If you are taking a trip anywhere in Northern Spain, Cathedrals Beach should be at the top of your must see list.
Cathedrals Beach is an awe inspiring site of natural arches and caves with glimpses of the ocean waves peaking through. However, this magnificent site can only be accessed at low tide so plan accordingly (see the difference below).
To get to Cathedrals Beach, head toward the town of Ribadeo in Northeastern Spain. If you are having difficulty locating it on a map, try “As Catedrais” or “Praia de Augas Santas”. Also, if there was every a day to wear comfortable shoes, this is the day. You will be climbing over rock formations, jumping small streams, and slogging through shallow puddles that are just too wide to jump. But it’s all worth it for the sight (and photo ops) of a lifetime. (Tip: Be sure and have extra socks and shoes in the car as your feet are going to get wet. See also What to Wear in Spain to Look Like a Local.)
A Coruña (1.5 hours east of Cathedrals Beach)
A Coruña is located an hour and half due east of Cathedrals Beach if you are taking the main highways or six and half hours if you take the scenic route. We took the scenic route along the ocean and it was well worth it. The drive is picturesque and winding with continual panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
As for A Coruña itself, it has a photo-worthy old-town with the Hercules Tower, funky statues, and an ocean-front walkway surrounding it. All that said, don’t make A Coruña a must see item. However, if you just need a place to stop for a bit or for the night, A Coruña will work.
Stopping at Ortigueira
Ortigueira was listed online as a must see to get a true look at how local fisherman work and live. Just no. It was a small town with nothing worth a photo op. Luckily, we came upon a tiny little panaderia (bakery) called the Dolan Cafe. I had the absolute BEST COFFEE OF MY LIFE there. I have no idea what they did (fresh local milk?) but that cafe con leche was amazing. We had two there and two to-go (Tip: Just say “para llevar”). In addition to the great coffee, the pastries were also pretty spot on. Just look at the chocolate croissants that are bigger than my hand! Finally, the people were amazingly friendly and even though there was a language barrier we managed to communicate just fine. If it was not so far in the middle of nowhere, I would definitely plan a trip back.
Where to Stay?
After Cathedrals Beach, we chose to stay at the AC Hotel Gijon as it was along the way on our road trip across the North of Spain, is part of the Marriott group, and was fairly cheap at 15,000 points a night (technically free). Unfortunately, this hotel was one of the misses for AC Hotels in Spain as it was just boxy and had no personality. If you have status with Marriott or have points to stay there for free, I would say consider it. (You can use my Marriott referral link to get a jump start on your own free nights with up to 10,000 points.) If not, I say skip this hotel and go for something with a little more local flair. Perhaps an Airbnb? (You can use my Airbnb referral link to get $40 off your first stay.)
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