Journey to A Coruña, port city of Galicia
On a peninsula, A Coruña, has always been an important port city.
The narrow strip of land on which the medieval town of Ciudad Vieja stretches, has two maritime facades. To the east overlooking a deep ria and the estuary of A Coruña: the port.
To the west, the beaches of Orzán and Riazor bordering the bay of Orzán which opens further on the Atlantic.
Inviting to long walks along the oceanfront, a pleasant maritime boulevard surrounds the peninsula. Picturesque, an old-fashioned tourist tram line runs along part of the waterfront. The Paseo Marítimo, as it is called, with its 13.5 km long is the longest sea promenade in Europe.
Beginning at San Anton Castle at the end of the harbour, it follows the entire coastline of the peninsula in which the Ciudad Vieja is inserted, passing through the lighthouse of the tower of Hercules erected at the end of the peninsula.
The lighthouse of the tower of Hercules dominates the entrance to the ría which leads to the port. With a height of 55 metres, it is the only Roman lighthouse and the oldest in the world still operating today. Built in the 2nd century, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2009 and classified as a national monument. At its feet, the Aquarium Finisterrae is one of the largest aquariums in Spain.
The north of the peninsula of A Coruña is a huge green space partly occupied by the municipal Campo de Golf Torre de Hércules. In this space, where several menhirs and statues are scattered, the Rosa de los Vientos as well as the Ara Solis lookout offers a splendid view of the ocean.
On the port side, it is on the Avenida Marina that we must go to contemplate the typical houses with white and glazed galleries, dating from the 19th century, which gave A Coruña the nickname of “crystal city”.
Between the avenue Marina and the port, Los Cantones Village, a small commercial and financial district, is a privileged place for meetings. Overlooking the quays at the entrance to the peninsula, there are no less than eleven cinemas, restaurants, some of them themed, bars and numerous entertainment.
On the other side of the avenue, the old town is crisscrossed by intertwined alleys interspersed with pleasant squares such as Piazza María Pita, named after the heroine Coruñesa, who defended the city against the English in 1589.
The nerve centre of the old city, it was first named Place de la Farine because it was the site of the grain market and public festivals. Among the elegant facades bordering the square is the 18th century Town Hall. Not far away, there are two Romanesque churches, including the church of Santiago dating from the 12th century. Numerous terraces of cafés and restaurants make it one of the privileged meeting places of the Coruñés.
Being one of the most important fishing ports on the European Atlantic coast, La Coruña offers local gastronomy combining ocean and terroir. Spiders, thumb-feet, spiders, crayfish, crayfish, anglerfish and codfish can be eaten at the tables of harbour restaurants and tapas bars in the old town.
Most of the accommodation offered by the city is located between the port and the beaches at the entrance to the peninsula.
Museums and monuments of A Coruña
Museo de las Bellas Artes Museum
With a collection of 5000 pieces from several artistic disciplines, the Museum of Fine Arts of A Coruña is one of the city’s main cultural references.
In honour of the rooms, one of which pays homage to Sargadelos ceramics: painting, engraving, sculpture, ceramics or decorative arts. Murillo or Rubens meet Galician painters from the 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum of Fine Arts is housed in an old convent of Capucines from the 18th century.
Access: Calla Zalaeta
Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 8pm. Saturdays from 10am to 2pm and then from 4:30pm to 8pm, from 10am to 2pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and holidays.
Admission: 2,40 €, reduced rate; 1,40€.
Domus. The Museum of Mankind
Architectural masterpiece designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Located on a cliff overlooking Riazor Bay, it represents a sail inflated by the wind.
Access: Rúa Ángel Rebollo, 91.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm, from 11am on Saturdays and Sundays. In July and August: every day from 10am to 8pm.
Admission: 2 €.
Created by the city of A Coruña, the Aquarium was inaugurated in 1999. This interactive marine centre, dedicated to promoting learning and respect for the ocean, is dedicated to marine biology and oceanography.
Located near the tower of Hercules in the north-western part of the peninsula, it has 7 rooms, each with a theme related to the marine environment: seas, animals, plants… The observation room’ Sala Nautilus’, decorated in the style of Captain Nemo, is equipped with one of the largest observation basins in the world. You can reach it by taking the promenade around the old town.
Access: Paseo Marítimo Alcade Francisco Vázquez, 34. Urban buses: N° 3,3A and 11.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 10am to 8pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays: 11am to 9pm.
Admission: 10 €, reduced price: 4 €. Free parking.
Castillo San Ramon. Archaeological and Historical Museum
Although it currently houses the City’s Archaeological and Historical Museum, it has also served as a prison for illustrious figures such as the scholarly Alessandro Malaspina in 1795.
The museum, which notably presents a beautiful collection of prehistoric goldsmith’s pieces, is divided into three parts. An archaeological part with pieces from Galicia’s ancient history, such as the Leiro helmet; a second area is devoted to heraldry and medieval sculpture, while the first floor is dedicated to the historical events that have marked the city.
Access: Paseo Marítimo Alcade Francisco Vázquez, 2.
Timetables: September to June: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 7.30pm, Sunday and public holidays from 10am to 2.30pm. Closed on Monday. July – August: Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 9pm. Sundays and public holidays from 10am to 3pm.
Admission: 2 €, reduced price: 1 €.
La Igrexa de Santiago is the oldest church in the city. It was built in a Romanesque style in the 12th century and later adopted a Gothic style.
Access: Rúa do Parrote, 1.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 11 am to 1.30 pm and from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Free admission.
Santa Margarita Park
In the geographical centre of A Coruña at 60 m above sea level, the 5.2 hectares of Santa Margarita Park are lined with pine and eucalyptus trees. It still has, surrounded by a pond lined with waterfowl, one of the many windmills that once furnished the hill.
The park is home to 70 botanical species from several continents, a children’s playground and an open-air amphitheatre.
An old palace dating from the 1940s has been restored to house the Casa de las Ciencas, a pioneer in the history of interactive museums.
Casa de las Ciencas. Science Museum of A Coruña.
A cultural museum of a scientific nature, the museum was created in 1983 on the proposal of the former mayor of the city Francisco Våzquez.
Lodged in the renovated palace of the Park, the museum has 1000 m² of exhibitions. Access to these rooms is via a central staircase.
The first floor houses an experimental room on the physical environment, the second floor houses temporary exhibitions and the third floor is devoted to scientific exhibitions.
The semi-spherical dome of the building houses the planetarium and its special reflectors pointed at the solar system.
Access: Park of Margarita.
Opening hours: every day from 10am to 7pm
Garden of San Carlos
Classified Historical and artistic ensemble, the Jardín de San Carlos is one of the must-see tours of downtown A Coruña. The garden is protected by the walls of the eponymous fortress built in 1843.
This space, the centre of which is occupied by a statue of Sir John Moore, a British general who died during the battle of Elviña in 1809, houses the archives of the Kingdom of Galicia.
Access: Paseo Parrote, 3.
Opening hours: every day from 8am to 8pm
Emilia Pardo Bazán Memorial
Created by the artist Lorenzo Coullaut Varelea on a commission from the municipality of La Coruña, this sculpture dedicated to the writer, essayist and journalist native of the city is located in the Jardínes de Méndez Núñez, a popular walker’s paradise in the Coruña.
Emilia Pardo Bazán, Countess of Bazán Brun (1851-1921), with about forty naturalistic novels, more than five hundred tales and hundreds of essays, was a very prolific woman of letters.
Access: Avenida do Porto, 2 steps from the port.
The small town of Ferrol, with 69,500 inhabitants, has developed around a fishing village on the eastern bank of the eponymous ría.
Port of reference for the English sailors, especially when they go to Compostela, the alleys of El Ferrol viejo, the old quarter, remind us that the city has always been turned towards the ocean.
Among the attractions of the city: the ramparts of Cortina (17th century) and the castles of La Palma and Felipe. The Holy Week celebrations taking place in the city have been classified as of tourist interest.
Ferrol is located 55 km north-east of La Coruña (road AP-9).
Water town, the beaches of Arteixo: Alba, Barragá, Ucha, Valcocho are located about fifteen kilometers west of A Coruña. They are surrounded by wooded areas and dunes.
With water gushes out at a temperature varying from 25 to 47° C, the virtues of salty and iodobrominated waters of the town’s spa have been recognized since 1760.
Situation: about 15 km from La Coruña by the roads AC-415 and AC-552.
About a hundred kilometres north-west of A Coruña, Ortigueira offers magnificent mountain and river landscapes bordering the largest ría in northern Galicia. Several hiking trails cover impressive cliffs overlooking the ocean and quality beaches.
In the city, especially in Rue Real, some noble buildings have wrought iron balconies typical of the region.
You must take advantage of the Festival international du monde celte, declared a festival of international tourist interest, where thousands of people converge, to discover the city.
This festival, which has been in existence since 1978, one of Spain’s busiest festivals, normally takes place in July. While it mainly hosts Celtic music, other folk and traditional rhythms are also on the programme.
Situation: 90 km from La Coruña by N-651 and AC-862.
The small town of Betanzos, with 13,000 inhabitants in 2006, is nestled at the bottom of the Betanzos river, where fresh water mixes with the ocean, at the confluence of the Mandeo River and its tributary, the Mendo.
Named Brigantum by the Romans, Betanzos, classified as a Historic Site, was built on the site of an ancient fortified town and was one of the seven capitals of the former kingdom of Galicia.
The city is endowed with three gothic churches, including Francisco’s church, which possesses incomparable medieval tombs like that of Pérez de Andrade at the foot of the church and bears and wild boar, symbol of his house. The church of Francisco was classified as a National Historic Monument in 1919 and then of cultural interest.
Betanzos is located 24 kilometres south-east of A Coruña, on the AP-9 road.
A seaside resort situated 25 km west of La Coruña, Carballo offers beautiful beaches. The coast is wild, surrounded by green hills with hiking trails that are also accessible to mountain bikers.
Beach of Razo-Baldaio: it is 9 km from Carballo (approx. 40 km from A Coruña). With 4 kilometers of white and fine sand, the beach of Razo-Baldaio, very popular with surfers, is the second largest beach in Galicia.
Beach of Leira: four kilometres east of Razo-Baldaio, the tiny beach of Leira, surrounded by rock offers privacy and tranquillity.
Refugio de verdes. Refuge des Verts: this site with its lush trees, a river and mills, a natural bath is a place of green relaxation located a few kilometres from Carballo along the DP-1910 road.
Corcubión, with its structure and architecture, is typical of the town planning of Galician fishing ports.
The old historical centre of this small seigniorial town is declared to be of cultural interest. Between sea and mountains, with its seafront facing the ocean, its old fishing port, Corcubión does not hide its attractions.
Among them: the Romanesque church of San Marcos from the 12th century, the Redonda church from the 12th century, whose apse and Triumphal arch come from the original Romanesque building of the 12th century.
Like Pazo de las Condes de Altamira from the 15th century, several manor houses and pazos, manors, dot the city. Also in the 15th century the Castillo del Cardenal still dominates the Corcubión river.
Corcubión is about a hundred kilometres south of A Coruña and 50 km from Compostela.