Ecotourism activities in Galicia: Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo, Wine Routes and Natural Parks

Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo, the Wine Routes and the Natural Parks are areas that take special care of ecotourism, taking advantage of all its resources (natural, historical, cultural heritage, hospitality…) to offer sustainable tourist proposals, with which to enjoy nature responsibly. Mariñas  coruñesas and Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas are also certified ecotourism destinations.

Mariñas Coruñesas e Terras do Mandeo. In this Biosphere Reserve in the province of A Coruña, the greatest ecological value is found in the ancient coastal Atlantic forests, which are increasingly diminished. To appreciate them properly, we have interpretation centers and recreation areas, such as Chelo, Beche, Reboredo, Pedrido… If we prefer the coast, we can walk along the O Burgo estuary, the Santa Cruz cove and Mera… Better fresh water? Well, let’s go to the Sobrado lagoon, the A Rexidoira waterfall, the Boedo de Sisalde… And let’s not forget the artistic heritage, such as the Sobrado monastery, the Cambre church, the historic center of Betanzos… And we have a lot of ornithological routes, hiking, biking…

In addition to the marked routes to do on our own, there are other guided ones, such as the Ecoroute through the Mandeo with a visit to Orballo, a company with the seal of the reserve; the Water Route, in the municipality of Paderne, which ends with a Biosphere Menu; or the nautical experiences in the Betanzos estuary and the Mandeo in an electric boat.

If we stay the night, we have 10 sustainable accommodations to choose from, there are even astronomical bubbles to lie down watching the stars… There are also 23 restaurants and a Guide of Excellence, with a repertoire of products worthy of the Quality Mark of the Reserve of the Biosphere.

Wine Routes. In Galicia we have five Wine Routes, corresponding to the five appellations of origin: Rías Baixas, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra, O Ribeiro and Monterrei. In this mix of ecotourism and wine tourism, not everything is reduced to visiting wineries and tasting wines. What else can we do?

In the Rías Baixas, there are many country houses linked to the wineries, such as the one in Rubiáns, which offer various activities. We can also visit gardens, mills, forts or take water routes through the Ría de Arousa. If we are more of a river, let’s go to the Arbo Wine and Lamprey Interpretive Center or the Salvaterra do Miño Wine Science Museum, areas with many water activities as well.

In the Ribeira Sacra, the typical thing is a catamaran ride through the canyons, peeking out from the viewpoints, discovering heroic viticulture, and visiting the largest concentration of Romanesque monasteries in Europe. There are many routes, including a BTT center.

The Roman Via Nova passes through the Valdeorras Route, which would later be taken as the Royal or Winter Way of Santiago. It is an area of ​​great archaeological wealth. Caves, traditional underground cellars, are characteristic of the vineyards. Other caves we can sail in the Serra da Enciña de Lastra, right here.

There is an interesting network of trails on the Monterrei Wine Route: the Lagar da Moura route, the Pazo do Demo, the Támega river, or the Aguas route. The latter runs through the springs and spas in the area. The Vía de la Plata passes through here, so there is an abundance of historical heritage: forts, castles… Cave presses are typical, ancient structures for preserving wine.

On the O Ribeiro Route, we travel back in time along the wine roads between Ribadavia and Compostela. To learn more about the subject, a must stop at the Ribadavia Wine Museum. On the other hand, on the Ribeiro eco-boat, we can enjoy the scenery along the Miño or Arnoia rivers while having a glass of wine.

If we like mountain biking, let’s congratulate ourselves: on all the wine routes there are BTT centers close at hand.

And finally, the jewel in the crown, our Natural Parks. 

In Galicia there are six Natural Parks and one National. Let’s see what they offer us.

As Fragas do Eume, the famous best preserved coastal Atlantic forest in Europe, has many resources: interpretation center, pier, viewpoints, suspension bridges, 8 hiking trails, recreation areas and the monasteries of Caaveiro and Monfero, and the medieval bridge of Santa Christina.

The Corrubedo dune complex and Carregal and Vixián lagoons, with the largest mobile dune in the northwest of the peninsula and a fresh and salty lagoon, have a very rich biodiversity, especially waterfowl, with a high-level ornithological route.

O Invernadeiro is a pure inland mountainous area in Vilariño de Conso. It has a nature classroom, an ichthyology center, 7 routes, wildlife observatories and the Portas de Galicia BTT center.

Baixa Limia-Serra do Xurés is the largest park of all that, together with its Portuguese neighbor, makes up the nucleus of the Gerês-Xurés Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve. As it is so big, there is a bit of everything: mountains, rivers, hot springs, rocky outcrops, forests… It has several viewpoints, 11 routes and the O Xurés mountain bike centre.

In A Serra da Enciña de Lastra, in the Valdeorras region, there is the Galician ceiling: Pena Trevinca and Cabeza Grande de Manzaneda. There are many mountain activities, of course: caving, mountaineering, skiing… It has 9 viewpoints and 10 marked trails. By the way, Trevinca is a Starlight tourist destination, ideal for contemplating the sky.

Mount Aloia. Or should we say Monte Medulio, who knows? It is the southernmost peak of the Sierra de O Galiñeiro, and belongs to the municipality of Tui. It has an interpretation center, 6 viewpoints to the Val do Miño and the Ría de Vigo, archaeological remains, such as the cyclopean wall, the O Alto dos Cubos fort, burial mounds and petroglyphs.

The National Maritime-Terrestrial Park of the Atlantic Islands is formed by the four archipelagos of the Rías Baixas: Cortegada, with its century-old laurel forest, and Sálvora, a total reserve, in the Ría de Arousa; Ons, famous for the octopus and the furnas (sea grotto) and the only one inhabited, in the Ría de Pontevedra and Cíes, in the Ría de Vigo, with the famous Rodas beach. All the islands offer guided tours, routes, workshops…

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