Travel in Galicia
Full-fledged political entity from the 5th to the 19th century, Galicia is considered to be the nucleus of origin of the Christian kingdoms of the north-western Iberian Peninsula. Incorporated in the Kingdom of Spain in 1833, it acquired historic nationhood status.
Galicia consists of the four provinces of A Coruña, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra
While A Coruña is the most important city, Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. Galician and Castilian are its official languages.
Santiago de Compostela, the last stage of the millennial pilgrimage, attracts a multitude of tourists to this region, reputed to be one of the greenest in Spain.
La Ciudad Vieja de La Coruña, the ancient maritime city of Pontevedra which has banished cars from its city centre, Orense and its old Roman bridge, the “Ponte Vella” or Lugo with its Roman enclosure classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, concentrates the many historical, cultural and architectural legacies of Galicia.
The 1700 km of coastline shared between the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, offers a landscape of rocky coastlines, interspersed with beaches, deep bays, locally called baixas. We also discover steep cliffs such as those of A Costa Da Morte and the Atlantic Islands National Park of Galicia off the Pontevedra Ría.
Main destinations in Galicia
Santiago de Compostela
610 km northwest of Madrid.
The capital of Galicia, its historic centre, listed as a World Heritage Site, receives several million visitors every year. Santiago de Compostela is the last stop on the mythical Route of Compostela, a route travelled since the 9th century.
This route, which can be taken on foot, by bicycle or on horseback, has been completed over the centuries with many ramifications throughout Europe, making Santiago a place of international encounter. As a university town, you can also enjoy local gastronomy where seafood, fish and beef have a special place.
20 km south of Santiago de Compostela.
Padrón’s history, located upstream of the Ría de Arousa, is closely linked to that of Santiago de Compostela. According to tradition, it was in Iria Flavia, its name from Roman Antiquity to the Middle Ages, that the apostle Santiago first preached at the hermitage of Mount Santiaguino during his stay in Padrón.
The city is also famous throughout Spain for its pimientos. Chilli peppers to be enjoyed grilled with the tapas of many bars in Galicia and elsewhere.
150 km west of Santiago de Compostela.
Theoretically the westernmost point of Spain, Cape Finisterre is an impressive granite promontory that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean at 600 metres in height. A lighthouse was erected there in 1853,17 metres high and with a lamp range of 30 nautical miles, it rises to 143 metres above sea level.
Land of legends and mysteries, despite its unique sunsets on the ocean, its rocky coast has seen a very large number of shipwrecks despite the addition of a bruma horn to make up for the frequent days of fog.
Ria de Muros y Noia
40 km west of Santiago de Compostela.
Submerged river valley, the Muros and Noia ria is one of the most beautiful baja rias of the Côte de la Mort. The region, surrounded by small sierras, is not very urbanized, only a few villages and fishing ports built on the hillside as well as often isolated beaches line the coastline.
70 km west of Santiago de Compostela.
The old town of Muros was classified as a Monumental Historical and Artistic Site in 1970 because of the architectural and archaeological interest of its heritage. Its urban architecture is characterized by its fishermen’s houses built of dressed stone. Large arcaded galleries under which fishermen once tended their nets and salted the fish, decorate the ground floor of these typical houses while the floors have huge balconies.
Other attractions of Muros: its 25 km of coastline with beaches and rock carvings discovered on several sites of the city.
115 km north of Santiago de Compostela.
Formerly a fishing village on the northern bank of the eponymous ria, Ferrol has managed to preserve its old quarter, traditions and marine charm in the streets of El Ferrol Viejo. The old ramparts of the Cortina (XVIth century), the castle of La Palma and the festivities on the occasion of Holy Week, classified of tourist interest, are among the attractions of the city.
The entrance to the ria is controlled by the castle of San Felipe built in the 18th century to protect it. The port of Ferrol is a reference port for the English travelling to Santiago de Compostela.
65 km north of Santiago de Compostela.
Facing the Atlantic, Coruña is situated on a peninsula surrounded by a ring road, the Paseo Marítimo, which is the longest sea promenade in Europe.
Dominated by San Anton Castle, the port is located east of Ciudad Vieja, the old town, facing the Ria da Coruña. To the west, bordering the bay of Orzán stretches the beaches of Riazor and Orzán.
As for the north of the peninsula, it is occupied by a green space on which stands the lighthouse of the Tower of Hercules, which, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Monument, was erected in the 2nd century.
40 km west of A Coruña.
Called’ Puerto de Compostela’, for the links she had with Compostela, Noia is at the very bottom of the ria. If a Noë ark appears on the coat of arms of the city, it is because according to a legend, one of the girls of Noë would have taken refuge there after the Flood. Its old quarter with several gothic buildings and monuments is classified as a property of cultural interest.
15 km west of A Coruña.
Arteixo is famous for the salty and iodo-brominated waters of its thermal spa springing out at a temperature varying between 25° and 47° and whose virtues are recognized since 1760.
This small spa town also has several beaches surrounded by wooded areas and dunes.
85 km northeast of A Coruña.
In the heart of a landscape where an ocean lined with beaches and cliffs, rivers and the mountain, Ortigueira offers a true natural spectacle on the eastern shore of one of the biggest rias of the Galician North coast.
The old streets of the city are not to be outdone with notably the Calle Real and its houses and buildings with wrought-iron balconies.
Ortigueira also hosts the International Celtic World Festival, declared a festival of international tourist interest. This one, gathering several thousand people, takes place in July of each year.
25 km west of A Coruña.
A wild coastline bordered by beaches surrounded by green hills with hiking trails accessible to mountain bikes is what Carballo, a village located a few minutes from the coast, has to offer. Among them, the beach of Razo-Baldaio, the second largest beach in Galicia with 4 kilometers of white and fine sand, has become an essential spot for Galician surfers.
105 km east of Santiago de Compostela.
Like its millenarian ramparts (III th century) inscribed on the World Heritage List, Lugo preserves important vestiges of its Roman origin.
Surrounded by arcades, the Praza del Campo, once a Roman forum and then a medieval market, is at the crossroads of the city’s busiest and busiest streets. To the south-west of the historic centre of Lugo, the Parque de Rosalía offers a privileged place of relaxation with a unique view of the Miño valley, where you will find the thermal baths of the city, classified as a place of cultural interest.
Santa Eulalia of Bóveda
15 km west of Lugo.
Situated a few steps away from Santalla de Bovedá de Mera, this partially buried temple, probably dating from the 4th century, was only discovered in 1926. This Romanesque temple, classified as a National Monument and whose original function is unknown, is of great artistic and archaeological interest. The interior is composed of a swimming pool surmounted by a vault decorated with frescoes.
35 km north of Lugo.
Vilalba, the main village in this rural area of’ A Terra Cha’, lies at the crossroads of several roads. It is here that the Northern Way of Compostela crosses with that of the former Royal Road coming from Betanzos and A Coruña.
Remains of prehistoric villages but also remains of the Palaeolithic and megalithic testify to the antiquity of this site which was also occupied by the Romans. A small museum shows visitors this ancient history.
115 km north of Lugo.
In addition to its coves and beaches, hiking trails and rural lodgings, Cervo is famous for its ceramics from Sargadelos. Galician institution and true cultural heritage founded in the eighteenth century, the earthenware factory is 1.5 km from Cervo.
35 km south of Santiago de Compostela.
A privileged destination, the former maritime and merchant city of Pontevedra has been rewarded on several occasions in recent years by international bodies for its quality of urban life and accessibility.
City where it is good to live nestled at the bottom of a ria, its historical center is closed to all motorized traffic, is a vast pedestrian plateau. Among these picturesque medieval streets and squares, squares and gardens can be discovered along a walk, the ancient houses and civil and religious buildings of the old city.
45 km south of Pontevedra.
The second largest city in Galicia, Vigo has become above all an industrial and port city, hiding its treasures in the narrow streets of Cidale Vella, its old town. Declared of tourist and historical interest, it revolves around the fishermen’s quarter’ O Nerbés’ and the port. Vigo is an ideal base to visit the Cíes Islands of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands.
Campo Lameiro Rock Art Archaeological Park
Campo Lameiro, 20 km northeast of Pontevedra.
This archaeological site has a hundred or so rock engravings, but the inaccessibility of some of them to the general public has made it necessary for 28 of them to be represented outside. A 3 km discovery trail has been laid out with rest areas to make visitors appreciate the main engravings of the park.
110 km southeast of Santiago de Compostela.
Ourense lies in a deep valley through which the Rio Miño crosses. The two shores of the city are linked by the’ Ponte Vella’, an old Roman bridge now pedestrian bridge, renovated in the 13th and 17th centuries. Also renovated, the old quarter of the city concentrates the animation in its narrow streets and around its squares. A necessary passage between Madrid and the Galician coast, Vigo is also a famous part of the Compostela Way.
The Sil Gorges
25 km northeast of Ourense.
Off the beaten track and relatively unknown of mass tourism, the Gorges du Sil offers splendid panoramas before it reaches the Rio Miño. A wilderness and sparsely populated region, you will discover canyons with 500 meters of altitude difference, terraces cultivated in vineyards that provide a generous white wine, the Ribeira Sacra, one of the best vintages in Spain.
26 km west of Ourense.
Ribadavia has always been linked to the Jewish culture associated with that of the vineyard and wine-growing, as it sits between the wine-growing terraces known as’ socalcos’, at the confluence of the Miño and the Ribeiro del Avia river. Jewish community which was one of the main players in the wine trade of Ribeiro known throughout Europe in the Middle Ages and also in the establishment and irrigation of these terraced vineyards.