This year I decided to spend my summer holiday in Galicia. Galicia is the ideal place to enjoy outdoor activities, savor an extraordinary gastronomy, discover beaches with crystal clear waters, but also visit cities marked by history, such as Lugo, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santiago, La Coruña or Vigo. Here is the detailed itinerary of my 10 days spent visiting Galicia.
Lugo was the starting point of my stay in Galicia. Coming from Madrid by car, it was also the closest city in Galicia (around 4h30 by car via the highway). Lugo is best known for being the only city in the world completely surrounded by an intact 3rd century Roman fortification, but also for being the last major city on the road to the Way of St. James. Lugo has cleverly combined its rich cultural history with modern architecture, which makes it a young and lively city.
About an hour by car from Lugo, I went to Foz to discover the Lugo coast, known for its spectacular beaches and in particular the beach of the Cathedrals (Playa de las catedrales), a unique place but that has been overcrowded over the years unfortunately. This is why it is now necessary to register online for being able to visit the beach. You can do it on this official website.
I personally recommend Galerias 16 tourist apartments, which are located right in the center of Lugo, in a very lively street with tapas bars and only a few meters from the Great Plaza of Lugo (Praza Maior). The spacious and contemporary apartments are exceptionally comfortable and can accommodate up to 5 people.
I followed my itinerary by staying 2 nights in A Coruña. Long the largest city in Galicia, La Coruña, active and industrial is a lively old town, with urban beaches and represented by a strong symbol, the Tower of Hercules (la Torre de Hércules), an ancient Roman lighthouse from the 2nd century and still in use today.
The Hotel Melia Maria Pita is surely one of the most beautiful hotels in A Coruña. Just steps from the city center, the Melia Maria Pita hotel combines modernity and elegance with exclusive views of the ocean and the Orzán beach. Breakfasts are tasty and everything is done to ensure maximum security with COVID19, thanks to the “Stay Safe with Melia” program.
No need to make the pilgrimage to Compostela to visit Santiago de Compostela. Its Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque architecture, its churches, convents, palaces, but also its small shops, bars, restaurants and especially its imposing cathedral enchanted me. Its gastronomy also amazed me. Indeed, Santiago de Compostela has a delicious and very varied cuisine, accompanied by wonderful Galician wines from all the appellations of origin of the region.
If you want to feel the atmosphere of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela even at night, I recommend the charming hotel A Tafona Do Peregrino located a few minutes walk from the cathedral. In addition, the hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant Lucía Freitas to enjoy Galician gastronomy.
After all these cultural visits, I treated myself to 3 nights at the Rias Baixas, bordered by small ports, villages and beaches.
This former fishing village has become the capital of tourism in Galicia, particularly thanks to its 13 high quality beaches (recognizable by the bandera azul label). Sanxenxo includes many activities designed for leisure and entertainment for tourists (beach, water sports, shopping, parties, etc.).
Only 20 minutes drive from Sanxenxo is Combarro, a picturesque coastal village, which has not to be missed. Barely further away is Pontevedra, emblem of the Portuguese Way of St. James and containing real architectural gems such as the Basilica of Santa Maria, the ruins of Santo Domingo or the Church of Saint Bartolomé, as well as authentic and lively plazas.
These islands are truly heavenly and I strongly recommend to book a whole day for their visits. You must take your seat on this official website because places are limited.
If you still have time to visit the Rias Baixas, I also recommend Ons Islands, O Grove, Toja Island, Cambados and Arousa Island.
At the border with Portugal, Tui is one of the oldest towns in the region. Its emblazoned houses and its narrow streets with stairs leading up to the cathedral are testifying to its rich past. From Tui, it is interesting to visit the surroundings such as Baiona or just across the Portuguese border, the fortress of Valença, Braga or the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.
I discovered a unique type of accommodation: Aloia Nature. These are suspended cabins in the Mont Aloia Natural Park, which offer in a fun and interactive way and a unique experience of immersing yourself in nature, without losing a touch of the comfort of a hotel room. The cabins are fully equipped and can accommodate up to 5 people.
On the way back, I stopped to Ourense, a thermal town. Its historic center includes many churches and chapels and its cathedral retains its original polychromy.
I really loved my stay in Galicia. This region has a lot to offer: beach, nature, relaxation, gastronomy, party, everyone can find what they are looking for. Luckily, I had the best weather, which also helped a lot to make my vacation a success. I am thinking of returning to Galicia next year to do part of the Portuguese Way of St. James from Tui.