Updated: July 2019
It is still uncommon to see international travelers in Galicia that explore more than just Santiago de Compostela and El Camino (the way). But since many of you have started exploring amazing places like Cíes Islands or Pontevedra in the Rias Baixas area, I decided to tell you more about one of the most famous day trips in Rías Baixas: the route from Baiona to Tui.
What you will see here: one of the most interesting natural areas, between Miño river and the Atlantic Ocean, and some amazing landscapes and villages.
- Starting Point: Baiona
- End Point: Tui
- Transport: most people does this route by car, but you can also do it by public bus or by bike (you will have to jump to the Portuguese side of Minho river from A Guarda and then cross back to Spain from Valença, but it’s a beautiful landscape too.
Starting point: Baiona
Baiona La Real (Baiona the royal) is one of the most famous touristic spots in Rías Bixas and also a famous harbour for sailing addicts. The reason why: besides its location, which provides a safe harbour and great weather (for the north of Spain), and it was also the first place to know that Columbus had reached America in 1492.
This is a great spot where you can taste the traditional tapas from Galicia (Herbón peppers, Octopus, zorza, etc.), but it has some nice sightseeing spots too. Head over to the Fortress of Monte Real (it is now a Parador hotel) and the path around it, the “Cruceiro da Trindade”, the church Colegiata de Santa María and the chapel of Santa Liberata (which only opens at mass/cult times).
Another interesting spot is the Carabela Pinta ship, a reproduction from the ship that traveled with Columbus and brought back the news from the first arrival to America. They also opened a small museum of Navigation with some curiosities from the village.
And, if you are here at the beginning of March, check out the Arribada fest, when the village goes back to the medieval times to hear of the arrival to America once again.
- Virgen de la Roca. A giant VIrgin Mary made of stone, that you will find just outside the village. You can see Baiona and even Cíes Islands from there.
- Cabo Silleiro. Only a few kilometres from Baiona, you will see a lighthouse here and underneath it, a lookout hanging 85 meters over sea level, with some amazing views to the wild waves of the Atlantic.
More places in the area that are worth a visit:
- Nearby fishing town of Panxón is a great spot to sunbathe with the family (it has a very popular beach connected to Praia América) and you can go there by bike (or walking) through the cycling route that connects Baiona, Sabarís, A Ramallosa and Nigrán by the coast (with some interesting birdwatching spots)
- Patos beach, a bit up north, has some amazing sunsets with views to Cíes Islands and is also a nice spot to practice surf or SUP
Driving and Parking in Baiona, A Guarda, Tomiño and Tui
Driving through the Val Miñor area, where all of these points are at, is easy and free. There is a highway that connects Baiona with Vigo and another to Portugal, but you can skp them, as most of these sites are at ordinary roads and the scenery is better.
Having said this, you will need to know how and where to park your car. All of the listed above have free parking in many areas, but at Tomiño, Tui, Baiona and A Guarda you will find some blue areas, where parking is limited to up to 1,5 hours. These are at right at the center and marked with blue lines on the floor and post signs.
At the blue parking areas, parking is limited but free. All you need to do to park there is to buy one parking disk. You can buy one at the bookstores and some shops in Tui or Baiona, for 1€ and they work for all the towns that use them listed above. Just beware: these are not valid for Vigo, Pontevedra, etc, where you have to pay at the machines, only for Baiona, A Guarda, Tomiño and Tui blue parking areas.
Next stop: Oia
Only 17,8 kilometres from Baiona by the coast towards A Guarda, you will find this small town of traditional houses by the sea. The village, once a monastic village run by the monastery of Santa María de Oia has some interesting things, like the “camboas” an old fishing structure that is almost gone by used to work like the Corrales of Chipiona.
The monastery is now private, but you can still visit the church when at cult times.
More interesting things in the area:
- At the road between Baiona and Oia, you will find the Talaso Atlántico hotel, a hotel and thalasso therapy with a great swimming pool with sea water and natural treatments that you can enjoy with some great views of the area. They also have an amazing restaurant.
- There are a few petroglyphs and archaeological remains, like the castro of Cabeziña.
Next stop: A Guarda
Another fishing village, but here you will find a different specialty: they are famous for their lobsters and “bogavantes”. It is also famous for the wild waves that beat the harbour every winter.
But I’m not taking you here just for the amazing food and the wild but beautiful storms in winter. A Guarda is home to the biggest Castro (bronze age village) in all Pontevedra, and one of the best preserved ones (if not the best one). It is called Santa Tegra (you will also find it as Santa Tecla) and has one of the best overviews of the Miño river estuary and the Spanish – Portuguese border.
- Watching ships go back to port with good and bad weather alike
- The panoramic views from Santa Tegra castro village
Near A Guarda:
- Following the road towards Tomiño, the wetlands and beaches near Canosa islands have been considered the “Doñana” park of Galicia. Certainly a great spot for birdwatching to add to the list (and a beautiful one)
Alternative route (or extra stop): O Rosal.
The area of O Rosal has a microclimate that has made it one of the winemaking regions of reference (Albariño, Rias Baixas and Condado wines are produced here) so you can stop here for wine tasting at one of the many wineries of the area (booking mandatory).
Another reason to come here are the watermills “Os muiños do Folón e do Picón”. A great hiking route that connects a series of watermills (there are 60 of them, the oldest from 1702) that seem to be working in couples from the top of the mountain to the bottom.
Another interesting spot is Tabagón, with some nice “cruceiros” (roadcrossing crosses) and an amazing view from the “Calvario de Tabagón” that overlooks Santa Tegra, O Rosal, Portugal…
The last point of this route from Baiona to Tui in Rias Baixas is one of the key spots in Galician history. One of the most important border spots before the Schenghen area came into place, it is still an important religious spot, with a beautiful cathedral (check the concerts there, the acoustics are amazing), and a few convents and churches.
It used to be a fortified village protecting against our neighbours Valença do Minho (accross the river) so the views over the Minho valley and the opposite country are amazing. You can cross there through the old iron bridge, but there is also a touristic train that connects Valença and Tui.
- Natural Park of Monte Aloia, just a few kilometres away, has great views from the valley
- The views of the iron bridge and also from there, with the reflections of Tui and Valença do Minho
Close from Tui:
- Valença do Minho and its famous Fortress. A nice spot where you can buy towels, blankets and other housewares… (or at least that’s what Spaniards do). But it is also a great place to explore and taste a good portuguese coffee and food.
Ver Ruta 1: Bajo Miño en un mapa más grande
Where to sleep in Baiona and Tui
Baiona has a few interesting options for travelers. Probably the most famous one is the Parador Hotel at the fortress, a traditional museum-like hotel in a privileged position to enjoy the views, with its own swimming pool (just in case you don’t feel like going down to the beach, and which has been refurbished recently.
Another great option, a bit closer to Oia than Baiona but with great views too, is Talaso Atlántico, the thalassotherapy hotel I told you about above. The extra points of this place are the sea water swimming pool (spa-like) and the amazing restaurant with a modern approach to seafood.
And, if you want to keep the great views, at the endpoint of the route you have another interesting spot at Parador de Tui.