It is always a good idea, especially if you come to the city by car, to take a short tour. These excursions allow you to see some villages hidden in Galicia, which are not easy to reach without your own transport. In this text, you will find some of the best excursions from Santiago de Compostela.
If you are going to the Coruña-Ferrol region...
In that case, you have many options for nature, depending on what you are looking for. For example, to spend a quiet afternoon walking among lush forests, small rivers and waterfalls, the best choice is Fragas do Eume. There are many trails available that are well-marked and maintained, and the most classic route is suitable for everyone and requires no special accessories. A visit to this biosphere reserve is highly recommended. The distance by car from Santiago is about one and a half hours.
If you want to take the route further north, you can visit San Andrés de Teixido, a small village with a church practically hanging from the most spectacular cliffs in continental Europe.
Closer is Coruña, which is more of an urban excursion, with the Tower of Hercules and museums. It's an hour's drive or half an hour by train. But if you are looking for nature, 10 minutes from Coruña is Arteixo, a privileged surfing spot with many practically wild beaches.
If you go to Costa da Morte...
You will find kilometres of beaches and surfing opportunities. It is recommended to travel with a caravan, as it is very easy to park on the outskirts of the small villages that are scattered along the coast. A very pretty and popular village is Laxe, where Playa de los Cristales is located.
Inland, you can visit Vimianzo, one of the county towns in the area. The main attraction of the town is the medieval castle, very well-preserved and open to visitors, one of the few preserved in Galicia.
If we want to travel further, you should go to Finisterre. This end of the world for the Romans has one of the most spectacular sunsets in Galicia. But before the sun goes down, it is almost mandatory to visit the Ézaro waterfall (a waterfall that falls directly into the sea) and climb to the Pindo viewpoint, both of which are very close by. The views are unrivalled.
If you go to Rías Baixas...
There are several sites worth visiting in Ría de Arousa, but the most outstanding is Castro de Baroña, a small rocky peninsula inhabited before the Roman conquest, among whose remains you can walk and take photos. The place is very spectacular, because of the archaeological remains and the surrounding landscape: mountains, beach and sea. Undoubtedly, it is a good place for photography.
In the region of Pontevedra, besides the town itself, which is a very interesting place to visit, you must visit Combarro. This fishing village is a real gem. The typical Galician hórreos (elevated granaries) are located practically in the middle of the estuary, and the old part of the town is very well maintained. You can get there by car or bus from Pontevedra (15 minutes) or from Santiago by your own means of transport. The trip takes just over an hour, but is worth it.
If your destination is south, we recommend two stops - one at Soutomaior Castle and the other in the border town of Tui, just across the border from Portugal. Tui has an impressive cathedral and a historic old town that's worth to take a walk.
If you want to spend the day in nature, you have two options, one quite popular and the other less known. The first is to book a ferry to the Cíes Islands. This is a classic of trips to Galicia and is ranked as one of the best trips from Santiago. The islands are impressive, as are the beaches, and there are trails for more demanding hikers. Note that tickets for this tour are very limited, so you need to book in advance, especially in the summer. The second option, also within the same natural park, is Illa de Arousa, lesser known but also very spectacular. At the tip of the island there are many small coves with white sand and crystal-clear water, although very cold, as in all of Galicia.
This is not usually the most popular option, although more due to lack of knowledge than lack of interesting places. In the provinces of Lugo and Ourense, besides the well-known Ribeira Sacra, about two hours away from Santiago de Compostela, there are many villages worth visiting.
For example, in Ourense we have Ribadavia, where the famous medieval fair takes place on the last weekend of August, and its historic centre has nothing to envy Santiago. And if we were in the region in winter, the best is the carnival in cities like Xinzo, Verín and Laza.
In Lugo are the castles of Monforte de Lemos and Pambre, which lie in the middle of the pilgrims' route to Santiago de Compostela and were a control and surveillance point in the Middle Ages. Both can be visited, and the castle at Pambre was recently restored and opened to the public. Lugo is home to Unesco World Heritage sites, such as the city's Roman walls. Lugo is also a surprisingly atmospheric town, with plenty of bars full of people in the narrow streets outside the city walls.
And if you want to go even further afield, be sure to visit Playa de las Catedrales, but during the busiest times of the year you'll need to book in advance as beach entry is controlled.
Are you still in doubt about which tour to take from Santiago or where to continue your journey through Galicia? The best solution is always to take the advice of our guides, book a free walking tour Santiago and learn first hand all the details about the city and Galicia.