12 things you must do along the ría
1. Spend some time in Ponte Nafonso
Ponte Nafonso is a glorious spot just five kilometers from Noia. The impressive medieval bridge arches its way for almost two kilometers across the River Tambre as it works its way out to the sea. Surrounded by rich pine forests and mountain trails, this is a perfect spot for hikers and cyclists. If energy permits, try and make your way to the top of the mountain that protects the small village below. From this vantage point you will have the most spectacular view of the entire ría de Muros y Noia region. Alternatively you can cheat, of course, and make the journey by car. Small, traditional cafes at the bottom of the trail provide welcome and much-needed refreshment at the end of your day’s journey. The nearby Pazo de Tambre now functions as a wedding venue and hotel, with spectacular gardens and an impressive historical interior.
For more information: www.pazodotambre.com
Santiago de Compostela
Ría de Muros y Noia
2. Stay in a rural house
If you’re planning to stay in the vicinity of the ría for a few days then we highly recommend staying at a rural house. These are classic old Galician stone buildings that have been renovated for the tourist industry. There are a dozen or so dotted on either side of the ría, providing traditional rustic ambience with modern comfort. Most provide meals as well. They make a great base from which to explore the ría with all the comforts of home.
3. Take the mountain roads
One of the joys of the Ria is that it has an old coastal road (the AC-550) that can you take you the full 150km from Finisterre to Corrubedo. But at times in the summer it does get congested so don’t be afraid to get your map out and drive through the mountains, it is often quicker and you get to see a completely different side to the Galician coast. The drive from Serra de Outes through the mountains and Pino de Val to Carnota is a special treat. You may be lucky enough to see the wild horses and you’ll be sure to see the spectacular army of new windmills that reside at the top of the range overseeing the Ria. There are signposted ´Miradors´ (viewpoints) along the way where you can park up and admire the scenic splendor of the coastline. The Mirador before you descend into Carnota is especially spectacular for sunsets, giving you the complete panoramic view of one of the finest beaches in Europe.
4. Visit Pesquería del Tambre
There is a splendid hidden treat awaiting you in a mountain valley close to Noia. Built in 1924 by the famous Galician architect Antonio Palacios and tucked away amidst stunning scenery, is an almost church-like hydro-electrical building that is still in use today. Beside it, five separately restored stoned houses offer hotel accommodation for the night and the hotel kitchen produces some fine al fresco dining. The tranquil lake setting with signposted walks, with plenty of space for the kids to run around and play in, makes it a great place for a lunch or al fresco dinner. You could of course always stay the night. For more information and rates visit www.pesqueriadeltambre.com
5. An evening in Muros
If you enjoy your seafood then you simply must visit the quaint old fishing town of Muros in the early evening. There is a wonderful buzz about the place as the boats come in and the fish market gets into full swing. The wholesale fish market resides in a warehouse situated towards the end of the pier and three or four market stalls are set up for the general public to purchase their supplies. So if you are lucky enough to be renting a property in the area then you, too, can stock up on your fish supplies and fire up a barbeque.
The parade of restaurants and cafes under the arched old boathouses that line the promenade provide the finest seafood in the area.
Strolling through the old backstreets of the town is a pleasant experience full of hidden little treasures. There is always a warm gentle ambience about the town which stages festivals and live music performances in the summer months. As is the Galician style, these celebrations will start late at night and run into the early hours of the morning.
6. The bigger picture
The aforementioned Miradores (viewpoints) are well signposted throughout the region. A short drive to one of these viewpoints offers up a wonderful view of the ría from a ‘top of the mountain’ perspective. There are two must-visit Miradors that we recommend. The first is a short drive from Port o Freixo on the North side of the ría. Take the second Mirador sign that signifies an 8.1km drive and you will climb to the top of Mount Tremuzo, the highest point in the ría. Standing at 531m above sea level, it is a magnificent place to visit in the early morning as the sun rises above the ría. If you enjoy watching the sunset as it brings the day to an end, then head for Mount Lois on the opposite side of the ría just five kilometres from Noia, it offers up a fantastic sweeping view of the entire ría as the sun sets.
7. Go to the market in Noia
Noia used to be the main port for Santiago. It now thrives as the main market town for the ría. Market mornings happen on Thursdays and Sundays until around 2pm. The market provides a great snapshot of rural life in the region. Locals ply their trade, selling everything from fresh fruit, vegetables, home made cheeses, chorizos and liquors to clothing and antiques. Be sure to try the local delicacy of churros; a fried dough sprinkled with sugar and sometimes made with a chocolate coating. There is also an indoor fish market to visit.
Noia is a charming medieval town with a beautiful old quarter to explore and a lovely old square hosted by the fine church of San Martín (built in 1434) where you can rest your market trodden feet and enjoy a Sunday tapas or coffee whilst watching the world go by. Noia is also very popular at night when people of all ages simply stroll the promenade and enjoy the outside cafes until the early hours of the morning. If you’re looking for a little bit of nightlife then Noia has plenty of bars and a few nightclubs where you can put on your dancing shoes. Noia is a fun town to spend the evening in and in the summer months there are plenty of outdoor festivals and open-air concerts to enjoy.
8. Enjoying the local festivals
Galicia is renowned for filling up its summer months with festivals, often indicated by towns declaring them by setting off a volley of colourless firecrackers into the sky.
Noia and Muros entertain the largest festivals in the region, though the smaller towns like Outes will also have their very own saint’s days to celebrate and this can include the well known as well as the bizarre - a saint’s day for lorry drivers and a saint’s day for the sardine, falling into the latter category. In truth, the Galicians will find any reason to get together, to eat, drink, socialise and enjoy music. And there are plenty of festivals to find throughout the summer months.
Most festivals will have live music concerts and fairground-type attractions for the children, who will stay out until the early hours of the morning enjoying the spectacle. These festivals are great fun, good-natured and most impressively, showcase a complete mix of generations enjoying themselves and dancing the night away. To truly experience the Galician culture in all its glory, listen out for those firecrackers and insist the children have a long siesta to get them ready for a great night out!
25th April: Festival of St Marcos.
July: Medieval Festival: Noia send itself back in time to medieval times, when the locals and the streets are dressed up to reflect their heritage. Very popular and lots of fun. (No fixed date).
24th - 29th August: Festival of St Bartolomeu.
Porto do Son:
14th August: Festival of the Octopus.
9th September: Festival of the Virgin of Loreto.
29th - 30th June: Festival of St Pedro.
24th - 25th July: Festival of Santiaguiño.
1st August: Festival of St Cristobal.
28th - 30th June: Festival of St Pedro.
July: Grand Prix of Carrilanas in Esteiro: Perhaps the most popular in the region, when locals construct home made go-karts and race down the mountain roads in kamikaze fashion! Great fun. (No fixed date).
15th - 17th July: Festival of the Virgin Carmen.
9. Take a trip to Ezaro
Ezaro is a quaint old beach town that resides beside the River Xallas, which is the only river in Europe that makes its way into the sea as a waterfall, controlled by the largest dam in the region. In the summer months the authorities open up the dam and millions of gallons of water thunder their way down the mountain in a spectacular display of natural power. A trip to the top of the dam offers up wonderful views of Monte Pindo and the small towns below, where there are three small, yet beautiful, gentle white beaches to enjoy.
10. Take a trip to the wild side
As the ría winds its way out to the Atlantic, the terrain visibly changes and the once calm beaches protected by the inner part of the ría become wilder and less inhabited. To the North is the well-documented landmark of Finisterre. Just beyond its peninsula are two fantastic beaches; Playa del Rostro and Playa de Figueiras, both of which are often occupied by surfing enthusiasts. On the south side, the Ria winds its way out to the charming fishing village of Corrubedo. This is a great place to stay as the wild beaches of Espiñeirido, Portiños and the impressive Corrubedo Nature Reserve are all within easy reach. You can also join the crowds mingling around the lighthouse at the end of the day awaiting a final flourish of color from the sun as it sets. Either way a trip out to the peninsulas that ultimately harbor and shape this ría, are well worth the effort.
11. Find your own private beach for the day
With more than 70 beaches lining the coastline between Finisterre and Corrubedo, there is plenty of fine white sand for everyone. Certain beaches are more popular than others for the socialising locals, but if absolute privacy is on your agenda then simply drive along the coastline and look out for any signpost that says “Praia,” and turn in. You’ll quickly discover the popularity of the beach and what facilities are available. Many of these beaches remain completely free of people, even in the summer months. So stock up on provisions and while the day away on your own private beach. Heaven!
12. Visit Castro de Baroña
As you venture southbound towards Corrubedo, the beaches become wilder and the modern day settlements become more desolate. Just beyond the port town of Porto do Son are the ancient ruins of Castro de Baroña, which are well worth a visit (though you will need to put on your hiking shoes to get there as they sit way out on a peninsula accessed only by foot.) It has been logged as an Iron Age “Celtic” fortified settlement and the old rounded ruins are plain to see from a distance yet fun to walk around. The location is worth walking to as it provides great views of the southern coastline of the Ria. Playa de Area Longa (a fine surfers’ beach) and Playa de Queiruga are clearly visible and easily accessible from the site after you have finished your expedition. A quirky ritual seems to exist on the beach preceding the ruins; visitors pile up rounded stones as high as they can almost in respect of the site. Though to date, we know not why…answers on a postcard please! Note: the parking lot that allows access to this site has a couple of restaurants for refreshments.
DAM OPENING TIMES:
21st June - 21st September
Saturday nights with lighting display, from 23.00 - 23.30.
Sundays: 12.00 - 14.00
Easter weekend, 1st May, 24th June, 15th August, 12th October, and 1st November: from 12.00 - 14.00
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