Galicia travel guide to one of the most picturesque green areas of Spain
Galicia travel offers holiday makers a chance to experience authentic Spain in a picturesque and beautiful region full of oldie worldly charm set amongst green pastures and spectacular scenery. Galicia is known as the “land of the 1000 rivers”, and for good reason as they wind there way all around the region, from the mountainous inland's to the coast, where they form the characteristic “Rias Baixas” the low rivers.
Galicia and is made up of four urban provinces, A Coruna, Lugo, Ourense and Pontevedra, and also home to the cities of Vigo and Ferrol, the region's capital is the historic city of Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the pilgrim travelers of St James ( Camino de Santiago ).
Travelling around Galicia is like a breath of fresh air, so green compared to the rest of the country, it offers a pleasant climate throughout spring and summer, a spectacular coastline, lush meadows, orchards, picturesque villages and quaint fishing harbours.
We have compiled a comprehensive Spain travel resources page to help you plan and book a trip or holiday to Galicia including travel providers, a hotel search comparison platform, travel insurance, flights, car hire and tours and excursions.
The main coastal towns and cities in Galicia
- Vilagarcia de Arousa
- A Coruna
Top things to do and see in Galicia
- Enjoy delicious fresh fish and sea food, available in every corner of Galicia.
- Participate in the St James Walk, the most celebrated pilgrimage in Europe.
- Visit the historic city of Santiago de Compostela.
- Spend a day at one of Galicias best beaches, such as As Catedrais, The Cies Islands, Ribadeo, Rodas or Cornata.
- Explore ancient Celtic settlements at Barona, Viladonga and Santa Tegra.
Galicia is home to some of the best beaches in Spain
The region offers visitors a chance to explore a spectacular coastline with no less than 105 blue flag beaches, the highest number anywhere in mainland Spain and the Islands. These outstanding beaches regularly win awards for there sheer natural beauty, cleanliness, sea and sand quality.
There are too many of them to list here although some of the exceptional ones would be the Playa del Estorde, Playa de Longesteira with its smooth white sands and the famous San Francisco Beach located at the mouth of the River Muros and Noi.
One of the prettiest seaside towns in Galicia is O.Grove, situated in the middle of the Rias Baixas region, some 25 kms west of Galicias capital Pontevedra. O,Grove is one of Galicias many charming fishing villages, which due to its unique situation on the eastern side of the headland, is protected from the tidal force of the Atlantic Ocean. The town has a gentle personal endearing charm with an abundance of fish, restaurants, tapas bars and some of the freshest seafood you will find anywhere.
Galicia also has its fair share of wild and rugged coastal areas, noticeably the Costa de la Muerte, the “coast of death” located on the northwest coast of Galicia. This is where the rock fishermen risk their lives hunting one of Spain's most sought after and prized seafood’s, Percebes or Goose Barnacles, they require large amounts of oxygen to survive and as such grow on the rocks in the most dangerous places along the coastline. Many a fisherman have perished over the years whilst trying to cultivate them whilst avoiding the wild crashing waves.
One of the quaintest and most recognisable landmarks in Galicia are the small stone buildings known as "Horreos" or grain stores. Farmers used them to protect and ripen grain and other food produce and although they are not used for this purpose anymore they are a welcome sight around the region, the one above is located inn the small village of Combarro near Pontevedra.
A must place to visit is the Baroque Cathedral ( Catedral de Santiago ) located on the heart of Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral is the end goal of a long pilgrimage path that comes along the north of Spain, the St James Walk pilgrimage ( Camino de Santiago ) is walked by people from all over the world, and not purely for religious reasons as many people are searching for something different, perhaps just to contemplate life.
The City of Santiago is a charming city with it's historic stone buildings, winding streets and small alleyways to exploaround the cities old quarter.
The regions capital A Coruna city is located on the wild northern coastline and boasts the oldest lighthouse still on duty in the world: from the Roman period, the Torre de Hercules welcomes every ship that enters the bay and witnessed every wreckage for centuries. A Coruna has a unique charm with it's historic stone buildings, winding streets and small alleyways to explore, there is an interesting blend here of Roman Architecture and modern Spain plus the city is also one of the most important fishing ports in Europe. Visit the impressive Plaza de Maria Pita, a majestic plaza in the heart of the old town with its statue of Maria Pita, a 16th-century woman who warned the town of the pending invasion by Sir Francis Drake.
And of course if your a seafood fanatic, Galicia is most certainly a must goto gastronomic destination, the region is famous for arguably the best tasting and freshest seafood anywhere in Spain with almost every restaurant and tapa bar serving this local delicacy in some form or other. As you walk along the beaches in the area as the tide reseeds it is easy to come across cockles , clams , shrimps and small crabs laying in clean golden sands of the Rios.
The Rias Baixas area is the largest producer of shellfish in Spain with crabs, mussels, clams, cockles, lobsters, percebes ( Goose Barnacles) and oysters all in abundance and pretty reasonably priced to, it really is a case of from fishing boat to plate in Galicia.
Gastronomy has a great reputation in this part of Spain and other local dishes include Empanada Gallega (a typical pie of fish or meat) and many traditional sweets some of which are prepared in monasteries.
Galicia with its DO regions of , Monterrey Rias Baixas, Ribeira Sacra , Ribeiro and Valdeorras, produces some fine quaffable red and white wines, ideal to accompany a plate of the freshest sea food straight out the nutrient rich estuaries that Galicia is famous for.
Galician wines include the renowned Albarino white wine, made mostly from the Albarino grape ( small and sweet ) many of which are cold-fermented to maintain freshness. Other grape varieties used for the production of the whites are Loureira, treixadura, Caino Blanco, Torrontes and the Godello variety. Grapes used for the production of reds are Caino Tinto, Souson, Mencía, Espadeira, Loureira Tinta and Brancellao.
Some of the most popular Albarino wines include Burgens Rias Baixas Albarino 2005: ( White ) Pale golden Straw, rich, alive, flowery, peach and green melon. And Martin Codax, from the Martins Codax bodegas which has an attractive straw-greenish yellow colour, with ripe lemon nuances.
South east of the Rias Baixes is the DO area of Rueda which has a reputation of producing sherry-like wines although it is now the home of a selection of red and white wines made from the Verdejo grape.
Getting around Galicia
Travelling to Galicia from anywhere in Spain or from the EEC is easy and enjoyable these days, with three international airports of Lavacolla (Santiago), Peinador (Vigo) and Alvedro (A Coruna), all linked by means of a fast motorway and an efficient railway network.
A very good motorway infrastructure makes it easy to get to and explore Galicia, the main routes leading in are the N-VI from Madrid to A Coruna, the N-525 from Zamora to Vigo via Ourense, and the N-634 which comes into Ribadeo from Asturias. From Portugal, the N-13 comes from Lisbon and Oporto into Galicia through Tui, where it merges with the motorway that links A Coruna with Vigo.
Tours & Excursions
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Recommended Accommodation in Galicia
The highly rated Hotel AC Palacio del Carmen Autograph Collection is a popular choice for visitors looking for luxury accommodation in Santiago de Compoestela. The hotel is ideally located in a quiet area to the west of the historic old quarter. The hotel is within walking distance of Santiago Cathedral, the Monastery of San Martino Pinario and Santiago University. Reviewer Rating: 9.1
The Nova Compostela Apartments are an ideal pick within the mid range budget accommodation range. Conveniently located to the north of the historic city centre the apartments are close to shops, dining and Santiago de Compostela's nightlife. It is also within walking distance of Santiago de Compostela Old Quarter and Santiago Cathedral. The apartments are modern, stylish with all the facilities to ensure a comfy stay in Galicia. Reviewer Rating: 9.9
The Casa Rural Os Vilares is a charming rural retreat located to the north of Santiago de Compostela. This 3 star property offers large comfy rooms, a pretty garden, tour desk, free wifi and private bathrooms. Santiago de Compostela airport is less than a 15-minute drive from the property with the University of Santiago de Compostela, Casa del Cabildo and Santiago Cathedral a short drive away. Car Hire is recommended. Reviewer Rating: 10.0