Discover the 6 Natural Parks of Galicia
For tourism in Galicia, the conservation of the landscape and biodiversity that make our land unique is of vital importance. Much work has been done in recent decades to grant maximum environmental protection to large and numerous areas of our territory. This work has led to the creation of an important network of natural parks in Galicia.
The Xunta de Galicia has six natural parks, parks in which the protection of the biological and landscape characteristics is guaranteed through the preservation of their flora and fauna.
With its natural parks, a national park and other natural areas, Galicia offers the traveler a wide range of tourist attractions in addition to the classic highlights: cities, estuaries and unique beaches in Spain.
Would you like to discover all its secrets?
- Discover the 6 Natural Parks of Galicia
- Pioneering natural parks in Galicia: Monte Aloia and Cíes Islands
- Galicia’s natural parks: rivers full of life and moving dunes
- Ourense and the value of the forest in Galician natural parks
- Galicia’s natural parks: the exception of Lugo
- Geodestinations, the importance of tourism in Galicia
- Natural parks in Galicia, a world of contrasts
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Pioneering natural parks in Galicia: Monte Aloia and Cíes Islands
The province of Pontevedra includes two natural parks in Galicia which, in the beginning, were precursors in terms of the status they currently hold and have defined the roadmap for the rest of the protected areas in the region.
The Monte Aloia Natural Park has had the honor, since 1978, of being the first park to have such recognition in Galicia. Its entire extension, of about 750 hectares, is located within the municipality of Tuy. Located at the top of Mount Aloya or Aloia, the uniqueness of this park lies in the fact that the area was repopulated almost a century ago. remnants of the original native forest coexisting with pines, cypresses, firs and some exotic trees, such as cedars of Lebanon.
All this contributes to form a delicate ecosystem where common species of amphibians and mammals, which are under great pressure in the surrounding urban areas, find refuge, as well as a representative sample of mountain birds of prey. In the Monte Aloia Natural Park you should also visit the outstanding viewpoints that provide a privileged panoramic view over the river Minho.
If the traveler comes to Monte Aloia at Easter, he can enjoy the famous Festas Patronais de San Telmo in the town of Tui, which begin on Holy Saturday and last until Monday of San Telmo. There is nothing better than experiencing Galicia in fiestas to soak up the culture of a people.
The Cíes Islands also opened the way to a new figure of protection among the natural parks of Galicia, forming part since 2002 of the so-called Parque Nacional das Illas Atlánticas de Galicia together with the Ons archipelago.
archipelago of Ons
and the islands of Sálvora and Cortegada.
It is the only National Park in the entire Autonomous Community, which translates into a higher degree of protection than the natural parks, in which the institutional space and the professional space in charge of its preservation and maintenance depend directly on the central government. It is also recognized as a maritime-terrestrial National Park, which means that both its islands and coasts as well as the waters surrounding them enjoy the highest level of environmental attention.
The National Park of the Atlantic Islands is a true paradise in the heart of the Rías Baixas, which we can visit and admire without losing any detail thanks to the hiking trails that surround its forests, lighthouses and wild beaches, ensuring minimal impact on its natural spaces.
The park has a nature interpretation center, information booths where visitors are advised on what to visit, tourist services and where the different trails available to visitors are located.
There is much to see in Pontevedra besides the parks of Monte Aloia and the Atlantic Islands. The cathedral and the historic center of Tui, some of the best beaches in Galicia, such as Praia da Lanzada, the magical enclave of Costa da Vela or the emblematic city of Vigo are a must on any visit to the province.
Galicia’s natural parks: rivers full of life and moving dunes
Galicia’s natural parks are home to a multitude of very diverse and different ecosystems. An example of this rich contrast can be found in A Coruña, a province that can boast two natural parks: Fragas do Eume and the Natural Park of the Corrubedo dune complex and lagoons of Carregal and Vixán, each with its own charm.
The Fragas do Eume Natural Park is a clear example of the explosion of life that occurs on the banks of the Galician rivers. On the banks of the Eume River there are more than nine thousand hectares of virgin forest, or fragas, where oak, chestnut and birch trees populate surfaces so thick with vegetation that sometimes light can barely get through. This creates the humid and shady climate so typical of the Atlantic forest, an ideal environment for all kinds of amphibians, predatory birds and small mammals that establish their habitats among fountains and waterfalls.
Although Fragas do Eume is located between five municipalities in A Coruña (Cabañas, Capela, Monfero, Puentedeume and Puentes de García Rodríguez), barely five hundred people live within the park’s boundaries. However, the population of the area has not always been so scarce, and we can find within its boundaries multiple remains of human activity, such as old ovens, crossroads and bridges.
The medieval monasteries of Monfero and Caaveiro are considered historical-artistic monuments and are currently undergoing constant restoration work carried out by the Xunta de Galicia.
Galicia has some of the most spectacular sets of dunes in the whole peninsula. The best proof of one of these peculiar ecosystems can be found in the Parque Natural del complexo dunar do Corrubedo e lagoas de Carregal e Vixán.
With an area of approximately 1,000 hectares, the park includes different natural areas: the impressive dune complex, the Corrubedo beaches and the Vixán lagoon (freshwater) and the Carregal lagoon (saltwater). In this environment we find an enormous biodiversity, characteristic of the confluence of terrestrial and marine waters. Here inhabit 70% of the species of reptiles and amphibians present in our region. Also noteworthy is the large number of marine and migratory birds that live or rest in the wetlands.
Although, undoubtedly, the point of greatest tourist interest, thanks to which Corrubedo Natural Park is the most visited in Galicia, is its exceptional mobile dune.
Both for its dimensions, one kilometer long and twenty meters high, and for the beauty of its sand, the mobile dune of Corrubedo is one of the most recommended natural monuments of Galicia and an enclave as emblematic as the Tower of Hercules for all of A Coruña.
In addition to the natural parks, in this province there are many Sites of Community Importance (SCI) of the Natura 2000 network, under the protection of the European Community, as well as different points recognized as Special Protection Areas for Birds (SPA).
Destinations where the utmost respect for nature is a prerequisite to be able to enjoy wonders such as the endless beach of Carnota, the Monte do Pindo, home of legends and ancient Celtic rites, the mythical Costa da Morte, authentic end of the Camino de Santiago for most of the pilgrims who extend their route beyond Santiago de Compostela, or the cape of Estaca de Bares which, separating the Ría de Ortigueira from the Ría do Barqueiro, is the northernmost point of the country.
Ourense and the value of the forest in Galician natural parks
The forests of Galicia, full of history and legends, are represented in Ourense by no less than three natural parks, in addition to other protected natural areas and biosphere reserves.
The O Invernadeiro natural park, located in the central massif of Orense, is characterized by its rocky peaks with extensive yew and genista forests on its slopes, covering an area of almost 6,000 hectares.
In this vast expanse without a single human settlement , visitors build their journey wherever their steps take them, among roe deer, deer, goats and chamois, through the six routes of varying difficulty that run through the park. However, before deciding what to visit, plan your trip in advance, since access to the park requires prior permission and only a maximum of 30 people per day can enter. These restrictions are common in many of Galicia’s natural parks and are established in order to preserve nature while minimizing the impact of tourism.
In the valleys of the Sil River, in an enclave full of secrets, we find the Serra da Enciña da Lastra Natural Park. When we see the Serra da Lastra, with its forests of oaks, carballo, thyme and rosemary, we will understand the many mysteries and legends that populate its abundant caves, carved for millennia in the limestone rock of its mountains.
The park’s name refers to the century-old oak tree that is said to have served as a guide for travelers in the days when maps and plans were less accessible than they are today.
The natural park of Baixa Limia-Serra do Xurés is the largest natural park in Ourense, with more than twenty thousand hectares. Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the park combines deciduous forest with many Mediterranean elements and steep hills with glacial cirques.
It is a transboundary park, sharing its extension with the Peneda-Gerês National Park, which belongs to Portugal. In Serra do Xurés we will witness the legacy of the Roman legions as they passed through the area almost two thousand years ago, being able to find megalithic monuments and traces of gold mining, as well as other testimonies of more modern human activity: alvarizas, chivanas, mills and hórreos (granaries).
Galicia’s natural parks: the exception of Lugo
Ourense, Pontevedra, Santiago, A Coruña… Practically all the regions have natural parks in Galicia. However, the province of Lugo is an exception. Although none of its territories has reached the recognition of natural park, there are numerous SCIs, Special Protection Areas of Natural Values (ZEPVN) – exclusive recognition for the protection of natural areas of Galicia – and biosphere reserves.
Examples of these protected sites include, for example, the Praia das Catedrais natural monument, the Ribeira Sacra and Canón do Sil, the Lugo – Terra Chá or Ancares – Courel river paths as a paradigm of the mountainous habitat of Lugo.
Playa de las Catedrales, in the municipality of Ribadeo, is one of the main Spanish natural monuments. During low tide, the characteristic arches and caves carved by the sea winds can be appreciated. Cantabrian Sea. The quality of its waters and sand have earned it the blue flag beach distinction.
In the Ribeira Sacra and Canón do Sil we will live a unique experience between the canyons of the Sil and Miño rivers.You can either walk along them from the top of the rock or at water level by catamaran, being surrounded by wide stone walls on which lie the vineyards from which the famous Ribeira Sacra Denomination of Origin wines are obtained.. It is a Site of Community Importance of almost 6,000 hectares, with steep slopes and a unique charm in the world.
Os Ancares lucenses e Montes de Navia, the lands bordering the Eo River or the so-called Terras do Miño are some of the biosphere reserves that we can see in the province of Lugo. In them, everything revolves around the rivers that fill the area with life and nature in its purest state.
In addition, throughout the Mariña lucense we can enjoy some of the best spas and springs in Galicia.or visit the capital city and contemplate the most outstanding monuments of the place, such as the Roman wall of Lugo, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and whose door of San Pedro is part of the Historic Primitive Way of Santiago. The wall was built between the third and fourth centuries A.D. and currently preserves a length of more than 2,200 meters.
Geodestinations, the importance of tourism in Galicia
For some years now, the natural parks of Galicia have been included in the so-called geodestinations of the Xunta de Galicia.
The map of Galicia, thanks to this new form of tourist reordering, is divided into 14 territories as of 2019. Mountains, cities, coasts and beaches... the geodestinations and the natural spaces they integrate are delimited according to their history, type of landscape and tourist and cultural offer.
This way of organizing the different Galician enclaves increases their value as a destination. Whether it is the tourist who knows in advance what he wants to visit and plans his trip or the seeker of new adventures and surprising places, geodestinations help by being clear about the direction and type of experience you want to have on your trip: where to eat, where to stay, understand the importance of the parks and why, and what to visit in the surrounding areas.
In addition, the various institutions make available to everyone a multitude of tourism media and websites where they can find information. Practical information about Galicia, how to get (with maps and tips) to the different corners of our land, what to do and know, festivals and typical gastronomy of each town and lots of ideas to enjoy your favorite natural park or your favorite geodestination in Galicia and do not miss anything.
Natural parks in Galicia, a world of contrasts
The natural parks of Galicia as a whole form the perfect example of the great diversity and marked contrasts that characterize the northwestern tip of our peninsula. A place where very different environments coexist in harmony. From paradisiacal sandy beaches with hardly any human contact to vast forests where the sun barely touches the ground. From the tranquility of the small inland villages to the large tourist beaches of Ferrol or Sanxenxo.
All the landscapes you want to look for are on this site. All beauty has a place here. Only you are missing!