Things to do in Galicia, Spain
It's taken me quite a while, two and a bit years to be exact, to visit the North of Spain. Apart from living in Madrid, I was spending most of my time in the south of Spain (Andalucía) and in Alicante to the East. It's not that I didn't want to visit the North, I just hadn't gotten around to it yet, until about a week ago. The North of Spain is comprised of four different parts (I guess we could say) and they are Galicia, Asturias, Basque Country and Cataluña. The trip about a week ago was a six day trip to Galicia.
By the way, you can also read this blog post in Spanish.
My first time in Galicia consists of a 6 day car trip, staying between Santiago de Compostela and the sea. There are so many things to see in Galicia and the route that I did (with my partner and his parents) is only one option among several. I really liked the route we did and I recommend it.
What you need for your trip to Galicia (following our route):
1. A car
2. A hotel or house anywhere in Galicia (literally anywhere is fine)
3. Desire to swim
4. Desire to eat seafood
Where to sleep in Galicia
As I said above, you could get a hotel or a house anywhere since you have a car and not only that, there are nice things to see in every corner of Galicia so it literally doesn't matter.
We had picked a house (using Airbnb) between Santiago de Compostela and the sea (the Noia area) in a lost village called Urdilde. We were 15 minutes from the beaches of Noia, 15 minutes from a park with waterfalls, 30 minutes from Santiago de Compostela and an hour and a half from La Coruña.
On the way to Galicia from Madrid; where to stop
Where to stop on the way from Madrid depends on your final destination but we like to stop in beautiful towns or cities that have something to do and of course, take a walk and most importantly, eat! On the way to the flat, we stopped in a super nice village, Villafranca del Bierzo. This village has a beautiful square, several churches, a castle and basically, it's worth a stop.
Which beaches to visit in Galicia
Obviously there are a lot of beautiful beaches to visit in Galicia with clear water and few people and I'm not going to write about popular beaches that you could just search on Google. I'll tell you where we went. We went to some beaches that I definitely recommend in the area of Noia, between Praia de Boa and Boa small beach. You can visit the whole area and it's just beautiful!
With very few people, fine sand, clear water and bars for a drink, these beaches are perfect. I would even buy a house in this area and go to these beaches every day. The water isn't exactly warm but if you like a bit of cold therapy, like us, this won't be a problem.
Towns and cities to visit in Galicia
Again, there are a lot of cities to visit in Galicia so here I will tell you which cities we visited.
Our route went like this;
1. Santiago de Compostela (Half a day to see the old town and obviously the cathedral)
2. Lugo and Melide (Another half day or so but Melide is a very small town where we just stopped for a drink and nothing more. This day was perhaps the most "boring". What I want to say is that these two places were nothing special and I really would be ok if I never visited them again)
3. Pontevedra and Combarro (A whole day for both of us and really worth it! I really liked Combarro. It's a town or maybe a small city (I don't know) and it's very interesting and different. It has sea, port, an old town and the truth is that it is a beautiful place where you could even go for a dip)
4. La Coruña (A whole day. In our case, we spent almost the whole day here with family friends in a great restaurant that I would recommend to everyone. I'll tell you a little more about the restaurant below. We also went to Monte de San Pedro for a walk and to enjoy the views. You also have the tower of Hercules but as there were so many people there, it was impossible to park the car so we just went somewhere else)
5. Finisterre (Unfortunately, we were only here for a few hours because the day was terrible, grey and with way too much fog. We couldn't see anything nor take any photos. I would love to come back when the weather is nice)
What to eat in Galicia
One does not go to Spain and not eat well. Perhaps you already know what foods are more popular in Galicia and if you're Spanish you should know more than me! I'm going to share what I ate with my family and what I liked a lot. I also want to recommend a restaurant in La Coruña where you can eat the best damn seafood and a paella how a paella should be.
Adventures in Santiago de Compostela
It probably won't come as a shock that in Galicia we ate a lot of seafood and a lot of great meat. We ate some delicious stuff such as Galician-style octopus, squid, clams, cockles and sirloin steak but we were very disappointed with restaurants in the centre of Santiago de Compestela.
It took us a long time to find a place that at first seemed decent but in the end it turned out it wasn't - with low quality food and impatient waiters who wouldn't let you finish your meal in peace.
Eating in lost villages
If you want to eat well, generally speaking you have to get away from the center and that's basically what we did more than once during this trip. It's not difficult to find a good restaurant in a random village.
You could choose a place on the map, go there and see what's there. To look for places, sometimes we looked for things like "pulpería" or "tavern" or "grill" to see which places would come up but you don't have to do that. If you don't have recommendations and you have time, take a stab at the map and see where you end up.
A great restaurant in La Coruña - Comarea
Although I don't rally like writing from the point of view of "you have to go here" and "you have to see this" because everyone is different and you might not like something that I did, there is one restaurant that I want to recommend in La Coruña, Comarea.
It is a brand of restaurants which has three physical places, but from the same owners. There are two in the center of La Coruña and one in the port, by the marina. We went to the one on Rua Enrique Mariñas Romero 1 and we had eaten lunch there and even went back for dinner.
Here I ate the best seafood and the best rice of my life. I don't say "paella" because it wasn't really paella, and it wasn't rice with seafood either. It was seafood with rice, as it should be! There you have seafood, rice, fish and meat. Everything is of the highest quality and the prices are very reasonable. I think it's very reasonable to charge 24 euros for an amazing sirloin steak. Better to pay this than 10 euros for a plate of fake octopus.
Then come the desserts! The homemade desserts. I had the best lemon cake I've ever had and I also had to try Grandma's cake which was also delicious! In short, a wonderful experience. I would go back to La Coruña just to eat there, I mean it.
Madrid to Galicia; where to stop on the way
Unfortunately, if there's a way there, there'll be a way back. On the way to Madrid we made two stops, one in Ourense and another in Benavente (which is already Castilla and Léon, not Galicia). A walk around Ourense is quite enjoyable and I recommend one place where you can have a coffee or churros - Café Latino (Praza de Sta. Eufemia, 7). It is a jazz club with a pleasant atmosphere, an old style and nice coffee. After having a drink there, you can continue walking around the city.
The second stop was for lunch and this was in Benavente, a nice little town. We had a menu of the day at the restaurant Los Remos (Calle de San Antón Viejo, 1). All very nice (apart from the calamares which was low quality and almost all just batter) especially the homemade cakes. A pity that almost all the shops were closed because taking a peek through the windows, I saw that they had quality clothes and shoes. I'll have to go back!
In short, it was a wonderful trip to Galcia and I look forward to learning more about the north of Spain. Although there are lots of things to see and do in Galicia, I hope this article has given you an idea of what a 6 day trip to Galicia might look like.
Until next time,