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Hidden Gems
Ribeira Sacra: The Gorges and Vineyards of Galicia 1

Ribeira Sacra: The Gorges and Vineyards of Galicia

Overview

Ribeira Sacra is one of the hidden gems of Spain. The gorges of the rivers Sil and Miño provide dramatic scenery, with 500 m high cliffs comparable to the Norwegian fjords, but enjoying the privileged Spanish climate, ideal for growing vines, cherries and even oranges. Add to this the welcoming Galician people and their picturesque villages, the Romanesque ruins, the chestnut forests and the lovely city of Ourense city at the end, and you have a walking holiday that you will not forget.

This is a land of ancient monasteries that produced exclusive wines for the most refined members of the clergy in the Vatican. This tradition is still alive, and nowadays, there are many terraced vineyards hidden in the steep gorges. The wineries are small family-run businesses and produce limited editions of excellent Ribeira Sacra wines using the Mencia grape and other local and exclusive varieties.

This holiday runs along scenic trails, crossing vineyards and beautiful oak and chestnut forests and passing by the edge of the gorges, so expect spectacular views most of the time.

  • Many viewpoints over the Sil river gorge
  • Unspoilt nature
  • The spring and autumn colours of the vineyards and the chestnut forests
  • Rural Galician villages with their distinctive Celtic character
  • Welcoming hotels where you will feel like at home
  • Pretty Ourense with its impressive monuments and fine restaurants

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Castro Caldelas

Arrive at this pretty town with typical Galician stone houses on time to enjoy the views over a lovely valley, the castle and of course, do not miss a glass of local wine!

Day 2: Castro Caldelas to Cristosende | 16 km

Walk down the valley through oak forests and then across vineyards, passing through some small villages. Head to the abandoned monastery of San Paio and ascend to the village of A Portela. Take the trail along the gorge, offering fantastic views for two hours, and reach Cristosende, a scenic village where you will spend the night.

  • Walking for the day: 15.5 km, 5-6 h, ↑500 m ↓750 m
  • Overnight: La Casa Grande or similar

Day 3: Cristosende to Parada de Sil | 13 km

Walk down to the gorge and along the river from village to village, enjoying the scenery of cherry trees, chestnuts and vines and through beautiful oak forests. Climb up to Parada de Sil, one of the most lively villages in the area, perfect for enjoying a well-deserved refreshment.

Day 4: Parada de Sil cliffs | 12 km

A spectacular stretch! The route offers many viewpoints over the 400 m high gorge, amazing paths running close to the cliffs and through beautiful chestnut forests, to descend to Santa Cristina Monastery, a must-stop place. If you prefer an easier day, from Santa Cristina, walk up to Castro and then to Parada to complete a pleasant circular walk. Longer option available.

  • Walking for the day: 12.2 km, 4-5 h, ↑500 m ↓500 m (standard option) or up to 17.8 km, 6 h ↑700 m (longer option)
  • Overnight: O Balcón de Ribeira, Casa O Torgal or similar

Day 5: Parada de Sil to Santo Estevo and Penalba | 16 km

After a short lift, start the walk along a path offering amazing views of  San Estevo Monastery. Walk down and stop there for a visit, to continue through a chestnut forest. Once up and back to the plateau, walk across open areas and meadows, and reach the confluence of the gorges of Sil and Miño rivers. Walk into Penalba enjoying the beautiful vineyards and the delightful views of the river Miño.

  • Walking for the day: 15.5 km, 5-6 h, ↑400 m ↓850 m
  • Overnight: Remanso dos Patos or similar

Day 6: Penalba to Peroxa | 16 km

After a short lift (3-4 minutes), start today’s walk at Os Peares. Walk up the secluded and beautiful Bubal gorge. Reach the plateau and walk through meadows and оak trees, enjoying a quiet descent into lively Peroxa, from where you can already see Orense.

  • Walking for the day: 16 km, 5-6 h, ↑650 m ↓300 m
  • Overnight: Fazenda Pradio or similar

Day 7: Peroxa to Orense | 7 km

Descend from Peroxa to the River Miño along a beautiful path, visiting the old castle of Peroxa and some scenic villages along the way. At Barra de Miño you can take the train to Orense (at 11:50h, ticket not included) and arrive on time for some wine and lunch at one of the excellent restaurants there (not included). Of course, if you prefer to walk, you will get to the city after a total of 21 km. Whatever your decision – shorter (advised) or longer day of walking –  enjoy this lovely city!

Day 8: Departure

Departure after breakfast or individual stay extension.

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this walking holiday, you will be staying in family-run guesthouses, pensions and small hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Casa de Caldelas, La Casa Grande, O Balcón de Ribeira, Casa O Torgal, Remanso dos Patos, Fazenda Pradio, Hotel Zarampallo, Hotel Novo Candido

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included for 6 days (not included in Orense), one packed lunch and two dinners. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for seasoned walkers and requires a good fitness level; the average walking time is 5-6 hours per day (read more about difficulty grades). The paths are waymarked only in some parts, but the itinerary is easy to follow as the route notes are very accurate and to the point, and the maps are very detailed. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available in April, May, June, September, October and early November. Best time to visit is late April and May, as well as late September to mid-October.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this holiday are Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps
  • GPS tracks
  • 7 nights in small hotels and guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts (no breakfast in Orense)
  • 1 picnic lunch
  • 2 dinners 
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
  • The lifts at the start of Day 5 (Parada de Sil to Santo Estevo) and Day 6 (Penalba to Os Peares)
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
  • Entrance fees for attractions and museums

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Optional taxi lifts or train tickets for shorter walks
  • Extra night in Orense after the holiday

Gallery

Reviews

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Rating

     

Tom

I thoroughly enjoyed this walk from start to finish. This beautiful part of Spain/Galicia is truly worth a visit. The scenery is amazing, and all the hotels are exceptional. For my money, some of them up there with a Parador experience, but then on a smaller scale & a much more personal welcome. And little chance of going hungry in Galicia : the cuisine alone merits a visit to the region. The trip notes & maps are very clear, and Aznar, the local contact, is another 'hidden gem'. Always available, checking regularly how you're doing, and he's walked and tested every part of your trip. The tracks/paths are easily doable, never dangerous, and while there is some hight difference involved (I'd say on average 500m daily up & down), the views you get for your effort are well worth the effort.

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