ABTA’s Top Travel Trends for 2019: Galicia
Galicia in Northern Spain is truly a home away from home. Its a region in Spain that shares our British weather system and our Celtic influences, whilst boasting long stretches of coastline that are similar to ours. Dont be put off by its apparent Englishness however, because on the other hand, the historic architecture is purely Iberian in the Catholic tradition and the delectable Spanish seafood platters are prepared and served in a way that we simply cant replicate. Thats to say theyre complemented by high-quality home-grown wines, which slip down the throat and tease the taste buds deliciously.
Vigo and La Corua are both picturesque Galician cities with immensely individual characters, while the infamous cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is the final destination on the Pilgrim Trail. Thats three compelling cities within a short distance of one another. Visitors flock to Galicia in their thousands to see the sights, fulfil their spiritual growth goals and eat great food. Theres little to dislike about this part of the world, so if youre heading out here in 2019, lets have a look at the fun you could have.
Birdwatchers love Vigo. The watery inlets, characteristic of the coastline here, and the Ces Islands harbour plenty of exciting bird havens, but for any reluctant birdie partners, who just want to make the most of the beach, there are also long sandy resorts where you can laze in the Spanish sunshine beside the ocean. On the Ces Islands, there are places to camp and a historic lighthouse. In Ras Baixas, there are wineries to explore and tipples to sample and on the urban beachfront at Praia de Samil, you can stroll along the long promenade, taking in the view.
If you find yourself in Vigo on one of its damper days, you might want to take yourself off to the Museo del Mar. This maritime museum provides fun for all the family and your little ones will love it. Exploring the old town at Casco Vello also makes for a very pleasant afternoon. Youll find lots of quaint restaurants serving traditional Galician delicacies, sitting alongside eateries offering more international fare.
While eating out in Vigo, youll be pleased you made the effort to try the local recipes. Our favourite is Churrasco. This is the name given to Galician barbecue food, with meats cooked to perfection and an accompanying salad. Other popular dishes of the city include cuttlefish in ink sauce, scallop pie, grilled sardines and octopus cooked in a variety of different ways.
If youre on holiday with the kids, theyll love La Corua! Once theyve been around the fascinating Museum of the Human Body, then the Science Museum with its excellent planetarium, youll no doubt feel satisfied that youve done your bit in showing them the educational attractions and might be able to sweet-talk them into relaxing with a coffee in the Mara Pita Square, before moving on. Here you can simply relax and soak up the sights and smells of old La Corua
One landmark that should feature on every itinerary around north-west Spain is the oldest Roman lighthouse; The Tower of Hercules. It retains huge historical significance and its an impressive sight too. Then, once everyones ready for more fun, you can head off to the aquarium, walk around the harbour, or spend an exciting afternoon on the beach at Riazor, swimming in the sea, or lounging around on the warm sand with a good book.
When youve worked up an appetite, youll probably want to try some of the local seafood. A range of fish and vegetable dishes, delicately flavoured with spices, are very popular here, as is shellfish soup and winkles served by themselves. Tapas are also big news, with octopus and potatoes being a staple of the pre-dinner, snacking crowds.
Santiago de Compostela
There are plenty of indoor attractions in Santiago de Compostela, such as the art galleries at the monastery of San Martino Pinario and the City Of Culture Contemporary Arts building, as well as the iconic Cathedral, with its exquisite crowd-puller; its botafumeiro or incense burner. This ornate piece of religious furniture swings its way along the central aisle past the heads of the congregation in a most auspicious vision of silver and smoke.
There are also outdoor attractions. Climbing the Monte do Gozo hill will give you a great scenic view of the surrounding area, including nearby sculptures, while Parque Alameda houses some spectacular botanical gardens. For coffee and cake in the perfect place to do a bit of light shopping before dinner, you might want to head over to the Praza de Quintana. Listen to the sounds of the city here, watch the weary pilgrims and soak up the atmosphere. If you sit here long enough you might even feel inspired to take on the Pilgrim Trail yourself!
About the Pilgrim Trail
There are three famous routes you can use to approach St Jamess tomb in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela. Although strictly speaking a true Catholic pilgrim would count the start of the journey as the moment he or she stepped foot outside his or her own door, there are various different recognised starting points.
The Camino de Santiago begins in St Jean Pied de Port in France and takes you through Leon, Burgos, Pamplona, Logroo and Ponferrada, while the Camino del Norte route takes in Oviedo, San Sebastin, Bilbao and Santander. You can also approach from the south, with your trip incorporating Seville and Salamanca without anybody being able to accuse you of not doing the Pilgrims Trail properly! What you do need to ensure is that you trek hundreds of miles on foot and make a note of all the beautiful sights youll take in along the way. Imbibing great food is also highly recommended.
Booking your trip to Galicia
Whether youre a seafood enthusiast, youre looking for religious enlightenment, or you want to holiday in a part of Spain thats highly reminiscent of Cornwall, Galicia is a buzzword in the travel industry this year. Here at Aspen Travel, we partner with a large number of very well respected tour operators offering luxury all-inclusive tours. Theyll introduce you to the highlights of a region, ensure you have a memorable local experience and try all the exciting food on offer. Your flights, accommodation, food, drink, excursions and transfers will all be included and youll also have a knowledgable tour guide on hand to guide you around.
Find all the best holidays, tours and cruises featuring Galicia here
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