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Once Galicia’s largest city and most important port, Pontevedra enjoys a slower pace these days. That’s not to say it’s boring – far from it in fact. The city is brimming with lively bars, restaurants and tapas serving up some of the best cuisines in the country. The historic centre is a real head-turner, with its medieval architecture, charming squares and impressive sights too. Beyond the city centre, the rest of the famed Rias Baixas and its extraordinary coastal scenery, picturesque fishing villages and lush green valleys await.
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Guide of Pontevedra
Pontevedra is a small riverside city situated along the Atlantic coast of Galicia in northern Spain. While the city itself isn’t on the beach, some of the region’s most spectacular coastal areas are within easy reach. The city is part of the Rias Baixas region, a collection of picturesque rias (estuaries) renowned for their fjord-like appearance. Rolling hills, dense forests and mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the city too.
Climate in Pontevedra
Pontevedra experiences a maritime climate that is heavily influenced by its coastal location. Temperatures are cooler than those in the south of the country, though winters are milder than in cities located further inland. Summer kicks off in June and the warmest time to visit is July and August, when temperatures range from 15°C to 25°C. Winter temperatures average between 8°C to 14°C. The wettest time to visit Pontevedra is during October and November.
Like all Galician cities, Pontevedra’s cultural heritage is deeply rooted in Galician customs and traditions. Many people speak Galician as well as Spanish, and there are dozens of festivals throughout the year showcasing the best of Galician music, dancing and folklore. The International Jazz Festival attracts hundreds of renowned jazz musicians and enthusiasts from all across the globe every July.
Pontevedra is also an important stop on the Camino Portugues, one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. As a result, thousands of pilgrims pass through the city every year.
Things To Do in Pontevedra
Explore the Historic Centre
Many of the city’s most impressive sights are located along the well-preserved medieval streets and squares of the historic centre. Stop off at the Santa Maria Basilica, an impressive late-Gothic cathedral built in the 16th century, and don’t miss the Pilgrim’s Hostel.
Brush up on local history at a museum
Pontevedra boasts several fascinating museums. The Museum of Pontevedra houses an impressive collection of archaeological artefacts and contemporary art, making it a must-visit for art and history enthusiasts. The Museo de las Peregrinaciones is dedicated to the history of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route.
People-watch in the park or plaza
Do as the locals do as sink into a slower pace. Plaza de Lena, Plaza de la Verdura and Plaza de Ourense are lined with cafes and bars with tables that spill into the squares. For something a little more secluded, try the Alameda Park. This tranquil green space features several picturesque paths, open laws for picnicking and playgrounds for little ones.
Take a stroll along the river
The Lerez River is one of the city’s most defining features. Take a stroll along its banks and bridges, soaking up the views along the way.
Eating Out in Pontevedra
Pontevedra is renowned for its delicious cuisine, which showcases the best of local produce and fresh seafood. Popular local dishes include Pulpo a la Gallega (octopus seasoned with paprika and oil), empanada Gallega (savoury pies), Mariscada (a seafood platter of clams, crab, lobster and shrimp) and filloas (thin pancakes filled with jam or chocolate). You’ll find all of these dishes at restaurants and bars across the city.
The region is also renowned for its Albariño wine, which is produced all over the Rías Baixas region. This crisp white wine pairs perfectly with seafood dishes and no trip would be complete without a few glasses.
Pontevedra is crammed full of delightful tapas bars, cafes and restaurants catering for all budgets and tastes. For the most authentic restaurants, step off the main thoroughfares and follow the crowds. For a small city, Pontevedra boasts a surprising number of Michelin stars too. Culler Pau is one of the most revered culinary institutions in the city, with two Michelin stars and a Michelin Green star too. It’s a short drive to the restaurant, which is located on the Culler de Pau peninsula, but it’s well worth the effort. Dishes are based entirely on locally sourced produces from the hills and the Atlantic.
The nearest airport to Pontevedra is Vigo-Peinador Airport (VGO), which is located 18.6 miles (30 km) southeast of the city. This is the largest airport in Galicia and offers a good range of domestic and international flights from most major Spanish cities and several European cities.
The easiest way to get from the airport to the city centre is by car. The journey takes around 30 minutes depending on traffic conditions. If you’re relying on public transport, there is a direct bus from the airport that runs regularly and takes between 45 minutes and one hour, depending on the time of day.
Getting around Pontevedra
Pontevedra is a small city, so it’s easy enough to explore most of its most famous attractions and amenities on foot. It’s extremely bike-friendly too, with an extensive network of bicycle lanes and a handy public bike-sharing service called BiciPonte. There is a railway station in the city centre, which offers high-speed services to other major cities in Galicia, such as Santiago de Compostela, A Coruna and Vigo. Buses run regularly too.
However, if you’re hoping to explore the region’s more rural attractions, as well as secluded beaches and small towns, it’s worth renting a car. Public transport runs less frequently outside of the big cities and you may need to take multiple modes of transport for a simple short journey. Driving will give you flexibility and freedom to explore at your own pace.