83 Best Sights in Galicia and Asturias, Spain

As Catedrais Beach

Fodor's choice

One of Spain's best-kept secrets, this spectacular stretch of sand, also known as Praia de Augas Santas (Beach of the Holy Waters) features vast rock formations, domes, arches, and caves that were naturally formed by wind and sea. In high season (July--September) it is mandatory to reserve a ticket to access the actual beach via  ascatedrais.xunta.gal. The arches are accessible for walks when the tide goes out; otherwise, the beach can be completely covered. Amenities: parking. Best for: beach walks; rock formations; spectacular natural scenery.

Casco Antiguo

Fodor's choice

The best way to spend your time in Santiago de Compostela is to simply wander the old town, losing yourself in its maze of narrow stone-paved streets and postage-stamp plazas. In the process you'll stumble on old pazos (manor houses), convents, and churches. The most beautiful pedestrian thoroughfares are Rúa do Vilar, Rúa do Franco, and Rúa Nova—portions of which are covered by arcaded walkways called soportales, designed to keep walkers out of the rain. Don't miss Praza da Quintana, bounded by the majestic walls of the cathedral and the 9th-century Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares, a favorite summer hangout for buskers and young travelers.

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Fodor's choice

It's a new era for the Catedral: In 2020, the unsightly—and seemingly permanent—scaffolding came down to reveal one of Spain's most impressive (and painstakingly laborious) restorations. What was once a discolored, greenish, and weather-worn facade is now radiant, golden, and spotless—a befittingly grand finale to arduous pilgrimages. Although the facade is baroque, the interior holds one of the finest Romanesque sculptures in the world: the Pórtico de la Gloria, completed in 1188 by Maestro Mateo. It is the cathedral's original entrance, its three arches carved with figures from the Apocalypse, the Last Judgment, and purgatory. Below Jesus is a serene St. James, poised on a carved column. Look carefully and you can see five smooth grooves, formed by the millions of pilgrims who have placed their hands here over the centuries. On the back of the pillar, devotees lean forward to touch foreheads in the hope that his genius be shared.

St. James presides over the high altar in a bejeweled cloak, which pilgrims embrace upon arriving at the cathedral. The stairs behind the sculpture are the cathedral's focal point, surrounded by dazzling baroque decoration, sculpture, and drapery. The crypt beneath the altar, which houses the purported remains of James and his disciples St. Theodore and St. Athenasius, is generally closed to the public. A pilgrims' Mass is held daily at noon.

Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela, 15704, Spain
902-044077-museum information and booking
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Cathedral free; €12 for museum, portico, and art exhibits

Recommended Fodor's Video

Centro Botín

Fodor's choice

Inaugurated in 2017, this futuristic museum and performance center designed by architect Renzo Piano was the biggest cultural opening in northern Spain in recent memory. It houses contemporary artwork by international artists. Worth a visit for the eye-popping architecture and views alone, the building overlooks the harbor and is surrounded by the Jardines de Pereda. There is a café on-site, as well as two viewing decks accessible free of charge.

Islas Cíes

Fodor's choice

The Cíes Islands, 35 km (21 miles) west of Vigo, are among Spain's best-kept secrets. They form a pristine nature preserve that's one of the last unspoiled refuges on the Spanish coast. Starting on weekends in May and then daily June–late September, Naviera Mar de Ons ( 986/225272,   www.mardeons.com) runs about eight boats from Vigo's harbor (subject to weather conditions), returning later in the day, for the €21 round-trip fare (tickets must be booked in advance on the website). The 45-minute ride brings you to white-sand beaches surrounded by turquoise waters brimming with marine life; there's also great birding. The only way to get around is your own two feet: it takes about an hour to cross the main island. If you want to stay overnight, there's a designated camping area. The tourist office has up-to-date information on timetables and crossings.

It is mandatory for travelers to the Cíes Islands to first obtain authorization from the Xunta de Galicia online portal (autorizacionillasatlanticas.xunta.gal/illasr).

Mercado de Abastos de Santiago

Fodor's choice

Designed by architect Joaquín Vaquero Palacios, this charming stone building, built in 1941, houses a bustling traditional food market. It fills up around 11, when locals come to shop, but the operating hours are roughly 8 am to 3 pm. Whether you snap up local cheeses and tinned fish to take home or merely ogle Galicia’s wondrous bounty of shellfish and produce, don't miss this market, one of Spain's most underrated foodie destinations. 

Muséu del Pueblu d'Asturies

Fodor's choice

Across the river, on the eastern edge of town, this rustic museum contains traditional Asturian houses, cider presses, a mill, and an exquisitely painted granary. Also here is the Museo de la Gaita (Bagpipe Museum) celebrating the area's centuries-old bagpiping tradition. There are bagpipes from other parts of the world on display as well.

Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo

Fodor's choice

These two churches—the first with superb views and its plainer sister 300 yards uphill—are the jewels of an early architectural style called Asturian pre-Romanesque, a more primitive, hulking, defensive line that preceded Romanesque architecture by nearly three centuries. Commissioned as part of a summer palace by King Ramiro I when Oviedo was the capital of Christian Spain, these masterpieces have survived for more than 1,000 years. Tickets for both sites are available in the church of Santa María del Naranco.

Torre de Hércules

Fodor's choice

Much of A Coruña sits on a peninsula, on the tip of which sits this city landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site—the oldest still-functioning lighthouse in the world. First installed during the reign of Trajan, the Roman emperor born in Spain in AD 98, the lighthouse was rebuilt in the 18th century and looks strikingly modern; all that remains from Roman times are inscribed foundation stones. Scale the 245 steps for superb views of the city and coastline—if you're here on a summer weekend, the tower opens for views of city lights along the Atlantic. Lining the approach to the lighthouse are sculptures depicting figures from Galician and Celtic legends.

Adega Eidos

This sleek winery overlooks Sanxenxo harbor and produces a modern, fruit-forward style of Albariño harvested from old, ungrafted vines grown on granite slopes. Only natural yeasts are used in the fermentation. Tours including nibbles, and a wine tasting cost approximately €10-15.

Altamira Caves

These world-famous caves, 3 km (2 miles) southwest of Santillana del Mar, have been called the Sistine Chapel of prehistoric art for the beauty of their drawings, believed to be some 18,000 years old. First uncovered in 1875, the caves are a testament to early mankind's admiration of beauty and surprising technical skill in representing it, especially in the use of rock forms to accentuate perspective.   Only 5 visitors are allowed into the caves each week, and entrance is determined by a lengthy waiting list. The reproduction in the museum, however, is open to all.

Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola, Santillana del Mar, 39330, Spain
942-818005
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €3 (free Sat. afternoon and Sun.), Closed Mon.

Aquarium Finisterrae

Situated next to the Torre de Hércules, this aquarium features interactive exhibits, an underwater hall, and a seal colony. A fitting tribute to Galicia's relationship with the sea, it focuses on the ecosystems of the Atlantic and Galician coast.

Paseo Alcalde Francisco Vázquez 34, A Coruña, 15002, Spain
981-189842
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €10

Basílica de Santa María del Conceyu

This 13th-century church rising over the main square is an excellent example of Romantic Gothic architecture.

Pl. Christo Rey, Llanes, 33500, Spain
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free

Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes

Set in a 16th-century stone palace, this illustrious winery has been making wine since the 17th century and crafts textbook Albariños. The 1583 Albariño de Fefiñanes sees five years in Bordeaux barrels. Guided tours including tastings range from €13 to €25. Reservations recommended. 

Pl. de Fefiñanes, Cambados, 36630, Spain
986-542204
Sight Details
Rate Includes: From €13

Bodegas Granbazán

Set on an expanse of lush vineyards, this is the first chateaux-style winery in Galicia, with a characteristically blue facade and a breadth of award-winning Albariños. 

Casa-Museo Rosalía de Castro

Padrón was the birthplace of one of Galicia's heroines, the 19th-century poet Rosalía de Castro. The lovely Casa-Museo Rosalía de Castro, where she lived with her husband, a historian, now displays family memorabilia.

C. A Matanza s/n, Padrón, 15917, Spain
981-811204
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €2, Closed Mon., July–Sept., Tues.–Sat. 10–2 and 4–8, Sun. 10–1:30; Oct.–June, Tues.–Sat. 10–1:30 and 4–7, Sun. 10–1:30

Castillo de San Antón (Museo Arqueológico e Histórico)

At the northeastern tip of the old town is St. Anthony's Castle, a 16th-century fort that houses A Coruña's Museum of Archaeology. The collection includes remnants of the prehistoric Celtic culture that once thrived in these parts, including silver artifacts as well as ruins from castros, the Celts' stone forts. 

Paseo Alcalde Francisco Vázquez 2, A Coruña, 15001, Spain
981-189850
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €2, Closed Mon.

Catedral de Santander

The blocky cathedral marks the transition between Romanesque and Gothic. Though largely rebuilt in the neo-Gothic style after serious damage in the town's 1941 fire, the cathedral retained its 12th-century crypt. The chief attraction here is the tomb of Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo (1856–1912), Santander's most famous literary figure. The cathedral is across Avenida de Calvo Sotelo from the Plaza Porticada.

Calle de Somorrostro, Santander, 39002, Spain
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €1

Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador de Oviedo

Oviedo's Gothic cathedral was built between the 14th and 16th centuries around the city's most cherished monument, the Cámara Santa (Holy Chamber). King Ramiro's predecessor, Alfonso the Chaste (792–842), built it to hide the treasures of Christian Spain during the struggle with the Moors. Damaged during the Spanish Civil War, it has since been rebuilt. Inside is the gold-leaf Cross of the Angels, commissioned by Alfonso in 808 and encrusted with pearls and jewels. On the left is the more elegant Victory Cross, actually a jeweled sheath crafted in 908 to cover the oak cross used by Pelayo in the battle of Covadonga.

Cathedral Roof Tours

For a bird's-eye view of the city, join one of the tours arranged by the cathedral museum that takes you across the cubiertas, the granite steps of the cathedral roofs. Pilgrims made the same 100-foot climb in medieval times to burn their travel-worn clothes below the Cruz dos Farrapos (Cross of Rags). There is a limited number of English-language tours.

Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea

Santiago's premier contemporary art museum is housed in a stark yet elegant modern building that contrasts with Santiago's ancient feel. Inside, a lobby of gleaming Italian marble gives way to white-walled, high-ceilinged exhibition halls filled with mind-bending conceptual art—some of which might be a bit "out there" for the uninitiated. The temporary exhibits are excellent. Portuguese designer Álvaro Siza built this museum from smooth, angled granite to mirror the medieval convent of San Domingos de Bonaval next door.

Cerámica de Sargadelos

Distinctive blue-and-white-glazed contemporary ceramics are made at Cerámica de Sargadelos, 21 km (13 miles) east of Viveiro. It's usually possible to watch artisans work (weekdays 9–1:15), but call ahead to check.

Cidade da Cultura

More than a decade in the making, Santiago's City of Culture is a controversial striated-stone-and-glass edifice on Monte Gaiás. It was meant to whisk Galician culture into the future but fell short: construction was stopped in 2013 due to delays and mismanagement. A pared-down version has since opened with a museum, an archive library, temporary art exhibits, and cultural attractions including concerts and talks. The design of the complex, by the American architect Peter Eisenman, takes inspiration from the shape of a scallop shell, the emblem of St. James. 

Cimadevilla

This steep peninsula—the old fishermen's quarter—is now the main nightlife hub. At sunset, the sidewalk in front of bar El Planeta (Tránsito de las Ballenas 4), overlooking the harbor, is a prime spot to join locals drinking Asturian cider. From the park at the highest point on the headland, beside Basque artist Eduardo Chillida's massive sculpture Elogio del Horizonte (In Praise of the Horizon), there's a panoramic view of the coast and city.

City Walls

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 3rd-century Roman walls encircling Lugo provide a picturesque 2-km (1-mile) walk and the best bird's-eye views of the town. There are 85 towers and 10 gates, and the walls have four staircases and two ramps providing access to the top.

Colegiata de Santa Juliana

Santillana del Mar is built around the Colegiata, Cantabria's finest Romanesque structure. Highlights include the 12th-century cloister, famed for its sculpted capitals, a 16th-century altarpiece, and the tomb of Santa Juliana, who is the town's patron saint and namesake.

Pl. las Arenas 1A, Santillana del Mar, 39330, Spain
639-830520
Sight Details
Rate Includes: €3

Colexiata de Santa María do Campo

Called St. Mary of the Field because the building was once beyond the city's walls, this Romanesque beauty dates to the mid-13th century. The facade depicts the Adoration of the Magi; the celestial figures include St. Peter, holding the keys to heaven. Because of an architectural miscalculation the roof is too heavy for its supports, so the columns inside lean outward and the buttresses outside have been thickened. The interior is often closed but the exterior alone is worth seeing.

Rúa Damas 24, A Coruña, 15001, Spain

Cudillero

The coastal road leads 35 km (22 miles) east of Luarca to this little fishing village, clustered around its tiny port. The emerald green of the surrounding hills, the bright blue of the water, and the pops of color among the white houses make this village one of the prettiest and most touristic in Asturias. Seafood and cider restaurants line the central street, which turns into a boat ramp at the bottom of town.

Don Olegario

This award-winning, family-run winery offers an intimate tour followed by a tasting on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. 

Refoxos, Cambados, 36634, Spain
986-520886
Sight Details
Rate Includes: From €8, Reservations essential

Gran Casino del Sardinero

This elegant Belle Époque casino and restaurant—worth a quick visit even if gambling isn't your thing—is the heart of El Sardinero, the vacationer's quarter west of the old city. You can't miss it with its regal white facade, red awnings, and pleasant tree-shaded park. Around it you'll find expensive hotels and several fine restaurants.