One of the first questions that comes up when planning a trip, is which are the best places to visit. Which are the ones you have to see, so you can feel you really were there.
Let’s suppose that you only have a chance in a lifetime to know this land. Let’s pretend that you would like to understand the essence, and keep with you not only a great memories, but also a personal feeling of its people, their way of living, and their history.
I know, some of the chosen places may be distant, so to visit them or not will depend on your time. A good option is to stay in Santiago de Compostela, adding a near area (Rías Altas or Rías Baixas), or maybe stay in Riberia Sacra, and visit the closest places.
Thinking about this, we’ve created a list with the best places to see. Can you imagine going to Andalucia and no to visit the Alhambra? This is a first, summarised list. There will be more.
10 Best Places in Galicia
1- Santiago de Compostela, should be one of this best places because it is the goal of the Way of St. James. The history of the Way, and its thousands of pilgrims along the centuries that arrived to the city, gave shape to the history of Galicia and of Europe. The well preserved city Old Town is listed Unesco Patrimony.
2- The canyon of the River Sil. The deep wound that her river open on the Galician mountain is part of the Ribeira Sacra. A unique space, where the ancient orders settled in, leaving us a landscape sprinkled of romanesque monasteries.
The high walls of the canyon hide a n endless number of viewpoints. The local way of living is connected to wine cultivation, present at every step. Unforgettable
3- Ourense hot springs: Gold and hot springs, two roman passions, good reasons to install their camp here. Hot springs are still there, providing its mineral waters to continue the tradition. It’s true that Ourense is much more than the hot springs, but they are a must, a best place to see.
4- San Andrés de Teixido. A tiny village in the middle of the Rias Altas, lost among the highest cliffs of the continental Europe. You might have to drive among fog to reach this sanctuary, a mandatory visit, where religion and paganism are blended. This blend, that is an usual element in Galician sanctuaries.
6-Castro de Santa Tegra , or Santa Tecla.
Do you know what a castro is? It is said that there is one at the top of every mount in Galicia. Castro de Santa Tegra is one of the largest and more excavated ones. With no doubt, is the best place to learn about this chapter of the Galician History.
The place that ancient settlers chose is still an strategic point: with the estuary of the river Miño at one side, and the atlantic coastline at the other. A landscape full of history.
7- Lighthouse Vilán (villain). Facing the indomitable landscape of the Atlantic coast. In the museum you will understand the tragic past that the Costa da Morte (Coast of Dead) name keeps. Unquestionably one of the most beautiful lighthouses of the Galician coast.
10- Combarro: the most well known show of ethnographic Galician patrimony. A group of hórreos, cruceiros and fishermen’s quarter. Here it is easy to imagine how life was 100 years ago, how the locals survived basing their lifestyle in the sea and land resources. Just close your eyes, and travel in time.
Tip: the sunset light here is beautiful, and it is also an uncrowded time to visit Combarro.
End of this short list that mixtures ethnography, history and landscape, and offers you the best places to visit in Galicia.
5- Cies Islands & Ons Islands: both archipelagos belong to the only one National Park inGalicia, and one of the 2 maritime-terrestrial National Parks in Spain. Both arquipelagos share the same flora and fauna diversity, but there are some singularities.
Cíes islands are famous because of its beach, Rodas, which is indeed spectacular. Ons Island, however, is more “enxebre” (authentic). Some part of the town is still standing and in use. A visit to the naturist beach of Melide deserves the walk.
8- Cathedral’s beach: like a painting, including brush-strokes with the colours of the sea, the sand, the sky and the slate board. This 4 elements plus the wind, will make you understand the geology and origin of the Atlantic Rasa and this beach. High or low tide, it doesn’t matter, Cathedrals Beach will deserve the visit. It’s a pleasure to admire the every 6 hours changing scenery.
9-Tower of Hercules: the origin of the Tower submerges in ancient legends. By knowing about them, and the history of its construction, you will understand the roman legacy in Galicia. Galician people is passionated about explaining history with legends.
This is the oldest roman lighthouse still working in the whole world, listed in Unesco World Heritage Site. Don’t miss it!