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Galicia

Travel Guide Europe Spain Galicia

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Introduction

Groundswell hits Caión (Galicia, Spain)

Groundswell hits Caión (Galicia, Spain)

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Galicia is the wettest and greenest region of Spain, and world famous because of its capital city Santiago de Compostela. Yearly many travellers undertake the 'Camino de Santiago' pilgrimage. Because of its very different climate, its coast is far less developed touristically than the better known Costas in the east or south of Spain. So much so that the locals use primarily their own version of the spanish language. This area maintains a strong sense of its celtic and pre-historic roots. Dotted around the region are ruined settlements left behind by these civilisations and in many places celtic symbols are present still.

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Geography

Most of inland Galicia is hilly or mountainous. The main coastal feature is the ría (wide estuary with steep sides). The Rias Altas (High Rías) flow into the north coast and the Rías Baixas to the west.
Galicia is bordered to the south by Portugal, and to the east by Asturias and Castile and León. It has four provinces: A Coruña, Lugo, Orense and Pontevedra.

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Cities

  • Santiago de Compostela - the famous pilgrimage route and a Unesco World Heritage Site leads to the Cathedral in this city as it is apparently the final resting place of St James the Greater.
  • Vigo - Sometimes called the world's most beautiful port. Largest town in Pontevedra Province. Trips in summer to the Islas Cíes from here.
  • Pontevedra - often described as the quintessential Galician town. Outstanding number of pulperías (taverns selling octopus).
  • Orense.
  • Lugo.
  • A Coruña the old capital, and still capital of the Coruña Province.
  • Tui - Border town with fortified cathedral - best place to stay for a public transport trip to Galicia and Portugal.
  • Ribodavia - a delightful small town in Orense Province.
  • Muros - very attractive town on the Ría de Muros and Noya.
  • Combarro - fascinating little village on the north side of the Ría de Pontevedra. Numerous horreos (stone grain stores like tombs with legs - for rats - and crosses on top - for evil spirits. A local postcard obligingly supplies the translation 'lurking places!'.
  • A Guarda - south opposite to Portugal across the Douro river.
  • Baiona - an attractive coastal town and allegedly the first people to hear about discovery of the new world as one of Columbus' ships landed there after returning from America in 1492.

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Sights and Activities

  • Route of Santiago de Compostela (or Camino de Santiago) - famous pilgrimage route and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • There are various other historic sites both pre-historic and celtic such as the Eirós Cave in the province of Lugo or A Guarda's Celtic settlement on the slopes of Monte de Santa Tecla.
  • The archipelagos of Cíes and Ons in the Islas Atlánticas National Park boast beautiful beaches along with an ecological haven and can be reached from a number of places (depending on the season).

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Events and Festivals

  • Festividade do Apóstolo Santiago (feast day of Saint James, patron saint of Galicia) in Santiago de Compostela on July 25 each year. It's celebrated with parades, parties and fireworks and has a carnival atmosphere.
  • On the first Sunday of August in the town of Catoira, south of Santiago de Compostela, holds a re-enactment of a Viking invasion called the Romeria Vikinga. This is followed by a feast and folk dancing.
  • In the first week of October there is a festival held in the city of Lugo called San Froilan. Here you can enjoy local bands of various styles, a fair and eating Pulpo (octopus). It lasts about a week.

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Weather

Weather in this part of Spain is cooler and wetter compared to places to the south, east and central parts of the country. Summers last from late May to September when temperatures are around 22 to 26 degrees Celsius on average during the day while nights average around 12 to 15 degrees Celsius. Winters are from late November to early March when it's about 10 to 15 degrees Celsius during the day and nights are quite cold with 4 to 6 degrees Celsius.
Precipitation is mainly concentrated in the colder half of year and from October to April you can expect some rain on about half of the number of days. Summers are better with 6-8 days with some rain.
Usually, the coastal areas are somewhat cooler in summer, a little milder in winter but have more rain throughout the year. Areas in the centre and eastern inlands are a bit warmer and drier.

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Getting There

By Plane

Santiago de Compostela Airport is located near the city and is the most important hub if you arrive by plane.
Quite a few airlines serve the city. Ryanair flies to and from London, Alicante, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rome and Reus (near Barcelona). Vueling fly from London Heathrow to airports at Vigo and A Coruña .Several other airlines have flights to destinations in Spain like Palma de Mallorca, most of the Canary Islands (mostly with Air Europa, Bilbao, Valencia, Barcelona and Malaga. Vueling has flights to Paris as well and there are seasonal flights with Aer Lingus to Dublin and with other airlines to Buenos Aires and Caracas, which gives you an idea of the importance of this city for catholics!

By Train

Trains to Madrid take 8 to 9 hours and you can either choose to travel by day or night. At least six or trains go daily to Ourense and one to Irún, on the French border, via León, Burgos and San Sebastián.
Check the Spanish Railway website for details regarding schedules and prices.

By Bus

ALSA offers many connections from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid, Salamanca, Caceres, Seville, Barcelona, [[Lisbon, Porto, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Zürich.
Eurolines has buses througout Spain and Europe as well.

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Getting Around

By Train

Hourly trains go to A Coruna, Pontevedra and Vigo. Check the Spanish Railway website for details regarding schedules and prices.

By Car

Probably the best option for this region, especially in more rural areas. The AP (Autopista) number 9 connects Santiago de Compostela with Pontevedra and A Coruna, but it is a toll route. There is a slower tollfree road as well though.

By Bus

Castromil runs buses thoughout Galicia, including between Santiago de Compostela and Pontevedra and A Coruna.

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Eat

Given it's seaside location, seafood is a common occurence with options such as Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus tentacles with paprika), Empanada (either fish or meat pie) and Centolla (essentially King Crab).

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Contributors

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This is version 28. Last edited at 10:19 on Jun 9, 13 by Peter. 11 articles link to this page.

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