I’ve been promising you a post about Redondela and the top things you should do when visiting this beautiful village in the south of Galicia. So, as many of you have been asking me about where to go while doing the portuguese way of Camino de Santiago, here it goes:
Top things to do in Redondela (and nearby) that you can’t miss
Redondela is a nice and small traditional village that is locally famous for three reasons: it’s train bridges, its traditional festivities (being the Festa da Coca one of the most unique ones) and “chocos” (cuttlefish) which are fished traditionally in the area and cooked in many tasty ways.
It is also a popular destination for the pilgrims on St James Way that come from Portugal, as the coast and the traditional way merge here and continue towards Pontevedra and Santiago. They love its views of the Vigo Bay, the beaches and the cultural and foodie options there.
But there’s more to it than just walk around and enjoy the food. There’s a lot to do in Redondela:
1. Take a guided tour to learn about the role of Redondela during WWII, the Civil War and more
You can walk around in Redondela and enjoy it’s stone paved streets and the old traditional buildings and manor houses. But you can also add an extra to it by joining a guided tour from a true local that is also an official guide.
My friend and colleague Sole from Mellor con Guía has specialized in Redondela and Vigo Bay and is always investigating about the past and the present of the village. She is also an official tourism guide and does tours in English too.
She also changes the visit to adapt to the season. For example, you can now do visits to Redondela at night and learn about the dark figures, traditions and legends of the village (pretty scary one by the way). The booking site is in Spanish but you can request the visit to be in English by contacting them or telling them in the ticket comments.
* I believe she also speaks german, might be worth asking too.
She also offers other other themed visits. For example she hosted a visit around the women of Redondela, about the tradition of the St. James Way at the village and another about the industries that shaped Redondela through the years.
2. Get amazed by the symbols and hints of the most beautiful cemetery in Spain (Os Eidos)
There are a few cemeteries in Galicia that are well worth a visit. One of them is the historic cemetery of Os Eidos in Redondela. The place has been chosen as the most beautiful cemetery in Spain by popular vote in Spain and the history and the symbology of its tombs and statues will sure surprise you.
Os Eidos cemetery is not in use now (the local cemetery moved a few years ago but they kept Os Eidos for its cultural value) so your visit will not bother anyone. Plus you can also do a guided visit here.
Sole, the guide I recommended above, also does a guided visit here that you can find here:visitas guiadas al Cementerio (also available in English).
3. Go back to the seas through A Portela
Redondela has a few walking paths and hikes around. Of course, you can follow the Camino way but there are other routes that are easy to walk by and have stunning views. One of them is the one that starts behind the Alameda garden and takes you to the Ria de Vigo bay.
If you visited Redondela from inland, you wouldn’t really tell it is a village of sailors and fishmongers. During the Middle Ages, what you see as the Alameda garden was once one of the most important ports inside the bay. With the years, the ships were slowly pushed away until moving it where it is today: Cesantes port nearby.
A walk through A Portela will take you by the old locations of the port and will allow you to see the changing landscape of the bay, with small ships and boats, cormorants, herons… and the old industries that shaped the XXth Century. But it is also an easy path you can do most of the year with kids and elders, just beware when it is cold as some places can become a little slippery.
I don’t have pictures of it. It’s the place I used to take my grandma for a walk and we didn’t take many landscape pictures there.
There are a few guided visits throughout the year here too. Will let you know if I learn of any.
4. Get in the water (not to swim)
Redondela has a deep connection with the seas and it is one of the best places in Galicia to learn about local seafood and fishing techniques first-hand. From visiting the mussel growing “bateas” floating in the middle of Vigo bay to taking clams out of the muddy sand, you can witness almost every traditional fishing art in the area.
As you might have guessed, most of this happens by the water in nearby Cesantes (at a walking distance of Redondela), which is where the port is now. The main fish market (wholesale market) is also here and many of the fishing boats leave from here.
Among other activities, I loved going “fishing” for chocos (cuttlefish squids) at the Bay. With the team of Amarturmar we jumped on a boat and followed the seamen and women who where taking them from the water in the traditional way. And we also got to see them from close by and learn a bit more about them, why they grow here and why they are so highly valued at restaurants and houses alike.
We did this with the team of Amarturmar, which was created by local fishmongers to make sustainable fishing more economically sustainable andoffer other activities including sardine fishing, clam harvesting and others. I believe they offer this in English if you ask although fishmongers don’t often speak the language. They are not bookable online but you can contact them via their page on facebook,
5. Visiting San Simón and San Antón islands
While most tourist already know about Cíes Islands and the National Park, there are other islands at Ría de Vigo that are well worth a visit. One of them is San Simón, which also gives the name to San Simón cove area, which is protected by Red Natura 2000 and is the favorite place for many migrating birds.
It is also an important place in history, not of a shinning one but one that shaped the way the people in Redondela are. And one that explains how Galicia lived the last one hundred years of history.
It has been connected to myths and sickness, also to war and religion, they even planned a hotel here. But the only way you will be able to visit is jumping on a boat and have an official guide walk you around. You will not come back disappointed.
The island (it is two islands but resembles just one from the coast) can be visited almost throughout the year, with the exception of truly bad weather. But be careful while choosing with who you will be visiting as many go there with groups that are too large and for just a little time.
Also, some visits are only in Spanish or leave from further away ports. For example this visit leaves from Vigo and this leaves from Cangas but the smaller groups usually leave from Cesantes. We did it on a 7 person group and it was amazing, but while on the island we crossed with two groups, one about 20 people and another of over 40, just one guide each. The 40p group even arrived after us and left way before we left, wouldn’t recommend anyone.
6. Learn about the famous “Rande” treasure and the battle
Cíes Islands have been protecting the Ría and the villages of the coast from the beginning of times. But they have also provided protection to ships and boats when there was bat weather or enemies attacked. So there have been a few battles and pirate raids around.
None of them as famous as The battle of Rande (which happened in the area of San Simon and the Rande Bridge) where Spanish and French ships where attacked looking for the treasures of the Crown. I will not do spoilers about what happened to the treasure since you will be visiting the area and there is a small but nice museum explaining all of this: Museo Meirande (Centro de Interpretacioón de la Batalla de Rande).
The museum is also at an interesting location, “the factory of the german man” (a fábrica do alemán), which speaks of the use of Vigo for canning fish and for selling goods and information to other countries during the World Wars. There are a few other interesting spots in the area (not open to visits) that were also used for this.
At Meirande you can visit on your own for free (worth the views and the conten by the way) but you can also ask for a guided visit. The team at the museum is usually made of official guides who can show you around in English, so ask them when you go.
Just a hint: the museum is a bit far from Redondela village and it is best visited by car. There are taxis in Redondela that can take you there too.
7. Hike to the lookouts
Our last recommendation on what to do in Redondela is to go up to the surrounding mountains and watch the Island of San Simón and Vigo Bay from the top. There are a few lookouts in the area that you can visit by car or hiking so it’s worth a try.
One of my favorites is Alto da Cabaleira (also named Outeiro Grande) which has beautiful views and sunset. You will also find a rocker there. Camino de Santiago goes nearby.
Another interesting visit is to hike in Monte Penide, where you will find some ancient rock art and a prehistoric necropolis with a nice lookout on top. The city council offers guided visits there every once in a while (not in English) that you can join.
When to visit Redondela
Redondela is one of those places that change every season with an animated cultural scene and tradtional fairs and festivities such as the Choco food fair, Festa da Coca (with dances and rituals that go back a few centuries), Festival Internacional de Títeres (the international festival of puppets), the recreation of the Battle of Rande, a summer carnival… so each visit can be a different visit and you will enjoy Redondela on every season.
If you want to know what’s going on in Redondela when you visit, check out Troulanda.com site, where we publish all the festivities, activities, celebrations and such that have been confirmed and are of touristic interest. It’s in Spanish but you will find some amazing ideas there.
How to visit Redondela
As I told you before, there are two great ways to go to Redondela from other parts of Galicia: walking the Camino (St. James Way) or by train.
If you like traveling by train, you will notice that Redondela has three train stations. It is not because of the size of the village but because of the types of trains that connect here. Redondela can be reached by train from the north of Portugal (by famous tren Celta), from Madrid and Barcelona (by medium and long distance trains) and from other places in Galicia like Vigo, Pontevedra, Ourense, Santiago or A Coruña (by both fast AVE trains and local trains).
Just be careful with one thing: if you plan on going through the iron viaduct that crosses on top of Redondela, you will have to make a connection with Pontevedra city, as AVE and fast trains don’t usually cross through it. Also, if you want to go with the best views, the slower trains go by the coast almost all the way from Vigo to Pontevedra, so I would choose that one.
It is also an easy trip by car from Vigo or Pontevedra (only 15 minutes) as the village is well connected by road. Only a tip here: when going from Vigo, Google Maps and other GPS systems will try to make you use the highway, but it costs one euro and you will only save 1 minute. Not worth it.
There is usually plenty of spots for parking in Redondela, with the exception of fair day, but you still have the private parking under the town hall. Plus traveling by car is usually the best way to visit Meirande museum or the lookouts if you are not keen on walking a lot.
Extra: there are buses from Vigo and Pontevedra, but they are changing their schedules so better ask when you visit.
How to move around Redondela
The easiest way to see Redondela is on foot. There are not many buses and the village is really small.
There are also a few hiking routes as I told you before and the Camino way, plus you will find a small touristic train in the Summer that takes you to the beach.
Where to eat in Redondela
There are a lot of options to eat in Redondela. I see many tourist having hamburgers or sandwiches when they visit, but there is no reason to do that unless you visit on a Tuesday (almost every restaurant closes on tuesday with the exception of a few cafes and a burger place). Among my recommendations:
- O Muiño Vello, a small tapas bar inside an old water mill which has been awarded a Repsol “solete” for its uniqueness. There is a waterfall nearby.
- Casa Pinales another good one for traditional Galician food, with great rice with seafood (not paella) and great views. Book in advance if you want the views.
I’ve been recommended another two lately but haven’t tried them yet: Gastroteca and Xantar de Otelo.
Where to sleep in Redondela
There aren’t many hotels in Redondela as most of the accommodation is designed to fit pilgrims on the St James Way to Santiago. But you still have a few unique accomodations that are worth taking a look at:
- Pazo de Vilavella, an old manor house that you can sometimes book through Booking. Not a standard hotel but good location and quite unique.
- Pazo de Santa Teresa, another manor house which is also hard to book but this one because top travel agencies have it reserved most of the year for their travelers
- a bit away from the city center Casa D’Mina is a country house that has specialized on St James Way travelers that look for a better accomodation and ammenities
- and on the cheaper side, you will find a couple of local lodges that are small but guests usually love A Boa Estrela y A Marisma
As in all the region, you will find more options during high season but try to book way in advance as it is a top spot and a popular sleeping location on the Camino as it merges both portuguese ways.