Following my staycation in Pontevedra a couple of weeks ago, I decided to keep exploring the beauties of Galicia, and headed for a weekend in Lalín. Lalín isn’t really far from Pontevedra or Vigo (actually, it isn’t far from any other spot in Galicia as it’s located right in the middle of it) and I hadn’t been there before, so it was a great point for a start.
And here’s the top things to do on your visit to Lalín (and what you shouldn’t miss on your next trip to Galicia):
1. Visit a real “fraga” or Galician forest at Fraga de Catasós
When people talk about Fraga in Galicia, most times they refer to the surname of the politician who ruled the region since the Franco time. But here in Lalín fraga (an Atlantic kind of forest with different types of deciduous trees, which used to cover Galicia before eucalyptus and pine trees took over the landscape) is written with capital letters.
Best known one is small but stunning Fraga de Catasós, which has some of the tallest oaks in all Europe and is considered a Natural Monument of Galicia. They can be visited (for free) and there is a short hiking trail that goes through this beautiful color-changing forest.
The Fraga is located just outside Lalín (4 km away), at the town of Quintela, and there are other Fragas right next to it (Casas Vellas), but they haven’t been officially protected yet (there’s a movement towards that called #SalvemosCatasos.)
Another beautiful spot right out of Lalín is Souto de García Sanchez, on the northern side of the village. The space has a beautiful landscape: on the left the old oak trees line up, with an enormous granite table for parties and celebrations (a masterpiece from sculptor Cesar Portela) and a series of original sculptures at the center; on the right, a small fraga with chestnuts trees.
But the beautiful nature of Lalín area does not end here: a walk by the river Pontiñas (if you don’t feel like leaving town or don’t bring a car), where you can see some old water mills, or hiking at Serra do Candán where you will be able to connect with nature, see beautiful pieces of Galician architecture and even visit the old monastery of Aciveiro, now a hotel.
2. Go for truly traditional food from Galicia: Cocido
Ok, vegetarians can skip this one. For everybody else, don’t forget to eat cocido gallego (here simply cocido) when you visit Lalín. It’s one of the icons of hearty food in Galicia and also one of the most bizarre ones (pigtail, pig face or onion chorizo are usually on the mix and some of the favorite ones.)
And for dessert, here you will also find worldwide famous filloas, leche frita (fried milk), orejas de Carnaval and cañas. Some of my favorite desserts and the most iconic ones in Galicia.
We went for lunch to Casa Currás, but another great option if you are looking for a different sort of menu is Bodegón A Cunca, with an amazing tortilla con queixo (spanish omelette with local cheese) among other delicacies, including local mushrooms and grilled octopus. And café de pota (also known as café de olla or spiced coffee.)
And, for cooking at home, check the open market on Saturdays, which gathers local producers from the region on the streets of Lalín, the traditional market (see picture below) or La Lalinense shop, where you can buy the ingredients for cocido and some packs to eat it at home. And, outside town, cheese factory Pazo de Anzuxao has a shop at their place with some great tetilla and arzúa cheeses.
3. Connect with old traditions at Museo Casa do Patrón
Museum Casa do Patrón is the private collection of a Galician family, which shows the artifacts and traditions of Galician people. The museum is located at four different buildings in town, which allows you to explore it easily and see Galician houses from the inside. And includes a guided visit where they explain how the items were used and where (their collection comes from all corners of Galicia.)
It’s a nice visit if you are looking to know more about the people of this part of Spain and hosts different activities if you are willing to test your skills on cheese or bread making, for example. They also run a traditional cafe (reservation needed) with an amazing empanada made in wood-burning oven.
Before visiting Museum Casa do Patrón in Doade town, make sure you stop by the town of Mouriscade and their river area. The place is magical with the river coming through and the water mills. Or book a route with the team at the museum.
And if you are interested in archaeology, Lalín has one of the biggest concentration of Castros (Iron-Age settlements) in all Galicia. Only one of them can be visited and is Castro de Doade, right next to Museum Casa do Patrón.
4. Play like a kid and feel like an aristocrat, at the museum of Marionettes
Lalín has some beautiful Pazos or Galician palaces and manor houses. You might have read of them at The House of Ulloa from Emilia Pardo Bazán… yes! you are right, the house that inspired her was not far from here.
One of those houses is Pazo de Liñares, at San Martiño de Prado. The baroque building was built at the end of the XVII Century and was home to the Taboada family until the early XX Century and it was the birthplace of aviator Joaquín Lóriga. It also welcomed many aristocrats and intellectuals, like Emilia Pardo Bazán herself.
The building has been beautifully restored and can be visited inside and outside. Just note the big Lareira (fireplace) on the top floor, the deposits for feeding the horses on the lower floor or the beautiful surrounding landscape that can be watched from the arched balcony.
But, in case you need another reason to visit, it is also home to the Galician Museum of Marionettes. A fun visit for kids (and all of us kids in spirit) where you can see puppets and tricks from all around the world in a beautiful collection curated by Viravolta Títeres. Worth taking a look at are the piece by Laxeiro, the Juan sin Miedo pop-up book (ask the staff if they can show it to you) and the Library.
5. Search for the artsy pigs
Pigs are Lalín’s mascot, a talisman that symbolizes the Cocido (where pork is one of the main ingredients, if not the most important one) and which has been immortalized with many sculptures that you can visit all around Lalín town.
The most important one is a giant pig on Rua Colón. But my favorite ones are the ones that belong to the “art parade” (remember the Cow art parades that visited cities all around the globe?), dressed up like harlequins, ladies… and even a LGBT one!
Is there more?
There truly is:
- Walk through the piano crosswalk and step on Galicia “Km. zero” just a few steps away from each other, the main pig sculpture and the open market that happens every Saturday in Lalín.
- Visit one of the most beautiful modern town halls in Galicia, from architects Tuñón & Mansilla.
- Search for street X (Rúa Lalín X). There’s nothing of much interest there, but it’s the a great sign of the rapid growth of the city and it’s one of the few towns in Spain to have this sort of street naming. Plus, it’s just across Lalinense shop, where you can buy the ingredients for Cocido.
- Discover the beginnings of famous artist Laxeiro and follow the stars at the oldest astronomical observatory in Galicia at Museo Ramón Aller in downtown Lalín.
- Hike at Serra do Candán through the many walking and BTT routes available in the area. Check the ones going through Zobra and Chedas one for some impressive valley views.
- Search for a cure to your wanderlust at the pilgrimage center of O Corpiño. Well, I don’t want you to do that, but it’s a funky place to visit: it’s devoted for curing mental illnesses and other health issues, and it used to have one of the very few priests in all Europe to be granted the right to practice exorcisms.
- Get inspired by Joaquín Lóriga, who in 1926 covered for first time the trip Madrid-Manila by plane. He was also the first to land a plane in Galicia and the first to drive Juan de la Cierva’s invention autogyro (or gyrocopter).
Where to sleep in Lalín
For this trip, we stayed at Hotel SPA Norat Torre do Deza, which is next to the Highway. Not a downtown location, but you’ll be needing a car anyways if you want to truly explore the area. The place has some of the biggest rooms I’ve seen recently and a small spa where you can relax after a great day of exploring Lalín.
Any extra tip for a visit to Lalín? Let me know in the comments below ;)