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Travelling to Galicia from Portugal

We are planning to spend two weeks in Portugal and ending this trip in Porto and one more week in Galicia, finally driving to Madrid.
If anybody can help us with couple questions, it would be great:

  1. Since it's too expensive to rent a car in Portugal and return it in Spain, we have to separate this rent in two legs:
    Rent a car in Portugal and return it in Port, our last destination
    Cross Portugal-Spain border somewhere near Port and rent a car in Spain.
    What is the best way to get from Port to the Spain border and rent a car over there?

  2. If we have just one week between leaving Port and flying from Madrid, what is the best itinerary to explore Galicia?

Thank you in advance,

Marina.

Posted by
1851 posts

The most convenient place to rent a car in Spain would be Vigo, which you can reach by train or bus in less than three hours. Duration is similar, the train is less frequent (basically, one early and one late).

Does the week you have include time for Madrid and surrounding areas? Or do you want to focus on Galicia? If the latter, don't drive to Madrid but take the train. The drive, while fairly scenic in places, is long. And if the former, I'd question the need for a car in Spain: just get to Santiago, spend two days there, then train to Segovia and finally Madrid.

If you have 6 nights for Galicia, you can can spend 2 of these in Baiona (the Cíes islands are worth the day trip), 2 in Santiago de Compostela, and 2 somewhere around Cabo Finisterre to explore the wild coast there. This is just one of many possibilities. Night 7 would be in Madrid.

Posted by
18405 posts

Personally, as an American with access to sandy, not super crowded, beaches (though I have no interest in them), I was underwhelmed by the Cies Islands and would not spend a day there in lieu of visiting one of the many picturesque Galician towns. In addition to Santiago de C, I liked A Coruna, Pontevedra and the smaller Betanzos. There are a lot of picturesque (though typically touristy) former fishing villages as well.

Though not a bad place, Vigo did not seem worth a tourist's time, though a stop there may be necessary for logistical reasons.

Posted by
1851 posts

I'll happily concede that the Outer Banks outshine the Cies islands :-), and indeed I hadn't seen that the OP was from Florida.

Posted by
18405 posts

I, on the other hand, was happy to spend over 7 days in Galicia.

Posted by
268 posts

"I think 7 days in Galicia is unwise."
"I cycled through the southern part and found nothing of interest."
"Pontevedra where I had time to explore was a big zero."

Perhaps you should just stay home as you seem inclined to have a miserable time wherever you may find yourself. Absent any details of what you found disagreeable, you just come across as a curmudgeonly dotard.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you so much for all responses.

We'll definitely take a train from Porto to Vigo. As all of you were kind to help me, I'll continue with my questions. We actually have five nights before getting to Madrid.
1. Since we spend winters in Florida, we don't really care of spending any time on the beach, but don't mind exploring different coasts. Which town do you advice to spend the first night in Galicia: Vigo, Baiona, or Pontevedra? And one or two nights?
2. If we stay just two nights in Santiago de C., should we spend one night in Ourense on a way to Madrid or any other place?
3. We've heard so much about great experience staying in monasteries in Spain. Are there any in Galicia that we can stay?

Thank you for all your help,

Marina

Posted by
18405 posts

Leave Vigo as expeditiously as you can. I enjoyed the historic centers of Santiago de C., Pontevedra and A Coruna. Santiago's old town is really large. You can spend a lot of time there.

Betanzos is not touristy and also interesting. The tiny inland town of Tui, right on the border, is worth a stop but probably not on your driving route and a bit small for an overnight stop (for me).

Two small coastal towns I liked on the west coast are Cambados and Combarra. Expect lots of tourist shops, however.

The Galician countryside is quite nice. If you go to viamichelin.com [typo in URL corrected] and enter your planned starting and ending points for each day, you'll get a proposed route. Zoom way in and any stretches of road considered especially scenic will be highlighted in green.

I haven't been to Ourense.

Posted by
1230 posts

I'm not sure about staying specifically in converted monasteries, do you mean the "paradors/paradores", which are usually hotels in old buildings, including former monasteries? There are several in Galicia, you can check out on the websites if you use that term. Since you'll have a car, you can easily spend 5 wonderful days in Galicia. It may not have the big disneyesque sights that Andrew Reis requires to keep him happy, but it's a beautiful region with many smaller sights. In planning your trip,if you don't have a guide book then I'd review the online reports from various English newspapers that will have suggestions - Guardian and Telegraph in particular - you'll find articles like "48 hrs in San..." , or "72 hrs in Galicia Coast". They often include paradore recommendations too.

Posted by
700 posts

We spent a week in Galicia in July 2017 and really enjoyed our time there. We spent 3 nights at the Parador de Santo Estevo, built in a converted monastery, right on the top of then Sil River Canyon. We spent our 2 days hiking along this very steep and beautiful canyon. We also spent 2 nights in Lugo. Loved the Hercules lighthouse in O Caruna. And, loved our time in Santiago de Compostela.

One of the most interesting places we visited was the Roman gold mines, near Ponferrada, just over the border from Galicia.

I think you will find plenty to do and see in Galicia. As far as as itineary goes, Galicia isn’t all that big. Our itinerary may have been a little illogical, but places were close enough that the order doesn’t make that much difference.

Posted by
2120 posts

That's why Galicia is nicknamed the "secret Spain", outside of Santiago de Compostela you don't hear much English at all. Sometimes it's refreshing not to be inundated with "blockbuster" sights.

Posted by
29 posts

Thank you for all your replies.

Decided to stay one night in Biona, two nights in Santiago de C. and two nights in Salamanca before coming to Madrid.

Hopefully, we would be able to enjoy Galicia along the road.

Marina