Galicia in the northwest of Spain is often overlooked by tourists, with the lion’s share instead choosing to spend their time exploring the country’s better known cities or one of its famous beaches. Here are five reasons why they are making a terrible mistake.
With plush green landscapes and 1200 km of rugged coastline, Galicia is a picturesque escape from modern life. It is an entrancing rural idyll reminiscent of feudal Europe, one interspersed with sprawling estuaries and framed by dramatic cliffs and capes. What’s more, meandering footpaths, untouched beaches, and Romanesque stone churches and houses make it the perfect destination for both the intrepid explorer and the history buff.
Just as Cornwall and Scotland are distinct from England, so Galicia is from the rest of Spain. Informed by its Celtic heritage, bagpipes, folk songs and Celtic knots are common sights and sounds in the mystical, leafy-green region of northwestern Spain, a far cry from the urbane sophistication and hustle and bustle of Madrid and Barcelona. In recent years, old fashioned huts have even been rebuilt for tourists, adding to the area’s Celtic charm.
The best surfing in Europe
Just six miles from the charming seaside town of Carballo lies Razo, regarded by many as one of Europe’s top surfing destinations. Unlike many of its European counterparts, the beautiful 7km beach promises waves on a daily basis and remains relatively untouched. With over 12 years’ experience teaching people of all ages how to surf, Art Surf Camp is the best place in Galicia to learn how to ride waves like Kelly Slater. Not only does the school offer courses and camps at competitive prices, it doubles up as a friendly beachside hotel-hostel, meaning you never have to draw the curtain on your beachside adventure.
Given that countless fishing villages are dotted across its never-ending coastline, it is perhaps unsurprising that Galicia boasts the freshest seafood in Spain. While Polbo á feira, a light dish of tender squid seasoned with olive oil and paprika, is a popular choice, goose barnacles are the gastronomic superstars here. Known to fetch up to a hundred euros per kilo at fish markets in Galicia, the crustaceans are often listed among the world’s most beautiful foods. The autonomous region is also home to 13 Michelin-starred restaurants, meaning even the fussiest eaters will be well catered for.
The sights of Santiago de Compostela
Reputedly the final resting place of the Apostle Saint James, Santiago de Compostela is the end destination for those undertaking the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, a spiritual journey that can take up to 35 days. Given 250,000 pilgrims descend on the city every year, it’s fitting that its cathedral is a true architectural marvel, one that effortlessly blends Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque influences. We’d recommend taking in the city’s awe-inspiring architecture by strolling through the city’s beautiful squares to Alameda, a hilltop park with a panoramic view of the cathedral, before tucking into some tapas at one of the city’s many restaurants.