from 10.
Here are a few of our favourites, starting with those located in the
- L'Arcada, Rambla Llibertat 38. Has outdoor tables in one of the
prettiest spots in town, under the tree-lined Rambla (just down from
the tourist office) where you can order from the tapas menu from the
downstairs bar, or from the upstairs restaurant menu (excellent rice
and seafood dishes, and range of pizzas).
- Café Le Bistrot, Pujada de Sant Domènec. The menu here is
somewhat basic and a bit pricey for what you get, but that is more
than made up for by the lively atmosphere, both indoors and at the
candle-lit outdoor tables at the top of the steps.
- La Penyora, c/Nou del Teatre 3. Absolutely outstanding Catalan
restaurant. It's hidden up a backstreet behind the ayantamiento
(town hall) but well worth tracking down. Very popular with the
locals. Booking is recommended. Closed Tuesdays.
- El Pou del Call, c/de la Força 14. Located in the Jewish quarter,
just round the corner from the cathedral. Closed Sunday evening.
- Cal Ros. Excellent menu in a traditional Catalan restaurant of low
arches. Fairly formal atmosphere.
- Bretagne. Outstanding salads and tasty crepes, lovingly prepared
from within the shell of an old school bus! Closed Mondays.
- L'Arc, Pl de la Catedral 9. Small bar serving sandwiches with
outdoor tables at the foot of the cathedral steps.
Just over the river from the old town, these restaurants/bars enjoy
outdoor seating in the 18th century collonaded Placa de la Independencia;
most also have attractive views of the river:
- Boira, Plaza de la Independencia 17. One of our favourites.
Excellent tapa bar downstairs, with outstanding Catalan menu
- Cafe Mozart. Wide menu selection, salads a speciality.
- Lizarran. Traditional Basque tapa bar - just pick up a plate,
choose your tapas from the bar, and return as often as you wish. You
then pay one Euro per cocktail stick as you leave!
Casa Maria is located within a modern building just 100 metres from
the river which separates Girona's old and new towns. Lying just to the
west of the river, the apartment enjoys the best of both worlds -
turning left at the end of our street takes you over the river towards
the old town, whilst turning right takes you directly into a bustling
shopping district of coffee bars and chic boutiques. Girona cathedral
lies within a fifteen minute walk in one direction, whilst mainline
train and bus stations lie within a ten minute walk in the other.
Depending on your mode of transport, precise directions will be sent
with confirmation of your booking.
Girona Airport is just 20 minutes out of town. There is a reliable
taxi service from the airport, as well as car hire from Hertz and
Europcar. There is also a direct bus service into Girona central bus
station, which is a ten minute walk from the B&B.
Ryanair has direct flights to Girona from:
- France - Paris
- Belgium - Brussels
- Sweden - Stockholm
- Netherlands - Eindhoven
- Ireland - Dublin, Shannon
- Italy - Milan, Pisa, Venice
- Germany - Dusseldorf, Frankfurt
- UK - Blackpool, Bournemouth, East Midlands, Glasgow, Liverpool,
Barcelona Airport lies 90 minutes south of Girona by car. EasyJet and
British Airways fly to Barcelona from the UK. For flights arriving by
early evening, it is also easy to reach Girona from Barcelona airport by
train (change at Barcelona Sants). The last train for Girona leaves
Sants at about 9 PM.
British Airways has direct flights to Barcelona from London Heathrow
EasyJet has direct flights to Barcelona from:
- Germany - Berlin
- France - Paris Orly
- Switzerland - Basel, Geneva
- UK - Bristol, Gatwick, Liverpool, Luton, Newcastle, Stansted
Perpignan Airport lies just over the French border, an hour and a
quarter's drive from Girona. Ryanair has direct flights to Perpignan
from London Stansted.
Trains for Girona depart from Barcelona, Figueres and Portbou at
roughly half hour intervals. The RENFE
website (Spain's national train company) includes a helpful timetable in