10 best things to do in A Coruña – a city guide to where to eat, sleep and explore in this Northern Spanish city.
Is A Coruña worth visiting?
A Coruña is a city of contrasts. The coast is stunning, the perfect place for a windswept walk in winter months, perhaps to surf in the ice cold water or to basque on the beach in the summer. The Old Town is meandering, filled with coffee shops for day drinking and tapas bars for the evening’s festivities.
Some of the architecture is immaculate, the glass fronted gallerias along the port for example. But other aspects are a little unattractive – buildings along the sea front are a showcase of some questionable 1960s/1970s design choices. The commercial side of the city is sprawling and modern but lacking the usual warmth of a Spanish city.
We enjoyed our visit to A Coruña and would gladly return. But it may not suit everyone. Other parts of the Galician coast are prettier. Other cities in Spain are smarter. A Coruña is worth visiting if you’re in the area or want to use it as a base to visit further afield in Galicia, however it is perhaps not worth flying to just to visit the city alone.
What is A Coruña known for?
A Coruna is a vibrant city in Galicia. It is known as the “city of windows” owing to some really interesting glass architecture around the port. But, in modern terms, A Coruna is known as a gastronomic city, serving incredible Galician tapas alongside the local beer Estrella Galicia or crisp white wine. The beaches around A Coruna are also very special and are known for surfing.
Can you visit A Coruña from the cruise dock?
You can visit the city of A Coruña from the cruise dock – many people do this and I would say that spending a day in Coruña is perfect to see most of the best bits of the city. Most cruises will dock here in the cruise terminal – from there, the old town and the beach are both short walks away.
Best things to do in A Coruña by day
A Coruña is a very walkable city, there’s plenty to do during the day, especially when the sun is shining. Here are 8 of the best things to do in A Coruña by day.
Visit Praza de María Pita
Praza de María Pita is a square named after A Coruña’s hero, Maria Pita. The story goes that Maria Pita defended the city from English invaders. You can find a statute of her in the middle of the square, wearing a flowing feminine dress.
The square itself is an excellent place to stroll around and enjoy a coffee at one of the well priced cafes.
Nose around the old town
The old town of A Coruña is perhaps the prettiest part of the city. A Coruña’s history is Medieval and some of the historic architecture remains. For example, you can see some of the old city walls. The centre of the old town is Praza de Maria Pita – it’s best to meander around the streets here, stopping for coffee or a bite as you go. We were particularly impressed by the many upmarket coffee shops, delis and bakeries.
Take photos of the city of glass
Out of the old town and towards the marina for your first glimpse of the water. All along the marina, you will find the buildings that give A Coruña it’s name as The City of Glass. Look up and behind you to see modernist buildings fronted with glass “gallerias”, these are enclosed glass balconies, allowing the occupants to take in the views whatever the weather. They give off a smart and twinkling sheen today, but were originally fisherman’s houses.
Explore the food market in A Coruña
Whenever we visit Spain, we always make a point of visiting a food market. The municipal markets (mercardos) always have the freshest, most vibrant produce. Even if we don’t buy anything, it is a marvel to see and smell the market. In A Coruña the biggest market is in Plaza de Lugo (coordinates here) – famous for it’s fish.
If you have a bit more time, you can visit the food market as part of an organized tour and then take a cooking class to learn how to make local Galician food.
Visit the Estrella Galicia Museum
For an authentic Galician experience, visit the Estrella Galicia beer factory and museum. This is Spain’s first beer factory that opens as a museum. You can visit, learn about the brewing process and the history of Estrella Galicia. And of course, taste the famous Estrella Galicia beers whilst you’re at it. Find out more about a tour and tasting of the factory here.
Visit Torre de Hércules
Torre de Hercules, found here, is an historic landmark in A Coruña. It is a well restored Roman lighthouse, with very interesting history. You can climb it, to get a view of the city (entrance is only 3 Euros.) Or, just sit and enjoy it with the backdrop of the ocean.
Take a walk on coastal paths
Near to the Torre de Hercules, are a few different coastal paths. You don’t need to necessarily have a plan, but can just take a casual stroll around the paths to see various monuments. The views are spectacular and the monuments interesting. Perfect to look out to the sea and spend some time in quiet contemplation. Head out to Punta Herminia for the full adventure.
Enjoy one of A Coruña Beaches
Arguably the best bit of A Coruña is it’s beaches. There are a few to choose from, Playa de San Amaro sits to the East of the city – the best spot to watch sunrise of a morning. To the west is the tiny beach of Lapas – you have to walk down to it, but a good option in the summer for calm water.
The largest beach is Praia de Rizazor, the city beach. I am always a bit unsure of city beaches, but this one is really very special (if you ignore the dodgy architecture behind you.) The sand is white, the beach is wide and the sea is lovely – even in October when I dipped my toes in it. We loved sitting here watching the sunset in the evening, surrounded by other couples doing the same and dog walkers exercising their furry friends at dusk.
Best things to do in A Coruña at night
Drink by the marina
We suggest starting an evening in A Coruña with a drink by the marina. Cervecería O´Sampaio is a good option with tables spilling out near to the water. Or pick another around the area to enjoy your first beer.
Dine out at A Coruña’s tapas bars
No visit to a Spanish city would be complete without a tapas crawl. A Coruña is very well placed for this, with all of the good tapas bars confined to one or two streets.
You can’t go too far wrong with any of the bars on this street, or indeed on nearby Rua Barerra – our favourite there was Surrey (excellent calamari.)
Where to stay in A Coruña
The entire city is quite large, but really you will want to stay near to the beaches and the old town, rather than in the commercial area. Here are a few suggestions to suit different budgets:
BUDGET: Oxford Suites – apartments in the center of the old town, very close to the city beach. This is where we stayed on our visit and found them good value for money. The street they are situated on is not the prettiest, but the accommodation is smarter.
MID-RANGE: Hesperia A Coruña Centro is a very central mid-range option. It is a 4* hotel but is well priced, at around £60 per night. This is close to the market, for any foodies looking to explore that area.
LUXURY: It doesn’t get much more spectacular than Blue Ocean Penthouse. A beach front penthouse with a terrace and very special sea views. This is the place to enjoy luxury in A Coruña.
How to get from Santiago de Compostela to A Coruña
We visited A Coruña for a few days after finishing the Camino Frances in Santiago. A Coruña is a wonderful place to visit alongside visiting Santiago de Compostela. The two cities are very different but it is easy to travel from one to the other.
The best way to get from Santiago de Compostela to A Coruña is by train. The train station in Santiago (here) is fairly close to the centre, a short 30 minute train ride will take you to A Coruña. The station there is near to the commercial center of the city, but a little walk from the coast.
Written by Emma
Wine Lover. Yogi. Hiker. Writer.
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