A Galician Gem
The city of La Coruña, nicknamed the City of Glass in the Spanish region of Galicia, is locally referred to as “A Coruña”. This is because the region of Galicia has a language called Gallego, a blend of Spanish and Portuguese. Throughout Galicia, you’ll notice that most places have two names – one in Spanish and one in Gallego.
Whatever you decide to call the city, La Coruña is a hidden gem located on the rugged shores of Spain’s northwest coast. I was fortunate to spend a couple of days in La Coruna as part of an adventure earlier this year which started in San Sebastian in the Basque country, before journeying through the beautiful regions of Cantabria, Asturias and then into Galicia.
La Coruña is steeped in history and boasts UNESCO heritage sites, places of religious significance, archaeological museums, impressive architecture, tranquil gardens, coastal walks, stunning beaches, and culinary delights.
Let’s delve a little deeper into this city with its strong maritime history and sun-soaked shores!
The Old Town of La Coruña
To discover the lively atmosphere of La Coruña, head to Maria Pita Square. Named after the city’s heroine who valiantly defended La Coruña against an English invasion in the 16th century, the square is today surrounded by vibrant cafes and shops. Grab a seat, order a café con leche, and savour the blend of history and modernity that defines this dynamic city.
Behind the Maria Pita Square is La Marina Avenue. This pedestrian street overlooks the port which is lined with yet more restaurants and coffee shops. A key feature here is the elaborate glass balconies which earn the city its nickname, the “City of Glass”.
Another popular landmark to visit is the 50-metre-high Millennium Obelisk. As you stroll along the waterfront promenade, take in the elegant design and fine detail of this needle-like structure that was built for the new millennium.
Be sure as you wander around the city to visit some of the many scenic parks and gardens such as the Jardines de Méndez Núñez. Also do not miss exploring the bustling markets like Mercado de la Plaza de Lugo, where you can taste local produce, seafood, and other delicacies.
Torre de Hercules & San Anton Castle
The 1st-century Roman, Torre de Hercules, is the world’s oldest working lighthouse and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This building has withstood the test of time, and you can almost hear the echoes of ancient sailors thanking the gods for a guiding light as you climb the lighthouse’s twisting stairway, which is said to have been erected by Hercules himself.
The San Anton Castle was constructed in the sixteenth century to protect the city from maritime attacks, it currently serves as the home of the La Coruña Archaeological and History Museum. Situated on an island joined by a charming bridge, the castle provides expansive vistas of the Atlantic coast. Visitors can go on a voyage through the nautical history of the area by exploring the centuries-old stories, antiques, and exhibits housed behind its stone walls.
La Coruna offers visitors several places of significant cultural interest.
Visit the Domus, an interactive science museum devoted to the human body and created by renowned architect Arata Isozaki.
The Picasso House Museum offers insights into the renowned artist’s life during his stay in La Coruña.
For art aficionados, the Museo de Belas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts) is home to an impressive collection of Spanish art spanning several centuries.
The Beaches of La Coruna
Two of La Coruña’s most celebrated sandy beaches are Playa Riazor and Playa Orzan. Here visitors enjoy sun-soaked shores and vibrant promenades. The beaches are perfect for those looking to sunbathe while those of a more active persuasion can rent a paddleboard or sailing boat, play beach volleyball, or sign up at a surf school.
There are some fabulous coastal walks especially the Paseo Marítimo which is highly recommended.
Sports in La Coruna
As well as the water sports there are plenty of land-based options too. There are cycling paths throughout the city, or you can travel further afield and enjoy breathtaking coastal and mountain trails.
For those with a love of horse riding you can make a visit to a local stable that offer you the chance to take a ride through the breathtaking Galician countryside.
The Golf Balneario de La Toja Golf Course is perhaps the most famous in the region and provides golfers with not only a challenge but also spectacular scenery.
Festivals and Flamenco
Immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture, filled with music, dance, and traditional festivities.
An especially magical event is the Festival of San Juan in June. Join the locals on the beaches and dance to traditional music while bonfires illuminate the night sky.
Spain is famous for Flamenco and here in La Coruña you can find a venue where guitars, vocals and rhythmic clapping fills the air.
The Camino Inglés
La Coruña, along with the neighbouring city of Ferrol, marks the starting point of the famous “Camino Inglés” pilgrimage, also known as the “English Way.” This route offers a shorter and less strenuous journey compared to the more widely recognized Camino de Santiago paths.
Pilgrims from medieval times disembarked here in La Coruna, commencing their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. If you are planning to go on a pilgrimage through Galicia you will need to decide between starting in Ferrol or La Coruña.
La Coruña and Galicia are known for high-quality fresh seafood and regional specialities. Indulge in the local tapas at bustling taverns and embrace the local customs by trying delicious appetizers, such as empanadas stuffed with seafood or even Pulpo a la Gallega, a type of octopus prepared in the Galician style.
If seafood is your thing, then head along to the vibrant fish market at La Lonja, where fishermen raucously sell their daily catch. Further local seafood specialities include gambas a la plancha (grilled prawns), Navajas (razor clams), and Percebes (barnacles).
Be sure to sample the regional wines such as the Galician Albariño which is an ideal accompaniment to those incredible seafood dishes. La Coruna is the home of the Estrella Galicia beer and there is nowhere better to try it than at the Cerveceria Estrella Galicia. This buzzing, atmospheric bar has on-site copper brew kettles, and from its restaurant, wonderful Tapas. This is also a great place to watch sports especially when the Spanish football games are shown. Just prepare for a lively evening!
A Truly Galician Welcome
In La Coruna, you are sure to receive the warmest of welcomes. The locals are known for their friendliness, so be sure to engage in their relaxed pace of life and enjoy the city, the music, the cuisine and just meandering through the streets of the Old Town.
Your dreams won’t be shattered in the city of glass. Far from it, you will, as I did, enjoy a wonderful city break in the gorgeous Galician town of La Coruña.
Pre Bookable Excursions in La Coruña
All photos were taken by myself and should be credited if used to @justonefortheroad