View of the Cíes Islands, which Ptolemy called ‘The islands of the gods’.
Galicia has unspoiled countryside, great gastronomy and lovely beaches
There are several ‘routes’ planned for travellers with different tastes and interests
The satisfaction of doing the first Cultural Itinerary of Europe, in other words the Camino de Santiago, and of achieving your goal in the historic city centre of Santiago and its cathedral, is not the only thing that can entice travellers to choose Galicia as a destination. As well as the jewels that are to be found on ‘El Camino’, this part of Spain has four other main attractions: tranquil and unspoiled countryside, a gastronomy based on seafood, its sea, beaches and famous thermal springs and, finally, internationally renowned and spectacular places to visit. During their stay, travellers will discover the hidden treasures of this region, little by little.
Sea and sanctuaries
The pilgrims route is considered the star experience by the Galicia Tourism website (www.turgalicia.es), but now it can also be enjoyed via the so-called Bono Iacobus, which combines rural tourism with a trip along the ‘Caminos de Santiago’. There are also other attractions. By choosing the ‘Lighthouses and Natural Beaches’ route, visitors can enjoy seeing clean beaches which are unmarked by development as well as some stunning scenery. It is a way of seeing the coastal Galicia, its culture and heritage, as well as nature in its purest state.
Another option is the Magic Sanctuaries route, which visits churches situated in unique locations, where unusual religious rites are mixed with the oldest pagan legends. Those who choose this experience can make three wishes on the Santo André de Teixido Route and in other sanctuaries in the north of Galicia, take a trip to the holiest places on the Costa da Morte, sail on the same waters on which the body of the Apostle was brought to Galicia... to sum up, they can breathe the essence of truly magical places, purify the soul, forget everyday life and immerse themselves in a world of mystery and peace.
Route of the camellias
Galicia is the second place in the world after Japan in terms of species of camellia. There are about 80 species and almost 30,000 different varieties. Nowhere else in Europe offers such a variety of camellia flowers, of collections, of exhibitions, of producers, as Galicia. Unsurprisingly, there is also a Camellia Route, which visits spectacular gardens, buildings and cultivations of these plants.
Waters and wine
The sea is a way of life for the people of Galicia and it gives the landscape an essence of mystery and depth. To find out more, another package of activities has been designed under the name of ‘Turismo Mariñeiro’, or Marine Tourism. But the importance of water in Galicia is not only its sea: it also comes from deep under the ground. The fame of Galicia’s thermal springs has made this a favourite place for health tourism. If that isn’t enough reason to make the trip, its combination with wine tasting should do the trick. Wine producers and good food go hand in hand. The Protected Designations of Origin of Galicia - Monterrei, Rías Baixas, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro and Valdeorras– are well known throughout the world.
The Natural Parks and protected areas are an authentic example of natural Galicia. The woodlands here offer a stunning background to a wealth of experiences. Visitors can discover part of the true Galicia by taking its Hidden Heritage route, which includes trips to monasteries, stone crosses, fortresses and other architectural gems.
Ten unique landscapes
Finally, Galicia can boast a series of unique towns and other places (which are also the focus of another route) which have been declared Heritage of Humanity and for which this region is famous. Among these are the Camino de Santiago, of course, the ancient city of Santiago de Compostela, the wall of Lugo and A Coruña’s Tower of Hercules. As well as these, there is the inland Ribeira Sacra, between the provinces of Lugo and Ourense; the Ferrol de la Ilustración, which was the only military port of the Enlightenment in Europe and which conserves the original structure of a military port of that time and the biggest naval base of the period. Another of the most spectacular landscapes in Galicia is the Serra da Capelada, from the Punta Falcoeiro to the Punta dos Aguillóns, which reaches its maximum height of 620 metres with the peak of Vixía Herbeira, and which has gradients of more than 80 per cent on the coastline. Cape Finisterre, the Santa Tegra mountain, with the principal walled city of north-western Spain, and the Cíes Islands, which Ptolemy described as the ‘Islands of the Gods’, complete the list.
Visiting Galicia is not just a tourist trip; it is the chance to enjoy an experience for all one’s senses.