This post is near and dear to my heart, as I lived in Pontevedra for one year, my first year in Spain! I was looking for a small, charming city, in Galicia, close to the ocean and the mountains, and it really lived up to its expectations! Yes, Galicia can be rainy, but it is all part of the experience. Gallegos are such welcoming people, that make the best out of a rainy day (or week, or month) and really value their comunidad autónoma-its natural habitat (mountains and the sea), the cuisine, the climate, gallego, and all local customs. Pontevedra is the perfect place to stay if you want to stay inside the city and wander around, as well as use it as a base to explore the surrounding area. Pontevedra is located on the banks of one of the three main rías in the area (the rías baixas in Galician, or rías bajas in Spanish), which are bodies of brackish water that then flow out into the sea, making it a unique setting- not only does it have its own microclimate, but it attracts different marine life as well! If you’re lukcy, you may catch a dolphin or two swimming around in high tide!
Where to Stay in Pontevedra
I have stayed in both hotels below, and would recommend them both equally. Hotel Rías Bajas is located in a standard hotel building, while the Parador de Pontevedra is located in an old palace, with beautiful grounds and outdoor seating for breakfast and dinner.
Where to Eat in Pontevedra
Bar Pitillo (be sure to reserve- they also have outdoor seating in the summer)-great raciones and tapas
Borona– my favorite place for a drink- they also have great food
Casa Fidel O’Pulpeiro– the best pulpo and empanada in town! Be sure to try the house wine, served the traditional way, in a bowl
El Toro– great cocktails
La Platería– cute Mediterranean-style restaurant
Be sure to try- pimientos de padrón (when in season- fried peppers that are usually not spicy, but every once in a while you get one that is VERY spicy), queso de tetilla, albariño wine, pulpo, empanada, licor café, crema de orujo (my favorite) and all fish and seafood!
Activities within Pontevedra
Check out the Tourism Office for walking tours around the city
Flea Market on Sunday in the Plaza de Verdura
Santuario de la Virgen Peregrina de Pontevedra– a beautiful chapel located in the city’s main plaza
Illas das Esculturas Nature Preserve– tons of different walking, hiking, and biking trails
Check out the outstanding views from the Miradoiro de Monteporreiro
Nearby towns that are worth a visit
Combarro– very old, beautiful, traditional fishing village right on the water
Sanxenxo– a larger town with a beautiful beach and boardwalk
Vigo– a larger city with beautiful architecture and wide Parisian-like avenues
Santiago de Compostela– an even larger city with a beautiful historical center. The Catedral de Santiago de Compostela which is not only breathtaking, also holds a strong spiritual significance as well, as it is the last stop for the peregrinos on the Camino de Santiago.
Islas Cíes– These islands are right off the coast and were declared a Nature Reserve in 1980. They have various virgin beaches as well as hiking and walking trails with varied lengths and difficulties. The islands are only accessible via ferry (from Pontevedra, the best option is to take a ferry from Vigo), and be sure to reserve park permits and ferries way in advance (this goes for day trips as well as overnight camping). Las Islas de Ons are supposed to be just as beautiful, however I haven’t gotten around to getting there yet
Playa de Mogor – very close to Pontevedra and one of my favorites
Playa de la Lanzada– one of the most popular beaches, it is over 2.5 km long
Beaches in San Vicente do Grove– smaller beaches with calmer water than La Lanzada, crystal-clear water
Cañón de Sil in Ourense- mountainous area with for hiking with absolutely stunning views, as well as opportunities to practice different water sports
Faro de Finisterre-a historic lighthouse located on the western-most part of the Iberian Peninsula with magnificent views.