Galicia coast, Spanish coast of the Atlantic Ocean
The coast of Galicia is made up of the coastline of the provinces of Lugo, A Coruña, Pontevedra and Vigo. It stretches over 1500 kilometres. There are the Costa Mariña, La Costa Ártaba, the Costa de Muerte and, to the south, the Baixas region.
The Atlantic Ocean is tumultuous there; little urbanized, the rocky coast alternates green landscapes with cliffs, beaches and small fishing villages. Many rias, baixas in Galician, narrow valleys drowned by the sea, also characterize the Galician coast.
The Costa Mariña, province of Lugo
Costa Mariña comprises the coastal municipalities of the province of Lugo, the western part of the Cantabrian Sea. It is divided into three zones: Mariña Oriental, Mariña Central and Mariña Occidental.
The coastline is rocky and jagged, dominated by more or less high cliffs and covered with vegetation. This coast is interspersed with rivers sometimes deep as Ribadeo, Foz or Viveiro.
Nestled at the mouth of the river Eo that separates Galicia from Asturias, Ribadeo lies at the extreme east of the Galician Atlantic coast. Here we find the Cathedral Beach, which with its natural arch-shaped rock formations is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Galicia.
Ria de Foz
The mouth of the ria is home to two beaches facing each other: A Rapaidora beach, bounded by a jetty, to the west, and Altar beach on the eastern shore, as well as a marshland area with numerous birds.
Other beaches line the coast of the municipality of Foz: Llas, Peizás, Arealonga. Windsurfing, surfing, kitesurfing and canoeing are common.
Coastal town of the Costa Mariña with a small fishing port with its fish and seafood market, Burela is a fishing village with Atlantic flavours.
Several beaches (praia) decorate the coast of the municipality on its western part: Praia Penoural located next to the port as well as Praia do Ril and da Marosa for the closest.
Sao Cibrao (San Ciprián)
Sao Cibrao, a mining and maritime town on the eastern bank of the mouth of the Covo river, has a fishing port, a marina and a commercial port.
The city extends into the sea through a rounded peninsula formed by the Cabo de San Cibrao. Between the two, the isthmus, a strip of land between two seas, is occupied by the Praia do Torno on its western part.
The Avenida da Mariña is home to the Provincial Museum of the Sea and several beaches on the west coast that stretch as far as the cove of Sao Cibrao, where the long beach of Lago is located, framed by the jetties of Lago and Moras. The latter acting as a fishing port.
Portocelo is a small maritime town nestled at the bottom of a ria protected by the tip of Merixe. Well sheltered at the bottom of this ria, there is a beach several hundred meters long as well as a small port where fishing boats and some pleasure craft are moored.
Viveiro, the last town on the Costa da Mariña Occidental, is located at the end of the ria of the same name. This ria formed by the mouth of the River Landro, the River Viveiro, is the largest of the Cantabrian Sea rias and its banks are dotted with coves framed by high rock formations or cliffs.
In addition to Viveiro there are small urban centres: Faro, Auga Doce, Covas, which shelter pleasant beaches, some of which carry the Blue Flag label.
Province of A Coruña
The coastline of the province of A Coruña occupies the north-west quarter of Galicia to the extreme north-west of the Iberian Peninsula. The maritime landscapes are cut out, rocky, and by recalling those of Ireland or Brittany, underline the Celtic origins of this part of Spain.
This coast is divided into several areas, the Costa Ártaba, the Costa de Muerte and the Baixas region to the southwest.
La Costa Ártaba
This is the north-eastern fringe of the coast of the province of A Coruña. It runs from the Ortigueira river to the port city of Ferrol.
The largest ria in northern Galicia, the landscapes of the Santa Marta de Ortigueira ria combine mountains, sea and rivers, high cliffs and coves.
Known for the Ortigueira Festival, formerly the International Celtic World Festival, which has been declared a festival of international tourist interest.
The territory of the municipality of Ortigueira stretches over the entire eastern and southern bank of the ria, formed by the flow of many small coastal rivers. Discover several beaches in O Porto de Espasante or Morouzos. Ortigueira also has a small marina.
Cariño is sheltered at the bottom of a bay extended by a pier, the Punta de Espigón, sheltering some boats. A beach spreads out in an arc of circle all along the village.
On the shore of sandy creeks, sometimes framed by cliffs covered with vegetation or rock formations. Others like Figueiras or Fornos are bordered by fields and crops.
Nestled at the mouth of the river Condomiñas, at the bottom of a bay of the Cedeira ria, the village of Cedeira is bordered by a vast beach of several hundred meters.
Dominated by the castle, Castelo de Concepción, the port shelters small traditional boats a little away from the village. Between the two there is a small beach.
A few steps away, the Do Banco viewpoint offers a unique panorama of the surrounding mountains and the Cedeira ria.
Valdoviño is bordered by the Lagoa Da Frouxeira, lake separated from the ocean waters by a long sandy cordon, the beach of Frouxeira. About 2 km long, it extends between the Faluchos points in the east and Frouxeira in the west.
Valdoviño, composed of eight hamlets, offers about fifteen beaches and coves scattered along its coast.
On the opposite shore of the lake, the Lagoa e Areal de Valdoviño area is a ZEPA protected area.
A port city with an important naval structure, Ferrol presides over one of the most industrialised areas of Galicia, the county of Ferrolterra.
The port of Ferrol is also one of the landing points with the neighbouring port of La Graña, on the English Pilgrims’ and Sailors’ Route to Santiago de Compostela.
Ferrol is located on the north bank of the ria that bears his name. The entrance is guarded by 2 castles, built at the end of the 16th century. Castle San Felipe on the north bank and from La Palma to Murgados on the south side.
Costa de la Muerte – Costa da Morte
The legendary Costa de la Muerte is located at the northwest tip of Galicia. It extends west from A Coruña to Cape Finisterre.
This nickname of coast of death appeared at the beginning of the XXth century in reference to the important number of shipwrecks which this rocky coast with the dangerous reputation, aroused. Shipwrecks accentuated for some by an ancient tradition of wreck looting.
A coast with mysterious and mystical legends, often in connection with the Way of Compostela, where the Romans considered the Costa de la Muerte as a passage to the Beyond.
Seafood and fish accompanied by albariño, a small local wine, are the bases of a local gastronomy.
Galicia’s capital, La Coruña was built on a peninsula facing the ocean. The Paseo Marítimo is the longest sea promenade in Europe.
At the entrance of the peninsula, we discover two urban beaches open on the bay of Orzán: the beaches of Riazor and Orzán. While in a deep bay between the Aquarium Finisterrae and the Tower of Hercules, the tiny beach das Lapas offers a few dozen meters of sand framed by the cliffs of the park.
From A Coruña to Malpica
The fifty kilometres separating the great port of A Coruña from the small fishing village of Malpica is dotted with beaches and coves surrounded by rock formations variously covered with vegetation.
On this route we find the beaches of Sabón, Repibelo, das Cambouzas and Barrañán, Calón, Arnela and Baldaio, for the most extensive, as well as that of Razo which houses a school and a surf camp.
The village of Malpica is characterized by its fishermen’s houses built directly on the rock overlooking the bay with a small natural harbour.
Malpica has several beaches including the Praia Maior, the largest, which forms a cove. From the height of Da Chan and Da Cuada peaks, facing the ocean on the north coast of Malpica, you can see the Sisargas Islands off Cabo San Adrián.
Ria de Come e Laxe
This sinuous ria formed by the mouth of the river Anllóns shelters the Costa da Morte nature reserve.
If some beaches extend on the ocean face of the reserve, one finds few inside the ria which hosts several small localities.
With a long white sandy beach in the shape of a crescent moon, sheltered at the bottom of a bay with turquoise waters, Laxe is a destination of choice on the Costa de la Muerte.
Several other beaches decorate the coast of Laxe, notably playa Cristal. On the west side of the peninsula, which extends from Laxe to the tip of Cruciña.
Local curiosity, the beach of Cristal owes its name to the polished remains of bottles and other glass containers thrown on this former landfill site are returned by the ocean after a long time spent at sea. A few kilometres to the south, Soesto beach forms the bottom of a bay.
Fishing port in the centre of the Costa de la Muerte and, almost hidden in the meander of a ria towards Cabo Vilán, Camariñas stands out as the capital of lace, a very ancient local craft tradition.
Besides Camariñas, the locality is composed of three hamlets: Camelle, A Ponte do Porto and Xaviña distributed on the coast of the ria. Two long beaches several hundred metres long facing each other line the banks of the sinuous mouth of the River Grande which flows from the hamlet of A Ponte do Porto.
Muxía is a fishing village located on the southern bank of the Camariñas river. Besides an interesting monumental heritage, Muxía is endowed with beautiful beaches distributed on the south-eastern shores of the locality.
On the peninsula formed by the tip of Barca, are the lighthouse of Muxía and the church Nosa Señora da Barca.
From Muxía to Cape Finisterre
This coastal fringe of the Costa de la Muerte is composed of cliffs and several beaches, notably around the mouth of the river Lires with the beach of Nemiña, and further south the long beach of Rostro.
Chief town of the county of Fisterra, the village of fishermen and sailors is also the culmination of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It is there that some pilgrims come to seek the famous scallop shell, witness of their devotion.
To the north-east of the town and the peninsula formed by Cape Finisterre, Lanostera beach covers the cove, for almost 2 km, inside the large bay sheltered by the cape. On the opposite façade, the beach Mar de Fóra opens onto the ocean.
An ancient whaling village located east of Cape Finisterre, Cee is embedded in a deep bay that ends in an arched beach, the Praia de Concha, which borders it.
Other beaches can be found around Cee, Corcubión, Ameixanda or Sardiñeiro de Abaixo.
Las Rías Baixas
The region of Rías Baixas, Rías Bajas in Castilian, refers to the coastal region that extends south from Cape Finisterre to the Portuguese border.
4 rias characterize this southwest coast of Galicia: the rias of Muros y Noia, Arosa, Pontevedra and finally Vigo.
Interspersed with cliffs often covered with vegetation, we discover white sand beaches with turquoise waters. Divine, the Islands Cies which were according to the Romans, the islands of the Gods, close the ria of Vigo.
Ria de Muros e Noia
Located about 100 km from A Coruña and 40 km from Compostela, the ria de Muros e Noia is bounded to the south by Porto do Son, to the north by Muros and to the east by Nioa. These last two medieval towns have their origins in the Middle Ages, each containing an old medieval quarter in which you can still find emblazoned houses and ashlar houses with arches.
Little urbanized, the ria counts several fishing ports, old villages built on hillsides as well as beautiful beaches.
The small medieval town of Muros is located at the foot of Mount Louro, 75 km from Santiago de Compostela. In the old town, you can admire traditional fishermen’s houses built of hewn stone. These houses are characterized by large balconies on the upper floors and ground floors with arcade galleries under which fishermen repaired their nets and salted fish.
Almost central, the beach of Castelo is nestled against the pier south of the port, while a second beach extends north of Muros.Monte e Lagoa de Louro Park
Located on the banks of the northern entrance of the ria, the Monte e Lagoa de Louro Park occupies the peninsula dominated by Monte Louro. Long beaches decorate the Atlantic coast as well as the east coast. Especially in the San Francisco cove slightly south of Muros.
Also called Puerto de Compostela for its links with Santiago de Compostela, many legends run about the origins of this ancient city, hidden at the bottom of a bay on the south bank of the ria, at the mouth of the Vilacoba river.
Classified as a property of cultural interest, Noia still has medieval ramparts accompanying the remains of the fortress of Tapal, old manor houses as well as marine Gothic style churches dating from the 14th, Santa Maria A Nova, and the 15th for San Martiño.
Ría de Arousa
It is the largest of the Galician rias and, as the Torres de Oeste, built in the 11th century to defend the site, still bear witness to, its richness and grandeur have subjected it to many desires.
Vilagarcía de Arousa
Located 25 km from Pontevedra the provincial capital, this recent city which concentrates public and private services is the capital of the county O Salnés.
Villagarcía has a port, from where the beaches stretch, connected to the island of Arousa by a fairly long bridge.
The small island of Arousa shelters, in its southern part, the Natural Park of Carreirón. It is bordered by long beaches that cover the eastern façade.
At the foot of Ponte da Illa de Arousa, on the eastern coast of the island, we discover five beaches: Bao Norte, Riasón, Aguillón, Muro de Vella and Cabodeiro.
On the peninsula forming the northwest part of the island thrones the Punta Cabalo lighthouse.
Galicia Atlantic Islands National Park
This park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia, both terrestrial and maritime, is constituted to the north of the Dunas de Corubeiro and the islands of Rías Baixas located off the rias of Arousa, Pontevdra and Vigo: the island Sálvora, the island of Ons and the islands Cies.
Recognized by the Starlight Foundation as an ideal tourist destination for stargazing, the park’s islands are also recognized by the many seabird colonies that find refuge there.
All these islands, whose seabed is endowed with a great biological richness, are rocky and endowed with cliffs open on the ocean, while their coasts turned towards the rias shelter beaches and dunes.
Ria de Pontevedra
The towns and lands of the Pontevedra Ria are marked by their maritime traditions. In these oceanic landscapes pleasantly arranged between sky, land and sea, stone granaries on the edge of the coastal village of Combarro, impressive cliffs on the Costa Vela, an ancient Roman castro and sanctuary on Monte do Facho.
Pontevedra, the pedestrian city par excellence, is the capital of the Rías Baixas. In its historical center, forbidden to all motorized traffic, the lanes of the old city let us discover a historical past and a monumental heritage of a great interest.
Placeres, Fontaíña, O Cabo, Fluvial, Pontevedra, the coast is composed of several beaches located at the entrance of the estuary of the river Lérez.
Ria de Vigo
The Vigo Ria, located south of Pontevedra, is the southernmost of the Galician Rias Baixas. This immense estuary closed by the Cies Islands is protected by two capes: the Cabo Home surmounted by a lighthouse and which shelters to the north the beaches of Melide and Barra, and the Cabo de Silleiro which faces the Polveiras Islands.
In addition to the Vello de Silleiro lighthouse, there is a viewpoint where you can admire all the majesty of the places, the ocean and the islands of the ria.
Among all these natural treasures, the Vigo Ria is renowned for the quality of its beaches, like those of Narga and Barra in Cangas or that of Rodas on the Cies Islands.
Industrial and port city, declared of tourist and national interest, Vigo is endowed with an important fishing port. The city is the most populated in Galicia with nearly 300 000 inhabitants. Vigo is concentrated around the old fishing port in the historic quarter of O Berbés, the old town.
Several beaches dot the southern coast of the old city. La Praia do Vao faces the island of Toralla or Samil and extends along the districts of Navia and Alcabria.
Near the center, we discover the small beaches of Tombo do Gato, das Fontes, Cocho, and nearby, the Museum of the Sea of Galicia. The beaches of Santa Bahia and Alcabre are near the port.
Toralla is an island, partly private, is connected to Vigo by a bridge of about 500 meters. Nevertheless its beach, the only one of Vigo to be oriented south, divided in two by the bridge, is accessible on foot, by boat… or by swimming for the bravest.
San Simón Bay
The story tells that in the bay of San Simón, hidden at the bottom of the ria, all the treasures of the dozen galleons that are engulfed there sleep.
The bay of San Simón which has known many naval battles, of which that of Rande shelters several small islands following the example of San Simón. This small island, looted by the pirate Francis Drake in the 16th century, is known as Thinking Island.
Once a week, a single ferry company, Naveira Nabia, provides a crossing to San Simón from Vigo, lasting 45 minutes.
At the entrance to the Vigo Ria, the islands of the Gods, as the Romans called the Cies Islands, will delight lovers of nature, the ocean and the seabed.
The archipelago of the Cies Islands, which includes the islands of San Martiño, do Faro and Monteagudo, is part of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia.
In these extraordinary landscapes mixing dunes, pine forests and cliffs, the beach of Rodas opens up in front of the ria by connecting the island of Monteagudo to that of Faro in a long dune cordon of approximately one kilometer.
In order to preserve the site, the daily number of visitors is limited to 2200. Ferries operate from the ports of Vigo, Baiona and Cangas de Morrazo.
Cangas de Morrazo
Facing Vigo, Cangas is known for its 42 beaches. Urban or wild, the beaches dot part of the northern shore of the ria. Among them, near the city centre, playa de Rodeira runs along the pleasant Paseo Marítimo for several hundred metres. Ferries leave for the Cies Islands from the port of Cangas.
South of Rias Baixas…
From Cabo Silleiro, surrounded by islands and islets, the coast goes straight south for about thirty kilometres towards the town of A Guarda and the mouth of the river Miño which delimits the border between Spain and Portugal.
Located at the extreme southwest of the Galician coast and the province of Pontevedra, facing the ocean and the mouth of the river Miño, A Guarda has been awarded by the European Commission for its sustainable tourism offer.
A large fishing village famous for its lobsters, A Guarda combines oceanic, river and mountain landscapes.
Ferries provide connections between A Guarda and the Portuguese river town of Caminha, which faces it on the Miño River. These ferries sail every day with a departure every hour from 8 am to 6 pm on weekdays and from 10 am on weekends. Rates: car: 3 €, passenger: 1 €.