With the arrival of cold weather, many travellers turn their eyes towards the interior, and especially to the mountains. The snow, which always arrives as an exceptional spectacle, attracts those who seek the possibility of practicing winter sports, going on excursions to unique places and living new, season-related experiences. We propose five ways to enjoy the snow and the cold in Galicia.
Skiing in Cabeza de Manzaneda
The only winter facility in Galicia is Cabeza Grande de Manzaneda, located between the municipality of the same name and A Pobra de Trives. The mountain itself is impressive, with 1,800 meters of height and a breathtaking landscape surrounding it. Regarding the ski resort, it’s a favourite of both the inhabitants of the peninsular northwest and of many Portuguese neighbours, who have the possibility of skiing without having to travel to more remote resorts. Cabeza de Manzaneda consists of more than twenty slopes, some of them fitted for easy skiing and suitable for beginners, even of a young age. At the resort itself the necessary equipment can be rented and classes for the appropriate age can be booked. And, if skiing is not your thing, do not worry: the mountain is full of paths fitted for walking and even mountain biking, although it is always advisable to check their current condition due to snowfall. Cabeza de Manzaneda is 90 kilometres from Ourense and less than twenty from A Pobra de Trives.
Os Ancares and O Courel
The Ancares an Courel Mountains are beautiful at any time of the year, and more so in winter when its peaks reach a beauty difficult to imagine. Fortunately, even when they are snowed, it is often possible to visit them on foot, for example from Piornedo. The same thing that happens to Os Ancares happens to its northern sister, O Caurel, with the advantage that the peaks are a bit lower.
The Pena Trevinca massif is the only one in Galicia that exceeds 2,000 meters. Its peak is, specifically, at 2,127 meters and it sits in an area protected by the Natura 2000 network, with some 25.000 hectares of forest shared by the provinces of Ourense (in the municipalities of Carballeda de Valdeorras and A Veiga), León and Zamora. The peaks, snowed well into spring, are visible from all around, and call to mountain lovers to visit them.
Surely more than one pilgrim who did the Santiago Way in Winter will agree that the most beautiful visual of the Way is that of O Cebreiro packed with snow. This small village of Lugo, one of the most iconic Jacobean places, is usually covered in snow during the winter months, and what could be an inconvenience for those who access Galicia by road is a real gift for those who travel on foot, on the way to the city of the Apostle.
An afternoon at the hot springs
Another unique sensation is to immerse yourself in warm water while all around you the landscape is covered in snow and frost. This can be achieved in the multitude of spas located throughout Galicia, and is accentuated even more when done outdoors. A couple of suggestions are the Ourense hot springs of A Chavasqueira and those of Prexegueiro. The first ones are in the provincial capital and allow you to take a bath at 67 degrees Celsius while outside there are temperatures even below zero. The second ones, very close to the beautiful town of Ribadavia, offer several pools at different temperatures.
Another good idea, increasingly popular among Galicians, is to spend a weekend at one of the many rural tourism houses that populate the interior of Galicia. There are many and very good ones, and in them you can enjoy both the history treasured in these buildings and the nature that surrounds them. In winter most of them offer gastronomic proposals with menus that will warm you up inside with tasty and hearty traditional recipes, and will make you forget the cold. Or, better yet, they will help you enjoy it.