Discover Galicia it means knowing a very different Spain from the one we are “used to”. Galicia does not reflect Spanish clichés.
Galicia is a region unto itself, ha its own official language, Galician, which represents one of the 4 official languages of the Spanish territory. It is a very green region and quite rainy as it is influenced by the Atlantic climate. The sky is often gray and to get an idea just scroll through the photographs of Santiago de Compostela that you can find online… finding one with the sun is almost impossible.
To read -> What to see in Galicia
Baleful climate and verdant nature that are very reminiscent of countries like Scotland and Ireland. Galicia has further aspects in common with these states: the bagpipes. It is easy to find bagpipe musicians near Santiago's cathedral.
You may wonder what bagpipes have to do with Spain ... where did the castanets e flamenco shows?
Galicia has a soul of its own which derives from the particular origins of its people; Galicia is one of the seven Celtic regions and all this is reflected in customs, traditions and way of life. Here is the reason for the bagpipe.
The 4-day ontheroad itinerary in Galicia
It is a region of Spain rather extensive, we could say that as an area it is equal to almost half of Portugal. It is vast and there are so many things to see in Galicia.
In this post I want to offer you a short ontheroad, feasible even in a long weekend, which will take you to discover fantastic places scattered in the middle of nature, without forgetting the cultural and religious aspects that are very important in Galicia.
The complete itinerary in Galicia
There are several low cost airlines that fly to Galicia, the problem is that they do not fly every day of the week but only some of them. While it could be a problem from one point of view, it could be seen as a good thing on the other. By fitting dates and times well it is possible to land in one location and take the return flight to another location
In the case of this itinerary in Galicia, you fly over the beautiful Santiago de Compostela and depart from Vigo, a few hundred kilometers further south. It is an ontheroad itinerary, so you will need to rent a car, in this case I want to recommend others 3 articles that might help you rent a car.
- How to rent a car: tips and some recommendations
- Online car rental? 8 key tips
- Traveling on the road: tips for a perfect car trip!
1st day - Santiago de Compostela
How not to start this itinerary in Galicia if not from its most famous city: Santiago de Compostela. From the aesthetic point of view it is very reminiscent of the cities of Great Britain; houses all in granite that contribute to creating a particular atmosphere, sometimes a little melancholy.
Santiago is the final stage of many religious / spiritual paths.
Here the pilgrims arrive at Square from Obradoiro after kilometers and kilometers on foot. They arrive exhausted, tried but happy and less "burdened" than when they left. Each of them takes part in a spiritual journey for a specific reason.
Along the way, decisions mature, gains of conscience, they get rid of the burdens and conjectures that led them to carry out such a tiring undertaking. In the square some cry, others laugh, others remain silent in the face of what for many days has been the much sought-after destination.
In reality it is not the final destination because many continue on to Finisterre, or the real last stage of the Camino de Santiago.
In Santiago you have to spend at least one day because it is a city that deserves to be visited and in part even a little understood. Despite being a place that lives "crushed" by the popularity of the spiritual path, Santiago, in my opinion, has managed to carve out its own identity regardless of religious tourism. Its market is amazing, the internal streets are also beautiful the gardens of Santo Domingos de Bonaval. In these gardens one perceives the Celtic soul and the strong connection and respect for nature.
To stay on the subject of characteristic environments, I can only advise you to sleep in Quinta da Auga hotel . It is a 4 star, so not exactly cheap, but it allows you to immerse yourself in a particular dimension. A relais & chateaux converted from an old paper mill. One meter thick walls made from granite boulders, this place will infuse you with a special tranquility. It is not in the center, it is only a few kilometers from Santiago, but from my point of view, if the budget allows it you can only take it into consideration.
2nd day - Pazo de Oca -> Pazo de Rubianes -> Pontevedra
The second day we leave from Santiago de Compostela and in about 40 minutes by car you will arrive at the Pazo de Oca.
Briefly, what is a pazo? A pazo is a noble palace consisting of the manor house, a chapel, accommodation for employees and fantastic, extremely well-kept gardens.
Il Pazo de Oca it is so interesting that it is defined the Galician Versailles. Inside, the area of the two ponds is striking, consisting of one part where there are white swans, and the other where there are black swans. A sort of contrast between good and evil divided by the bridge and supervised by the church of the Pazo.
The next stop is another Pazo, namely the Pazo de Rubianes. Also in this case the gardens are huge and well-kept. The Pazo de Rubianes is very different from that of Oca because each noble family had its own prerogatives and interests.
This Pazo develops much of the hill behind the noble palace and has two great strengths:
- the presence of more than 200 varieties of camellias and trees over 200 years old.
- the production of a Albariño grape wine, with a unique and particular flavor as the grape is considered one of the best grapes in the world.
Finally, finish the day in Pontevedra, another very pretty town whose streets are very animated in the evening. There are many squares and streets ready to welcome the floods of people. In Pontevedra you will also be able to see the signs of the Portuguese road that passes through this city.
Here is the map of the day.
Day 3 - O Grove -> Fonte Ermida de Lanzada -> Ourense -> Monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil
The third day of this ontheroad starts from O Grove, a small town overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. O Grove is the ideal place to discover mussel farms; crustaceans and seafood are in fact the most consumed products in Galicia. Gastronomy is linked to both land and seafood dishes, but it certainly excels in seafood.
The bays of this area of Galicia are perfect for the cultivation of mussels. Fresh water coming from rivers “collides” with sea water creating the right habitat.
Any advice on where to eat something in O Grove? Here you are satisfied ... try the immense fish courses of Sal de Allo restaurant.
From O Grove you can go and take a little stop in a beautiful place overlooking the ocean, I'm talking about Source Ermida de Lanzada. It is a few kilometers from O Grove and deserves all the time you can dedicate to it. It was once said that the world ended on the rugged coastline of Galicia's extraordinary beauty. The ocean, with its strength, contributes to making the Galician coasts even more mystical. This time no words are needed, just an image ...
The itinerary in Galicia that I am recommending continues first towards Ourense and ends on the third day at Monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil . The name says it all but it is an exceptional place. It is an old monastery now used as a luxury hotel of the national “Parador” chain. It is nestled in the Ourense mountains in the Ribeira Sacra and was once the main monastery.
Sleeping at the Monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas de Sil is a suggestive experience. You can sleep in what were once the monks' rooms (now used as normal rooms) and walk in the cloisters without any living soul.
Said like this it can arouse fear (and in fact there is a bit of fear) but it almost feels like being part of a movie. To try!
Map of the third day of the itinerary in Galicia:
4th day - La Ribeira Sacra: Igrexa de Santa Cristina Monastery -> Balcones de Madrid -> Castro Caldelas -> Mirador de Souto Chao -> Vigo
The last day is perhaps also the most beautiful of these 4 days in Galicia. Sleeping at the Monastero de Santo Estevo, you will wake up in full Ribeira Sacra, that area of Galicia where the Sil and Miño rivers form canyons and gorges in the mountains.
La Ribeira Sacra it is known not only for its natural beauty but also for religious reasons. There were many convents built along the banks of the Sil and the Monastery of Santo Estevo was precisely the most important convent to which everyone referred. One of these convents is that of the Igrexa de Santa Cristina a short distance from the monastery.
La Ribeira Sacra is also scattered with splendid miradors. Once you have visited Santa Cristina, you can head towards the Balcones de Madrid, a vantage point called in this way because, long ago, wives climbed to the “balcony” who wanted to greet their husbands leaving with the ships on the Sil. They were looking for their fortune in Madrid, which is the reason for this particular name.
From the Balcones in Madrid I recommend you move to Castro Caldelas, a small town that was a pleasant discovery. Apart from the presence of one of the few castles that remained intact after the various popular uprisings, the country does not offer much. Perhaps this is the beauty of living the tranquility of a small village lost in the Ribeira Sacra mountains.
From Castro Caldelas you can then cross the river via a bridge and reach the opposite bank of the Sil. The “riba” north of the Sil is characterized by terracing e cultivation of vines, it is absurd how many of them are practically overhanging the river.
To better appreciate the area, I recommend you stop at Mirador de Souto Chao which allows a respectable glance.
The fourth and final day in Galicia ends with the arrival in Vigo.
Another little tip: if you are hungry, stop in Ourense to eat an Octopus alla Gallega at the fantastic restaurant Pulpo à Feira.
Final tips to expand this itinerary in Galicia
Galicia is beautiful both inland and on the coast. In this tour that I have recommended, I have not taken into consideration the northern part but only the area from Santiago de Compostela to Portugal. If you have more time available, I suggest you to dedicate a few days to visit La Coruna (which according to many is beautiful) and the rugged north-west coast.
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