viernes, 3 de agosto de 2012

Galicia: the secret corner of Green Spain

With its rich cultural tapestry and a kaleidoscope of extraordinary landscapes, Galicia is Spain's secret corner that's unlike any other holiday destination you may know.

Galicia, in the north-west corner of Spain, never ceases to surprise me. Then again, with 800 miles of coastline framing two sides of the region, there is a lot to discover – no matter how many times you visit.

This is the most western part of Green Spain, which stretches along the country's north coast. Mountains, meadows, rivers and long beaches of golden sand are key features.

Galicia's Celtic, Roman and Visigothic heritage, together with a 1,000-year history as one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world, mean that it looks and feels quite unlike anywhere else in Spain.

It's a region where it is just as interesting to delve into the past as live in the present.

Whether you want to stimulate your mind with tales of ancient civilisations, or your taste buds with fabulous seafood, you can do it here. Or you might want to get active by diving, fishing or sailing around that Atlantic coastline, or explore the varied landscapes on foot, by bike or with a car. The expanding network of hiking and cycling tracks make it easy to plan a route, whether you have a few days or a couple of weeks.
The strategic position right in the west of Europe and the diversity of habitats make Galicia a top spot for birdwatching. With cliffs to marshland, estuaries to mountains, a huge variety of birds make Galicia their home at different times of year.

While Santiago de Compostela, with its majestic cathedral and buzzy ambience, is Galicia's best-known city, A Coruña in the north and Vigo in the south are equally rewarding for an easy break, with Vueling flights from London Heathrow. Both are on the coast with superb urban beaches, so you can combine a bit of culture with relaxing or coastal walking, while trying out the many local specialities in the tapas bars and restaurants.

If you ask Spaniards which region of their country has the best seafood, many will reply that it is Galicia. That might explain why so many of them choose the region for their holidays. Another reason is the climate, which tends to be pleasantly warm rather than stiflingly hot – and with many more hours of sunshine than the UK.

As I said before, in Galicia there is always something else to discover around the next green headland, over the next hill or in the next valley.