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Octopus dish

Culinary experiences worth the trip to Galicia

Galicia

The art of the table in Galicia

Galicia is renowned for its food, with well-known recipes like pulpo á feira (octopus), but you can also try culinary experiences that are unique to the region, such as the ritual before drinking the famous queimada, dining in a pazo or country mansion, or seeing how the percebeiros gather shellfish on the shore. These are just a few of the unusual options any foodie traveller will love:

Become a sailor for a day

Spending a day on and around the sea is usually a lot of fun. Galicia offers activities like spending a day fishing and cooking what you catch; watching the percebeiros wading into the sea between the rocks to gather the delicious goose barnacles; taking a shellfish harvesting class in places like the island of A Toxa; going to a fish market like the one in Fisterra to see the auctioneers at work; taking a catamaran trip in O Grove (the “seafood capital”) with a mussel tasting; watch the sunset from a sailboat while you drink the local wine… To start getting into the atmosphere, you could try the pulpo á feira prepared by the famous pulpeiras of Carballiño, or visit seaside towns like Muros, Fisterra and Muxía. Be warned: a good Galician seafood feast or mariscada of spider crab or lobster is not easy to forget.

Collage of culinary experiences in Galicia

Out for tapas and wines in the old town centres

Taking a walk around the historic town centre of Ourense, Pontevedra, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela or Vigo is a pleasure for all the senses. In these old-fashioned streets, at every turn you find traditional taverns offering the finest tapas. Some of the districts are famous, such as the market of A Pedra in Vigo, and its oyster bars. But the best idea is to ask about the local speciality in each place, and find a sunny pavement café where you can try it. Alternatively, a lot of people like to visit local markets like the Mercado de Abastos in Santiago de Compostela where you can buy something and have it cooked for you on the spot.

Wine bars in the old quarter of A Coruña

Dining in a furancho, a pazo or a watermill

If you like a cosy family atmosphere where you eat, you’ll like the experience of going to a furancho - small bars or wine stores on the ground floor of private houses, offering wine straight from the barrel, and homemade food like squid pie, ham, or omelettes… Another unique experience is eating in a restored watermill, like the ones in Meaño, over 200 years old, set in landscapes of stunning natural beauty. And you shouldn’t miss the quintessential lodgings of Galicia: the imposing pazos. These are historic country houses set in wonderful gardens, and many of them include a restaurant.

Furancho near Pontevedra

Seeing stars in the restaurants

If you like fine dining, whether traditional or avant-garde, you could try one of Galicia’s Michelin-starred restaurants: A Tafona, Árbore da Veira, As Garzas, O Retiro da Costiña and Casa Marcelo (in A Coruña); Casa Solla, Culler de Pau, O Eirado, Silabario, Maruja Limón, Pepe Vieira Camiño da Serpe and Yayo Daporta (in Pontevedra) and Nova and Miguel González (in Ourense).

Punta Cabalo lighthouse

Lunch on Ons Island: a protected natural paradise

Some of the most beautiful landscapes in Galicia can be found in the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park: crystal clear water lapping at fine sandy beaches, pine forests, lighthouses and cliffs… The park comprises the Cíes, Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada islands. Although the most famous are the Cíes islands, on this occasion we suggest visiting Ons, where you can relax and enjoy the slow pace of island life, listen to the sea roaring in the mysterious marine caves or furnas, and try the famous local dish: polbo á Illa (island octopus).

View of Ons Island

A day of wine tourism in the Ribeira Sacra district

In this beautiful area, with gorges 500 metres deep carved by the rivers Sil and Miño, the vineyards are equally striking. Unlikely though it seems, the vines grow on almost vertical slopes, in defiance of nature. Everywhere in the Ribeira Sacra district, as well as little monasteries that look as if they belong in a fairy tale, there are small wineries where you can visit, learn how the wines are made, and enjoy a tasting, accompanied by a snack. You could finish off the day with a catamaran ride in the gorges of the river Sil. Apart from the Ribeira Sacra, if you want to try some of Galicia’s most famous wines, a must-visit is Cambados, the home of Albariño, and its famous Fefiñáns winery, or go on to Ribadavia to try the Ribeiro.

Woman harvesting grapes in the Ribeira Sacra district

Dining and star-gazing on the tallest mountain in Galicia

One of the best places in the world to see the stars is on Pena Trevinca, Galicia’s highest point, in Ourense. It’s a spectacular area of glacial lakes and villages of stone houses, where time seems to stand still. Some of these country guest houses are equipped with telescopes for looking at the stars… and the food is fantastic. We recommend the local beef, and wines with the Valdeorras Designation of Origin.

Enjoy good food after relaxing at a spa

Breakfast in your room, private access to a hydrotherapy circuit, couples massages, visits to wineries, tasting menus, romantic or maritime dinners, restaurants with sweeping views… It’s easy to be tempted by the offer at Galicia’s many spas. This part of Spain is rich in hot springs and spas where the water has medicinal and mineral properties. There are many to choose from: Termas de Outariz, Quinta da Agua, Termas A Chavasqueira, La Toja, Mondariz, and more.

Chavasqueira hydrotherapy centre, Ourense

Experience enxebre for yourself

According to some, enxebre means something is authentic, and typical of a region. But enxebre is also a way of understanding life, a feeling. You’ll start to understand it as you encounter Galician traditions and mix with local people during their celebrations. Would you like to take part in a magosto? This is a kind of party, held in November during the chestnut harvest, when people gather around bonfires to tell stories and celebrate the arrival of autumn. Or perhaps the ritual that accompanies the preparation of queimada, a flaming mix of coffee and alcohol, when someone reads the conxuro - part poem, part spell. At any time of year, you can ask the people of Galicia about their culinary traditions, try bread from Cea or a potato omelette from Betanzos, eat lacón con grelos (pork and greens), drink wine from a cunca (ceramic bowl), pick the spicy Padrón pepper from the plateful, enjoy the sweet pastry filloas

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