Galicia is green and heavily wooded, the coastline is made up of lots of tiny inlets and the area is renowned for its seafood. Because of archaic inheritance laws the land is divided into plots so small that machinery cannot by used on some of the land and oxen can be seen instead.
Grain is stored in traditional granaries called horreos and the buildings are often built of the local granite. The highlight of the region is the fabulous regional capital Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim route which has been popular since medieval times and is still very popular today.
Places to Visit in Galicia
Baiona (Bayona) - Christopher Columbus landed here and this port was the first to here the news of the New World. An exact replica of th Pinta, Christopher Columbus' ship is in the harbour. Medieval walls and a wooden promontory add to the attractions of this small port. Stay in the parador if you can. It is said to be one of the finest.
Betanzos - an ancient town with steep, narrow streets and remnants of the medieval walls. One of the most beautiful towns in Spain.
Celanova - home of the Monasterio de San Salvador, one of the most important in Spain.
Cambados - a lovely main square surrounded by beautiful buildings.
Combarro - famous for its large collection of horreos (grain silos) lining the waterfront
A Coruna - this city still has a busy port and one of Europe's oldest working lighthouses, the Torre de Hercules. The town centre has a large medieval quarter.
A Guarda - remains of a Celtic settlement can be seen here.
Lugo - a UNESCO World Heritage Site on account of its Roman wall which circles the city and has ten gateways.
Finisterre - end of the Pilgrims Way and most westerly point of Spain.
Mondonedo - a charming town with a cathedral
Ourense - the old town is worth a visit with a cathedral, a cloister , the Cloister of Saint Francis, and the well restored streets nearby.
O Cebreiro - on the route to Santiago this village supposedly had a miracle where wine and bread were turned into blood and flesh. Also home to some 'pallozas', round stone huts of Celtic design. Some have been restored. O Cebreiro is one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.
Padron - this port was where the body of St James landed in Spain. The gardens of Pazo de Oca are beautiful.
Pontevedra - Lovely town with cobbled alleys, colonnaded squares, masses of flowers and even a very welcoming night out in one of the tapas bars.
Santiago de Compostela - this was the third most important pilgrim destination after Jerusalem and Rome in the Middle Ages and the Camino de Santiago is still a very busy pilgrim route today. Santiago de Compostela is considered one of the most beautiful of all the cities in Spain . The cathedral of Santiago is said to hold the shrine of St James the Apostle (Santiago to the Spanish). Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage city.
A Toxa - a small island joined to the mainland be a bridge. This is a very stylish resort with luxury villas and a palace-hotel not to mention fabulous beaches.
Tui - a 13th century hilltop cathedral and stretches of anceint walls can be seen here as well as an attractive old quarter.
Verin - town with 17th century houses. The imposing Castillo de Monterrei stands above the town.
Vigo - Galicia's largest town but with a pleasant old town and some good beaches it makes a good base for exploring.
Vilar de Donas - a small hamlet but home to the tombs of some of the Knights of the Order of Santiago and 15th century frescoes.
The coastline is far less crowded than Eastern and Southern Spain and whilst the sea is cooler here the coastline is beautiful.
The coast is divided into three main regions. The Rias Altas, Teh Costa da Morte and the Rias Baixas. All three have spectacular scenery. The Rias Altas to the North with is lined by forested hills and is good for swimming. The Costa da Morte has lovely tiny fishing ports and a very traditional way of life. The best beaches are in the Rias Baixas the most southerly coastal area in Galicia and very close to Portugal.
The Rias are fjord like inlets along the coast and with their backdrop of tree covered hills are beautiful. Punctuated by little fishing villages and small resorts it is a very relaxing area for a holiday.
Viveiro, Ria de Ortigueira, Porto do Barqueiro, Porto de Vares, Betanzos, and A Coruna are some of the best villages and towns along this stretch of coast.
Costa da Morte
Called the 'Coast of Death' because of the many shipwrecks but swimmers should also beware. This stretch of coast is only suitable for very strong swimmers. However it is rugged and beautiful. Renowned for its magnificent sunsets and cluttered with tiny, traditional fishing villages.
Malpica, Laxe, Camarinas, Ezaro, O Pindo and Carnota are all worth the trip for the villages and/or the surrounding scenery.
This is the area where most of the locals go if they are looking for beaches. Rocky inlets with sandy bays and set beneath pine clad hills and the water is dotted with fishing boats, mussel rafts and pleasure boats.
Muros, Barona, Cambados, San Vincente do Mar , Pontevedra, Vigo and Baiona are some of the best villages and towns to sea.
The most southerly of the Rias the Ria de Vigo should not be missed , the views are breathtaking.
The Illas Cies
These three islands can be reached by boat from Vigo and have some of the best sandy beaches in the region.
Inland Galicia is lovely for those looking for a peaceful, rural holiday. Perhaps the most attractive part is along the river valley of the River Mino between Ourense and the Portugese border.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Galicia
Route of the Santiago de Compostela - Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987. This is a very popular pilgrim route from the French/Spanish border to Santiago de Compostela. 1800 buildings along the route have been deemed of great historic interest.
Old town of Santiago de Compostela
The Roman Walls of Lugo _ these walls built in the 3rd century have survived intact and are the best example of late Roman fortifications in western Europe.
Museums in Galicia
Museo Diocesano, Mondonedo - with works by El Greco
Museo das Marinas, Betanzos - history of Betanzos and local fishing villages.
Museo Militar, A Coruna, - military museum
Museo de Pontevedra - one of the best museums in Potevedra with a collection of gold jewellry dating from the Bronze Age and paintings by Ribera and Zuberan and a collection of drawings and paintings by Alfonso Castelao depicting the povery and misery of the Spanish Civil War.
Museo Provincial de Lugo, Lugo - with exhibitions of Celtic gold and Roman finds
Monasterio de Oseira, Oseira - an impressive monastery with a Barogue facade.
Monasterio de Ribas de Sil, Ribas de Sil near Ourense - set on the top of a gorge
Monasterio de San Salvador, Celanova- one of the most important monasteries in Spain. Mostly Baroque in style but with a Renaissance cloister.
Monasterio Sobrado de los Monjes, Vilar de Donas - with a medieval kitchen
The gardens of Pazo de Marinan, Bergondo (A Coruña), these gardens with their stunning Parterre de Boj and spectacular views of the sea are well worth a visit.
The garden of Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla,(Vedra), Ortigueira(A Coruña) - Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla is home to a massive collection of camelias and there is a walk with hundred year old olive trees.
Pazo de Oca, Padron - gardens and lake in the grounds of a manor house
Map of Galicia & places nearby