Gorges, Vineyards and Monasteries of Galicia

The Ribeira Sacra in Galicia is simply one of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain, yet, for many, it remains as good as undiscovered. This route offers cultural interest and stunning landscapes in equal measure. Galicia is one of the (if not the most) secluded areas of Spain, and this is especially the case further inland, where our route takes you on a journey through the valley of the Miño and Sil rivers, where dramatic canyons and gorges hold verdant forest and historic monasteries and picturesque villages are dotted along the routes’ course. The impressive effect of the high-level routes over the canyons and gorge finds its nearest comparison in the Norwegian Fjords; a magnificent landscape carved out and shaped during glaciation millions of years ago. The route offers many opportunities to stop and take in this landscape, on a route that links these awe-inspiring natural phenomena with the forest trails and meadowed paths that link your journey from one charming Galician village to the next, ultimately arriving in the historic city of Ourense.

Ourense is beautiful, particularly the old-town, with its welcoming atmosphere, lovely cathedral and fantastic restaurants and wine bars.

Highlights:

  • Incredible Canyon Landscapes
  • Encounter Many Sights of Historical Interest
  • Discover a New Side to Spanish Culture
  • Scenic Trails through Stunning Natural Scenery
  • Beautiful Forest Paths
  • Ourense
  • Sample Local Wines and Galician Cuisine
  • High-quality Characterful Accommodation

Duration7 nights/6 days walking
Length50 to 59 mi
GradeModerate
AvailabilityApril - July, Sep - Oct
Price from£615
Holiday CodeSPA-GLC

Why This Walk?

If you’re seeking an alternative experience of Spain, Galicia gives an insight into a side of Spanish culture almost entirely untouched by mass-tourism. Here you’ll find miles of unspoilt natural beauty, authentic culture and the experience of uncovering unspoilt stretches of countryside, step by step. The Ribeira Sacra (meaning sacred riverbank) area, through which the route makes its way, is where the confluence of the rivers Sil and Miño meet, a region that has attracted various civilisations over the centuries – very much in evidence in the old monasteries, Romanesque art and Roman architecture found along the path’s course. But, as befits an area full of vineyards and groves, visiting the area is a great opportunity to sample local wines and produce in the historic towns and villages you visit along the trail.  

One of the major highlights of this holiday are the beautiful forest paths; you will see oaks, maples, cherries and countless maples.  In autumn, the colours are incredibly beautiful.

The Path

Galicia walking holiday map
Follow routes through vineyards, fields, meadows, small villages and forest paths as your journey takes you on high level routes overlooking the river gorge below – arguably one of the most impressive vistas in Galicia, if not Spain itself. Some of these trails have roots in historic means of transportation, as you follow old roman roads and caminos reales (royal paths), that were originally created for military use and became the main form of transit for merchants, civilians and traders from village to village. The majority are kept and maintained by various hiking and mountaineering associations, as well as by the locals who still use them to this day. Nevertheless, the landscape is distinctly wild, and, on your way, you’ll observe a variety of scenery created by the changes in topography as well as the diversity of wildlife, plants and flora native to the valley.

The Accommodation

Our accommodation in Galicia are selected to reflect the character of the locality; they are typically small, family-run establishments with great views.  Examples include elegant 19th century buildings, farmhouses located among vineyards, historic B&Bs and country hotels with modern comforts, usually a stones-throw away from the main sights of the area.
 

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Itinerary: Gorges, Vineyards and Monasteries of Galicia

Days: 6 (7 nights) | Distance: 50-59 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Price: from £615 p.p.

  • Day 1

    Arrival in Castro Caldelas

    Arrive in time to take in the spectacular views and sunset over the valley before you – the very landscape you’ll be exploring on foot the day following. A visit to the old town with its castle and cafés comes recommended, it’s a fabulous place to stop and enjoy a coffee and the locally speciality, bica (a variety of sweet sponge cake), as well as a nice glass of local wine.
  • Day 2

    Castro Caldelas to Cristosende

    9.6 miles/15.5 km, 5h ↑500m ↓750m

    Take a descending path through the valley, through oak, maple and chestnut forests. At the base of the valley, the path climbs across vineyards, with far-reaching views over the landscape. Here, you can take a coffee break in quiet village of O Pombar, join the riverside trail that leads to the fascinating, abandoned San Paio monastery. Your route then crosses paths with small, authentic villages before turning the ascent into the charming village of A Portela, with fantastic views of the hilltop Castro Caldelas. You’ll find even more scenic views over the area as you follow a trail along the gorge, before heading up to Cristosende, a village that looks out onto the countryside surrounding.
  • Day 3

    Cristosende to Parada de Sil

    7.7 miles/12.5 km, 4-5h ↑700m ↓550m

    Follow a path down to the waters’ edge as you walk along a riverside path linking villages surrounded by cherry trees, oaks, chestnuts and vines…even orange trees in the villages that are closer to the water. Here you’ll find oak forests on your climb up to Parada de Sil where, if you take a moment to look over your shoulder, you’ll see some fantastic views of the river.
  • Day 4

    Parada de Sil to Luintra

    10.2 miles/16.5 km, 6h ↑750m ↓750m or 7.5 miles/12.2 km, 4h ↑500m ↓500m

    Today holds some of the most spectacular scenery found on the trail. Walking along the paths that run along the cliff edge, with many spots to stop and take in the views over the 400m high gorge. The effect of the chestnut forests that line the path descending to Santa Cristina Monastery are particularly memorable, just like the Monastery itself: tranquil, scenic and an inviting space in which to reflect. From here the path climbs back towards the cliff edge, where you’ll encounter more picturesque villages and fantastic viewpoints, with the view from the town of Vilouxe one of the most iconic in Galicia. You will then continue on to the village of Cerrada where you will be collected and transferred to your accommodation. If looking for a more leisurely route, you could opt to walk from Santa Cristina to Parada for a scenic circular walk, before transferring to Luintra.
  • Day 5

    Luintra to Penalba

    9.6 miles/15.5 km, 5h ↑400m ↓850m

    Today’s journey starts with a short transfer to 2km from the San Estevo Monastery, which provides incredible views back toward the Parador down in the valley. Walk down to the Parador before continuing on towards Penalba. You walk down through a scenic forest trail, with views of the gorge and of the monastery behind you as your trail meets the picturesque village of Paradela. Once you reach the plateau, walk across open areas with views for miles over the impressive granite rocks, before reaching the confluence of the Sil and Miño river gorges. Re-joining a forest trail, suddenly you’ll find the route opening to views of the river in Penalba, before walking the last part of your route through vineyards.
  • Day 6

    Penalba to Peroxa

    8 miles/13 km, 4-5h ↑550m ↓200m

    A short transfer (5 min approx.) takes you to the start of your route in Os Peares. Your path takes you through the remote and beautiful Bubal gorge, visiting the some of the most remote and secluded villages one can imagine. Reach the plateau and walk through meadows and oakland, encountering more remote villages and enjoying a quiet descent into lively Peroxa, from where you can already see Orense. Your hosts at Fazenda Pradio are winemakers so this is another opportunity to taste the nice local wine, and of course great food!
  • Day 7

    Peroxa to Orense

    4.3 miles/7 km, 2h ↑100m ↓500m or 13 miles/21 km, 6-7h ↑400m ↓750m

    The last leg of your journey begins on a route descending from Peroxa along a scenic path skirting the edge of a creek. Your route then joins a trail through an oak forest, crossing paths with the old castle of Peroxa, with views over the quaint villages clustered around the river Sil. Upon reaching the river, in Barra de Miño, you can catch a train to Orense (11:50 am), giving you ample time to sample some of the local wine and produce at the city’s many restaurants. Taking the train is, of course, optional and you can in fact connect link up disparate routes to get to the city centre. Whichever way you decide to reach the city, you can expect to find more than enough to see and do in the lively and historic Orense. We would advise the short walk - it is lovely and gives you the remainder of the day to enjoy the old town.
  • Day 8

    Departure from Orense

    Transfer to airport, or if you’re looking to extend your holiday – let us know and we’ll be happy to arrange extra days in Galicia.

Click ' + ' signs to view a detailed daily breakdown

Price FromTwo people sharing (price per person)Single personSolo person
1/4/19 - 30/6/19£615£750£810
1/7/19 - 31/8/19---
1/9/19 - 31/10/19£615£750£810

  • What's Included?

    Price Includes  

    • 7 nights bed and 6 breakfasts
    • Luggage transfer
    • Route notes including mapping and GPS tracks
    • Destination guide
    • Regional Map
    • Local support and telephone advice

    Price Does Not Include 

    • Breakfast - Ourense (plenty of places to choose from)
    • Packed lunches – available locally
    • Evening Meals – 5 dinners (drinks included) & 2 packed lunches package can be purchased for £85 per person. 
      Wstrongly suggest booking a meal package of 4 dinners/2 packed lunches in addition to the standard holiday package as this is the best deal and in some towns it might be the only available option. 
    • Tickets to winery visits
    • Tickets to thermal areas in Ourense.

    We highly recommend an upgrade of accommodation on Day 4 to stay at the Parador de Santo Estevo, approximate upgrade prices of £35 per person (double occupancy), £80 per person (single).

  • Price Info.

    Rest Days ~

    Ourense (approximate costs) -

    From £40 per person per night (Double occupancy)

    From £50 per person per night (Single occupancy)

    Santiago (approximate costs) -

    From £45 per person per night (Double occupancy)

    From £65 per person per night (Single occupancy)

    Please enquire for extra night prices at other locations in the itinerary

    Postage Overseas 

    • £5.00 per walk pack (Europe)
    • £10.00 per walk pack (Rest of the World)
  • Getting There

    Travel arrangements for arrival/departure ~ 

    You are responsible for booking your travel to your accommodation in Castro Caldelas and return from your accommodation in Ourense.  Taxi transfers can be arranged from/return either airport mentioned below if required.

    Nearest airport is located in Santiago de Compostela (SCQ)  
    http://www.aena.es/en/santiago-airport/index.html

    The other convenient airport is located in A Coruna (LCG)  
    http://www.aena.es/en/a-coruna-airport/index.html

    FROM SANTIAGO AIRPORT (public transport)

    • Shuttle bus runs from the airport terminal to Plaza de Galicia in Santiago, stopping at different points in the city including the bus station and the railway station.  http://www.empresafreire.com/en/rutas/#aeropuerto-santiago
    • Bus from Ourense to Castro Caldelas  Monday to Friday 14.45 & 18.30, Sunday 18.30, no service on Saturday. Or taxi from Ourense

    RETURN TO SANTIAGO AIRPORT (public transport)

    • Train to Santiago and shuttle bus to airport as above

    FROM A CORUNA AIRPORT (public transport)

    • Line 4051 bus service from airport to A Coruna centre (train station)

    Monday-Friday, both from A Coruña and from the airport, buses run from 7.15 am to 9.45 pm every half hour. On Saturdays they leave from A Coruña every hour from 7.30 am to 10.30 pm, and from the airport from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm also every hour. On Sundays and bank-holidays they leave every hour, from A Coruña from 8.30 am to 10.30 pm, and from the airport from 9.00 am to 10.00 pm. http://autoscalpita.com/

    • Bus from Ourense to Castro Caldelas  Monday to Friday 14.45 & 18.30, Sunday 18.30, no service on Saturday. Or taxi from Ourense

    RETURN TO A CORUNA AIRPORT (public transport)

    • Train to A Coruna and shuttle bus to airport as above
  • Best Time To Travel

    Holiday arrival/departure dates 

    You choose which day you would like your holiday to start on.   This walk is available in April to June and September to October, however, the best time to visit is in May and late-September into October.

Further Reading

Read the Guardian's Review of La Ribeira Sacra: Guide to inland Galicia

Enquire About Ribeira Sacra – Galicia

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