Rías Baixas, Galicia, North Spain

Ribeira's comfortable town beach, Praia de Coroso on Ria de Arousa, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Ribeira’s comfortable town beach, Praia de Coroso on Ria de Arousa, Rías Baixas. The town itself seems quiet, slow-paced and not exactly gripping.

A day trip to Rias Baixas from Santiago de Compostela

The first stop on this road trip along two Rias – de Arousa and de Muros y Noia – was a brief walk along the town beach of Riveira (or Ribeira as it’s also known) on Ria de Arousa, just half an hour’s drive from the great pilgrim city of Santiago, followed by very little time at the Corrubedo Dunes, a couple of hours at Punta Corrubedo lighthouse and beach, a brief stop at the prehistoric Dolmen do Axeitos, too much time at the incredible Castro de Baroña fortified village, a quick look at Porto de Son beaches and finally a waste of time looking for mysterious engravings at Noia’s Santa Maria a Nova church cemetery.

All-in-all, a great day out on smooth, easy, attractive roads, even if a couple of the sights were time-wasters. The AC-550 coast road on the north side of the Serra do Barbanza peninsula was, in particular, a beauty to behold.
North Spanish roads get a big YAY! as the best roads in Europe, IMHO, smooth, wide, scenic, mostly free-of-charge and uncrowded.

Dunas de Corrubedo, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Dunas de Corrubedo on the Atlantic Ocean and between Rias, with a long trail and a very unsatisfactory conclusion.

Bone to pick with the Xunta de Galicia here! Fair enough if you wish to preserve the dunes for posterity. Let’s all be eco-friendly. But when you close off a major sight that is widely touted as a must-see, what about informing visitors about the closure on one of the many signs before the final point when your toes are actually in the bloody sand? The car park, for instance, which presents maps, flora and fauna information, eco this and that and nothing about dune closure.
The closure of the dunes is clearly not recent, judging by the wear-and-tear on the signposts.

And I’m happy to say we foreigners were not alone, there plenty of furious Spanish people stomping around too, including a bus tour. “Conyo! ”
And btw, the dunes are not that big! Check France’s Dune du Pyla!

Cabo Corrubedo, looking over to Fisterra, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Cabo Corrubedo, looking over to Fisterra (aka Finisterre, beyond Mr Yellow Shirt), arguably the most westerly point in Europe though locals claim that satellites now prove that Cabo Corrubedo is the most westerly.

The lighthouse was defunct and not very special but a very nice-looking 12km walking route (SR-1, est. 4 hours) or mountain-bike circular trail starts from here, where parking is easy and views panoramic.

The Cabo is easy to find. Head through Corrubedo town until you see signs pointing to Faro Corrubedo (lighthouse).

Praia de Baliestros, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Adjacent to Faro de Corrubedo Praia de Baliestros was large and unoccupied apart from a small colony of RV camper vans. The beach had no facilites at all. The Ria de Muros y Noia here (or was this the Atlantic Ocean? ), was very cold.

What are Rias Baixas?

Dolmen de Axeitos closeup, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Dolmen de Axeitos, a prehistoric megalithic stone structure near Olveira. It’s signposted (as Dolmen) off the road from Cabo de Corrubedo and again off the AC-550 to Castro de Baroña.

This Dolmen (there are a few more in the area) is free, easy to get to (just 5 minutes off the main road) and clearly not much visited, but fascinating. And great for selfies!

Rías Baixas – Low Estuaries in Galician Spanish – are a series of four inlets on the southwest coast of Galicia, in northwest Spain.
These Rías begin below Cape Finisterre and continue south to the Portuguese border. They do not connect to Costa da Morte (unfortunately because we wanted to see the Coast of Death! ).

These Rías share common characteristics, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to Galician rivers in funnel shapes that are wide at the Atlatic end. They often have islands scattered in the waters that protect the shores from serious wave action.

Above the Rías Baixas is the Costa da Morte, beginning at Fisterra and continuing north to roughly Ferrol, where the Rías Altas commence and run a short distance along the north Galician coast.

Castro de Baroña, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Castro de Baroña, a spectacular, ancient, fortified village on Ria de Muros y Noia, without question Rías Baixas  best coastal sight.

Castro de Baroña is off the AC-550 not far from Porto de Son. It’s beautiful, interesting and also adjacent to a couple of large beaches, so this area alone is worth a trip. More Castro de Baroña Photos and Information

A Galician hórreo, Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

A Galician hórreo, Rías Baixas.

A common roadside sight in Galicia, especially on the west coast, is the hórreo, a long narrow grain store used to hold and/or dry all kinds of farm produce. Traditional hórreos are made of granite and elevated on legs to avoid rats and damp, with a tiled roof and a cross at one or both ends.

One of Porto do Son's town beaches, Praia Subiglesias, Galicia, Spain

One of Porto do Son’s town beaches, Praia Subiglesias.

The last and perhaps least successful sight of the day was in Noia, so called because Noah’s ark landed on the high hills of this Barbanza peninsula. Well, maybe.
In this ancient burial ground there are, apparently, ancient and mysterious symbols carved on some of the gravestones as well as on those gazebo-like structures.
Well, to start with we felt uncomfortable wandering around looking for tourist sights when other visitors were grieving for lost family members. Then we checked the gazebos and couldn’t make out any shapes due to mould/discolouration/lichen/lighting. And lastly we couldn’t find any strangely marked tombs, though we didn’t look too hard. Fail.
‘Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm! ‘ Winston Churchill. Good one Winnie!

Rodas beach on Ille de Cie (Islas Cíe), Rias Baixas, Galicia, Spain

Rodas beach on Islas Cíe. Photo thanks to Mario Sanchez.

One sight that we wanted to see on the Rias Baixas but never had time for was Ille de Cie, an island that is home to – so they say – one of the world’s best beaches with the whitest sand, Praia de Rodas.
Islas Cíes is a 45 minute ferry ride from Vigo on the lowest of the Rias Baixas, Ria de Vigo.
Great beach it may be, but I suspect there are not many days in the year when you’d be happy wandering the gleaming sands in your swimming costume! This is one of the wettest and windiest regions of Europe.