The inland of the province of Pontevedra is a combination of nature, heritage and gastronomy, where visitors can enjoy an unforgettable experience. Here, you can walk through its green indigenous woods, listen to the murmur of the rivers and admire the beauty and the power of the cascades. Along your way, you will come across majestic monasteries and picturesque villages that are straight out of fairy tales.
Come and enjoy three unforgettable days in the very heart of As Rías Baixas!
Day 1: a monastery, an indigenous forest and a majestic cascade
Your starting point is the town of Vila de Cruces, where you can visit the Monastery of San Salvador de Camanzo, built in 1166. Its Romanesque church, with a Greek cross plan, preserves the last sections of the side naves, and the two first arches of the main nave serve as a wall. On the front, you can admire the sculptures of four angels with their arms open and on the tympanum, the figure of the Holy Saviour.
After enjoying the calmness and solemnity of our spiritual heritage, you can head to the cork oak grove Sobreirais de Arnego, declared a Special Protection Area of Natural Values (ZEPVN). There, you can visit one of the main forest masses common in the Atlantic area, influenced by the Mediterranean climate in the Ulla River basin. The most abundant species are the oak and the cork oak.
The star dish in Vila de Cruces is the Galo de Curral . A few decades ago chickens used to be raised in a cage-free environment and, for this reason, their meat had a unique flavour. In Vila de Cruces this tradition is still alive, and today the free range chicken is the protagonist of its gastronomic festival, declared Festival of Tourist Interest in Galicia. This delicacy can be paired with wines belonging to the subarea Ribeira do Ulla, with famous wineries as Pazo de Galegos, Adega Valdés, Adegas CastroBrey, Bodegas Pazo de Arretén, Gómez y Rial, Pablo García Cebeiro and Solagra.
A Brea spa
It is believed that the Benedictine monks of the Monastery of Carboeiro already used the minero-medicinal waters from A Brea. In the parish of Merza there was a small facility, with more than 400 visitors a year, which became popular in the 19th century. A century later, in 1994, the spa was built and its waters were declared of public interest. This town is surrounded by amazing landscapes watered by the rivers Ulla and Deza.
Not far from the spa, you can visit a natural wonder: the cascade of the Toxa River, in the town of Silleda, the highest cascade in Galicia with a 40 metre-drop. You can admire the top of this beautiful river formation from a viewpoint.
Our next stop is the town of Lalín, where you can visit the Sanctuary of O Corpiño. The origins of the temple date back to the 7th century when a penitent hermitage was found dead in Carrio Hill. In memory of the hermitage, locals built the chapel of O Corpiño to honour Saint Cyprian. Nearby, a must stop is the 12th-century temple of Santa Eulalia de Losón, with a single basilica plan. The dome of the presbytery stands out for its wonderful mural featuring a white sky dotted with blue stars.
Day 2: a natural paradise on the way to the “Galician Versailles”
Is there any better way to start the day than with a pleasant stroll through the oak and chestnut grove Fraga de Catasós? Declared a Natural Monument in 2000 and also known as Carballeira de Quiroga, it is one of the most representative natural landscapes in the province of Pontevedra which boasts magnificent specimens of trees. There, you can see centenary oaks and chestnuts, some of them being almost 5 metres in diameter and up to 30 metres tall, which are among the tallest in Europe.
A walking trail connects the forest with the manor house Pazo de Quiroga, where the Galician writer Emilia Pardo Bazán wrote Os pazos de Ulloa (The House of Ulloa).
The mountain range Serra do Candán, in the regions of Deza and Tabeirós-Terra de Montes, is listed Special Protection Area of Natural Values (ZEPVN). This is an almost unspoiled and uninhabited environment.
We head towards the town of Silleda, where you can visit one of the jewels of the Romanesque in Galicia, the Monastery of San Lourenzo de Carboeiro. It was built on the grounds of the old shrine known as Égica and was founded by the Count and Countess of Deza Don Gonzalo and Dona Teresa and the disciples of Master Mateo in 939. It is clearly influenced by the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, as it can be appreciated in its decoration. At the end of the 10th century, it was destroyed and consecrated again.
Nearby, there is a walking trail that connects the monastery and the cascade of the Toxa River, a good option if you want to get immersed in nature and in the rich heritage of the area. It is part of the Ulla-Deza river-system and is listed as a Site of Community Importance of the network Natura 2000.
Your next stop is a dream-like place, the manor house Pazo de Oca, in A Estrada, which dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries. It is the most representative example of the Galician manor houses, and it stands out for its botanic and architectonic value. In fact, it is listed as a Historic and Artistic Monument. Its garden, best known as the Galician Versailles, is part of the Route of the Camellia. The whole complex is owned by the Duke of Segorbe and belongs to the Fundación Medinacelli.
The typical Galician stew, cocido
In February, Lalín becomes the international capital of this delicious traditional dish, when it celebrates its Feira do Cocido, declared Festival of National Tourist Interest. This event gathers every year thousands of visitors who want to taste this delicious and succulent meal. A dish that is prepared especially in autumn and winter in Galicia, and that in this region includes more than a dozen ingredients, which perfectly combined make up the best cocido.
Day 3: spiritual heritage, an indigenous forest and an ice factory
The Monastery of Santa María de Aciveiro, in Forcarei, is the starting point of our last day. This jewel of the Romanesque period was built in 1135, commissioned by the King Alphonse VII, and incorporated to the Cistercian around 1170. It has been repeatedly restored, but preserving its original structure and Cistercian style. In 1931, this monument was declared Asset of Cultural Interest. It has just been renovated and today combines tradition and modern facilities. Nearby is the Ruta das Pontes do Lérez (route of the bridges of the Lérez River)
Halfway between Tabeirós and Deza there are some salt marshes full of peat bogs, known as Brañas de Xestoso, a Special Protection Area of Natural Values (ZEPVN). It is the most representative area rich in sphagnum, an extraordinarily rare and fragile habitat. Apart from the wetlands, this is the habitat of a rich wildlife. It is worth mentioning the small population of little bustards, abundant in the steppe.
If you head to the south, on the border with the province of Ourense, you reach the aforementioned mountain ranges of O Candán and O Cando. The latter offers wonderful landscapes with medium-sized mountains, shrub lands, oak groves and riverside woodlands of willow trees.
Neveiras de Fixó
A good option is to follow the trail leading to the complex of Fixó, being 800 metres high, which used to be the most important centre of ice production in Galicia in the 17th century. The monks of the Monastery of Aciveiro used to store the ice in circular stone structures. Then, the ice was transported to Santiago de Compostela to be sold or kept in the cellar of the Cathedral.
Tasting of richada
One of the most popular dishes of the town of Forcarei is the richada, which can be tasted at any of its local restaurants. Galician veal, onion, paprika, a good olive oil and Ribeiro wine are the ingredients of a recipe that is part of the identity of the town and that can be enjoyed in autumn.
Way of Saint James
Another option is to follow the Way of Sanabria or Silver Way - starting in the south of Spain and going through the inland part of Galicia - which can be completed in two or three days in the inland stretch of the province. After crossing the place of Oseira, in Ourense, you walk through O Castro, in Dozón. Nearby, you find the monastery and church of San Pedro de Vilanova, a masterpiece of the 12th‑century Galician Romanesque art.
Then, if you continue walking towards Lalín through rural paths of great beauty, you can visit the Church of San Martiño, once part of a 10th-century monastery. The route continues towards Silleda after crossing the medieval bridge over the Deza River, stopping at the Romanesque churches of Fiestras and Ansemil.
From Silleda to A Ponte Ulla, you walk the last 23 kilometres of the route in the province of Pontevedra which boasts a large number of pazos and churches. After crossing Silleda towards A Estrada, you will pass through the place of A Bandeira, famous for its empanadas (Galician typical pie with a savoury filling). You can also visit the beautiful Pazo de Oca.
During your stay in the inland part of the province of Pontevedra do not miss the opportunity to enjoy its quality food.
Products with the seal of quality Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
A good way to taste the Terneira Galega (Galician veal) is in a stew. One of the most appreciated parts of the veal is the rump, which can be enjoyed in any of the restaurants of the area. The breed Rubia Galega is native from the north-western part of the province. The quality label Terneira Galega guarantees that the animals have been correctly fed. And the result is a tender and succulent meat which pleases the most exquisite palates.
Miel de Galicia
Honey is a natural and fresh product that has been produced in an artisanal way since ancient times in this region. As Rías Baixas enjoys a mild climate strongly influenced by the sea, and a rich wildlife. Therefore, it is perfect for both monofloral or polyfloral honey production.
The Protected Geographical Indication Lacón Galego includes the meat of the front legs of the pork, which is salted, washed and cured. It has been highly consumed in Galicia and As Rías Baixas. In fact, its flavour is part of the identity of the Galician culture.
Cider from A Estrada
The variety rabiosa de Callobre and other local varieties have turned the town of A Estrada into one of the best places in Spain to taste high quality eco-cider. In the cider press of Ribela or in Torres de Moreda, you can visit the apple orchards and taste limited-edition cider surrounded by a natural landscape.