4 plans for an autumn weekend in Galicia

A couple of days off and you don’t know where to go? Here are four very appetising proposals to taste Galicia in four routes, with all the ingredients to immerse yourself in its nature, history, culture, gastronomy… Here we go!

Termas de Ourense and Ribeira Sacra. In Ourense the rivers rule and, by extension, the thermal baths, which make it the thermal capital of Galicia. A good way to start the weekend, after a visit to the city, its cathedral, the historic centre, As Burgas…, is to take a walk along the Thermal Promenade, with your swimming costume handy, just in case.

This pedestrian path along the banks of the Miño starts a few metres from the Millennium Bridge. From there, in 4 km, the thermal baths follow one after the other as if by magic: A Chavasqueira, Fonte do Tinteiro, Muíño da Veiga, Termas de Outariz, Outariz e Burga de Canedo and Fonte de Reza. In addition, if we are tired, the thermal baths train leaves from the centre and stops at each of them.

To round off the weekend, let’s go to the Ribeira Sacra, just 20 km from Ourense. We swap the hot waters for the cool waters of the Sil, which flows through a canyon between mountains full of vines and monasteries. Here, landscape, wine culture and history merge. The route takes us through the monasteries of San Pedro de Rocas, Santo Estevo, Santa Cristina, the footbridges of the river Mao and the castle of Castro Caldelas.  From there, we return to Ourense, stopping at the monastery of Santa María de Montederramo and Xunqueira de Espadanedo. In addition to monasteries, we can visit some wineries and take a boat trip and, of course, contemplate the views from some of the viewpoints that come our way, such as the Balcóns de Madrid.

By the way, the consortium of tourism of the Ribeira Sacra organizes day trips from Ourense, between March and November.

Route through O Courel and tapas in Lugo. O Courel in autumn should be on everyone’s agenda. The mixture of tones of valleys and mountains is to be experienced live. Heather, oaks, chestnut trees, devesas… A good starting point is Samos, with the imposing monastery of San Xulián. The next stops would be: Triacastela, Alto do Poio, O Cebreiro, Seoane, Devesa da Rogueira and Folgoso do Courel, where it is almost obligatory to do a magosto (roasted chestnuts party).

After so much nature, a bit of life in the capital of the province doesn’t feel bad at all, especially knowing that some first-class tapas await us. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Lugo’s tapas are known the world over for their exquisiteness and (free!) price. The most typical tapas areas are the streets leading to the Praza do Campo: the streets of Miño, Nova and A Cruz.

Fragas do Eume and Betanzos omelette. The Fragas do Eume, that green lung between the Ares-Betanzos estuary and Serra da Loba, is another magnificent destination in autumn. The park has four entrances, from north to south: Caaveiro, A Capela, Cabanas and Monfero. We can start the tour from the north, dividing it into two days. We are in the best example of a coastal Atlantic forest, where we can enjoy nature and other heritage gems, such as the monasteries of Caaveiro and Monfero. It has 8 hiking routes and several interpretation centres (in low season in the morning) and recreational areas. On the last day, we set off for Monfero, about 20 km from Betanzos, our next destination.

Betanzos has a very beautiful and well-kept old town, witness of its important past as one of the capitals of the Old Kingdom of Galicia. If it happens to be Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, there is a market in the Hermanos García Naveira square, so we will see the liveliness of the city. There is a lot of talk about the repolo (cabbage) de Betanzos and, above all, about the potato omelette, which is made here with a perfect liquid fusion of eggs and potatoes that seems like a dish from another world.

Parque Nacional marítimo-terrestre das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia. Autumn is also a good time to enjoy the islands, without the crowds of the high season. If we organise ourselves in good time, we may be able to visit them all in a long weekend. From north to south, we find the archipelagos of Cortegada and Sálvora in the Arousa estuary, Ons in the Pontevedra estuary and Cíes in the Vigo estuary.

In the low season, visits are organised by the shipping companies, in groups of no more than 25 people, with a guide accredited by the national park, so you should check the dates and departure ports in advance. Access to the islands by private boats is permitted all year round, in certain areas and with the appropriate authorisations.

The archipelago of Cortegada, in Vilagarcía de Arousa, is the most secluded. On the island of Cortegada, the laurel forest, the remains of a village and the hermitage of Os Milagros stand out. On the islet of Malvinas Grande, one of the few Pyrenean oak forests on the Atlantic coast. Departures are from Vilagarcía de Arousa and Carril.

The archipelago of Sálvora, in Ribeira, protects the Arousa estuary to the north. Sálvora is famous for its legends, such as that of the mermaid. Boats depart mainly from O Grove and Aguiño; others leave from Ribeira, A Pobra do Caramiñal, Boiro, A Illa de Arousa and Vilagarcía de Arousa; occasionally from Bueu.

The archipelago of Ons, in Bueu, is formed by the islands of Ons, which is still populated, and Onza, which is smaller and fully reserved. In Ons there is a scary furna (grotto): O Buraco do Inferno. It also has sandy areas such as the beach and dunes of Melide. It has a rich heritage of tales and legends, and a first class octopus. Maritime transport departs from Bueu, Sanxenxo, Portonovo and Marín.

The Cíes archipelago, at the mouth of the Vigo estuary, belongs to the municipality of Vigo. It is made up of three islands (Monteagudo, Faro and San Martiño) and several islets. Here we have the famous Rodas beach, which joins Monteagudo and Faro. At the highest points there are viewpoints with breathtaking views, such as O Alto do Príncipe. Regular lines to visit the Cíes depart from Vigo, Baiona and Cangas.

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