La Coruña is one of Spain‘s best kept secrets, and one of my favourite cities in the world. Located on the north coast of Galicia, the Spanish region that’s to the north of Portugal, it has a strong Celtic heritage, and boasts the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world. Plus, the tapas are cheap and delicious, there are beaches on every side, and in summer there’s a full cultural program to enjoy. It’s great.
It’s easy to spend a week or more in this seaside city — we once spent four months there — but if you only have one day in A Coruña you can definitely have a good time.
A visit to the Tower of Hercules is an absolute must, so you might as well start your day there. It opens at 10am, and tickets cost €3 (free on Mondays). Walking from the city centre will take about half an hour.
This tower is one of the few remaining Roman lighthouses, and one of the oldest — it was built in the second century. The outer shell was added later, so you need to go inside to see the original building; it’s worth the entrance price.
Take the waterfront path back to the centre and you’ll pass the aquarium. It’s worth a visit if you like fish, or just peer through the fence to check out the sealions in their outdoor enclosure.
As you continue back, you’ll see a large building to your right. That’s the Domus, of Museum of Man. It’s also worth a visit, especially if it’s raining.
Make your way to Plaza de España and you’ll notice a restaurant called Pulpeira Melide. This restaurant serves the best pulpo (octopus) in the city, and I highly recommend you give it a try. For two people, I’d recommend you order a ración (serving) of pulpo, one of cachellos (potatoes), and one of pimientos de padrón: tiny green peppers, another regional specialty. Accompany it all with a glass or two of white Albariño wine — I think this is the best lunch in La Coruña!
If octopus isn’t your thing, take a walk through the city looking for restaurants advertising a menu del día. These set menus tend to cost €7.50-€12 and include two savoury courses, drinks, bread, and a small dessert or coffee. It’s incredible value and is usually only available at lunchtime.
You may want to head back to your accommodation for a traditional Spanish siesta, or you can go for another walk. The Paseo Marítimo, which goes alongside the two main beaches Orzan and Riazor, is a lovely walk, and will take you past a cool octopus statue to the Ascensor Monte San Pedro elevator. This costs €3 and will deposit you in some rather nice gardens which even have a maze.
Spaniards tend to have large lunches and small dinners, but if you go out for tapas you can eat as much or as little as you like. Tapas tend to cost €1-2 each, and you can also order raciones or media raciones (portions or half portions) if you want more food. A great place to start is Rúa Galera, where you’ll find two of our favourite restaurants, La Bombilla and VitaK; and O Recuncho de Mayte in Calle Pórtico de San Andrés is another great choice. Make sure to order a caña (canya) of the local beer Estrella Galicia, or request a corto if you want the smallest size.
How to get there
There are direct flights from Madrid, Barcelona, and London (among others), or catch a train from elsewhere in Spain. If coming from Portugal you’ll have to change in Vigo.
Where to stay
City-center hotels tend to be quite noisy at night, as they are principally located on the same narrow streets as all the bars and restaurants. We recently stayed at Moon Hotel, which was pleasant and conveniently near the train station, but it was a bit far from the center. We had more luck with AirBnb — we found a great apartment in Monte Alto, and Couchsurfing has also been a good option for us in the past.
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