Galicia is a beauty. We visited Matteo’s aunt, who has been living there for many years, for a long weekend. The region, to the north-west of Spain, washed by the Cantabric Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, is the final stop of the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route that extends from different countries of Europe on to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre. In any case, whether you’re a pilgrim, a tourist or a resident, Galicia won’t disappoint you: it has incredibly fertile vegetation, amazing beaches, delicious food and cute towns and cities.
How to get there:
Because of its position the easiest and fastest way to reach Galicia is surely by airplane (unless you are of course doing the Camino de Santiago, through which you will arrive walking). Galicia has three airports: one in the capital Santiago de Compostela, one in A Coruña and a smaller one in Vigo.
Back when we visited we flew from Madrid to Santiago with Ryanair: cheap and quick flight.
While staying in Galicia I would really suggest you to rent a car, in order to get the best of your trip: we travelled around with Matteo’s family and there are some unexplored places that you would not be able to see without your own mean of transport.
Where to stay:
It all depends on your style and budget. And on what kind of holiday you are looking for.
Apart from the cities, where of course there is a vast option for any taste, I would highly recommend you to try also the beaches and especially the many casas rurales, the country houses: you’ll be sure to enjoy the real spirit of this region.
What to see and do:
Our long weekend was pretty full of things to do and see.
We started from Redondela, where Matteo’s aunt live. This little town sits on the Ría de Vigo (a sort of fjord, created tough by the submergence of a river valley: a god part of the coast of Galicia is characterised by the presence of rías) and it spread out on a hilltop, rich of trees and tiny houses.
On our first day Matteo and I walked around the hills and enjoyed the fresh air and then reached old city centre.
The town is very small and the oldest part is a little labyrinth of streets. Walking around you can easily see the most important buildings and monuments: the Church of Santiago de Redondela, part of the Camino de Santiago, and the two railway viaducts, icons of the town.
At late afternoon we went to Pontevedra, the capital of the province. The city, approximately half an hour from Redondela, is really beautiful. The weather wasn’t really nice, it mostly rained, but the old city centre surrounded by a dull grey was actually charming. Between the sunset and the darkness of the night we had the chance to climb the tower of the Cathedral of Pontevedra, the Real Basílica de Santa María la Mayor. From its rooftop terrace, between the three bronze bells, we enjoyed the best view of the city.
On the following day, after a gorgeous family lunch, we headed to a beachy afternoon. We went to Sanxenxo (approximately 50 min by car), the most famous and expensive summer resort of Galicia. We took a nice stroll on the beach. The sunset was magical.
From there we headed south along the coast and stopped in Combarro, a cute fishermen village. This tiny place has a an enchanted atmosphere: we were there on a gloomy night and the typical stone hórreos (granaries raised from the ground by pillars), the lights and the narrow streets lend a fairytale character to the village.
On our last day Matteo’s aunt took us first to A Coruña, the capital of Galicia (a bit less than 2 hours from Redondela). Despite the terrible weather we took a walk along the Paseo Marítimo, a 9 km long promenade, and then headed to the old town and to the most important square of the city, Plaza de María Pita, dedicated to a local heroine, with its surrounding coloured galerías (closed terraces with white wood and coloured windows) and colonnades.
Since we were leaving from the airport of Santiago de Compostela we couldn’t miss a quick stop there as well. Walking in the old town we soon reached the heart of Santiago, the Plaza del Obradoiro, which is enclosed by the most famous building and attractions of the city: the Palacio de Rajoy, the Hospital de los Reyes Católicos and finally the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
What to eat and drink:
Galicia is a region that offers a lot to the foodies: in my opinion what one should’t absolutely miss are the empanada gallega, a bread stuffed with different things, the best ones with fish, and of course the pulpo á feira, boiled octopus sprinkled with salt, pimiento and olive oil. In every tiny place you’ll visit tough you can be sure you’ll find every kind of deliciousness.
In any case there are a couple of things that make you really feel part of Galicia.
The first is eating in one of the many marisquerias, where you can be delighted by the huge amount of fish and shellfish, especially the gorgeous spider crab.
Of course after a huge dinner you should have some homemade alembic aguardiente (a very strong alcoholic beverage), and especially the fabulous aguardiente de hierbas, in order to be able to move! Or try the enchanted queimada, also made with aguardiente, and while setting it on fire recite a spell against bad spirits.
And finally, just to keep up the magic atmosphere of this region, go to eat or just have a drink in this old mill, O Muiño Vello in Redondela.
P.s: the other day someone posted this cute article on Facebook on 94 things to do in Galicia at least once in a lifetime. This is dedicated especially to our Galician friends and family, but if you understand Spanish you should have a look and try to do at least some of them!