With this guide, we will discover the magnificent cultural, historical, artistic and natural heritage of RÍAS BAIXAS. A heritage encompassing countless stories to be told, different cultures that inhabited these lands, charming villages and landscapes, and welcoming people that will make our journey so much more agreeable. A route sprinkled with castles, fortresses, pazos and their gardens, big and small churches, monasteries, ancient settlements and lush nature.
We will discover breath-taking beaches with fine sand and clear water, where we will relax and enjoy the exquisite local seafood. We will explore mountains crossed by winding rivers teeming with life any time of the year. We will marvel at the sounds and colours of the fauna and flora all around us.
These 5 days will bring us unique experiences to enjoy with the 5 senses. We will listen to the sounds of the forest, smell the green meadows and marshlands, see the shapes and colours of ever-changing landscapes, taste the delicious products that can only be found in the Rías Baixas and their mountains.
We will touch stones shaped as much by the hands of men as by the wind and the rain, telling us about the passage of time.
This is the Route “5 days with 5 senses.”
From VIGO to MONDARIZ
Today’s route will take us to the coastal roads along the Atlantic Ocean, from Baiona to A Guarda, leading us upstream the Miño river, and ending in the thermal village of Mondariz Balneario. This journey will allow us to admire the natural, historical and ethnographic heritage in the south of the province of Pontevedra. The Santa Trega castro settlement, the lampree in Arbo, the Castle of Sobroso and the hundreds of hectares covered in vineyards, flowers and fruit tress make this first stage unique.
Our journey starts off leaving the city of Vigo behind. However, before taking off, you should go for a walk around the Pazo Quiñones de León. Its museum and its English garden, also known as the Tea Meadow, are two treasures to be discovered. Then set course for Baiona, the picturesque coastal town where Martín Alonso Pinzón arrived after the discovery of America and which boasts a 14th century fortress. Baiona can be reached by coastal road PO-325. On your way to your first stop, you will also leave the beaches of Samil, O Vao, Patos and Panxón behind.
Having reached Baiona, you need to take road PO 552, a delight for all bikers and coastal landscape lovers. Dance along with the bends of the road, marvel at the strength of the Atlantic ocean crashing into the rocks, and take in the air filled with the smell of saltpetre. Enjoy the meandering road and feel the sunlight shining on every mile of it. A few kilometres from Baiona, passing the lighthouse on Cabo Silleiro, you will find Oia. There, you should leave PO 552 and ride down to the port of Oia, where you will find the only coastal monastery there is, the Monastery of Santa María, a real beauty located on a small beach where only the boldest dare to surf.
Leaving A Guarda behind, you need to take PO 552 towards Tui and up to Tabagón, where you should take roads PO 3203 and then PO 3303 to get to the parish of Goián, proud home of the fortress of San Lorenzo de Goián, an 18h-century fortified castle with the star-shaped floor plan usually found in modern fortresses.
Keep riding through the fertile valley of the Miño river, with its fields scattered with greenhouses where flowers and fruit trees are grown. Road PO 552 will take you to N 551, which, in its turn, will lead you to Tui, historical capital and one of the most beautiful towns in the Rías Baixas.
You must definitely make a stop and visit this town. Get off your bike and wander around the old town until you get to the Cathedral of Santa María de la Asunción. Sitting in the border with Portugal, atop a rocky hill by the Miño river, this cathedral has witnessed the history of this area throughout the centuries. Inevitably linked to the town, it speaks of history and tradition.
Having walked around the streets of Tui and admired its impressive cathedral, you need to leave it behind and take N 551 and then PO 404 towards Guillarei at the roundabout. The latter will lead us to Salvaterra de Miño, where the Castle of Salvaterra awaits us. Also known as the Castle of Doña Urrana, it is yet another hidden treasure in the heart of the Rías Baixas.
Since you left A Guarda, you have been riding though the famous lands of O Condado and the lands of the albariño wines from the Rías Baixas. O Rosal, Tomiño, A Guarda, part of Tui and Gondomar, all of these are lands of vineyards, which smell like wine and taste like grapes. In the vicinity of the Tea river, vineyards are also plentiful, as we can see on our way along the roads of Salvaterra de Miño, As Neves, Arbo, Crecente, Salceda de Caselas, Ponteareas, A Cañiza or Mos.
Riding among vineyards, we will get to Arbo, capital of the lampree, where there is a museum about the wines with the albariño designation of origin, the region of Condado do Tea and the lampree, a peculiar and tasty inhabitant of the region much sought-after in many kitchens.
Having stopped in Arbo, we must set course for the last stages of our journey. We are going to Mondariz, but we will make our last stop first at the majestic castle of Sobroso. This is a Medieval fortress located in Villasobroso, in the municipality of Mondariz, which was almost entirely destroyed in 1467 during the Irmandiño revolts and then rebuilt by Pedro Madruga in the 15th century.
After visiting the castle, take road PO 400 and then EP 5003 towards a A Cañiza. The cured ham sandwiches here are a must-try for anyone travelling to Madrid and wishing to recover some strength. It’s not black label, but it’s our ham, and it’s delicious.
From the centre of A Cañiza, take road Nacional 120 to Villasobroso and follow it until you get to a straight stretch overlooked by the Castle of Sobroso, surrounded by huge oaks, chestnuts, cypresses and camellia trees.
Here, get off your bike and enter the castle, crossing its thick stone walls. A small chapel, a drawbridge and a moat are the first things you will see. The rest of it you will discover for yourself—if we told you every detail, we would ruin the experience for you.
Say goodbye to Doña Urraca and Don Pedro Madruga, for you must head towards Mondariz Balneario. There, a well-deserved relaxing experience awaits you after so many miles of riding and walking.
As for the small thermal village of Mondariz Balneario, words are not enough to describe it. Just go there and enjoy, relax and feel the benefits of its waters. You will feel so much more rested tomorrow.
For now, it’s time to say good night!
From MONDARIZ to LALÍN
Mainland Pontevedra is a wild area. The steep mountain ranges of O Xurés, O Cando and O Candán are home to vertiginous waterfalls and to fierce predators that cross their skies. However, if you take a closer look, this region will show you its most gentle side that of river beaches, castro settlements and medieval villages. This is not an area for mass tourism but, if you give it a chance, it will definitely win your heart.
Many of the hidden treasures in mainland Pontevedra can only be discovered by walking the hundreds of kilometres making up its weave of paths and tracks. Natural, ethnographic and intangible heritage await us in this 150-kilometre journey which will take us three hours to complete and will lead us from the thermal village of Mondariz Balneario to Lalín, the capital of Galician cocido. This is a genuine route for bikers, with mountain roads, rivers, and many, many bends.
The village of Mondariz is the starting point of this route, and the river beach of Maceira, in Covelo, will be our first stop along the way. We should take road PO-252 towards the centre of Mondariz, and, once there, turn into winding road PO-261, which we will follow for some kilometres until we reach the centre of the village of Maceira. From the fairground, turn left towards the river, which boasts one of the best river beaches in the province, perfect for family Sundays.
After a refreshing bath in the Tea river, we set course for another rivery land, Fornelos de Montes. If we take meandering road PO-9303 and walk through the steep Xurés mountain range, hunting ground for various birds of prey, we will get to the rainiest municipality in Galicia. There, the Ruínas da Cidade await us—an ancestral castro settlement hidden in the woods and surrounded by rivers and mountains where fish and game are plentiful. This made it possible for the civilization who lived here to last until the Middle Ages and for this spot to become an important trade hub. Just a few metres away lies another majestic land, born from the union of the works of Nature and the works of men: the reservoir of Eiras. The views are worth stopping your motorbike, setting foot on the ground and taking a deep breath to admire the vastness of this place that supplies water to a good deal of the metropolitan area of Vigo.
This route along the sides of the mountain ranges of O Cando and Candán has even more pleasant surprises in store for us. But, before discovering them, we must head north, towards the municipality of A Lama, and let ourselves be captivated by the most authentic, untarnished side of Galicia, where corn fields and cattle replace bricks and mortar. Almost without noticing, we will arrive at the slopes of the most peculiar mountains in the region, home to a colony of unique birds. Many bikers have had the privilege to see these giants of the skies, who have made O Cando mountain range their home, fly in circles above them.
In our journey towards the village of Soutelo de Montes, we will cross the range from south to north by means of a challenging track that will show us these rocky slopes in all their glory. If we stop here to meditate for some minutes, fortune may favour us and give us the chance to watch some Galician vultures, hard but not impossible to spot. The epic journey to Soutelo will take us through landscapes of unparalleled variety and beauty. Our pace will be set by the motion of the countless windmills scattered along the crest of this magical mountain range where the doorway to the underworld can be found, or so the legend goes. The origins of Porta do Alén, an ensemble of fractured rocks over a great flat block of stone, might or might not be human. Just in case, make sure that you enter and exit through the same spot, or you will remain trapped in the land of the dead. Another impressive landmark atop this mountain range is Marco do Vento, a huge menhir that makes climbing to the summit worth the effort.
In the middle of O Cando also lies the parish of O Pelete, home to one of the eldest inhabitants of Galicia—the five-hundred-year-old impressive oak of A Lama, which has been watered with wine by the local wine producers for centuries.
Before heading for the Monastery of Santa María de Aciveiro, in the heart of the Candán mountain range, we will make a stop in the village of Soutelo, renowned for their strawberry jam, which is sold all throughout Spain. On our way to the Monastery of Forcarei, we will cross the Candán mountain range, a perfect area for birding, since it is the home of several species of birds of prey, such as the eagle owl, the golden eagle and the northern goshawk.
This incredible setting will be one of the last places where we will stop along our journey. Founded in year 1135, under the reign of Alfonso VII of León and Castile, was the centre of the economic and social life of the Terra de Montes until the 19th century. This place is perfectly preserved, so much so that the Council of Husillos scenes in the TV series El Final del Camino were shot here. This series tells about the fall of the bishop of Compostela, Diego Peláez, due to him supporting the king of Galicia instead of surrendering to the crown of León.
Lalín awaits us at the end of road PO-534. If we take our eyes off the road for a second, we will see hues of green all around us. These are the little farming plots that the locals try hard to keep working despite the demographical crisis lashing mainland Pontevedra. Once in the capital of Galician cocido, we will take our last turn to get to the Pazo de Liñares, an 18th-centry building where Galician writer Emilia Pardo Bazán spent most of her life. Having been intensely restored, this building now houses the Galician Centre for the Management of the Archeological Knowledge of Castro Cultures, as well as the Puppet Museum. Walking in its gardens is another interesting option. This is the perfect place to rest and stretch our legs, knowing that tomorrow there is more in store for us.
From LALÍN to VILAGARCÍA DE AROUSA
The most traditional Galicia is awaiting us, with its vast stretches of green land sprinkled with gentle hills and scattered villages. We will discover exciting waterfalls, huge natural spaces and old pazos from ancient times. Almost without noticing, we will arrive in Catoira, where we will be captivated by the Viking culture after soaking in the thermal tradition of Caldas de Reis.
The third route of our journey around the province of Pontevedra will take us from the mainland to the coast—from crop fields, valleys and farms to estuaries, beaches and lookouts. Our route starts in Lalín, the capital of Galician cocido, where pork is worshipped and there is even a statue of a swine. After touching and taking a picture with the bronze pig, we shall head for Dozón.
Riding among farms, pastures and crops on road N-525, we will get to our first stop. Leaving the church of San Salvador behind, and before arriving in the municipality of Dozón, we must turn left towards Rodeiro, although we must take a detour first to discover a jewel of Galician architecture and history.
The Monastery of San Pedro de Vilanova is a must-see. You can reach it by a narrow road that can be taken turning right at the village of Diz. It was in 1154 when Guntroda Suárez, feudal lady, made the decision to donate her lands so that the monastery could be built. Back then, widows used to give their lands to the church and retreat to the monasteries founded thanks to them for the rest of their days. The name and date of foundation of this monastery for women are carved in the apse.
Having admired the peculiar architecture of this building, and its main façade pointing east, we will retrace our steps until we reach provincial road PO-533, which will lead us into the municipality of Rodeiro, one of the last great livestock bastions in the province. Cattle, pig, sheep and goat farms are interspersed with green pastures that disappear into the horizon. An immersion in every way and for every sense, even smell, which will soon alert us of the presence of these animals if we are lucky to see them on our way. Anthropological heritage is another jewel of Rodeiro, with countless petroglyphs carved in rocks and pazos such as the Pazo de Trasulfe, a lordly house dating from the 16th century and representing the noble history of Galicia.
Crossing Rodeiro and taking road PO-212, we will reach Agolada, a municipality where yet another treasure telling us about the Galician way of life throughout the centuries is hidden. The Medieval market of Os Pendellos is a historical ensemble that allows us to understand the rural lifestyle better, together with the difficulties of ancient times. It is a space for trade, with functional stone constructions and no decorative ambitions other than serving its purpose on the market and fair days.
Back on the road, we will set course for a unique natural space that can be reached by EP-6302, taking us to the heart of the cork oak woods of Arnego. These woods stretch for over 1,000 hectares and are framed by the valley of the Arnego river. Stop your bike and walk in the shade of these hundred-year-old cork oaks, chestnuts, oaks and many other species native to Galicia. Touching their barks, stepping on their fallen leaves and embracing their trunks are things you must experience, giving you the chance to forget about the hustle and bustle and connect with Mother Nature.
Our lungs filled with pure air, we must get on our bikes again and go discover one of the greatest monasteries in Pontevedra. Before getting there, road PO-204 will take us through Vila de Cruces and a whole network of rivers that supply water to the Deza river, the main affluent of the Ulla river. Once in Silleda, we will need to take a few bends before we come across the Monastery of O Carboeiro, a giant that was built on top of a shrine by the disciples of Mestre Mateo, and whose decorations are strongly linked to the Cathedral of Santiago. Founded in year 939 by earls don Gonzalo and doña Tareixa, it was destroyed in the late 10th century and had to be completely rebuilt. Some 12 kilometres away lies another jewel that we must visit. The sound of water will lead us to the waterfall of Toxa, a 30-metre fall in the course of a river that is born in O Candán mountain range and flows gently through these valleys to then take this leap in the parish of Bandeira. The sanctuary of O Corpiño, one of the most important pilgrim destinations in the province, is also nearby.
A Estrada awaits us, namely the Pazo de Oca, also known as the Galician Versailles due to its exquisite, colourful gardens. But before we get there, we must roll on for quite a few kilometres through the most traditional Galicia, with its vast, deeply green meadows. Riding on one of the main roads that criss-cross the province, N-525, we then need to take a right turn at the chapel of the parish of As Neves in order to take road PO-2017, which will lead us straight to the pazo with the most famous gardens in Galicia. As for its history, the earliest traces date back to the 15th century, under the ruling of Álvaro de Oca and his son Suero, lords of this Medieval fortress which has since been renewed on many occasions.
Our next stop will take us to Caldas de Reis, after dozens of kilometres of minor roads where we can fully admire this side of Galicia. The side where elderly women keep working their plots, tireless; where wild or tamed horses graze peacefully on the gentle slopes; where even the smell of droppings is inexplicably appealing. Without even having the time to feel tired from the road, we will arrive in Caldas de Reis. Before getting to the heart of this thermal village, we must circle the reservoir of the Umia river, and we can even take a little detour and go bathe in the waterfall of Segade. The spas, oaks and hot springs scattered around the old town are worth parking the bikes. Walk along the river, close your eyes for a while and travel back to the Belle Epoque, when Caldas was a true tourist hub for the upper classes of the time, when hot springs were really popular.
The sun will begin to set over the estuary of Arousa, which is still awaiting us since we got on our bikes in Lalín, the very centre of Galicia. To get to Catoira, we must head for Santiago, but soon we will need to go northwest and take EP-8001, which will lead us to our destination though the luxuriant Ulla valley. With the Torres del Oeste on the background, our journey will be topped if we are lucky enough to listen to a Viking story. The Vikings fiercely and persistently attacked this fortress that also repelled the Normans, Saracens and pirates for many centuries.
With a glass of albariño and views over the amazing estuary of Arousa, in the neighbouring municipality of Vilagarcía, we can leave our bikes to rest. We will resume our trip tomorrow in order to discover all the corners of O Salnés.
From VILAGARCÍA DE AROUSA to O GROVE
The estuary of Arousa will watch us as we ride along its coast. Heavenly beaches, ancient fortresses and fascinating natural spaces await us in our journey across the sea of vineyards producing our most international wine. This ride will take us from the beachfront to the heart of the region of O Salnés. Before crossing the finish line, the road will offer us some breathtaking views over the estuary of Pontevedra. A true privilege.
Overlooking the biggest of the Rías Baixas, home to bold fishermen, mythical stories and endless mussel troughs, we start a new route through the heart of the region of Arousa. Here, the sand beaches blend with the vast vineyards producing the most international wine in Galicia.
Vilagarcía, the main town in this region, will be our starting point, but we must go for a walk around this town before getting on our bikes. On the mouth of the Con river, next to a park full of history, lays the settlement of Alobre.
This archaeological site, with remains from different, exotic cultures such as the Punics, the Phoenicians, the Italics or the Andalusians, proves that Vilagarcía always had an inclination for trade, from the Iron Age to the 5th century.
Back on road N-640, the backbone of the region of O Salnés, we will head for Vilanova de Arousa, birthplace of the creator of esperpento: Ramón María del Valle-Inclán. His birth home, in the style of a palace, now houses his museum on the ground floor and a reproduction of his home in the first floor. Taking a little detour from our itinerary, we can also discover one of the most renowned pazos in the region of O Salnés. Pazo Baión, named after the parish where it rises, is famous for being one of the locations in the book and TV series Fariña, which depicts the smuggling scene in this region during the late 20th century. But this is far from being its only charm. Built in the 15th century, this pazo was purchased in the early 1900s by a local who had made good in America, and its albariño vineyards are its greatest treasure. They were planted in the 1970s and were the driving force of the winery industry in Arousa.
Discovering the history and architecture of this region is only one of the many joys of our route along the coast of Arousa, where the scent of saltpetre floating in the air will always accompany us. This is especially true in the Isle of Arousa, which can be reached through the longest bridge in Galicia, built in 1985 to communicate it with the continent. Riding on two wheels along the coast of the Isle is one of the great pleasures of this route, and its greatness will surprise us from the minute we cross the bridge. On our left, there is O Carreirón natural park, home to a wide variety of seabird species and boasting one of the best beaches in this estuary. On our right, we will see the village and its main road taking us up to the lighthouse. There, we can set foot on the ground for a while to admire the horizon and eat our fill, since there is a terrace with unmatched views over the small island of Areoso.
Then we will retrace our steps and keep riding along the estuary of Arousa. The beaches, troughs and, if we are lucky, some of the dolphins that inhabit these waters, will welcome us into the capital of albariño: Cambados. The iconic Fefiñáns square, with the Pazo de Fefiñáns and the church of San Benito, will receive us. We can park our bikes here and visit this Renaissance pazo that houses the wineries with the Rías Baixas designation of origin.
This is not the only treasure hidden in Cambados, but we need to get back on our bikes to discover another one. On the slopes of the mount of A Pastora, near an ancient castro, we will find the remains of Santa María de Dozo, an amazing setting housing the local cemetery, one of the three most renowned funerary monuments in Spain. It is hard not to feel impressed when admiring the remains of this former parish church in a fisherman’s Gothic style. Its four transverse arches are the only part of it that is still standing. One of them depicts one of the seven deadly sins, but if you want to find out which one, you will have to go see it with your own eyes!
We go back to the coast to make our last stop in Cambados: the tower of San Sadurniño. This fortress is located on a little island joined to the continent by a walkway. It was built in the 9th century to repel the invaders, much as the Torres del Oeste, which can be seen from here. However, it was not the invaders, but the local farmers, who tore it down during the Irmandiño revolts against the feudal system, in the 15th century. The earthquake of 1775 knocked it down again, and it has since remained in ruins.
From the remains of a coastal sanctuary, we will go visit another one in the prime of its life. But, in order to get there, we must cross the green ocean of Ribadumia and Meis, with the distinctive colour of grapevine leaves. We will see vineyards, bunches and leaves pass by as we ride on PO-550 and then EP-9509 until we reach the roundabout under the motorway of O Salnés. At the roundabout, we will head for mount Castrove, one of the green lungs in the region. On this mount rises the Monastery of Armenteira, an almost godly blend between natural and human. It is not only the greatness of the building that we must admire, but also its surroundings, crossed by one of the most highly appreciated trekking routes in Galicia: the Ruta da Pedra e da Auga. Weather permitting, its six kilometres are worth being walked to discover the mills, waterfalls and ponds along the Armenteira river, which led monks to build their monastery here a thousand years ago. In the late 19th century, the monastery was abandoned. It was restored 30 years ago and a small community of nuns now inhabit it, selling handmade sweets and soaps.
If we go back and take the motorway of O Salnés, we will see the landscape change as we ride on. Crop fields will be replaced by towns and, where the motorway ends, we will stumble upon the Atlantic Ocean, always guarded by the Isle of Ons. We will then arrive at the peninsula of O Grove after crossing the neck of land linking it to Sanxenxo. On the left side of this natural bridge, we will find the most famous beach in Pontevedra. Its length, its waves sought by surfers, and its waters with supernatural powers that make it easier for women to conceive are all good reasons explaining why A Lanzada is such a renowned beach. On the other side, there is the Umia-O Grove inter-tidal complex, an unmatched ecosystem where countless birds come to feed and nest and provided with designated hiding spots to watch them.
Among the dunes created by the strong ocean winds, we will arrive at the mecca of seafood. We must turn left at the first roundabout we find and head for San Vicente, with its steep coastal line of charming coves with clear waters and white sand. All of them are linked by the Ruta de Pedras Negras, a wooden walkway over these odd black rocks. Since this is a long walk, it is better to ride our bikes to the centre of O Grove. This is the end of our journey, which we will reach after crossing the white bridge of A Toxa and skirting this island, famous for its spas, its natural soap and its casino. We will say goodbye for today while we enjoy a seafood platter and a glass of albariño at sunset in any of the restaurants in this town. Tomorrow we will have the chance to visit the nearby Isle of Sálvora, part of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park and once a hub for the thriving tune fishing and salting industry in Galicia.
From O GROVE to PONTEVEDRA
This is the last stage of our journey around Pontevedra, where we will discover both the soft and the wild side of Estuary of Pontevedra. From the magic of A Lanzada, we will ride to the fishing towns of Portonovo and Combarro. On the other side we will find the fishing towns of Marín and Bueu, which will take us to cape Home, the Cangas fjord. A visit to Soutomaior castle will be our last stop before reaching our final destination: Pontevedra, the city with no cars.
This is the last stage of our trip through the province of Pontevedra. This time we will focus on the two sides of the Estuary of Pontevedra, full of beaches and fishing towns where the fishing tradition becomes a tourist attraction. Portonovo, Sanxenxo, Combarro or Bueu are a must-see for anyone taking this route, which has many other surprises to offer, such as spectacular scenic viewpoints and legendary buildings.
We will wake up in O Grove remembering how wonderful it was to explore the Estuary of Arousa. However, to get to discover new landscapes, we will once again cross a natural bridge that will look familiar: the isthmus of A Lanzada. Only this time around we will not take the Salnés motorway but we will continue on the coastal road, PO-308, towards Pontevedra.
You won’t be able to help noticing the chapel that stands on an islet connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. It’s the Nosa Señora de A Lanzada chapel, a Romanesque-style church built at the beginning of the 13th century and which houses an image of Santa María, patron saint of fertility. Legend has it that the waters surrounding the islet have the power to help conception and that is why, on the last Sunday of August, women who wish to become mothers come here to bathe in the famous nine waves.
Ans this is not the only secret hidden in this place. Here, there are also a castro settlement and a large Roman necropolis underground, part of which has already been excavated. But the most remarkable thing we will find there is a tower in ruins that will remind us of that in Cambados. It’s a fortress built in the Swabian period that was part of the defense system meant to prevent Viking raids. The Irmandiño revolts left it in the state in which we find it today.
After imagining what life was like back then, we continue our journey on a road designed to be enjoyed. Beaches intermingle with small woodland areas along the soft-cliff coastline for several kilometers until we reach the fishing town of Portonovo, where tourism has caused massive urban growth, similarly to its neighboring town, Sanxenxo. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will soon find their fishing roots. Another option is to walk to Sanxenxo along the path connecting the peaceful Baltar beach with the enormously popular Silgar beach and its marina through Punta Vicaño, a magnificent setting to take a picture with the estuary in the background.
The beauty that massive urban growth tried to hide in Sanxenxo remains intact in Combarro. We will get to this town if we continue riding on PO-308, a road that we will definitely have to share with some groups of cyclists. In the picturesque town of Poio we will have to park our motorbikes and walk. It’s an order. Combarro is a small town with a strong seafaring spirit, its streets are made of granite and it’s impossible to walk more than ten meters without finding a fisherman’s house, a cruceiro, or the typical granaries called hórreos. With thirty of these emblematic granaries throughout its streets, Combarro is one of the towns with the most and best-preserved hórreos in Galicia. In addition, you can treat yourself to some grilled sardines, as a snack or at sunset, with a view of the lush Tambo island.
It’s now time to leave the coast. Don’t worry, we won’t get too far from it. A few kilometers away from Combarro, always heading towards the inside of the estuary, we will turn left to go directly to the Poio monastery. Its impressive size is so shocking that it will be impossible to miss it. This monastery was founded by Benedictine monks in the year 942, and Father Feijoo worked as a teacher within its walls. The gems of this monastery are not its facade or its gold-plated altar, but the two cloisters in its inner courtyard, watched over by a Baroque fountain and the biggest hórreo in Galicia, located at the back of the property and which remains intact.
It’s now time to cross the estuary and head for the district of O Morrazo, whose coastline is wilder and craggier than those we’ve just visited. We make a turn towards the AP-9 at the roundabout near Pazo Besada, we hit the gas and cross the bridge over the estuary towards Marín. Once we reach an elevated roundabout we will have two options. Either we can head for Marín to walk around its many beaches and visit the Naval Military Academy, or we can take the fast lane which will take us very close to Bueu. We will then continue along the winding road that follows the coastline until we reach cape Udra, a unique natural area that combines a coastline full of beaches with a hillock covered in shrubland, where we will also find a group of rocks of great scientific value.
As spectacular as those views are, the views at our next stop will leave you speechless. Before we reach cape Home, we may make a brief stop at the enchanted forest of Aldán. In the middle of a forest full of native species there is a miniature castle built by the land owners as a playground for their children. The light and shadow effects turn that place into a magical space.
Cape Home is said to be an excellent guard of the Atlantic Ocean. The views from the top of its high cliffs are breathtaking, but there are even more surprises to come. If we feel strong enough and we have time, O Facho hill is worth climbing. On its top we will find one of the most spectacular castro settlements which remained active until the 1st century b.C.
Time is running out and we still have many kilometers ahead and treasures to discover before we reach our final destination. We go back to take the turn-off towards Corredor de O Morrazo, an excellent highway to experience the feeling of speed. We will then reach the recently widened Rande bridge which we’ll cross to then take the N-552 towards Redondela. After crossing this town, known for its overpasses, we will enter Soutomaior. In Cesantes, keep an eye out so you don’t miss the turn-off to its castle, the best-preserved fortification in the province, with the exception of the Monterreal castle in Baiona. To get there, we must drive through a network of secondary roads surrounded by small and diverse crop fields. The majesty of the castle will immediately catch our eye. The date of construction is unknown, although we know that it dates back to the 11th century and it had different owners until the Provincial Council took ownership of the castle. There’s no point in describing it, you need to walk on its stone floors to feel its history. And since you’re there, you can walk along the banks of the Verdugo river, over which there is a bridge which is usually quite crowded in the summer.
Pontevedra is waiting for us. But before that we must make a new decision, we either continue towards Ponte Caldelas to discover the beauty of the houses built by the locals when they came back after having done good in America, or we go back to the N-550 and make a brief stop in one of the most important places in the history of Spain—the Pontesampaio bridge. Here, the last battle of the Peninsular War in Galicia was fought against Napoleon’s army, which had already been defeated in Vigo and encountered its final defeat on this Roman bridge.
We’ll continue on this road until we reach our next stop, Pontevedra. “Aparca e camiña”, that is, park and walk, is one of the mottos of this provincial capital. Cars are not allowed in the old town, so it’s best to park our motorbikes and walk to our finish line, which is at Palacete de las Mendoza, just a few meters away from the Basilica of Santa Maria. This emblematic mansion is also home to the Turismo Rías Baixas headquarters. Walk in, share your journey with the office employees and, if you are too tired, let them give you some recommendations about the best squares to eat some good tapas in this city, which is crossed by the Lérez river.
Congratulations, you have completed the Pontevedra challenge. But don’t stop riding on their roads. There are many more treasures in store for you.
Come back when you want
The “Galifornia Route” can be done as one, uninterrupted voyage or broken into several shorter trips over a longer period of time. The Route can be done alone or in groups, and at any time of the year.
All Routes are available by sections and can be followed thanks to the Wikiloc app, available for iOS and Android.