Galicia: Favorite Places
In the northwest of Spain, above Portugal, lies a region known for its beautiful beaches, amazing cuisine, and mild temperatures: Galicia. This attractive area is home to sights such as the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Cape Finisterre (The End of the World on the Way of St. James), and the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. The interesting culture and history of the western region can be best understood by staying in a parador. Spanish paradores were built at the beginning of the 20th century on behalf of the king; since then, these luxurious hotels in historic buildings, like monasteries and castles, have not lost their charm, nor their devoted attention to comfort, service, and establishing a particularly romantic ambiance. Those seeking a break from the stresses everyday should look no further than “Green Spain”, in all its charming villages, pristine beaches, and verdant & dynamic landscapes.
Where to stay at a parador in Galicia? Regions at a glance:
If it’s a beach vacation you’re after, Galicia has much to offer—from sprawling, gold-sanded shorelines, to long stretches of white that connect nearby islands to the coast, to your parador, sitting stately where bright blue meets the soft landscape of “Green Spain”. Galicia’s shoreline stretches from Spain’s border with Portugal all the way up and around to the northern region of Asturias. Situated directly on the coast, or looming over it from rocky cliffs, paradores provide beachside luxury, in addition to helping you to forge a connection with the surrounding culture. The in-house restaurants serve fresh sea bass, Galician almond tart, veal, and other local and regional delicacies. The rooms are equipped to the most modern of standards, while the common-spaces beam with a romantic historicism seldom realized in newer establishments. Most paradores are broken up into three categories: historic, urban, and nature. Take your pick on Galicia’s coast: treat yourself to a stay in a renovated castle in Pontevedra’s Old Town, settle in to a spot in the city center, or get lost in the natural among thick pine forests, beaches, and bays. Paradores are considered the “elite” of Spanish hotels, so expect to be royally pampered during your stay.
Santiago de Compostela and Inland
Very much part of “Green Spain” and a little off the usual Spanish tourist routes, Galicia’s inland is the perfect destination for those looking to reset in unspoiled nature, with the opportunity for some city fun as a bonus. Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the region, situated in the center west, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and famous for being the destination of pilgrimages. The architecture and cityscape is imbued with a sense of the historic, making visitors feel as if they’ve stepped into an era long passed. At a parador right in the center of the city, straddling the Plaza do Obradoiro and a stone’s throw from the famous Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, settle in for a classy and culturally-enriching stay. Enjoy comfortable rooms, traditional Galician cuisine, and first-rate service all within a majestic, castle façade. Ribera Sacra, or the Sacred Coast, is Galicia’s wine region, stretching over 17 municipalities, a long list of canyons and forests, and straddling the Miño and Sil rivers. Equipped with extensive spa areas, surrounded by verdant forests, and housed in medieval towers or something of the like, paradores are a great place to cash in on all that these special places have to offer. Toeing the line between contemporary comfort and a special kind of old-timey, you’ll be reluctant to ever leave the long corridors and attached gardens. When you do, check out the Sil Canyon, purportedly the most spectacular landscape of the region; this gorge has a special climate and its bright-blue water and dramatic cliff-scape is sure to impress.
Good to know
Getting there: The easiest and quickest way to get to your parador in Galicia is by flying into one of the three airports of the region: Lavacolla Airport in Santiago de Compostela, Alvedro Airport in A Coruña, or Peinador Airport in Vigo. Alternatively, you can fly into Porto, Portugal for a quick 1 and a half-hour drive across the border. From the airport, hop on the extensive rail system that runs through the countryside. Alternative, pick up a rental car at the airport to make your trip that much more special. The gorgeous scenery is best explored slowly, at your own pace. Finally, cruise ships come into the 130 ports along the coast of Galicia from the UK and other places in Europe.
Paradores are scattered all around the region of Galicia, and usually broken up into three categories; historic hotels, urban hotels, and hotels in nature or on the coast. Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos is great city choice, the 16th-century Parador de Pontevedra for historic, and Parador de Baiona is right on the beach.
A parador is a former castle or monastery that has been repurposed into a luxury hotel.
Paradores, despite being luxury hotels, are usually quite affordable. Depending on the location and facilities, prices range from 80 EUR to 200 EUR in the high season with prices dropping between 70 EUR and 140 EUR in the off season.
Late June through mid-August you’ll have the most consistently good weather and the most daylight. That said, a trip in the chillier off season (7-13 °C) can be very romantic especially within the tranquil environment of a parador.
Galicia, or “Green Spain," is known for its great cuisine, mild climate, and beach-lined coastline. Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the region, is a famous destination for pilgrimages. Most visitors tour the beaches, explore the natural landscapes of the inland, sample authentic Spanish fare, and visit Santiago de Compostela for sightseeing.