If you’re visiting Spain for the first time, be warned: this is a country that fast becomes an addiction. It is a magnet for travelers all over the world. The Spanish way of life is irresistible! It’s impossible not to warm to a culture where food, wine, family and friends take priority over almost everything else. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself hooked by something quite different… the wild celebration of some local fiesta, perhaps, or the otherworldly architecture of Barcelona. Even in the best-known places to visit, from Madrid to the coasts, from the high Pyrenees to the Moorish cities of the south. There are genuinely surprising attractions at every turn, whether it’s hip restaurants in the Basque country, the wild landscapes of the central plains, or cutting-edge galleries in the industrial north. Soon, you’ll notice that there is not just one Spain but many.
  • Situated beside the Atlantic Ocean, A Coruña is a historic city whose history has maintained close links with its old fishing and commercial port. The peninsula on which the Old City stands also contains the Tower of Hercules, one of the symbols of the city, which is an interesting Romanesque collection of streets, squares and medieval churches.

    The Aquarium Finisterrae, the Domus and the Science Museum are some of the places that show the more modern, recreational side of the provincial capital, which offers one of its most beautiful facets in the wide beaches of Riazor and Orzán. All this is completed with cuisine recognised throughout the country, marked by the excellence of its seafood and meats coming from the inland parts of the province.

    Although the origin of A Coruña could be in an old Celtic settlement, the history of the city began to be important in Roman times, when the port became a key point on sailing routes. A witness to this period is the Tower of Hercules, the only working Roman lighthouse and a real symbol of the city. Now declared a National Monument, it was built at the beginning of the 2nd century by order of the Emperor Trajan.

    There have been many refurbishments throughout history, the last of them in 1791, when Carlos III ordered the architect Giannini to restore and reface the tower. The harbour has always been the scene of some of the most important historical events in the city, like the defeat of the English privateer Francis Drake in 1589 thanks to the resistance of the people of Coruña, led by the heroine María Pita.The early medieval town is bounded by the Coruña peninsula. In its lively streets, good examples of Romanesque architecture are preserved. One of the most beautiful is thechurch of Santiago. Built in the 12th century, this church, the oldest in the city, has later additions from the 14th and 15th centuries.

    The cuisine of La Coruña brings together the best of the coast and the interior. From the coast comes excellent seafood: small crabs, barnacles, spider crabs, Norway lobster, etc. Succulent recipes based on fish are also cooked, such as angler fish stew, Galician-style hake (with onion, garlic and carrot) or griddled sole. Pasties serve as a transition to the interior as they can be made either with fish and shellfish or with meat. As for meat, pork can be used to make the famous pork shoulder with parsnip tops, while Galician beefis protected with a Denomination of Origin. Any of the magnificent Galician wines that have a Denomination of Origin (Monterrei, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Rías Baixas and Valdeorras) can be used to accompany these dishes. And, for dessert, there is the famous Santiago cake (with almonds, sugar and flour).

  • Located on a hill on the banks of the river Miño, the city of Lugo preserves major remains of its Roman past, among them its ancient wall, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Inside the walls, the city conserves quiet pedestrian streets, wide squares and spacious gardens, where buildings such as the Cathedral, the Archiepiscopal Palace, and the City Hall stand out. But the historic quarter also houses some of the best restaurants in Galicia, where it is possible to sample the excellent fresh meats and fish which have earned Lugo’s gastronomy recognized acclaim.

    Lugo, located in the interior of the province on the banks of the river Miño, is the Galician provincial capital in which the most significant traces of Roman civilization remain. The greatest example of the city’s Roman legacy is its wall. It was built between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD in what was known at the time as Lucus Augusti. This stone construction has managed to survive the passage of the centuries and continues to be the city’s most distinctive architectural feature, marking the boundary between the historic quarter and the newer area of urban expansion. The uniqueness of this ancient fortress and its good condition mean it is the only Roman wall declared a World Heritage Site. A good way of seeing the city is precisely by standing atop this imposing construction, some 10 metres high, and strolling along the 2,266 metres of its perimeter.

    Any one of the wall’s ten gates gives access to an urban network of quiet pedestrian streets flanked by sober granite buildings. Some of the most emblematic of these are the Carmen gateway, more commonly known as Porta Miñá, which was traditionally used by the pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela; the Nova gate, San Pedro gate or the Santiago gate, built in the 18th century and which provides direct access to the Cathedral of Lugo.

    Another monumental construction in the historic quarter of Lugo is the Cathedral, a Romanesque-Gothic temple which began to be built in the 12th century and whose work went on for more than a century, with subsequent additions of great beauty such as the Neoclassic façade, known as the the Santiago gate

    Lugo’s historic quarter also houses some of the capital’s best restaurants. In them, you can sample the best of Lugo’s gastronomy: red meats, lacón con grelos (pork with a typical local vegetable), tetilla cheeses and a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood. Any of these specialities can be accompanied by the excellent wines which are produced in the south of the province, protected by the Ribeira Sacra Designation of Origin standard.

  • Stretching out on the banks of the river Miño is the city of Ourense, which maintains its traditional link to the river through its Roman bridge. A crossroads, the Old City preserves major historic sites, outstanding among which is the Cathedral.

    The river Miño, which crosses the city halfway through its course, has determined the current appearance of the provincial capital. Almost two thousand years ago, the Romans settled in this land attracted, among other reasons, by its thermal springs. The best-preserved legacy of that age is “a ponte vella” (the old bridge), which connects the banks of the Miño and which has grown to be the symbol of the city. Preserved from the original Roman bridge are some ashlar stones at the base. This major piece of civil engineering was restored in the 13th and 17th centuries, giving it its current appearance, with a pointed arch and ramps.The capital’s rich heritage can be discovered all along the streets which make up the Old City. The arcaded Main Square was the centre of the city’s social and trading life, since it was here where markets, festivals and all kinds of cultural and social events were held.

    Typical dishes are octopus, meat “ó caldeiro” (beef cooked with oil, garlic and paprika) or roast kid. Eel pie is a speciality much in demand during spring. Emblematic cakes and pastries of Ourense are marrón glacé (a dessert made with chestnuts) and cañas pasteleras (cakes filled with custard).

  • Pontevedra, a city with a long maritime and trading tradition, boasts one of the largest and most elegant historic quarters in the whole of Galicia. Situated on the edge of the estuary of the same name, the old town extends in a network of streets and squares and contains major civic and religious buildings.

    Called Ad Duos Pontes by the Romans, Pontevedra has over the centuries adopted a character profoundly marked by the sea, as demonstrated by the shipyards, fishing port and the city’s intense commercial actvitity.The original settlement emerged at the confluence of the river Lérez and the Pontevedra estuary as a walled enclosure of cobbled streets and small secluded squares, some of them arcaded. Situated at the centre of the historic quarter is the Plaza de España and the City Hall, an eclectic building constructed in the 19thcentury.

    The deeply-rooted maritime tradition of Pontevedra and the nearby ports has resulted in a type of cuisine largely based on fresh fish and seafood. Typical dishes include oysters and mussels, as well as cockle and sardine pies. Another option is to try the excellent fresh-water fish, the best of which are the trout, salmon and, especially, the lamprey. Wines with the Rías Baixas Label Guarantee make an excellent accompaniment to any of these dishes. The province of Pontevedra contains two of Galicia’s most important protected spaces. One of the finest is the National Park of the Atlantic Islands, which encompasses the Cíes Isles, as well as the isles of Ons, Cortegada and Sálvora. Fringed by sheer cliffs and sandy beaches, their coasts are the home of thousands of migratory birds. The wealth not only of the wildlife and flora but also of the sea bottom constitutes an ecosystem of inestimable ecological merit.