Route from A Guarda to Catoira
Starting point: A Guarda
This route starts in A Guarda, a small town located in the very south of As Rías Baixas, by the Miño River, on the border with Portugal. Before setting off, it is recommended to visit one of the most popular cultural and tourist attractions in Galicia, the archaeological site of Santa Trega, having remains which date back to the 4th century BC.
Point of interest: the Mills of O Folón and O Picón
Accessible from A Guarda, taking the road PO-353, the mills of O Folón and O Picón are part of the rich ethnographic heritage of As Rías Baixas, and they are the perfect first stop of the journey. They lay in an amazing natural space which is the epitome of the natural beauty of the region of O Rosal.
Point of interest: backwaters in Mougás
You will get to know the Atlantic Ocean by driving along roads with amazing cliffs and sea views. You can take the road PO-552 from Baiona to A Guarda to visit the backwaters in Mougás, in the town of Oia. It is a unique natural site where you can admire the cascades, the important remains of a Celtic hillfort in A Cabeciña, or the valuable religious architecture with the Santa María de Oia Monastery, founded in 1137, as an example.
You can enjoy the sea breeze and admire the amazing landscape while driving along the road from Baiona to A Guarda (PO-552) until reaching the town of Baiona. This is a beautiful and elegant coastal town protected from the sea by a bay, where lies the stunning fortress of Monterreal, converted today into a Parador Nacional (a luxury hotel). The historic centre has been declared Conjunto Histórico-Artístico (Conservation Area) for its rich heritage. It is a must visit.
The next stop on the journey is Vigo, the largest city in Galicia. You can take different roads to get there, but the PO-552 is the best one if you want to enjoy the views of amazing landscapes, especially the majestic Cíes Islands. There is so much to do in Vigo. A must visit is the O Castro Hill, the highest point of the city, located downtown. There, you can discover an archaeological site with remains of a Celtic settlement dating back to the 2nd century BC and the 3rd century AD, as well as take pictures of the beautiful views from the park.
Extra information: If you decide to stay longer, take a boat to visit the Cíes Islands, part of the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park, where you can discover the Rodas Beach, considered the best in the world. Its incredible natural beauty will make you feel in paradise.
Point of interest: Redondela
The town of Redondela has a rich historic, cultural and natural heritage. From here you can admire the Rande Bridge, once the longest cable-stayed bridge in the world. At the bottom of the ría (coastal inlet), you can find the San Simón Bay, which witnessed the famous Rande Battle, and an archipelago with the same name, consisting of four islands with a rich history and popular legends. Here lies "the best bench in the world". The visit is worth it and you can reach this place by driving on your motorcycle first, and then, walking along a path paved with pieces of stone. To go from Redondela to Vigo, take the road PO-323 to Chapela first, and then, before arriving at the Rande Bridge, change to the road N-552 to Redondela.
From Redondela, take the road N-550 to go to Pontevedra. This beautiful city, the capital of the province, is a historic-artistic site with one of the best preserved old towns in Galicia, which is enclosed by a wall. Here, the best option is to park the bike, as most areas of the city centre are for pedestrians only, and stroll around its streets, admiring the houses, the pazos (manor houses) and its secret corners. A recommendation: visit the A Peregrina Church, a Baroque style masterpiece, with a base having the shape of a scallop shell (symbol of the Way of Saint James).
The next stop, Sanxenxo, at the bottom of the Ría de Pontevedra, is one of the most popular summer destinations in As Rías Baixas, accessible through the road PO-308. The town has an attractive offer in terms of leisure activities and here, you can enjoy its lively night life or discover the beaches of Areas and Silgar. If you have enough time, you can visit the Interpretation Centre As Talleiras, located in the premises of an old factory which used to manufacture bricks and tiles using traditional methods. The factory-like structure and the old granite kilns have been kept.
Point of interest: A Lanzada
Around Sanxenxo there are many points of interest, as A Lanzada (PO-308) and its beautiful landscapes. Here, the spirit of surfing is everywhere, since A Lanzada Beach is one of the most popular in Galicia to practice this sport. You have to go and try to do any water sport to take advantage of its big waves and the excellent wind conditions.
Point of interest: O Grove
Again on the PO-308, discover the small peninsula of O Grove and be ready to enjoy the most incredible sea landscapes. On one side, the Ría de Pontevedra and, on the other, O Bao Bay, declared Wetland of International Importance for its natural value. You can drive all along the peninsula following the EP-9101, starting in San Vicente do Mar, where you can visit O Espiño Beach, and finishing in the Intertidal Complex Umia-O Grove, a protected natural area where you can find the salt mines after which the region of O Salnés was named.
Stop: Illa da Toxa
You cannot miss the island of Illa da Toxa, accessible from O Grove through a bridge. There, you can visit the San Sebastián Chapel, devoted to Saint Caralampio and to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Its façade is completely covered with scallop shells. A stroll along the promenade which goes all around the island is recommended. You will fall in love with the amazing views of the inlet!
Point of interest: Cambados
To go to Cambados from A Toxa, leave the peninsula of O Grove and take the road PO-550. Cambados is one of the most important towns in the region. This municipality, known as the capital of the Albariño wine, is famous for its Festa do Albariño (Albariño Wine Festival), held since 1953 on the first weekend of August, and declared Festival of National Tourist Interest. If you are not travelling there on that date, do not worry, as Cambados has much more to offer. It is recommended to visit its network of museums, consisting of the Museo Etnográfico e do Viño (Ethnographic and Wine Museum), the house-museum of Ramón Cabanillas (a poet from Cambados), the Muíño de Mareas (The Tide Mill) in the place of A Seca and the Casa-Museo do Pescador (House-Museum of the Fishermen). You can also visit the Fefiñáns Square, where you find the stunning Pazo de Fefiñáns, the arch-bridge, the tower Homenaxe and the San Bieito Church.
Stop: A Illa de Arousa
Now you will get deep into the Ría de Arousa driving to A Illa de Arousa on the PO-549 till reaching the road PO-309, where you find the bridge which joins the island to the peninsula. A Illa de Arousa is the heart of the ría with the same name, a nature reserve with a 36-kilometre coastline, where 11 km are white sandy beaches. The most popular attractions are the lighthouse of Punta Cabalo, the Areoso Islet (you can, park your bike and take a boat), and the Carreirón Natural Park, listed as an Special Protection Area for the presence of grey herons, among other species. This natural paradise will undoubtedly render you speechless!
Point of interest: Vilagarcía de Arousa
Then, you can take the PO-549 to Vilagarcía de Arousa, which runs along the coast, and admire the beautiful landscapes. Plan your visit ahead since there is plenty to see, as the Pazo de Rubianes, a beautiful manor house with gargoyles on the cornices of the roof, and a garden with magnolias and more than sixty camellia varieties, among others. You should also visit the Alobre hillfort, in the town centre, or the petroglyphs Os Ballotes, rock art dating back to the second millennium BC (take the road PO-548 and after reaching Carril, change to the PO-192).
Last stop: Catoira
The town of Catoira is the last stop on the route (take the road PO-548). Here, the Ulla River flows into the Ría de Arousa. Because of its privileged location, the temperatures are warm all year round. Its natural environment is one of its most appealing features: landscapes with leafy forests, salt marshes, river beaches… But the windmills are the most popular attraction, since Catoira is the only municipality in Galicia with examples of the three different types of traditional mills. The towers Torres de Oeste have always been the most representative symbol of the town, a complex devised in the 9th century which was once part of the defensive network of Santiago de Compostela. They withstood the attacks of the Norman armies and of the Sarracen pirates. You cannot miss it!
Extra information: As this is your last stop, indulge yourself and enjoy some of the best Galician dishes: octopus, empanada (a kind of savoury pastry), shoulder of pork, pementos de Padrón (small green peppers) and, of course, a good selection of shellfish from As Rías Baixas.