Things to do in Galicia – the greenest region of Spain

Galicia – the rainiest of all places in Spain, the greenest and the most northwest region in the country. Hilly countryside where you will meet more cows than people, more hórreos built above the ground to store grain than supermarkets, and more breath-taking ocean views than anywhere! Here are our suggestions on things to do in Galicia based on our many visits and the wanderlust for many more!

Locked between Portugal, the regions of Asturias and Castile and León, the Atlantic ocean, and the Cantabrian sea, Galicia has not only mesmerizing nature but long and dynamic history. From Celtic people through the Roman Empire to self-government today, Galicia will welcome you and entertain you with a lot. Most certainly, it will pour a decent amount of its typical rain on you.

Things to do in Galicia, Praia Dos Catedrais

Things to do Santiago de Compostela

Feel Camino de Santiago vibes

Even if you didn’t walk the Camino de Santiago (don’t wait for it for too long), the city of Santiago de Compostela is kind of all about the Camino. You meet pilgrims who are limbing their last steps to the cathedral, complete strangers hugging themselves and crying with happiness, you feel an atmosphere of humbleness and dedication.

We suggest that you spend some time wandering the old part of the city to just observe pilgrims and feel the Camino vibes. You’ll probably empathize with the pilgrims and get inspired to walk the way someday.

Camino Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago Armenteira

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and all the religious sites

If you’re lucky, you might have seen the cathedral on the back of a one-euro-cent coin. One of the most admirable religious and architectural sights, is built over the tomb of Saint James the Great, an apostle of Jesus Christ. The cathedral marks the traditional end of the pilgrimage route famous as Camino de Santiago.

Even if you’re not religious, we strongly recommend visiting the cathedral. On the outside, you will experience its own ecosystem, as we like to say. Inside the cathedral is also an experience. If you’re interested in attending a mass, check the times here.

Things to do in Galicia Spain

Paris – Dakar bar hopping and student atmosphere

It took us three Caminos to learn about the celebratory bar hopping called Paris-Dakar. You start in bar Paris and visit as many bars, tapas, and restaurants on the street until you reach bar Dakar. It’s a cool way to recap your Camino experience or just to get drunk. Recently we saw that bar Dakar claims they are not part of Paris-Dakar. So we suggest finishing in bar Orense, a very lively place with a cheerful student crowd and affordable house wine.

Paris-Dakar after Camino de Santiago

The southwestern coast of Galicia

If you have the time to wander on foot, here’s an itinerary we could propose: start from A Guarda, follow the coast along Mougás, Viladeuso, Baiona, Ramallosa, all the way to Vigo. You’re going to stumble on some amazing beaches, lots of fine sand, and beautiful promenades. Small towns with cobblestone streets and almost empty villages complement the romance. The best part is the mix of wild rocks with rough seas and wide beaches with plenty of space for everyone.

If you can spend 2-3 days just walking along the coast, you will fall in love with the southwestern coast of Galicia.

Things to do in Vigo

We had some reservations about Vigo as it doesn’t have an albergue for pilgrims which is ridiculous as it is on the Camino Portugues Coastal. We couldn’t start loving it as we had to walk in its huge industrial maritime area, and it was pouring. 

But our second visit wasn’t so bad. The weather helped a lot. It was sunny so we could walk along the beaches, have a little picnic, and enjoy the views of the sea. So, if the weather is good, we would suggest that you walk along the beach promenades and enjoy Vigo. Well, restaurants are always an option – Vigo is the biggest port in Galicia so they deliver fresh fish and seafood on an hourly basis.

Camino de Santiago, on the way to Vigo, Galicia

Things to do in Pontevedra

Pontevedra is one of those romantic old towns, the name of which originates from “Old bridge”. While it has mesmerizing old and new bridges, the town has much more to offer. We suggest getting lost in the tiny streets of the town center, without being in a hurry.

You will enjoy the typical Galician architecture, many cafes, bars, and restaurants, and some atmosphere that you just need to feel for yourself.

Pontevedra is on the Camino Portuguese route so we got to know it as pilgrims. We suggest you try some of the family-owned restaurants for the best food delights or get a huge ice cream in some of the plaza-tucked cafes. 

Camino de Santiago, Pontevedra, Pontesampaio

Things to do in Rias Baixas region

After you cross the old bridge of Pontevedra, you can choose to walk the Camino Espiritual detour of Camino Portugues. If you’re exploring Galicia on foot, of course. Even if you’re not on foot, we highly recommend exploring the Rias Baixas region, the wine jewel of Galicia.

Starting from the Poio – the eternal low-tide beach in front of terraced old houses with some top-notch seafood. Continuing with the Monastery of Armenteira, where you will probably catch a wedding, then follow the Ruta del Agua y de las Piedras (The route of water and stone). You can feel the atmosphere of old sawmills in the green 7-km-long tunnel. 

Moving on to the endless vineyards, some surrounding their own bodegas, where you can stop by for a nice glass of wine, maybe some local sort like Albariño, maybe for something else.

Another very romantic or spiritual thing to do in Rias Baixas is to sail up the Ulla river from Vilanova de Arousa, observe the mussels platforms, follow the path of Santiago’s remains, discover the Viking ships, or do another wine tasting in Galicia.

Things to do in A Coruña

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The port city of A Coruña covers a lot of ground so get ready for a decent amount of walking! A walk in the old part of the town will take you to places with lots of history such as the Plaza Maria Pita, the white buildings with crystal windows reflecting the sunshine, and the full of shops and tapas tiny streets. 

If you follow the seaside promenade, longer than 10 kilometers, you will enjoy the views of the ocean, some of the most beautiful city beaches (like Praia do Orzán and Riazor beach), you will even reach the Hercules Tower or the San Pedro crystal ball Ascensor taking you to Monte San Pedro Park. 

Some A Coruña special charms include the Surfers Fountain, the Plaza del Humor, and the delicious wines every place offers!

Our visit to A Coruna was just days before they launched the Estrella Galicia beer tour and museum. So we definitely have to return for a beer tasting!

Things to do on the Galicia Cantabric coast

One of the best decisions we took on our improvised trip in Galicia after completing Camino de Santiago was to head north. After visiting A Coruña, we decided to go further east and take the picturesque train from Ferrol. 

The train goes through the best of Galician views one can hope for. Tiny villages surrounded by green, green, green hills and trees. Then the railway reaches the coast and started to reveal beaches, bays, and bridges on and off. The line is single with only four trains a day in each direction. Almost nobody is on the train, most of the stations don’t ever work as such. You buy your ticket onboard the train, from the conductor.

Things to do in Galicia - Cantabric coast

As Catedrais beach

You get off at a very deserted station and follow the signs to the coastal boardwalk and then you see the huge parking lot. It’s full and that’s because of the famous Praia das Catedrais (or Playa de Los Catedrales).

When the tide is low, huge arches reveal themselves high over the sand. Those rock formations resemble cathedral arches so, therefore, the name of the beach. 

In high season (June to September), you have to register yourself if you want to visit the beach itself. It’s down here on the website of Xunta de Galicia and it’s free. They introduced the maximum capacity of people for a day to preserve the fragile ecosystem of the beach. Visits can only happen from one hour before or up to one hour after low tide, so make sure you check the tides while planning your visit to As Catedrais beach. Find the tides timetable here.

It’s definitely worth the planning and the wet shoes, even when the weather is not perfect. We visited the beach on a cloudy day, just before it started raining (hello, Galicia!) and it was not perfect for photos but the dark mystical views were maybe even better. 

If you visit at high tide, you can still observe the formations from above. There’s the only restaurant nearby that is crucial for your survival if you arrive hungry. It worked even during the Galician siesta time, which we highly appreciated.

Things to do in Galicia, Praia Dos Catedrais

Ribadeo

Ribadeo was s highlight of our trip to Galicia. It is a charming town full of colorful tiles, tiny streets that go up and down, cute houses, and plenty of amazing views. Locked between the Ribadeo river and the Cantabrian Sea, the town of Ribadeo is bound to have amazing landscapes and plenty of material for your camera.

We stayed in a room in an old house with wooden floors, an entry door that opens in half, and colorful Galician touch. The town has many tapas bars and restaurants (don’t bother to try to have dinner before 8.30 p.m.). We even went to the cinema to polish our Spanish with all the movies in Spanish only.

The best places in town are the Ribadeo Marina, Placa de Galicia, Damian tower (closed but the views are amazing), and the bridge connecting Ribadeo with the region of Asturias. Prepare for lots of walking and explore Ribadeo on foot – that is our best advice. 

Next time we’d definitely rent a boat and sail down the river and along the sea coastline – there are so many beaches, caves, and rias to explore!

Finisterre, Muxía, and the Coast of Death

Finisterre is known as “the end of the Earth” for the pilgrims. You have to go there and walk up to the Cape Finisterre and the lighthouse to realize and agree on why they called it like that. High rocks are just cutting into the endless blue ocean. It feels like the end of the Earth, indeed. 

The town of Finisterre holds tons of Camino vibes as many pilgrims decide to walk 3-4 more days after Santiago and enjoy the ocean, the views, and the end of the Earth.

Muxía is 29km of walk or less than an hour by car from Finisterre and it’s actually our favorite place along the Costa del Muerte (Costa da Morte). It’s more of a relaxed place, with some local pulperías and plenty of religious and natural sights to check out. We particularly enjoyed the rocks in front of Virxe da Barca sanctuary and Faro de Muxia and the view over town when you hike up to Mirador Jesus Quintanal.

Allow at least one day for Finisterre and one day for Muxía when you’re sightseeing the Costa da Morte. It got its name from the many shipwrecks found over there.

 Camino de Santiago Finisterre

Gastronomy of Galicia

Galicia is one of the biggest producers of seafood in the world! So if you’re into fish and seafood (pescado y mariscos), you’ll be in heaven in Galicia.

The places around Ulla river are famous for their mussels (harvested from the river itself), Muxía is known for the best octopuses and percebes, in general – some Galician towns have their own specialties, but anywhere in Galicia, you’ll enjoy fresh seafood for sure. In A Coruña and the northern coast, they take pride in their Vaca Gallega.

A remark on percebes – these oddly shaped goose barnacles that both men and women take great risks to harvest. People die harvesting the iconic delicacy of Muxia so our advice is to not eat those and stop this ridiculous nonsense. Responsible travel means being also responsible to all the people, together with the environment.

What if you’re not into animal-based food? Then it’s gonna be very hard for you in Galicia (as it’s for us). If you love eggs, you’ll never be hungry as they have tortilla almost everywhere. Some places offer special cottage cheeses (from the Vaca Gallega). And here comes our favorite – Pimientos Del Padron. 

Those small-sized green peppers are a typical Galician dish – fried in oil and salted. Some of them can be really hot so it’s kind of a game to hit one – you never know. “Pimientos del Padrón – unos pican y otros no. “ 

In most cases, they’re quite mild, but sometimes you’re lucky and you eat a very hot one. The last time I hit a really hit pepper I couldn’t eat anything for a decent amount of time – everything got to feel extremely chilly for me for a couple of hours.

Wine and Pimientos de Padron, Galicia

Wine tasting in Galicia

We haven’t done a typical wine-tasting tour of Galicia but we should! Among the most famous wine experiences are Rías Baixas boat and wine tasting tour, Ruta del Vino de O Ribeiro, Ruta del Vino Ribeira Sacra, etc.

We drank a lot of homemade, local, and not-so-local wines in different restaurants and bodegas. Among our favorite grape sorts of Galicia are Albariño, Torrontés, and Loureira. Galicia has 5 designations of origin for wine regions (DO): Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, and Valdeorras.

Galicia tours

If you decided to go on a tour and experience the best of Galicia, we suggest you get some inspiration from below.

What to do when it rains in Galicia

Well, we need to be prepared for rain in Galicia. As it really does rain a lot in Galicia. If you like to get wet, you can dance in the streets and enjoy the rainy views and ponds. After experiencing the art of rain in Galicia, you’ll probably want to be dry for a while.

The good news is that there are plenty of museums, churches, and cathedrals to explore. We never got to the above forced by the weather. We stick to gastronomy and wine tasting in Galicia, or just get plenty of sleep – there’s nothing better than rain to accompany your sleep.

So if it really rains a lot in Galicia, you might feel a bit cheated, but you’ll have to stick to indoor activities. Sorry!

Accommodation in Galicia

Stay in Santiago de CompostelaHostal Costa Azul if you want to be near the cathedral. Albergue Seminario Menor – the seminary and Camino atmosphere! Albergue Acuario – one of the most affordable and chill albergues in Santiago. Dream in Santiago – quite new and fresh, fully equipped kitchen and a friendly host.

Stay in A Coruña We stayed in Hostal Linar, in the very center of the city, in an old building which had its charms but also the walls were so thin that we could hear the all-night party on the street below. 

Stay near As Catedrais beach – the very welcoming Casa Guillermo with amazing hosts, breakfast, and 20 mins by foot from the beach. Plus the green Galician countryside. The host was so nice to drive us to a restaurant for dinner and even wanted to drive us back but we decided to walk back.

Stay in Ribadeo Casa dios – rooms in a typical stone house in Ribadeo – nice with zero interaction with the hosts.

Getting around in Galicia

We mostly got around Galicia on foot (walking the Camino) or by train and bus. Those have a lot of charm, we highly recommend walking parts of the Camino or taking the scenic train from Ferrol to Ribadeo and further. However, if you want to be free to explore to the maximum and at your own pace, you need a car!

Don’t forget your driver’s license, check out for car rental deals, and hit those picturesque roads! 

Those were some of our favorite things to do in Galicia with some ideas about where to stay, what to taste, and what activities you can enjoy. We hope you managed to walk Camino de Santiago at least once, but even if you don’t, there are just tons to do and experience in the greenest region of Spain!

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