Guide to Galicia, Spain

Galicia, one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, sits above Portugal at the most North Western point of the Iberian Peninsula looking out proudly into the Atlantic, and so it should.

Perhaps one of the lesser known regions by tourists, within Spain and those in the know, Galicia is famed for its beautiful countryside, sublime seafood as well as its kind and trustworthy people. Being so close to Portugal it is understandable that the local language is actually galego, a curious mix between Portuguese and Spanish that leans more towards the Portuguese end of the spectrum. Even more curious is their Celtic heritage, the origin of which is thought to be the settlers that came over from the British Isles and Ireland centuries ago and manifests itself through architecture, music and even the football team Celta Vigo.

The Galicians have much to offer to anyone lucky enough to visit their homeland and this guide will attempt to set out a few of the best things to do when visiting.

Pulpo a la Gallega and the Galician cuisine

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Galician cuisine without doubt must be a first for anyone visiting the area. As well as being able to find some of the best food and wine in Europe travellers will be happy to know that this privilege will not cost them an arm and a leg as it is very economical indeed. The region is most famous for it’s Pulpo a la Gallega a simple dish of fresh Octopus, grilled or fried, chopped roughly and served with Paprika and potato. This accompanied by a glass of the regions Albariño, a fantastically unique dry white, and a lung-full of fresh sea air, is enough to keep anyone coming back.

The main components of the Galician diet come from the sea, such as Mariscada, a selection of seafood and empanadas, tuna-filled Cornish-pasty-esque pastries, but there is also a wide variety of hearty stews and soups. You would struggle to find a bad place to eat. Going on from there, as always, in order to find the bests places to eat, ask the locals where their favourite place is.

Camino de Santiago/St. James Trail

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The annual pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, undertaken by those of the Christian faith an otherwise is a fantastic way to enjoy some of the breath-taking Galician countryside and beyond. The most popular route known as the Camino Frances begins in St Jean Pied de Port, France, however there are many other, shorter routes if you prefer. Traveling by foot over days or weeks accompanied by thousands of other walkers gives you the chance to experience the best food, b&bs, views and company that Europe has to offer. You can find out more information here.

Traveling so far by foot however does have its disadvantages and to avoid carrying all your money with you consider sending some electronically via somewhere like Foreign Exchange for when you arrive to Santiago.

Cathedral of Santiago

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Upon arrival to Santiago one place that cannot be missed is the stunning architecture and history of the Cathedral of Santiago. The Cathedral is nothing short of overwhelming and boasts many artefacts and Saints trinkets. Entrance is free but I would suggest spending a little bit and going on the rooftop tour.

Playa de Catedrales

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Situated on the Northern coast line close to the border of the neighbouring region of Asturias, Playa de Catedrales, or Beach of the Cathedrals, boasts spectacular rock formations that are best enjoyed early at low tide. Somewhat isolated from the main tourist hotspots and cities, this fantastic beach would be an excellent calling point for a group travelling from the Basque country to Galicia.

Roman Walls of Lugo

Galicia has deep roots in Roman history and this would be a fantastic place to visit for anyone interested in the era. Amongst many others sites and ruins, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Walls of Lugo have been described at the ‘finest example of late Roman fortifications in Western Europe’. Like the Catherdral of Santiago, there is no admission fee (thank you, Gobierno de España!) and the day can be spent following the perfectly preserved walls around the entire city of Lugo.

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About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels