A Coruña, sitting atop northern Galicia, may often be overlooked by travelers in search of a Spanish destination, but this bustling port city quickly won over my heart with its rich history, busy commercial center, notable food scene, beaches and buzzing nightlife.
It’s become a tradition to celebrate our wedding anniversary on an annual vacation (I guess it’s our way of honeymooning every year), but this summer, things were a bit different after finding out we were expecting. We had originally considered island hopping in Thailand or Croatia, but the idea of being 6 months pregnant and engaging in that level of intensive travel (not to mention the length of the plane ride) seemed a bit irresponsible. So, we settled on finding a destination within an 8-hour or so plane ride window. After some research, much to Bugsy’s surprise, I suggested we go to Galicia, followed by a jaunt in Lisbon, Portugal given the proximity of the regions.
So why Galicia? Bugsy hadn’t been back to Galicia since childhood when his family would spend summers there on his grandpa’s farm, the trip was relatively easy (a direct flight to Madrid followed by a short connection to A Coruña), super affordable (relative to other European destinations) and there was something sweet about our babymoon/baby’s first trip being a visit to a place with familial significance. So we decided on a Galician adventure that would start in the port city of A Coruña, followed by a beach jaunt in Carnota to visit close friends and finally a visit to Santiago de Compostela. But of the three Galician locations, A Coruña was our favorite and we can’t wait to go back.
Here’s My Guide to 72 Hours in A Coruña, España
When to Travel
There aren’t many guides to say when the best time is to travel, but given its northern geography and attendant climate, summer certainly seems to be the best choice, since you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy the city’s beaches and feast day celebrations. Even in mid-August (the hottest time of the year), the temperatures were very comfortable, warm while outdoors in the sun, but temperate and cool in the shade and in the evenings, especially after a rainfall, which I hear is frequent during the summer months.
Where to Stay
Lodging options are mostly standard business hotels or modest hostals. Although my research rendered a few newer, more contemporary options, they were far from impressive. The upside of the hotel options was that they were super affordable (cheap even given their star ratings), offered air conditioned rooms (which is not standard in residences and stores) and the usual hotel amenities.
Luxury Hotel Options:
- Hotel Blue Coruña
- Hotel Hesperia A Coruña Finisterre
- Meliá Maria Pita
- Hotel Hesperia A Coruña Centro
We opted to stay in the loveliest Airbnb on Rúa Cordonería, despite it not having any air conditioning, and I am so glad we did! It was perfectly located just a short walk to María Pita square, great restaurants and shops and close enough to a public parking lot for our rental car for the week. But, the apartment did sit over one of the busiest bars in the old center, which made sleeping before 3:00AM a bit challenging. It’s a good thing we are both night owls because those Gallegos really like to party.
Things to Do
1. Torre de Hércules & Paseo de Los Menhires | The World Heritage–listed Tower of Hercules sits near the windy northern tip of the city. Legend attributes its construction to Hercules, but it was actually the Romans who originally built this lighthouse in the 1st century AD – a beacon on what was then the furthest edge of the civilized world. Climb the steps for great panoramas of the city and coast.
2. Casa Museo Picasso | Pablo Picasso lived in this large apartment from 1891–95, while his father taught art at the Instituto da Guarda school on nearby Plaza de Pontevedra. The apartment still has the same layout, and is fitted out with period furniture and copies of the many paintings and drawings that Picasso did while here, testament to his precocious talent.
3. Plaza de Maria Pita Centro Historico | Plaza de María Pita is a site to be visited. Where the most spectacular Town Hall is situated, the square is lined with cafes and tapas bars and bustling at all times of the day. The story goes that María Pita, the heroine the square is named after, saved the city against the English in 1589.
4. Museo de Belos Artes | This fine arts museum includes paintings by Rubens, Picasso, Tintoretto and Sorolla, an impressive collection of Goya prints and a fine exhibit of 19th-century Galician Sargadelos ceramics.
5. Orzan Beach/Riazor Beach | Located along the city’s edge, its a great place to spend a day, people watch and even surf, but beware of the cold Atlantic waters!
6. Mirador de San Pedro Monte | This hilltop park just a short distance from the city centre provides exceptional views over the city and coast. Part of the fun is getting up there in the Ascensor Panoramico, a large glass ball that slowly ascends the steep hillside from the Paseo Marítimo.
7. Estrella Galicia Brewery | An immersive brewery tour of THE beer of the region is a must for learning about the history of the beer, its founders and for a generous beer flute tasting.
Places to Eat
What can I say about the food other than it’s some of THE BEST tapas I have EVER had. What I did not find was a ton of fine dining, so fancy does not seem to be a thing, but tapas hopping (yes, get a plate or two at one place and move onto the next) at terrace tables among a happy, raucous crowd is quite a lovely experience. The wine is also plentiful and priced so very right, although I was unfortunately unable to partake (hence our plans for a prompt return post baby’s arrival). As night falls, don’t worry about reservations, just set out for Calle Estrella, the city’s primary tapas strip and be sure to stop for pulpo á feira accompanied by a glass of Albariño – the quintessential Galician meal. Here are some places to try:
- El De Alberto
- Pablo Gallego
- Restaurante Atabria
- Pulpeira de Melida
- Casa Marcelo
- Taberna de Cunqueiro
- La Bombilla
Places to Drink & Party
A Coruña is a crisp white wine lover’s dream – un vaso de albariño por favor. From tapas bars to cafes to bars, the streets are literally overflowing with people and places to gather and party until the early morning hours. And, although I didn’t get to imbibe during this last trip, it didn’t stop me from identifying some great spots to visit and hopefully come back to.
- Los Cantones Village (bars)
- Moom57 (club)
- Playa Club (club)
- Bars/Streets of City Centre
Places to Shop
Places to shop may not always be high on everyone’s travel priority list, but they are always on mine. Who doesn’t love finding unique items to take home to remind you and your loved ones of your travels?
- Calle Real | All the streets leading to Maria Pita Square, especially Calle Real, are worth a stop in, including the official DEPOR official store to pickup a jersey and Salotto, which I visited three times over our three day stay.
- Cuatro Caminos Centro Comercial | This shopping center houses over 100 stores and boutiques from low to high-end.
- MAOW Studio & Shop | A beautiful boutique with the most gorgeous unique gifts to bring home.