GALICIA – WHY GO?
Well away from the much-visited costas, green and lush Galicia in northwestern Spain boasts the dazzling Gothic and Romanesque spires of medieval Santiago de Compostela and its rugged Atlantic coast is dotted with fishing ports serving up fantastic seafood.
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Step back in time and visit the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town of Santiago de Compostela – Galicia’s most popular town. Join the pilgrimage route to reach the imposing Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a Gothic and Romanesque masterpiece where St James is said to have been buried. For a taste of typical Galician culture, head to pretty Pontevedra to explore the town’s old streets and pick up some local arts and handicrafts. Historical A Coruña is guarded by the still-functioning Roman lighthouse (Hercules Tower); the romantic old town contains the beautiful Palace of Maria Pita.
Get back to nature and explore Galicia’s National Park, which stretches across the Cíes, Cortegada, Ons and Sálvora island chains and protects the biodiversity of the flowers and wildlife found in the area. There are lots of routes to explore the beautiful Atlantic islands and be sure to look out for birdlife, whales, dolphins and turtles along the way.
Trendy tipples can be found in the Valdeorras valley where wine buffs sup on glasses of red Mencía and white Godello, or make a trip to Cambados to taste high-quality wine from the Albariño area – if you can stay sober for long enough have a look around the medieval town of Cambados and explore the main praza and church.
Galicia is heaven for fish fans. Indulge with exquisite oystersat the seafood market in Vigo, near the border with Portugal. El Grove is another must for pescanarians; cross the bridge to reach the seashell-covered chapel on the island of La Toja. Try the local speciality of goose-barnacles - ugly on the outside but deliciously beautiful inside.
MAKE A DATE
Join the ancient La Rapa das Bestas (The Taming of the Beasts) festival in late June/early July around Pontevedra. Farmers ‘tame’ their wild horses by rounding them up and shaving their manes.
This year St James’ birthday (July 25) falls on a Sunday so the whole month is a celebration, especially in Santiago de Compostela, with music, markets and fireworks across the region.
Try this year’s new wine at the ‘Magic fire’ (Magosto) festival in mid-November – chestnuts are roasted in huge barrels for the festival.
Share a bottle of Albariño wine and a plate of fresh seafood at one of Galicia's coastal restaurants.
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