Discover Spanish Gems: Galicia & Asturias

March 3, 2023 by Perrie Hartz

Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond


Journey with Madrid & Beyond as they unveil Spain’s remote hidden gems, Galicia and Asturias, tucked away in the northwest Iberian Peninsula.

Discover Galicia

Mysterious, captivating, and remote – a land of witches, according to the Spanish folklore – Galicia, located in the northwest Iberian Peninsula, is one of the historic nations of Spain, with strong Celtic roots still noticeable in the local names and legends. Verdant forests and what is arguably the best seafood in Spain await those who venture in its rugged, dramatic coastline.

Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

The landscape of the Rias Baixas region in Spain’s northwestern Galicia starkly contrasts with the traditional image many have of Spain. Instead of flamenco and bullfighting, travelers will find rolling emerald green hills covered in mist, medieval castles, “Pazos” (historic manor houses, many converted into small, charming hotels), and a stunning coastline with romantic coves and sandy white beaches spotted with quaint fishing villages. 

Combarro, Rias Baixas. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Ras Baixas is characterized by its lush, green hills and deep inlets of water encroaching many miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The southern group of these is known as Ras Baixas (the lower estuaries), whose shallow river beds provide the perfect place for farming Galicia’s world-famous mussels. Here you’ll learn about the process of collecting these coveted shellfish before heading to a family-run cannery -an incredibly unique experience. Along with seafood, the region is also renowned for its exceptional white wine, which guests will discover on a visit to a 15th century aristocratic palace, now also a winery, which is home to a myriad of exquisitely decorated rooms and boasts a rich and fascinating history. Outside, the palace boasts a Garden of International Excellence (whose camelias draw flower-lovers from across the globe) as well as a vast vineyard, which produces some of the finest wines in the region. 

Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Boat Ride To The Islas Cies 

The Romans called the Cíes Islands in Galicia, ‘the islands of the Gods’, and to this day they are an idyllic paradise in northern Spain where you can enjoy the sparkling sea and powdery white sand. When you see them for yourself, you’ll understand why the main beach was chosen as the best in the world by The Guardian newspaper: crystal-clear turquoise waters, beaches with incredibly fine sand, and a lake whose glass-like surface enables you to see the wide variety of fish that live there. And in 2022, the island was chosen by the New York Times, as one of the 52 Places for a Changed World, due to its efforts “to protect its environment and guard against over-tourism”.

Albariño Harvest. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Private Full-Day Excursion Exploring The Wines Of Rias Baixas

Here, wine takes center stage! Madrid & Beyond will take you for a day touring the most interesting wineries in the area, as well as introductions to key players. The traditional white grape varieties include Albariño (the star grape used to make wine of the same name), Loureira, Treixadura, Caiño, and Godello (also used in other nearby wine producing regions including  Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei and Ribeiro). By the end of the day, you’ll understand why Galicia is without doubt home to Spain’s best white wines.

Camino Santiago. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Santiago De Compostela 

Known to trekkers and pilgrims over the centuries as the culmination of the legendary pilgrim’s trail Camino de Santiago (Saint James’ Way), the magical medieval city of Santiago de Compostela was, until the 18th century, the most important pilgrimage destination in the entire Christian world. It remains a bewitching and alluring town that combines majestic medieval architecture, a buzzing café culture, and a storybook historic center where ancient monuments, modern boutiques, and wonderful restaurants rub shoulders along narrow cobblestone streets. 

According to legend, the remains of the Apostle St. James were found in 813 on the site of the present Cathedral by the bishop of Iria Flavia and, by the mid-10th century, masses of pilgrims were traveling from all over Europe to visit his shrine. 

During the tour you’ll traverse the ancient lanes, visiting the open-air market of Plaza Los Abastos and the Cathedral  where St. James´s remains lie. You might also like to visit the museum “Pobo Galego”, which offers a good insight into the Galician way of life, and especially the influence of the sea in Galician culture. 

Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Foodie Tour of Santiago with Chef

Madrid & Beyond has put together an incredible gastronomic experience sure to thrill all food lovers. Here, your private host will be one the renowned chefs of famous restaurant Abasto 2.0, who knows all the gastronomic nooks and crannies of Santiago. Together, you will enjoy an exclusive and private insider’s tour of the Mercado de Abastos, the central fresh market of Santiago de Compostela. This famous market has been open since 1873 and offers a wide variety of locally grown vegetables, meat, fish, and seafood. Here. you will have the opportunity to taste several locally-produced cheeses as well as other amazing products that are unique to Galicia. Next, you´ll continue with your escort chef to his nearby famed restaurant, Tavern of Abasto 2.0, for a wonderful lunch. One of the city’s most beloved gastronomic spaces, Tavern of Abasto 2.0 is an original tavern that prepares market cuisine and local tapas. The establishment is part of Santiago’s famous Plaza de Abastos and is truly a complete and incredibly unique gastronomy experience.

Madrid & Beyond can also complement your stays in Galicia with sailing excursions, e-biking and of course for those who set their sights on the ancient Pilgrimage to Santiago, a customized “Camino de Santiago” for small groups.

Asturias. Cangas de Onis. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Discover Asturias

A relatively unknown area of Spain, Asturias is a hidden gem and one of the most spectacularly beautiful areas in Europe. The mountains, sparkling sea and verdant greenery are breathtaking.  In a way, the region is a microcosm of Spain as a whole, cramming into its borders everything from snowy mountains to sandy beaches, humble tapas bars to avant-garde restaurants, from raucous local fiestas to silent valleys where bears and wolves still roam. The history runs deep here, as this was the region where the remaining Christians retreated to after the Moorish invasion and began the Reconquista of Iberia. Madrid & Beyond has put together an incredible itinerary as a taste of all that there is to offer in this unforgettable part of Spain.

Asturias-Gamoneu Cheese. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Insider’s Touring Of Asturias: Old Villages, Local Cheeses And Traditional Cider

Bordered by a stunning coastline to the north and the dramatic snow-capped Picos de Europa mountain range to the south, the land of Asturias is filled with history, tradition and mysteries. The Picos de Europa is a favorite haunt of walkers, trekkers and climbers. Declared a national park in 1995, the range is a miniature masterpiece: a mere 40km across in either direction, shoehorned in between three great river gorges, and straddling the provinces of Asturias, León and Cantabria. Madrid & Beyond take travelers deep into the mountains to discover remarkable hidden cultural treasures. The local Asturians see the mountains as a symbol of their national identity, and they gather to celebrate at a cave-shrine at Covadonga, which Spaniards consider to be the birthplace of Christian Spain. 

Head further into the mountains to visit a local shepherd’s house to meet the men who practice this ancient trade. Welcoming, bubbly, and full of character, they are the perfect company for a traditional Asturian lunch. Here travelers have the chance to taste and savor the region’s Garmoneu cheese. Head down into the valleys to discover the other pillar of Asturian Gastronomy: cider. Madrid & Beyond arranges visits to traditional Cider Farms to taste the local Sidra Natural (natural cider).

Asturias-Cudillero. Photography Courtesy of Madrid & Beyond

Coaña, Luarca & Barayo Beach 

To explore the West Coast of Asturias, our local guides favor Luarca, a charming fishing along the Camino de Santiago. Here, after a stroll immersing yourself in the rich seafaring heritage of this little medieval town, sit down to enjoy a sensational lunch of fresh seafood. In the afternoon, enjoy a walk and scenic drive along the most spectacular capes and beaches, and visit the Nature Reserve of Barayo on the western coast of Asturias, where the cliffs and rock formations have formed a unique and well-preserved landscape of sprawling dunes. 

A Day In The Life Of An Asturian Fisherman 

Set off for an incredible excursion exploring the nearby Asturian coastal fishing villages of Lastres & Llanes. An old fishermen’s refuge, Lastres is a picturesque sight along the coast, with its red roofed buildings contrasting between the blue sea and the green foliage. In the port, you´ll explore the old age techniques still in practice by the fishermen and learn how they cast their lines. From the dock, you´ll observe the boats and the art of the friendly and jovial fisherman banter. After a spot of lunch, you’ll continue to the quaint fishing village of Llanes. Here, you’ll see the second part of the fisherman´s day, with a visit to an actual auction house where they bid on the catch of the day. At the end of the afternoon, visit a local artisanal workshop that specializes in preserving and canning local fish. 

Come and discover this incredible corner of northwest Spain!


Madrid & Beyond



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