When people think of Galicia, Northern Spain, they’re more likely to think of Santiago de Compostela (of Camino de Santiago fame) than its northern sister, A Coruña. Santiago sees thousands of visitors a day; A Coruña is largely forgotten.
But those of us who have discovered this seaside town know that everyone else is missing out. Its location on an isthmus means that beaches are ever-present and easily accessed from all points of the city, and there are a wide range of museums and galleries to visit, as well as a Roman lighthouse. The weather could be better — in Galicia, it does tend to rain a lot — but A Coruña consistently records warmer temperatures and less rain than Santiago.
If you’re heading to Spain in summer, you might find the heat oppressive if you’re based in the southern three-quarters of the country: in 2012, Seville recorded temperatures of up to 50°C, and Madrid consistently sat above 30. In the north, however, the weather is a lot more temperate — a high of 27°C is a hot day.
Summer is definitely the time to be in A Coruña, anyway. Not only does the weather improve, but there are things going on all over the city. It all kicks off with the Noche de San Juan (St John’s Night) on June 23, when people flock to the beaches for barbecues and bonfires. There’s a whole festival in the lead-up to the big night, with concerts, late-night shopping, and other events going on throughout the city.
In mid-July the Fiestas María Pita begin — a city-wide celebration of everything and anything that goes on until the end of August.
Concerts featuring local, national and international acts take place in the main square, as well as on the beach or in one of the gardens. The Mendez Nuñez gardens, beside the port, host all sorts of events, such as a food festival, a book festival, a Comic Room, and art displays. Next door at the port, you’ll see the Tall Ships; and a naval battle is recreated with fireworks in front of Riazor and Orzán beaches. A medieval festival featuring medieval food, clothing and entertainment is held in the old town, a great location that adds to the ambience.
There are busking and folk dancing performances in various locations: from the steps of the Domus museum, to almost all of the smaller squares and parks of the city. Plus, each of the smaller towns and neighbourhoods have their own fiestas throughout the summer.
And that’s not even mentioning the football matches, the beer festival, the equestrian events, or the free outdoor cinema — the amount of options available is a little overwhelming.
But, if none of these things interest you, you can always head to the beach!