Join us for a nine day tour of Galicia, Spain’s undiscovered province in the far north west of the country. A region of spectacular mountains, fertile valleys and a rugged coastline producing the best shellfish in Europe. We will visit the historic cities of Santiago de Compostela, Vigo and Corunha as well as the Island of Cies one of Spain’s National parks.
The railway lines in the region take us through some of the most fantastic scenery in Spain, both coastal and mountains, places that just cannot be seen by road, the ultimate way to see this fascinating area. This trip is made all the more special as we stay in luxury Paradores.
Tour Manager: Marion
DAY 1 Sunday 4 June (D) We fly out from London Stansted at 12.10 on a direct flight to the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela. Indirect flights may be available from other UK airports. On arrival we transfer with our coach to our first Parador, Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos. Built as an inn and hospital for sick pilgrims in the Praza do Obradoiro which is the same square where we will see the magnificent cathedral. In this beautiful Parador we will be staying for the next three nights. During the evening we will have our welcome dinner here.
DAY 2 Monday 5 June (B) Today we will explore Santiago Do Campostela. After breakfast we have a guided walk of this beautiful city the capital of Galicia. We visit the Cathedral, with its Baroque twin towers, built between the 11th -13th century that stands in the centre of Santiago. Inside the Cathedral we can visit the tomb of St. James the Apostle. Then we will walk through the narrow cobbled streets and squares to appreciate the beautiful granite buildings that surround the Cathedral. Later you will have free time for lunch and your own exploration.
DAY 3 Tuesday 6 June (B) This morning after breakfast we will walk to the railway station at the bottom of the hill (about 20 minutes). Here we take the train to A Coruna. When we arrive, there will be a transfer by coach along the coast to the Torres de Hercules, the oldest working lighthouse in Europe. After our visit we take a tram back to the centre for our guided walk of this city, sometimes known as the city of glass. This is because of the glass enclosed balconies, built as protection against the strong winds. We may also be able to visit the Jardin de San Carlos which contains the tomb of the Scottish general Sir John Moore who was killed in 1809 as the British evacuated the port during Spain’s War of Independence from France. We will have time for a lunch before we continue our exploration of the city and transfer back to the railway station for our return to Santiago.
DAY 4 Wednesday 7 June (B) This morning we have a coach transfer, with our luggage (luggage will remain on the coach) to the railway station for our journey to Vilagarcia where we will be met again by our coach for our transfer to Cambados. Cambados is located in the Rias Baixas on the banks of the Arousa estuary on the west coast of Galicia. Cambados has a historic site declared an Asset of Culture Interest that was created from the merger of three historic villages that still retain their authenticity. Fifinans with a marked noble character; Cambados with its beautiful squares, streets and ruins of the cemetery and sacred monument of Santa Marina Dozo; and the eminently seafaring character of San Tome. Cambados is known for its seafood when the tied is out there are large groups of seafood collectors gathering clams and cockles. Cambados is also known for its Albarino wine. Once we have checked in we will have a walk of Cambados before a tasting of this local, slightly sparkly wine. The evening is free for you to enjoy one of the local restaurants or relax in the Parador by the pool before exploring for yourselves the beauty of this lovely coastal town.
DAY 5 Thursday 8 June (B) Today is market day and what better than a short walk from the Parador to the market that lines the street along the sea front. Take in the atmosphere, have a break for a coffee and watch the locals and the world go by before our pick up for our trip to A Toxa. A small pine-covered island joined to the mainland by a bridge, A Toxa is a very stylish resort with luxury villas. The best known land mark is the little church covered in scallop shells. These are the shell we see everywhere in Galicia marking the way to the Cathedral in Santiago Do Campostela. From here we drive to Grove, a thriving fishing port. All through our journey along the coast of Galicia we will have seen the rafts/platforms made from eucalyptus. Now is the time to visit them, by boat we will leave the docks and see how the shell fish are grown on long ropes hanging down into the rias from these platforms. During our journey back to the dock we will sample the muscles with some white wine of the region before our transfer back to Cambados for the night.
DAY 6 Friday 9 June (B) Today we leave the tranquillity of Cambados. Our luggage will be put on our coach once more and we will be taken to Vilagarcia railway station to take up the rest of our rail journey to Vigo. Once there we will transfer to the dock for another boat journey. This time to the Isles of Cies. These magical islands sit out in the Atlantic being beaten on the west side by the high waters whilst protecting the waters into Vigo. On the east side there are long white sandy beaches and crystal clear warmer waters. Our journey by boat is approx. 45mins. During our few hours on the island we are able to take a walk to one of the highest points and then back, to perhaps take a swim or a snack in the café/restaurant on the beach. When we return to the main land our coach will take us onto Pontevedra for our third Parador stay.
DAY 7 Saturday 10 June (B) Pontevedra lies inland at the head of the Ria de Pontevedra and north of Vigo. Pontevedra was founded by Teucer of Troy and was a very busy city until the middle of the 17th Century, with its own mint and fueros (local law code) granted by Ferdinand lll the Saint. Pontevedra has beautiful historical buildings for us to explore in this typical old town of Galicia. Today we will have a guided walk through the cobbled alleys, tiny squares with granite buildings, see the arcades and many flower filled balconies of this ancient town and medieval port. This afternoon will be free to continue alone to explore.
DAY 8 Sunday 11 June (B) Today we take the train further east, inland to Ourense. A very picturesque journey partly along the River Mino, which is the boarder between Spain and Portugal. Ourense is another old Roman City with thermal springs. The “Font as Burgas” still spouts out water with a temperature of 150 degrees. In the old part of town is the Plaza Mayor where we will see the cathedral (rebuilt 12th-13th century). On the triple-arched doorway are carved figures reminiscent of the Portico da Gloria at Santiago. Just north of the town there is a seven arched bridge built on Roman foundations and still in use. After our visit we return to Pontevedra for our final nights’ stay and our farewell dinner.
DAY 9 Monday 12 June (B) Today it’s time to say goodbye to Galicia and return to the airport in Santiago for our morning flights back home.