Travel diary. Galicia in 8 days from Santiago de Compostela and Ribeira Sacra

In the summer of 2018 we decided to return to Galicia, something that by chance we do every 4 years since we visited it in 2010 (see Diario Galicia 2010) and in 2014 (see Diario Galicia 2014). And the curiosity is that every time we go we are one more in the family. In 2010 we were two and in 2018 we have been four.

This time we stayed in two different places. First of all, we went to the Ribeira Sacra for two days to visit one of the most beautiful places in Spain and then we traveled to Santiago de Compostela, a city that we know perfectly, to spend a total of 6 nights.

Along the way, we stopped at Ponferrada and Las Médulas.

The preparation of the trip

Like almost all the trips we make within Spain, and more so since we have children, the trip from our origin, Madrid, was by car, which not only allows us greater comfort when carrying all the necessary luggage but also makes it easier for us to visits at the destination.

This time we had to book 2 hotels. The first of them, in the Ribeira Sacra, was the Hotel Augas Santas in the town of Pantón, very close to Monforte de Lemos and the Sil Canyon. It is a hotel-spa located in a very quiet place in the middle of nature where only the birds could be heard. It was a delight to go out every morning for a walk after breakfast among its forests and streams.

In Santiago de Compostela we chose, for the third time, the Gran Hotel Los Abetos, a fantastic hotel located on the outskirts of the city but with numerous gardens, a swimming pool, very quiet and enviable rooms.

Day 1. Ponferrada and Las Médulas

the marrowsOn our first day of travel we left early in the direction of Galicia but stopping first in a very beautiful city, and also very unknown, in the province of León. Ponferrada does not seem very popular with tourists, even some Ponferradinas were surprised by our photos on social networks, but it is well worth a visit.

To visit Ponferrada, it is best to leave the car in the public car park that is under the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, where it is located and from where the streets that take you to the main point of interest in the city, the Castillo de los Templarios.. Along the way, you should not miss the Clock Tower, the Plaza de la Virgen de la Encina, where the monument to it and the Church of the same name are located, or the Luis del Olmo Radio Museum, the famous journalist who was born In this city.

After visiting the center of Ponferrada and eating, we returned to the car and headed towards a place that leaves you speechless, Las Médulas, some ancient Roman gold mines that left a landscape to remember.

As we were passing through and with the children, we decided to go alone to the Mirador de Orellán. To do this, the car is left in a designated car park 700 meters from it and you walk along a paved road whose greatest difficulty is its steep slope, which sometimes becomes difficult to overcome with a baby seat. But once at the viewpoint, the effort is worth it and the great reward is received.

After descending, we undertook the last part of our trip to Pantón, the town where the hotel is located. After the long trip, we just walked around, went to the pool and had dinner at the hotel. By the way, to say that it has a great toy library, free, where the children had a great time.

Day 2. The Sil Canyon

Galicia - Sil CanyonsOur first full day in the Ribeira Sacra is dedicated to the Sil Canyon, perhaps its greatest attraction. Be careful with the roads and the curves because short distances will take forever. We did a tour of not too many kilometers and it took us almost all day.

Our first destination was the Monastery of San Esteban de Ribas de Sil, today converted into a Parador de Turismo, and where we were able to visit the cloister of the monastery and its church with complete peace of mind, practically alone. A very special visit to which we must add the wonderful views of the Sil River that you have along the road until you reach it.

From there we went to the Church of Santa Cristina, a Romanesque jewel that is essential to visit before looking at the Balcones de Madrid, one of the many viewpoints that you find along the way. From there you have great views and access is easy as there is a car park about 500 meters away.

Our next destination was Castro Caldelas, whose main point of interest is the castle that is located at its highest point. Along the way you will have to overcome the temptation to stop at each viewpoint, but if you do, the route will take forever. If you have several days, of course it is recommended.

After eating in Castro Caldelas we started down a winding road to the Sil River, marveling at the vineyards that are staggered on the slopes of the steep mountains. Really surprising. By the way, we are not very fond of wine, but if you are, you will find numerous wineries that you can visit.

Our last destination of the excursion was the Mirador de Cadeiras, located just in front of the Balcones de Madrid, obtaining a different view of the same place, although we have to say that we liked this one less. You can get there by car to the viewpoint itself. Finally, we returned to the hotel to enjoy the pool, have dinner and rest after the beautiful route.

Day 3. Monforte de Lemos and Lugo

Lugo - Roman WallsOur last day in the Ribeira Sacra arrived and as often happens, you still haven’t visited the place where the hotel is located. And before leaving we had no choice but to visit Monforte de Lemos, a beautiful town whose visit does not take too long.

The main points of interest in Monforte de Lemos are the Colegio de Nosa Señora da Antiga, truly spectacular, the Roman Bridge, the shopping streets around the Plaza Mayor, and the Castle, with its Torre del Homenaje, and the Monastery of San Vicente do Pino, which today form a spectacular Parador de Turismo.

After this quick visit, we set out on our way to Lugo, the city with the most important Roman Wall in Spain. There we took a pleasant walk visiting this wall, which is a World Heritage Site, the Cathedral and the streets of the historic center of Lugo where we must highlight the Church of San Pedro and the rest of the buildings that form it. Before leaving Lugo, we made a complete tour of the wall with the car enjoying it and the gates.

Thus ended our visit to the province of Lugo and we set out on our way to Santiago de Compostela, where we only had time to enjoy the pool and go to the city center for dinner and taste a good portion of octopus and empanada.

Day 4. Santiago de Compostela

Galicia - Santiago de Compostela - Hostal Reyes CatolicosAfter 3 days where the car had been the main protagonist, it was time to rest from it and enjoy Santiago de Compostela. The day began with clouds and something cool but little by little the weather improved giving way to a sun that at times even bothered.

How could it be otherwise, our first visit was the Plaza del Obradoiro and the second the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela itself, accessed from our favorite square in the city, the Praza de Praterias. We never get tired of seeing her. We accessed the Cathedral, which although we have seen it many times, we never get tired of doing it.

The following plan was the best thing to do in Santiago de Compostela, getting lost in its streets. And enjoy your environment. In this way we reach the famous Mercado de Abastos, the Church of San Agustín and the always lively Plaza de Cervantes, before going to the Monastery of San Martín Pinario and admiring the fantastic façade of its church.

The Rúa de San Francisco was our next destination until the Church of San Francisco, belonging to the convent of the same name and whose interior is worthy of one of the most beautiful churches in the city. This is how our morning ended before eating and returning to the hotel to rest.

We spend the afternoon walking through the Parque de la Alameda, located right in the old part of the city and from which we have great views of the Cathedral. Our first full day in Santiago was coming to an end, but there was still much more to visit.

Day 5. Pedagogical Museum of Galicia, Combarro and Pontevedra

The fifth was the first day that rain threatened in the days we were in Galicia. The morning was cold and drizzling so the idea was to visit a museum.

And very close to the hotel is one of the most interesting, the Pedagogical Museum of Galicia, which takes you on a journey through the history of education in Galicia with an interesting collection of objects, toys and books used in schools during the 20th century.. It deserves special attention to the reconstruction of the classrooms from the beginning of the 20th century, the Republic, the Franco regime or the EGB stage.

Leaving the museum, the weather improved and we saw that the forecast was good in Pontevedra, so we headed to its province, specifically Combarro, where we went to eat. After lunch we visit this spectacular town known for its stone crosses and granaries. There weren’t too many people for what is usual and therefore we enjoyed Combarro in the best possible way.

From there we went to Pontevedra, which we had already seen on previous visits but had always caught us raining. And we couldn’t stop walking through its streets in good weather and enjoying its squares and its atmosphere. The Basilica of Santa María la Mayor, the Praza de Ferraría, the Church of the Pilgrim Virgin and the Plaza de la Constitución were our main visits to Pontevedra before heading back to our hotel and enjoying the pool like every afternoon.

Day 6. A Coruna

A Coruña - Monte San PedroIn our trips to Galicia, a visit to La Coruña, a city that we love, was not missing either. And that every time we visit we discover something new. We love it and if we are close, we cannot stop visiting it.

In addition, the day was splendid with a dazzling sun so the day would have to be perfect. First of all, we park next to the port on Avenida Marina to be able to enjoy the beautiful and emblematic buildings that overlook it. From there you can easily access the Plaza de María Pita to admire its modernist Town Hall and the shopping streets that start from it. Nearby is also the Church of St. George.

Again we took the car and went to the area of ​​the Tower of Hercules. You can go for a nice walk but with such small children we do not recommend it so the car is the best ally. There we visited the Finisterrae Aquarium, one of the aquariums that have surprised us the most in Spain and that we have visited quite a few. It is an aquarium different from the rest that you can find and the truth is that we enjoyed it a lot, especially with the seals that are in an outdoor pool.

After eating at the aquarium, we headed to Monte de San Pedro where the famous Atlantic Dome is located and from where there are fabulous views of La Coruña and especially the Tower of Hercules. A totally recommendable visit, also for children because of the meadows that you can find and the children’s park that lacks nothing.

After visiting La Coruña we returned to Santiago de Compostela again. We only had two days left, but a lot to enjoy and we wanted to take advantage of it.

Day 7. The Ártabra Coast

If there is a place in the Rías Altas of Galicia that you should not miss, that is the Ártabro Gulf and its spectacular cliffs. Of course, if you go from Santiago de Compostela, the trip there is a bit long, although it is worth it. The pity is that the day was very cloudy and we couldn’t enjoy it to the fullest, especially due to the fog that cut short some of our plans.

The ideal is to start the visit in Ortigueira and the Estaca de Bares, but due to lack of time we start it in the pretty fishing village of Cariño and its neighbor Cabo Ortegal, the place that serves as the border between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cantabrian Sea. The views from Cabo Ortegal, even with clouds, are wonderful and it is a completely must-see.

From there starts a narrow and winding road that takes you through forests and meadows with cows to the top of the Cliffs of Vixia Herbeira, the highest in Continental Europe only surpassed by the cliffs of Ireland. But the fog deprived us of some of the most spectacular views of Galicia. We didn’t even stop at the viewpoint because we wouldn’t see anything so we continued on our way hoping not to come across any car or cow, as the fog was quite thick.

Just before reaching San Andrés de Teixidó the fog disappeared and we were able to stop at the Monument to Leslie Howard, from where there are beautiful views. San Andrés de Teixidó is also a must-see with its church, a destination for pilgrimages, and its pretty streets. Be careful with the slopes that there are from the town to the parking lot where you must leave the car.

The excursion ended in Cedeira, where we ate and where we took a nice walk through its streets and its estuary before leaving the wonderful Ártabro Gulf.

We arrived again in Santiago de Compostela, where this time there was no swimming pool, as the clouds left a cold environment to which the icy waters of the pool were added, which are never cold enough for a child.

Day 8. Viewpoint of Ézaro and Fisterra

Costa da Morte - EzaroLast day in Galicia. And the hottest of all reaching almost 30 degrees. The morning of this last day is dedicated to taking a short walk through the center of Santiago de Compostela finalizing some purchases and looking for a souvenir to take home. And of course, enjoying its narrow streets.

After eating at one of the many restaurants on the Rúa do Franco, we took the car and headed to the Costa da Morte to spend the afternoon. Actually we already know the coast because we have visited it twice so we went directly to the places that we like the most. First of all, the Mirador de Ézaro from which you have great views of the Atlantic and Cape Finisterre in the background.

And it was to this place that we went in second place, the Fisterra Lighthouse, the end of the Camino de Santiago and a magical place for everyone who comes. On a negative note, there were too many people as it was Sunday and the weather was splendid. But still it is a place worth visiting. After visiting the lighthouse and admiring the immensity of the ocean, we would have liked to go to the neighboring Playa de Langosteira, but parking was impossible. Everything was complete.

Therefore, we headed to the hotel to enjoy one last swim in the pool and pack our bags to return home the next day. As we said at the beginning of the diary, we have gone to Galicia every four years and every time we have gone we were one more in the family. Let’s see what happens in 2022…

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