A long weekend is a long weekend, especially if we know where to go. Here are 5 plans for a long weekend in Galicia. The organisation is up to each individual: five plans in one day, one plan per day, two in three, three in four, one in five?
Hiking in the Ribeira Sacra, O Courel or As Fragas do Eume. Here are three destinations to forget the car and take a good walk among the trees, climbing mountains, bordering rivers, discovering waterfalls, contemplating panoramic views that leave us speechless…
In the Ribeira Sacra there are plenty of approved trails, in addition to those organised by customised tourism companies. There are short ones, such as the one that leads to Augacaída-Castro de Marce, 2.42 km long. It is short but intense, with a vertiginous waterfall and the remains of a fortified settlement. On the other hand, the longest route is that of the Ribeira Sacra of the river Miño, 35.28 km long, which starts at the monastery of Santo Estevo de Ribas do Miño and ends at the Cima de Atán. Another classic trail is the Canón do río Mao, a circular route of 16.04 km that takes us along the river on a narrow path, with landscapes to immortalise.
O Courel is another place to get to know on foot, treading the leaves, talking to the birds… This natural jewel is a protected area, as its botanical, geological, archaeological, ethnographic and ethnographic wealth, and beyond, is extraordinary. There are many routes, some themed: archaeological, geological, bear and honey… Among them we can highlight the river route from Samos to Pontenova, 3 km long, around the monastery of Samos and the river Sarria; the one that takes us through the Devesa de Rogueira, 9.5 km long, which starts from the Nature Classroom of Moreda; or the one that goes from Seoane to Folgoso, which follows the old royal road that went from O Cebreiro to Quiroga, 12 km long.
As Fragas do Eume is a natural park with a first class Atlantic forest, with a great variety of native vegetation (oaks, alders, birches, ash trees…) and also ancient species of ferns. The park has eight signposted routes. Among them, the Pena Fesa route, 10 km long, through the mountains of A Marola and Pena Fesa; the Corzos route, 3 km long, among trees; or the Os Cerqueiros route, 8.5 km long, through the highest area, crowned by the viewpoint of A Carboeira. (The Os Encomendeiros route, through the bridges of the Eume, is temporarily closed).
Do some of the itineraries of the Way in Galicia. Having The Way of St. James so well designed, with up to ten different routes that end at the cathedral, it would be a shame to miss it. We just have to choose a stretch, depending on the time we have and the desire to exercise, in case of doing it on foot, and that’s it, plan done. Suggestions? Go ahead, we can start with stage 5 of the Nothern Way, for example, which goes from Quiroga to Monforte de Lemos and covers 35.4 km, between the mountains of O Courel and the Ribeira Sacra; or maybe we would prefer stage 2 of the English Way, which goes from Neda to Miño, 22.1 km along the coast of A Coruña; or the Laza to Vilar de Barrio stage of the Vía da Prata (Silver Way), in the interior of Ourense; or the one from Lugo to San Romao da Retorta, 18.8 km long, of the Primitive Way…
Galicia as a World Heritage Site. We know we have a rich heritage, and so does the rest of the world. A good plan is to take a stroll around Santiago, Lugo and A Coruña and see it at first hand. The first to be recognised by UNESCO was the historic centre of Santiago, in 1985. It includes the enclosure within the walls and the historic quarters. It is a luxury that with the passage of time these stones are still preserved, which all of them seem to speak of… A walk around the cathedral, the four squares that surround it (Obradoiro, Acibecharía, Praterías, A Quintana), the Abastos market, San Domingos de Bonaval… And the streets are always full of atmosphere, which makes the old town so old and so young at the same time. And while we’re on the move, how about a walk along the river without leaving the city? From the Collegiate Church of Santa María de Sar we can take the Sar River – Banquete de Conxo Forest path, a 7.4 km circular route that takes us along the banks of the Sar to Carballo de Conxo (Conxo Oak) itself.
Another piece of universal heritage, since the year 2000, is the wall of Lugo, the best example of military fortification of the Roman Empire. It is the only one in the world that preserves its perimeter. Since it was built, between the 3rd and 4th centuries, it is true that it has lost some of its towers and some of its height, but to reach the present day as it is today is a real merit. The wall keeps inside the old quarter of Lugo. Streets and squares to stroll around inside, including the cathedral, and a wide parapet to walk on the wall.
On the coast of A Coruña we have another jewel of humanity, recognised in 2009: the Tower of Hercules. Although it has undergone many modifications over time, and the façade we see today is neoclassical, it is a fact that it is the oldest surviving Roman lighthouse, still in use since the 2nd century! From the top of the tower there are great views of the city and the coast of A Coruña. In addition, it is on a hill full of sculptures that have to do with it, with mythology and legends.
Touring the Galician coast. Our coastline is very varied, each area has its own personality. For example, in the Mariña Lucense, with a large flat area between the sea and the interior, there are large folds and particular geological conditions, such as those found on the beach of As Catedrais in Ribadeo. On the other hand, in Ferrolterra we find important urban landscapes, such as the city of Ferrol or Pontedeume and also natural landscapes, such as the Serra da Capelada, Lagoa da Frouxeira, Santo André de Teixido… and, inland, As Fragas do Eume, with the monasteries of Caaveiro and Monfero. If we opt for the Costa da Morte, we enter the landscape of the abyss when we visit the lighthouses of Cabo Ortegal, Cabo Vilán, Fisterra… It also has wild beaches, very surfer, and traditional fishing ports. The Rías Baixas, with their pleasant climate, have a different character. Between Baiona and Fisterra there are lands of wine, seafood, pazos and great sandy beaches. One of the best routes to do here with the arrival of the cold weather is the camellia route, which is a wonderful thing to do in these parts.
Enjoying our gastronomy in autumn. In fact, this is a plan intrinsic to all the others because, whether we are on the coast or inland, eating here is not just about eating. In autumn there is no way out. Chestnuts, quince, mushrooms, pumpkin, octopus, cockles… How is it possible that everything is in season? Lucky us! Seasonal dishes, to warm up the body: broth of turnip greens or cabbage, lacón con grelos (pork shoulder with turnip greens), pulpo á feira (Galician octopus with potatoes), papanduxas (baked apples)… and lots of seafood, which in December has “r” in it. You should also bear in mind that the rural tourism houses are celebrating their “17th Outono Gastronómico”, sponsored by Turismo de Galicia. That’s all said and done, enjoy your meal!