A Coruña is one of Spain‘s hidden treasures, tucked away on the north coast of the north-westerly province of Galicia. Head straight up from Portugal, and you’ll hit it before falling into the Atlantic Ocean.
Perhaps because it’s not on the way anywhere, or maybe because its residents tend to be less vociferous about their home city than other Spaniards might be, A Coruña is not very well known as a tourist destination. But it’s a great place to spend some time — especially in summer, where its cooler temperatures make it an oasis from the sweltering heat of other parts of the rest of the Iberian peninsula.
So, what are the top five things to do in A Coruña — which is also variously known as La Coruña, Coruña, and Corunna (if you just can’t deal with the letter ñ)? Read on!
1. Visit the Tower of Hercules
Whether or not you’re interested in history, a visit to the torre is an absolute must. After all, it’s the symbol of the city, and a second-century Roman lighthouse to boot. Views from the top are pretty awesome, unless the fog rolls in just as you’re buying your tickets, which happened to me the last time I was there. Beautiful white vistas…
It’s about a 15-minute walk from the city center, or you can get there by bus or taxi. It’s sure to be a stop on all package holidays to the region too, so if you’re on a tour, your transport will be sorted!
2. Eat tapas
Oh my goodness, the tapas here are great. My favorites are the simple ones, like filete (schnitzel, potato and red pepper on a toothpick skewer) tortilla española (potato omelette) and calamares (squid) but there are plenty to choose from. La Bombilla and Vita K are both good places to start if you’re on a budget — each tapa is €1.10.
3. Celebrate San Juan
One of the biggest parties in the city is held on June 24, when everyone heads to the beaches and lights bonfires. This is also a big festival in other parts of Spain and Portugal (Valencia in particular puts on quite a show), but A Coruña is a great place to be at this time of year. Hang around for the next few weeks too, and enjoy the summer program of outdoor concerts and events the city puts on.
4. Drink local
Whether you’re a wine aficionado or a beer drinker, or you prefer a different tipple, Coruña has something for you. The local beer, Estrella Galicia, is particularly refreshing on a cool day, and comes in a not-terrible alcohol-free version too — and it’s not looked down upon to order “cerveza sin” in Spain. When ordering beer, a standard glass is called a “caña”, and a smaller one is a “corto.”
If you’re a wine drinker, the local grape is a Albariño, which produces a deliciously refreshing white wine — perfect for summer afternoons. Also try the local vermú (vermouth).
Coffee drinkers, head to Siboney for the best coffee in town; they also do a great breakfast deal.
5. Wander the city centre
A Coruña is roughly shaped like a T, with the Tower of Hercules perched at the left end of the top stroke. The city centre is located in the downward stroke, with the marina on one side and the long twin beaches Riazor and Orzán on the other. Squeezed between the two are a few long streets, which are full of bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops; at the top end of these streets is the beautiful Maria Pita Square. The picturesque town hall takes up one full side of the square, and concerts are often held in the square itself.
For a nice long exploratory stroll, wander the several-kilometre-long paseo maritimo (waterfront walk). You’ll get great views back over the city, and can check out the cute octopus statue located near the San Pedro lift, which will take you up to a very nice park — complete with maze!
A Coruña is best visited in summer, since winters can get a little chilly, but whenever you go, you’re sure to have a great time.