Season’s greetings and Happy New Year!

apalpadorWe would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace and happiness.

May the Apalpador bring you lots of presents and all the best in 2017.

Who is the Apalpador you wonder? Well, he’s our own “Santa”.

The Galician tradition says that this bearded red-haired gentle giant comes down from the mountains every year. Either on the 25th or the 31st December, he goes around making sure all children are well looked after and fed. Then, he gives them some presents and chestnuts.

Of course, if you want to meet the Apalpador in person you’ll have to come over. We’ll take you to his place… 🙂

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Where and when?

Galicia is locatedGalicia_location in the green and lush North West corner of the Iberian Peninsula (Southern Europe) facing the Atlantic Ocean, just atop Portugal. It is an autonomous territory within the Spanish State and is, therefore, part of the European Union.

With a population of some 2.7 million and a surface of approximately 30,000 km2 (11,583 mi2), Galicia is a manageable destination filled with hundreds of historical and sightseeing sites, natural parks, beaches, mountains, modern big cities and traditional villages alike.

When to visit is a very personal decision because each season definitely has its particular charm.

The climate is generally benign, but do note that Galicia is in Atlantic Europe, meaning that rain is no stranger any time of the year, as are cool temperatures and occasional storms in Winter. You can use the Pontevedra climate chart as a reference, where Galicia Unveiled is headquartered. If you are looking for mild conditions and nature sightseeing, Spring and Autumn are probably the best bet.

Then again, Summer concentrates most public holidays, festivities and celebrations, to the point where you’ll be spoilt for choice. Obviously, that also means it’s high season, so there will be more people everywhere and some days can get quite warm.

All in all the question you have to ask yourself is “what am I feeling like doing?” and then decide a time to visit, because whatever it is you are looking for you will be able to find it here.

Don’t forget to check our intro for Visit Galicia and the section on practical information for further details, including travel information.

Visiting sites while enjoying a bit of sun is nice, but you might want to check some dates beforehand, just in case you go there in summer and there's some sort of local celebration going on there...

Visiting sites while enjoying a bit of sun is nice, but you might want to check the dates beforehand, just in case you go there and there’s some sort of local celebration taking place… [In the picture: Catoira “Viking” watchtowers, first Sunday of August “Viking” festivities]

Practical information

Getting there

Galicia is part of the European Union (EU) and the Schengen Area (through Spanish representation), which is very handy for travel as this allows for internal freedom of movement. Simply check that all necessary documents and/or visas (when applicable) are in order.

If you are travelling from North America, Australia or New Zealand all you need is a valid passport; you don’t need a visa for a short tourist stay in the EU – up to three months – but do make sure your passport is valid for at least six more months. These conditions also apply for many other countries in the world. If in doubt, please check with the relevant authorities.

  • Flying to Galicia
International airports in Galicia

International airports in Galicia

Galicia has three international airports: Alvedro (city of A Coruña, airport code LCG), Lavacolla (city of Santiago de Compostela, airport code SCQ) and Peinador (city of Vigo, airport code VGO).

There are a number of direct flights from and to Alvedro and Peinador, such as Lisbon, London-Heathrow, Madrid, Bologna, Dublin or Barcelona. However, Lavacolla is the main Galician airport, with regular and seasonal direct flights from/to London-Gatwick, Dublin, Basel, Geneva, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Zurich, Bergamo, Frankfurt-Hahn, Madrid, Barcelona, etc. Good offers can be found with major airlines: Ryanair, EasyJet, Iberia, TAP, Aer Lingus, Vueling, Air Europa, etc.

Another feasible option is flying to the neighbouring Sá Carneiro international airport, in the Portuguese city of Porto (OPO). This is a mere 1h15 drive from the Galician border (on toll motorways), although train and bus connections might not be as covenient.

  • Taking the train

The two main train lines into Galicia are from the cities of Porto (Portugal) and Madrid (Spain), the latter being the best of both options, although the service is still slow and the choice of times is not the best. The introduction of a high-speed train due in (approximately) 2018 should improve this situation.

Internal train travel in Galicia is efficient on the so-called “Atlantic corridor”, namely between the cities of A Coruña and Vigo with stops in Compostela and Pontevedra.

Railways in Galicia are managed by the state-owned company RENFE.

  • By bus

Road communications from and to Galicia are quite good, with modern motorways connecting Galicia with Spain and Portugal. Roads inside Galicia are also good for the most part. Making sense of the broad array of bus companies, routes and destinations is a different story altogether, fit only for the initiated natives…

It’ll be easier if, once here, we just take you for some sightseeing! You’ll avoid the hassle and we’ll be able to show you this little wonder we call home:)

 

Weather

Check the weather forecast! You never know if the clouds are coming or going...

Check the weather forecast! You never know if the clouds are coming or going… But sure they’re pretty.

The climate of Galicia is temperate and rainy, with drier summers. It is usually classified as Oceanic, with Continental influences in the southeast. In other words, weather conditions will depend a lot on the season and the region of Galicia you visit. You are, after all, in Atlantic Europe, even if it is southern (hence milder) Atlantic Europe.

Expect summer days to be warm and sunny, yet the odd rain can happen and some evenings may feel a bit chilly. Likewise, winters have their share of storms, gales, cool temperatures… but then again we often get weeks of amazing weather right in the middle. Spring and Autumn see ever changing weather and most of the rain.

You can use the Pontevedra climate chart as a reference, where Galicia Unveiled is headquartered, even if Pontevedra has a somewhat better climate than other parts of the country.

For current weather conditions check Meteo Galicia, the official weather service from the Galician Government. Remember that we will go on with the tours except in very rare occasions. Bring your raincoat, just in case!

 

Internet and communications

Mobile phones operate on a GSM network, which means that for Europeans – and many other countries – your current phone will most probably work in Galicia. Still, you might want to check that with your carrier before coming over (many North American phones won’t work!).

Free internet/wi-fi is widely available at hotels, bars, restaurants, etc. It shouldn’t be difficult to find hotspots where to connect at no cost or, well, while having a coffee.

 

Health services

Be smart. If you are a EU citizen apply for your European health card before you travel. It's free. It's your right.

Be smart. If you are a EU citizen apply for your European health card before you travel. It’s free and it’s your right.

The Galician public healthcare system is fairly good, well equipped and with competent staff. Waiting times, however, may be quite long unless you have a really obvious emergency.

If you are a EU (+ Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) citizen, you are entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card. This will give you temporary access to the Galician healthcare system. Please note that you must get this card before travelling, since these cards are issued by your national health insurance provider. Failing to do so might incur in otherwise easily avoidable costs.

If you are not a EU citizen it is then advisable to get travel insurance. Having said that, public hospitals cannot refuse treatment for emergencies (at a cost and involving subsequent paperwork), and private hospitals are also available. Private healthcare is often good value for money compared to the US and most north European countries and is widely available in major cities.

 

Emergencies and safety

Galicia is one of the safest destinations in Europe. The overall crime rate is low and violent crime is very rare. Observe the usual caution when visiting larger towns and cities, as pickpockets may be in operation.

Alcohol-induced behaviour may occur during weekend nights and festivities. Use common sense avoiding boisterous or rowdy crowds and individuals.

Illegal drug trafficking and drug-related activities are not uncommon in some specific places. However, this seldom transpires beyond those places and rarely affects the occasional tourist.

  • Emergency (free) numbers:

Dial 112 for general emergencies (multilingual service, including English – dial this number if unsure, they’ll take your call in your language and assess the situation from there).

Dial 061 for medical assistance / ambulance.

Dial 080 for the fire brigade.

Dial 092 for (local) police.

 

Facts and figures

Population: 2.7 million.

Area: 30,000 km2 (approximately the size of Belgium or the US state of Maryland).

Languages: Galician and Spanish (both official; most of the population is bilingual). Communication in Portuguese is often fluid. English and other languages are taught at school, but the level is generally quite poor.

Currency: Euro (€).

Political organisation: Stable standard Western parliamentary system. Elections are held every four years.

Blue&White (with a tint of red) are our colours

Blue&White (with a tint of red) are our colours

Political status: Galicia is an autonomous territory within the Spanish State, following a process of devolution initiated in 1978. Galicia holds the designation of “historical nationality”, as stated in the Spanish Constitution and Galician Statute of Autonomy, which also regulates its internal organisation and institutions, including the Galician Parliament and Government.

Symbols: Flag, coat of arms and anthem. National day is on July 25th.

Territory: Administrative Galicia is divided into 53 comarcas or bisbarras (regions), 316 concellos (municipalities) and 3,781 paróquias (parishes). Galicia has more than 33,000 settlements. A number of territories with strong Galician influence remain outside administrative Galicia, in the Spanish regions of Asturias and León. Northern Portugal is also strongly akin to Galician culture. Galicia and North Portugal form, in fact, an official “Euro-Region“.

Terrain: Galicia is very hilly in general with higher mountains in the east (up to 2,127m), central plateaus (chairas), ample estuaries (rias) and a myriad of valleys and rivers.

 

Still unconvinced? Check this, see if we can persuade you a little bit more! 😀 Wondering about “Where and When”? We’ve got that covered too!

Do contact us if you have any questions.

Visit Galicia

Galicia_locationYou say: ‘Galicia is very small’. I tell you: ‘Galicia is a world unto itself’. It may be small in size, but in depth, in substance, it is as big as you want it to be (V. Risco)

“The oldest country in Europe” – after the Galician Kingdom was established in 411 CE – has a unique and very distinctive character.

Everything one sees is antique, venerable and unchangeable. Everything seems to be covered in a warm and tired air (Prof. P. O’Flanagan)

Galicia has a vibrant culture, folklore and traditions, transmitted from antiquity. It is renowned for its rich cuisine, music, architecture, fine arts, breathtaking landscapes and magical legends.

Compostela

Compostela, capital city

Europe was born on the pilgrimage to Compostela (Goethe)

You have probably heard about the St. James’ Way or Road to Santiago (pilgrimage route), or the meigas (witches) stories… If you didn’t then we have a tale or two to share with you!

“The End of the World” – at the westernmost point of the continent – is a place where history and native heritage are preserved as they adapt and take form in contemporary daily life.

Galicia is the origin of Celticity in all of Europe (Prof. F. Benozzo)

Would you miss the chance to see and feel this land?

Learn more about Galicia and check our practical information. Explore this site at will and do contact us with any questions you might have.

Baronha Celtic hillfort

Baronha Celtic hillfort

Did you know?

Galicia is a fishing and fashion world powerThe Galician Diaspora has been labelled “the largest Diaspora in times of peace”Galicia is the cradle of Portuguese languageGalicia is considered to be “the first country in Europe”There’s a Galician living in almost every country of the planetAccording to legend and recent discoveries, the Irish are of Galician originTable football was invented in GaliciaBuenos Aires (Argentina) was the “biggest Galician city ever”Galicia was considered to be “The End of the World”Galicia and North Portugal formed the first ever Euro-Region within the EU, and they submitted a joint candidature to UNESCOGalicia is often nicknamed “The Land of the Witches”, as many believe strange beings still inhabit Her forests…Galicia is also often nicknamed “The Land of the Thousand Rivers”