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While Galicia is technically in Spain, it feels like a world on its own. From the food to the beaches, travelling to Galicia has been one of my most memorable experiences.
Are you planning a trip to Galicia, Spain? Or just want to know more about the region? This article has the highlights from my trip to Galicia.
Hopefully, this gives you some more insight into this beautiful and historic region.
Where is Galicia, Spain?
To be honest, I would not have explored Galicia had it not been for a Workaway invite.
Situated on the Northwestern coast of Spain, many people ignore this region altogether being far from the usual Spanish highlights.
The region of Galicia, Spain borders on Portugal and has over 1, 600 km of coastline.
Located on the Atlantic coast, Galicia has pretty mild temperatures. This is why we loved spending the holidays here away from the freezing Quebecois winter.
Known for being a famous pilgrimage destination, Galicia has so much to offer from historic sights to natural gems.
Cities to Visit When Travelling to Galicia, Spain
The Galician region has seven cities.
- A Coruña: (Pop: ~1.1 million) This was our basecamp. A Coruña is a beautiful city on the coast with a number of beaches to visit. The downtown core is historic, yet modern with trendy shops and retailers.
- Santiago de Compostela: (Pop: ~95,000) We spent a few days here to walk a bit of the Camino. Santiago marks the end of the line for the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. A World Heritage Site since 1985, there’s a ton of history packed into the old town.
- Ourense: (Pop: ~ 105, 000) We stopped here to visit our host’s parents for some Christmastime celebrations! Known for being a hot spot for hot springs, in Roman times, Ourense was literally a gold mine.
- Vigo: (Pop: ~292, 000) The region’s largest city, Vigo is notorious for its oysters. Nature lovers will also love being amongst a lush landscape next to beaches and the ocean.
- Lugo: (Pop: ~98, 000) If you want to dive into Roman history, this is the place to do it. Home to another World Heritage Site, here you’ll find Roman walls, baths, and even bridges.
- Ferrol: (Pop: ~ 72, 000) Ferrol is great for diving right into naval history. Home to the Naval Museum and San Filipe Castle, this city combines its military past with its modern future.
- Pontevedra: (Pop: ~82, 000) Also great for diving into history (the whole region is really) the main square in Pontevedra is well preserved with treasures dating back thousands of years.
Travelling to Galicia, Spain: Getting There
It took us 8 hours to get to Galicia from Madrid by bus.
While this worked with our itinerary and budget, there are a number of options for travelling to Galicia.
Galicia has three international airports. One in A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, and Vigo.
These usually connect to popular European cities like Brussels, Lisbon and London. There are also a number of flights to and from South America as well.
There are trains connecting the region of Galicia. You can also take a train from Portugal.
There are services from Madrid and Barcelona to Galicia as well. Just remember, services aren’t very frequent so some planning is recommended.
Travelling to Galicia by Car or Bus
You can also find a few coach buses from bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
You can also find buses from European destinations in Germany and France.
By Foot via the Camino de Santiago
Since the Camino de Santiago ends in Galicia, it’s actually quite easy to travel there on foot.
The Camino has a number of routes going through Europe. It connects to countries including France, Spain and Portugal.
5 Things to Know About Travelling to Galicia, Spain
Now that you know a little more about the Galician region, here are some more things to know about travelling to Galicia.
Spanish Isn’t the Main Language
When I arrived in Galicia, I was surprised to find out that the local language commonly used isn’t Spanish. While they do speak Spanish you’ll likely hear more “Gallego”.
Gallego (or Galician) is spoken by about 3 million people in the region. It has both Portuguese and Castilian Spanish characteristics.
But don’t worry, if you’ve brushed up on your Spanish, getting a grasp on Galician will be a unique addition to your learnings.
The Beaches in Galicia are Stunning
Even with a family from the Caribbean, Galicia had some of the most stunning beaches I’ve laid my eyes on. And the region has plenty of them too!
The Galician region sits on both the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This makes for a variety of beach types from small bays with caves, to larger beaches with rocking waves.
Galicia is great for surfing (it’s also where I tried surfing for the first time!). There are quite a number of beaches that are perfect for catching waves.
Galician Food is Delicious
Be prepared to eat when you’re travelling to Galicia, Spain. During our time in Europe, this is where we had some of the tastiest meals (and we’ve lived in Paris!).
The seafood is fresh and plentiful with some of the biggest and tastiest mussels I’ve ever had. You can also expect to see a ton of meat and cheese too!
Galicia is where I locked down my tortilla recipe and also learned how to make paella filled to the brim with colourful seafood flavours.
I can go on forever about the food but, to get a quick taste of Galician food and culture, take a trip to downtown A Coruña for some tapas.
This is how we got integrated. We gave our hosts $10 each and wandered around to some restaurants and bars. Let’s just say we left dinnertime very full and tipsy.
It’s Worth Trying Galician Versions of Common Spanish Staples
Galicians love their home and it’s no surprise why. In fact, Galicia has a lot of staples that are distinct from other Spanish regions.
For example, Galician cheese is its own thing. Tetilla cheese is one that is common in Galician cuisine, made from regional cows.
While Estrella is a popular brand of beer in Spain, Estrella Galicia is much more common when you’re visiting the Galician region. And in everyone’s opinion, it’s much better than the regular stuff.
The region is also known for its wine. And since it’s so close to Porto, it’s a great stop on any Southern European wine tour.
The History of Galicia is Rich
If you’re a history buff, it will be easy to fall in love when travelling to Galicia. This region has quite a rich history.
With both Roman and Celtic influences, Galicia’s colourful past collide to make it what it is today.
Dating back to 600 BC, Galician history can be seen through stunning architecture, ruins, and historical landmarks all throughout the region.
There are a number of World Heritage Sites to visit, and Galicia is a large part of the Camino de Santiago.
From the Roman wall in Lugo to the Torre de Hércules in Coruña, there’s plenty of history to feast your eyes on.
To Wrap This Up
While travelling to Galicia may not be on everyone’s itinerary, it’s certainly worth a visit if you get the chance.
It’s a small piece of heaven, tucked away in Spain’s northwest coast with inviting food, history, and culture.