Cathedral Beach, Galicia, Spain

Cathedral beach, towering rock arches, Galicia, Spain

Cathedral beach, the most famous feature and the reason for the name, this series of towering rock arches.

Cathedral Beach, As Catedrais

Praia As Catedrais is also known as Cathedral Beach or Praia de Augas Santas (Beach of the Holy Waters).

This 880m long beach is famous for its exceptional rock formations sculpted by the wind and waves. Visit either at high tide when the beach disappears so the rocks look like a vast, bombed-out cathedral standing on water, or at low tide when hundreds – if not thousands on peak summer days – of sightseers like to walk the bizarre beach. Sunbathing is possible though the sand is quite firm and swimming is permitted only on one section.

Google Galicia Tide Charts if you want to be sure you can walk on the beach or not, but make sure the forecast is for the north Atlantic coast (near Ribadeo or Gijon for example), not the west coast.

Cathedral beach towering rock arches seen from above, Galicia, Spain

The Cathedral’s arches can be seen from above as well as below. The cliff path leads shortly to Praia Esteiro.

The main entry to Cathedral beach, with facilities and parking, Galicia, Spain

The main entry to As Catedrais beach, with café/restaurant, kisoks, toilets and three huge car parks.

This is also the main swimming beach, with lifeguards but no other on-beach facilities. And the water was distinctly chilly!

Getting There

On the public holiday in mid August when we visited there were three large, free car parks in action and we estimated about 300 cars so perhaps 900 visitors! Nevertheless, we enjoyed the extraordinary arched and blasted rocks on this very extensive beach.

Catedrais is along the scenic route of Autovia del Cantábrico, Highway A8 (E-70); take exit 516 and follow signs to Playas. There’s plenty of free parking, though you may have to walk for five minutes to reach this point.
The nearest airports are in Coruña and Oviedo while Santander is just over 2 hour’s drive away. Bilbao is about 3 hours away and Santaigo de Compostela about 3 hours.
Cathedral beach makes a perfect halfway halt en route from Santander to Santiago de Compostela.

Beautiful rock striations on As Cathedral beach, Galicia, Spain

The less crowded west end of Catedral Beach.

Many visitors either hung out on the clifftop eating and drinking (hey, this was a Spanish holiday and around midday so steady consumption of food and drink along with much chatter is essential), or headed for the swimming beach (below) or massed at the east end where the big arches are located, so this western end was relatively crowd free.

Crowds on Cathedral beach, Galicia, Spain

So this is where they all went! The east end, to wander among the. . .

Bridal photos under the arches of As Catedrais beach, Galicia, North Spain beaches

. . . arches and take selfies.

Praia Esteiro seen from the clifftop path to Cathedral beach, Galicia, Spain

Praia Esteiro, just 10 minutes gorgeous walk from Praia Catadreis. 4, 000 people there, 20 people here!

However! Obviously you have to walk As Catedrais sands and admire the spectacular rocks, but after that if you fancy a bit of peace and quiet away from the mooing herds then either motor along to the parking marked above – which is on the same road that Catedrais car parks are located, just half a kilometre east – or even better take a beautiful 15 minute clifftop walk to hang out here for a couple of hours. Gorgeous, peaceful and just a handful of other beach users.

Alternatively go straight to that car park, walk along the coast to As Catedrais beach, see the sights, walk back and enjoy a real, relaxed Galician lunch or perhaps a swim.

A road sign to other beaches near Cathedral beach, Galicia, Spain

This sign is just past the third overflow car park, looking east, so there are more beach options nearby for those in search of solitude. The road runs about 200m parallel to the shore and passes all three Catedreis car parks west of this sign (i. e. behind the camera).