Located in the northwestern corner of Spain, Galicia is an enchanting region of captivating landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm-hearted locals.
A destination that embraces contrasts, its rugged coastline is met by the rolling hills of its interior. It is where emerald-green forests and pristine golden beaches coexist harmoniously with charming villages and historic lighthouses.
It also embraces an unbreakable connection to one of the world’s most renowned spiritual journeys – the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, adding an air of spirituality and cultural significance.
For those who veer onto the road less traveled, Galicia offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience.
So, journey to this magical corner of Spain and discover the magic of a place that’ll forever hold a special piece of your heart.
Map of Places to Visit in Galicia, Spain
Baiona is a charming coastal town that takes you back in time.
Defined by its old town of quaint narrow streets and charming squares that showcase traditional Galician architecture, it is also known for its stunning beaches. One of their most popular, Playa de Ladeira, is an oasis of golden sand and calm waters, perfect for relaxation and water activities.
Elsewhere, the town’s most iconic landmark is the imperious Monterreal Fortress, a medieval 16th-century fortress crowned on a hilltop overlooking the sea. You will be impressed by its formidable walls and the stunning panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean it presents.
If you head to Baiona’s harbor, you can also see a replica of the Pinta, one of Christopher Columbus’ ships, offering a glimpse into the town’s maritime history. Stepping aboard this full-scale replica gives you a real sense of what it must have been like for Columbus and his voyages exploring the New World.
Spain has earned itself a reputation for having some of the best nightlife in Europe, and Vigo is a terrific place in Galicia to enjoy it.
Located in the province of Pontevedra, the bustling city has several exceptional nightclubs, bars and entertainment venues where you can carouse through the night.
It’s not all partying here, though. The city has some exceptional beaches, including Samil, one of the city’s most prominent and Candio, a great spot for surfing. It also has a fantastic dining scene, with many restaurants serving traditional Galician dishes such as octopus, mussels, and scallops.
Oyster Street in Vigo’s old town is famous for its fresh oysters and other seafood delicacies. We have enjoyed a couple of good meals at restaurants here.
Vigo has its fair share of notable landmarks, including the impressive 17th-century Castro Fortress. It also boasts world-class cultural attractions like the Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO) and the Pinacoteca Francisco Fernández del Riego. Both exhibit a collection of works by Galician artists.
If you love wine and delicious seafood, you’ll want to visit Cambados in the Pontevedra province.
The town is part of the Rías Baixas Denomination of Origin, which produces some of the best white wines in Spain. Visitors can tour local wineries and taste some of their varietals.
You can order many of these wines in the town’s local restaurants and a delicious range of seafood dishes, including fresh fish, octopus, and mussels. If you are a foodie, try and time your visit with the Seafood Festival, which takes place every year in July.
Many of these restaurants reside in its historical center, full of beautiful, narrow streets and houses showcasing traditional Galician architecture. Tourists can explore it on foot and visit several historic landmarks, including the Ruins of Santa Mariña Dozo and the Church of San Benito.
If you are interested in history, you can visit the Fefiñans Palace. The palace was built in the 17th century and is one of the best examples of Galician Baroque architecture.
9. Sil Canyon
Sil Canyon is a breathtakingly beautiful canyon surrounded by stunning natural scenery.
A natural wonder, one of its main attractions is the river, which has carved out the canyon over millions of years. One of the most spectacular things to do in Galicia is to take a boat ride down and enjoy the stunning views of the canyon walls that soar on either side.
Alternatively, you can hike along several trails that present it from a different perspective and the surrounding countryside.
If you are interested in history, you can visit some of the local monasteries and churches in the area. One of the most famous is the Mosteiro de Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil, which dates back to the 12th century.
Sil Canyon is also known for its vineyards and wine production, with several tours to cellar doors available.
Situated on the banks of the Miño River, right on the border with Portugal, Tui is a charming Galicia town where history and tradition intertwine.
Known for its captivating medieval ambiance, the heart of Tui is its old town. You can spend hours wandering around a quaint labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and picturesque squares.
Within it are charming boutique shops and delightful cafes offering delicious local specialties.
The grandeur of Tui Cathedral, with its Gothic and Romanesque architecture, dominates the skyline and serves as a symbol of the town’s rich past. If you explore the cathedral, you can better understand Tui’s history at the Diocesan Museum, which resides inside it. You will see religious art and artefacts there, providing insights into the region’s spiritual and artistic legacy.
7. Cabo Finisterre
In Roman times, Cabo Finisterre was regarded as the end of the known world.
A place of mystique and natural beauty, it holds historical and cultural significance as the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula.
Visiting Cabo Finisterre is an awe-inspiring experience. The rugged cliffs that embrace the Atlantic Ocean create a dramatic backdrop, where waves crash against the rocks with relentless power. The panoramic views from the lighthouse at the cape’s summit are breathtaking, especially as the sun starts to sets over the vast horizon.
The surrounding area also features secluded beaches and hidden coves that you should take the opportunity to explore. At the same time, the nearby fishing village of Finisterre offers a glimpse into the local maritime culture, with its bustling port and several excellent fresh seafood restaurants.
Situated along the Miño River’s banks, Ourense is a bustling city known for its hot springs and impressive architecture.
The Burgas is a collection of hot springs people have enjoyed for centuries, with thermal waters providing a rejuvenating experience. Tourists can relax in public pools or indulge in luxurious spa treatments. Either way, it is the perfect remedy for aching bodies after a long day of sightseeing.
As well as the hot springs, Ourense’s historic center also features several unique architectural treasures. One of the most impressive is Ourense Cathedral – a Romanesque gem dedicated to Saint Martin and notable for its intricate carvings and impressive façade.
Elsewhere, the Museum of Ourense houses an impressive collection of archaeological artefacts, religious art, and contemporary works. The city also has several attractive squares and a beautiful green space, Alameda Park, which showcases stunning city views.
Lugo is a historic city best known for the incredibly well-preserved Roman walls that encircle its city center.
The impressive fortifications were built in the 3rd century, stretching over two kilometers. They are unique for being the world’s only fully intact Roman walls.
Walking along the top of the walls provides panoramic views of the city and a unique insight into the town’s ancient history.
You can also explore the charming old town within the walls, comprising narrow streets, medieval buildings, and beautiful squares. Be sure to check out the Cathedral of Lugo, which features Romanesque and Gothic elements in its exquisite architecture.
Lugo is also famous for the quality of its Galician cuisine. Traditional dishes such as pulpo a la gallega (Galician-style octopus) and empanadas (savory pies) are local specialties we have eaten in this fascinating place.
4. Cies Islands
If you fancy a change of scenery from the mainland, the Cies Islands is a terrific place to go.
Located off the coast of Galicia, these islands consist of immaculate white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters, and unspoiled landscapes.
Comprising three main islands – Monteagudo, do Faro, and San Martiñ – they are a protected nature reserve, which is why they are so pristine.
Visitors can enjoy swimming and sunbathing at Rodas Beach, regarded as one of the best in Europe. Its turquoise waters are also popular with snorkelers and kayakers looking to explore the vibrant marine life.
Several hiking trails crisscross the islands, leading visitors through lush forests that offer stunning viewpoints. If you scale to the top of Monteagudo, that effort would be rewarded with sensational panoramic views. There you will see the shimmering waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the neighboring islands from the highest point of Cies Island.
3. A Coruña
Situated on a picturesque peninsula, A Coruña is somewhere you should make a point of visiting. Boasting a stunning coastline and magnificent architecture, its long stretches of sandy beaches, including Orzán and Riazor, provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation and water sports.
Its lively waterfront promenade, the Paseo Marítimo, is a fantastic place to stroll and people-watch. At the same time, its historic center showcases a rich architectural heritage, with narrow streets filled with charming shops, cafes and buildings. They include María Pita Square, Concello da Coruña (town hall), and the 16th-century Castillo de San Antón, which impress with their design and craftsmanship.
However, top billing has to go to the city’s iconic landmark, the Tower of Hercules. An ancient Roman lighthouse, it stands tall as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and climbing to its top rewards visitors with spectacular views.
2. Santiago de Compostela
The capital of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela is a city steeped in history, spirituality, and architectural splendor. Renowned as the final destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, it attracts travelers from all four corners of the world.
The city’s centerpiece is undoubtedly the magnificent Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque architecture masterpiece. Its grandeur is matched by the Plaza del Obradoiro, a square surrounded by impressive buildings that provide a captivating backdrop.
When exploring the winding streets of the old town, you’ll find charming squares, picturesque alleys, and historic buildings adorned with intricate facades. The atmosphere is vibrant and lively, with bustling markets, lively cafes, and street performers.
Santiago de Compostela is also a city of culture and art, with numerous museums, galleries, and cultural events that showcase its rich heritage. The Galician Center for Contemporary Art and the Museum of the Galician People are notable institutions to visit if you get a chance.
1. Playa de las Catedrales
Playa de las Catedrales is a stunning coastal formation renowned for its majestic rock formations. Also known as the Beach of the Cathedrals, the natural wonder resembles a cathedral’s grand arches and vaults.
When we visited the beach, we were captivated by its intricate network of sea-carved cliffs and caves, which reveal themselves during low tide. These natural sculptures change with the tides and light, offering a different perspective whenever you look at them.
You could easily spend a few hours wandering along the sandy shore and passing through its fascinating rock formations, arches, and tunnels. The landscape is surreal and enchanting, especially with the sounds the ocean breeze makes. If you do go there, just be mindful of the changing tides.