One of the advantages of doing rural tourism is the varied offer of establishments that we can choose to stay in. There is something for everyone: from relaxing secluded country houses to rural villages full of activity.
Rural accommodations are classified into four groups (A, B, C and D) according to the architectural value of the buildings, their age and their own characteristics. Each building has a plaque showing its group, its establishment number and its category.
Group A includes the most stately accommodations. They must meet the condition of having been built before 1900 and have between 5 and 15 rooms. Among them we can choose pazos, big houses and rectory houses.
The pazo is a type of traditional Galician house, residence of personalities of great economic power, generally noblemen, located in the rural area. The lords of the pazos lived on the lands of the area, through the collection of taxes and agricultural production.
Normally a pazo is a group of buildings. In addition to the main house, with a coat of arms, there are auxiliary rooms: porches, barns, granaries, dovecotes… and even a chapel. As it is popularly said «big house, chapel, granary, dovecote and cypress, a pazo is it». Pazos are heirs to medieval castles, so many have a tower. In addition to its architecture, gardening stands out, with a lot of boxwood and exotic plants. The epoch of apogee goes from the 17th to the 19th century.
After 19th century, pazos lost their original meaning and became places of residence. Today, many are used for lodging. In Galicia we can choose between 45* of them available for rural tourism.
Another type of manor house is the big house. We can say that it is a pazo without extras. A less monumental construction, which does not belong to a noble family. We have 17 to choose from, not bad either.
This group also includes the rectory houses, former places of residence for parish priests or higher-ranking ecclesiastics. We have 17.
Within group A there are other types of peculiar buildings such as factories (the Allariz tannery factory or the Aldán salting factory) or the Casa da Feira de Ourense. In Galicia there are 6 establishments of these characteristics.
In group B we find simpler traditional buildings. These are the village houses. They must meet the requirement of having been built before 1940 and offer between 3 and 10 rooms. They are the most numerous for lodging: nothing less than 388!
But maybe it is not enough for us to relax in a traditional house. What if we look for a little more action? Well, in that case we can choose a group C or D accommodation.
To group C belong the farmhouses. Traditional activities are developed in which guests can participate. We refer to agricultural tasks (harvest, reaping…) or livestock (farm tasks). It is what is known as agrotourism. They offer between 2 and 10 rooms. There are currently 63 establishments of this type.
And if we are looking for something more adventurous, we can still choose group D, made up of rural tourism villages, which currently are 8. These are complexes made up of a set of at least three houses in the same rural nucleus, operated by a the same owner, who must be a farmer or rancher. The complex must keep a minimum distance of 500 m from each other and be built before 1940. These villages are provided with a social lounge, restaurant and bar. They can also have other dependencies such as craft shops, typical local products, etc. and sports and leisure facilities. And, taking advantage of the possibilities of the rural environment in which they are located, they offer the most varied activities, such as: hiking, horse riding, biking, quad biking, thermal circuits, sailing, surfing, rafting, canyoning, traditional games… The ideal tourism for people looking for new experiences.
In rural tourism villages, as well as farmhouses and village houses, accommodation in apartments can be offered.
On the other hand, accommodations are classified as shared or non-shared, depending on whether the owner is present or not. Other data of interest regarding rural tourism may be belonging to a natural park or biosphere reserve, or proximity to the Way of Saint James.
All types of rural tourism houses offer guarantees of quality, but if we want to be even more select, we can look at the establishments that have the Q for quality. The Q for quality is a distinctive awarded by the ICTE (Institute for Spanish Tourist Quality). The houses endorsed by this seal go through different audits that ensure excellence in quality, safety and professionalism. Currently, Galicia has 23 establishments that boast this certificate: 10 in A Coruña, 6 in Lugo and 7 in Pontevedra.
And if we think that going rural tourism is only a matter of summer, we are very wrong, because between September and December we still have an extra incentive: the Gastronomic Autumn, which this year celebrates its 15th edition. An occasion to combine relaxation or adventure, because we have already seen that the rural area offers everything, with the taste of first-class menus made with local products. This year, by the way, with the collaboration of the Galician Food Quality Agency.
* data collected in the AEITG (Galician Tourism Study and Research Area)