A Travel Guide to Galicia: Spain’s Celtic connection

The Coast

Galicia’s shore is marked by a dramatic coastline in the north, known as Rías Altas, whilst the southern coast is characterised by gentler slopes (Rías Baixas, pronounced as ‘baishas’; x is ‘sh’ in the local language Galego), resulting in some of the most stunning beaches in Spain- tucked away from the prying eyes of most tourists. Between the two rías exists Spain’s infamous Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), which owes its ominous name to a large number of shipwrecks that used to occur here due to its especially jagged and rocky nature. A trip along its beautiful coast, therefore, is a must.

The places that I explored along the coast included:

  1. Rías altas– Ribadeo and Praia As Catedrais
  2. Costa da Morte– Muxía, Fisterra, Carnota and Ézaro
  3. Rías baixas– Muros

Rías Altas

Faro Illas Pancha, Ribadeo.

Ribadeo is a beautiful, serene, little fishing village where you can go and unwind from a hectic city life. I spent 3 relaxing nights here eating some amazing seafood, taking in lots of picturesque coastal views and some beautiful, old architecture.

Praia as Catedrais.

Just a short drive up from Ribadeo is this stunning beach. My photo doesn’t do any justice to it because it was quite cloudy that day and the strong wind was generating quite a mist, but this beach definitely deserves a visit. It has massive rock formations, and if the tide is low you can go stand undernearth them.
Summer will guarantee clear days, the greenest grass and the bluest sea so make sure you time it right and get there! Ask the tourist information centre or your hotel in Ribadeo for daily tide times. There is also a bus that drives regularly to and from Ribadeo.

Costa da Morte

Cabo Fisterra

The conquering Romans thought that this was literally the end of the Earth, hence named this cape as ‘End of the Earth’, which is ‘Fisterra’ in Galego. Although it has a lighthouse, it still feels eerily isolated as the land abruptly ends and drops into the sea. The views are stunning and it definitely is worth a visit. An easy day trip from Santiago.

Muxia

Muxía is another coastal village, having more of a rocky topography. Whilst its hidden beaches are equally enthralling as the rest of Galicia, what you see in this photo is found on the northern end of the village. Here, you will also come across an old 18th century church, right by the sea shore, called ‘Santuario de Virxe Barca’.
Interestingly, it is in Muxía that you will actually find the ‘end of the Earth’, or technically the westernmost point of Spain, called Cabo Touriñán, another picturesque rocky cape.

The waterfall of Ézaro, situated in the village O Ézaro.

It’s the only waterfall in Europe where a river (River Xalla, in this case) cascades directly into an ocean (the Atlantic ocean). You can even take a dip or a boat ride here.
The village is easily accessible via road, and there is a well constructed path leading up to the waterfall. After that you will need to walk carefully on the rocks until you get down to the water.
For this reason, I don’t recommend the elderly or young children from coming too close to this location. However, there is a beautiful park next to ocean nearby, which can be enjoyed by all.

Hórreo de Carnota, Carnota.

This is a typical Galician granary, but it’s the longest of its kind in the world.
It was built on these pillars to avoid rats and other rodents from getting to the corn inside, whilst the slits in the stone slabs ventilate the air, to avoid moisture being trapped inside (remember that Galicia receives the highest amount of rain in Spain, so it’s common to have high levels of humidity, especially along the coast).

Rías baixas

Faro Punta Cabalo, Rías Baixas.
Although I did not get the opportunity to explore Rías Baixas properly, hopefully this photo will be able to explain the differences between these and Rías Altas.
Image courtesy: Osalnes.com
The village of Muros.

Yet another small, beautiful fishing village (do you notice a theme here?). This village is an easy day trip from Santiago de Compostela. It has a very attractive port with colourful boats and deliciously blue waters reflecting off the sunlight, making it a perfect spot to grab some lunch in one of the many restaurants lining it.

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