Originally published on Sep 15, 2016, updated on Jul 11, 2023.
Nobody knows a place better than the people born and bred right there. That’s why we have reached out to a group of top Galician travel bloggers, who possess an unparalleled knowledge of their homeland, to share their insights on the best spots and must-see attractions in Galicia.
Galicia, the enchanting region in northwestern Spain, is known for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history. From the rugged coastline of the Ocean to the lush green hills and charming medieval towns, Galicia offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler.
Assembling this list was no small feat. With countless hidden gems and iconic landmarks to choose from, our team of experts faced the daunting task of narrowing down the choices. Combining their passion for travel and their intimate understanding of Galicia, these travel bloggers have curated a selection of the most captivating places that will make your visit truly unforgettable.
So, whether you’re an adventure seeker looking to tackle the challenging hiking trails, a food enthusiast eager to indulge in Galicia’s world-famous seafood or a history buff fascinated by ancient Celtic ruins, this comprehensive guide will serve as your compass, steering you towards the best Galician experiences.
Prepare to immerse yourself in the magic of Galicia as we embark on a journey through its hidden treasures and well-known wonders. Let these local experts be your trusted companions as you uncover the beauty, flavor, and history that await you in this extraordinary corner of the world.
The Most Stunning Spots In Galicia
1. Cathedral’s Beach
Cathedral’s Beach (Playa de las Catedrales) holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors alike. Situated in A Mariña Lucense and a mere 10km away from Ribadeo, my hometown, this renowned spot is often at the top of many travelers’ must-visit lists. However, its inclusion here is not solely due to its proximity. The truth is, Cathedral’s Beach has earned its rightful spot because of the sheer magic it exudes.
Having gained popularity and experiencing a tourism boom in recent times, authorities have had to implement visitor restrictions, allowing fewer than five thousand people to explore its wonders each day. However, I have a recommendation for you – why not venture here during the Winter months?
Embracing the beach’s ethereal beauty during this quieter season allows you to truly immerse yourself in its splendor. You might even have the opportunity to claim this esteemed Galician treasure as your very own for a little while, capturing breathtaking shots if photography is as much of a passion for you as it is for me.
Just be sure to plan your visit during low tide, and you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable experience. The beach awaits, ready to unveil its captivating rock formations and hidden wonders. Don’t miss the chance to embark on a personal journey through one of Galicia’s most extraordinary destinations.
Editor’s tip: For an immersive experience while exploring Cathedral’s Beach and the many other surrounding wonders, consider staying in a cozy countryside Galician stone home. Nestled amidst picturesque landscapes, these charming accommodations offer an authentic taste of rural Galicia.
Unwind in the warmth of a traditional cottage, waking up to breathtaking views of rolling hills. Immerse yourself in the magic of the region while having easy access to Cathedral’s Beach.
2. Arousa Bay
We highly recommend visiting the beautiful and vibrant Ría de Arousa in the south of Pontevedra, Galicia. The summer season is especially delightful for experiencing Galicia’s largest estuary. The “rías” act as protected ocean areas, shielding mussel farms from harsh maritime weather conditions.
To truly immerse yourself in the essence of the Arousa estuary, we suggest embarking on a full-day tour that combines a boat trip and an Albariño wine tour.
This unique excursion encapsulates two of the Ría’s top attractions while highlighting the significance of the seafood industry, with a special emphasis on Galician mussels.
These mussels are cultured using floating raft systems, creating a picturesque underwater view of mussel lines with algae and small fish swirling around. It’s a breathtaking sight that truly exemplifies the richness of Galician seafood.
As you explore, keep an eye out for dolphins, as they too have a fondness for Galician mussels. On our tour, we were fortunate enough to witness a group of dolphins swimming alongside our ship, adding to the magic of the experience.
After a fascinating journey, it’s time to savor the freshness of Galician-style mussels, perfectly steamed and garnished with lemon wedges. The combination of these delectable mussels and a refreshing glass of Albariño white wine is a match made in heaven.
So, why not treat yourself to the abundance of Arousa Bay, savoring the delightful flavors of the sea and raising a toast to its captivating beauty and unique way of life? Bon appétit and cheers to the enchanting Ría de Arousa!
3. Cape Finisterre
My favorite place in Galicia is undoubtedly Finisterre Cape, the “End of the Earth” (Finis Terrae) of the Romans. This corner on the Death Coast is a rather magical one, so much so that now many pilgrims choose not to end the Way in Santiago de Compostela but in Finisterre.
Being able to enjoy the sunset there is just a treat. Not surprisingly, the sunset at this cape is considered by many as one of the best in the world, both for its beauty and for being so legendary.
In this very place, one can envision the emotions experienced by Decimus Junius Brutus. After his triumph and conquest of Gallaecia, he eagerly ventured to this corner of Galicia, marveling at how the sun was swallowed by the sea.
The Finisterre Cape is a place that exudes enchantment and invites exploration. It is a sanctuary of natural beauty that leaves an indelible mark on the soul of those fortunate enough to experience it. It is a testament to the remarkable wonders that our world has to offer, and a reminder that the Earth’s true treasures often lie at the very edges of our known existence.
4. Siradella’s Hill Lookout
by Random Trip
I’m a huge fan of both the sea and breathtaking views, so this is one of my favorite spots in the Rías Baixas. You park your car and start walking up to the top (only takes you ten minutes), and this natural beauty overwhelms you. You’re even luckier if the sky is clear since you will have amazing views of the “A Lanzada” beach, the “Ensenada do Vao”, the “Illa de Ons” (Ons island), and “Illas Cíes” (Cíes islands).
As you arrive and park your car, a mere ten-minute walk takes you to the top of the hill, where the captivating scenery unfolds before your eyes. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of the landscape.
And if you’re fortunate enough to visit on a clear day, you’ll be treated to panoramic views that stretch across “A Lanzada” beach, the picturesque “Ensenada do Vao,” the enchanting “Illa de Ons” (Ons Island), and the renowned “Illas Cíes” (Cíes Islands).
To enhance the experience even further, I recommend bringing along some Estrella Galicia beers. Sipping on a cold brew – whether it has alcohol or is alcohol-free – while immersing yourself in the beauty of Siradella’s Hill creates a truly unforgettable and blissful moment.
So, embark on this journey, let the sea breeze guide you, and allow yourself to be captivated by the wonders that Siradella’s Hill Lookout has to offer.
Cheers to creating cherished memories in this coastal paradise!
5. Ribeira Sacra & Sil Canyons
I adore Galicia and have many favorite places here. Today, I would like to delve into one hidden gem within Galicia.
Welcome to the Ribeira Sacra. Situated in inland Galicia, this area boasts breathtaking natural wonders, including the awe-inspiring Sil River Canyon, which is considered one of the world’s most remarkable landscapes.
Moreover, Ribeira Sacra showcases a valuable artistic heritage, with a cluster of medieval monasteries predominantly in the Romanesque style, serving as reminders of the region’s prominence during the Middle Ages. Notably, the beauty of San Esteban de Ribas de Sil and the monastery of Santa Cristina truly stand out, offering an enchanting journey through history.
This sense of tranquility and harmony persists in the region’s villages and medieval monasteries, some of which have been abandoned but remain worth visiting for their ancient walls that have witnessed the passage of time, shrouded in dampness, moss, and vegetation, exuding an air of mystique.
The Sil River serves as a natural border between Ourense and Lugo, presenting a spectacle of rugged landscapes, mesmerizing vineyards, majestic mountains, and the famous Los Balcones de Madrid viewpoint.
Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to sail on the catamarans, which offer an unparalleled vantage point to appreciate the unique vistas of the canyons!
In choosing a base for exploring this remarkable region, Parada de Sil emerges as an ideal option. Located in close proximity to the Ribeira Sacra, Parada de Sil is a fantastic starting point to embark on your exploration of this captivating area.
6. Viewpoint at Redondela
Are you familiar with the captivating beauty of the Rias Baixas? I invite you to come and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and indulge in the delectable gastronomical offerings this region has to offer.
Among the many intriguing places in this area, the Ria de Vigo stands out, boasting an estuary where the Cies Islands leave an indelible mark. These two paradises face each other, creating an enchanting sight. For the optimal perspective to soak in this panoramic view, the Redondela lookout is the place to be.
After extensive exploration, I am confident that this spot is the perfect vantage point to fully appreciate the multitude of treasures that this area has to offer – all captured in a single breathtaking scene.
What are your thoughts? Have I captured your attention?
7. Fragas do Eume
For many years this spot was one of the best-kept secrets of the Galician geography, only known by the residents of the area or the province. They would walk through the woods, to see its ancient monastery on the slopes of Eume Canyon or celebrate a sort of traditional yearly pilgrimage, a romeria. A great place to explore all year long, today it receives thousands of visitors during the Summer months.
His most popular Caaveiro access is well-signposted from Pontedeume. But this Atlantic forest of great value for its flora and fauna can also be visited from As Pontes de Garcia Rodriguez or Monfero. There one can enjoy the lush nature, its beautiful river, the remains of an industrial building in the old center of A Ventureira, and the art and history of its ancient inhabitants: the religious hermits who first settled in this land.
Do not leave without embracing the loneliness and some outstanding hiking, dropping by the visitor center, and having a drink in the canteen of the former monastery of Caaveiro.
In addition to exploring the remarkable attractions of the Caaveiro area, be sure to take the time to visit the charming neighboring villages that dot the Galician landscape. These villages offer a unique glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the region. Here are three examples:
- Pontedeume (15 min away): This picturesque village is known for its historic center, with narrow medieval streets, stunning architecture, and a beautiful beach. Take a leisurely stroll along its promenade, admire the colorful houses, and perhaps indulge in some delicious seafood at one of the local restaurants.
- Betanzos (30 min away): Nestled along the river Mandeo, Betanzos is a historic town with a remarkably well-preserved medieval center. Stroll through its charming streets and admire its beautiful squares lined with ancient buildings. The town is known for its gastronomy, particularly its delicious potato omelet.
- Cedeira (1 hour away): Situated on the rugged Atlantic coast, Cedeira is a picturesque fishing village renowned for its stunning natural beauty. Surrounded by cliffs and embraced by pristine beaches, it offers breathtaking coastal walks and panoramic views. Discover the traditional charm of its colorful houses, explore its charming harbor, and savor the local seafood delicacies in the cozy waterfront restaurants.
8. San Simon Island
One of my favorite destinations in Galicia is the Rias Baixas region, particularly the islands of St. Simon and St. Anton. This small archipelago, brimming with history, often goes unnoticed due to its proximity to the popular Cies islands (pictured below).
It is the perfect place to unwind and delve into Galicia’s rich history. These islands were initially inhabited by Templar monks, and during the last century, San Simon served as a prison island during the Franco regime.
You can explore a permanent photography exhibition that showcases the captivating history of the islands, while also enjoying stunning views of the Vigo estuary. Moreover, if the tide is low, you may be treated to a unique tribute to Jules Verne: two divers searching for the treasure of Rande!
Visiting the islands of St. Simon and St. Anton offers a serene and educational experience, allowing you to appreciate the lesser-known, yet remarkable, treasures of Galicia.
9. Patos Beach
One of my cherished spots in the Rias Baixas region is the alluring Patos beach. With its sunny summer vibes, pleasant winter strolls, and consistent surf conditions throughout the year, it captures the essence of coastal bliss. This beach caters to both surfers and sunbathers, inviting them to revel in its crystal-clear waters and soft white sand.
What makes Patos Beach even more special is its ideal location just across the Cíes Islands, providing the perfect backdrop for breathtaking sunset photos.
Moreover, it is conveniently located just a few kilometers away from the popular fishing village of Panxon, the beautiful Praia America beach, and the vibrant city of Vigo.
As an added bonus, Patos Beach also holds significance in literature, as it serves as one of the settings in the novel “Death on a Galician Shore” (A Praia dos Afogados) by Domingo Villar.
Whether you seek relaxation, excitement through surfing, or a picturesque sunset, Patos Beach offers it all, making it an absolute gem in the Rias Baixas region.
by Trucos Viajeros
Most travelers tend to overlook the charming city of Ourense during their visit to Galicia, but I believe that is a major mistake. Situated just an hour away from the Atlantic coast, this small city offers a delightful experience for every type of traveler and makes for an ideal day trip or weekend getaway.
If relaxation is what you seek, Ourense has you covered. You can unwind in the natural hot springs situated along the banks of the Minho River, rejuvenating your body and mind. Additionally, you can visit the historic As Burgas area, where you’ll find hot fountains that have been flowing since Roman times, providing a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in ancient history.
For those who enjoy culinary delights, Ourense offers an experience known as “os viños” (wine in Galician). Take a leisurely stroll through the old town, stopping at the many bars that dot the streets. Here, you can sample traditional Galician cuisine while enjoying a complimentary tapa with your glass of wine.
Whether you crave relaxation, cultural immersion, or gastronomic adventures, Ourense has it all.
11. Santa Comba beach, Ferrol
Santa Comba, located in Galicia, is renowned for its breathtaking beauty. The crystal-clear water is only part of its allure; the surrounding landscape also captivates visitors. A notable feature on the right side of the beach is a small island adorned with a quaint church.
It is fascinating to note that this island used to be connected to the mainland, but relentless weather conditions, including strong winds and waves, sculpted it into three distinct isles.
At Santa Comba, there are opportunities for snorkeling and leisurely strolls around Prior Cape. This secluded beach remains tranquil and unspoiled, with a scarcity of visitors. Whether you desire a refreshing swim, a peaceful walk, or simply a moment to absorb the picturesque scenery, Santa Comba provides the perfect setting.
Just a short distance from the awe-inspiring Santa Comba beach, the vibrant city of Ferrol awaits. Known as a haven for surfers, Ferrol offers an incredible range of surfing opportunities in its surrounding area.
After catching some waves, surf enthusiasts can venture to Ferrol to explore its enticing attractions.
Discover the city’s fascinating naval history at the Naval Museum, soak in the coastal charm along the waterfront promenade, indulge in delectable local cuisine, and immerse yourself in Ferrol’s lively cultural scene.
12. Ourense Hotsprings
Ourense proudly holds the title of the second-largest hot spring city in Europe.
Nestled along the picturesque Miño River, you can indulge in a luxurious two-hour spa experience for a mere 5 euros in Outariz or Prexigueiro. Alternatively, if you prefer to relish the thermal environment without spending a penny, a variety of waterside options await.
The open-air hot springs allow you to select your desired temperature, ensuring maximum comfort.
After a blissful day spent in the thermal oasis, take the opportunity to explore the historic charm of Ourense’s old city.
This splendid destination is widely regarded as one of the finest in Galicia, Spain. Treat yourself to an authentic Spanish culinary experience by savoring delectable tapas and complementing them with a glass of exceptional wine.
Throughout the year, these are twelve remarkable destinations waiting to be explored, each offering its own unique charm and allure. We invite you to discover these captivating spots at any time, as their beauty and significance are not limited to specific seasons.
Want us to provide more insights into exploring this fantastic region? We’ll continue sharing tips and recommendations on the incredible sights and activities available year-round in Galicia, so stay tuned!