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If you manage to reach Val Miñor, you will not want to return. Sea and mountains in a single environment that you can pair with the best raw materials of the Rías Baixas, what are you waiting for?See 18 photos
Las Rías Baixas (or why paradise is closer than you think)
We already knew that Galicia was a paradise (especially in summer), but, like all holiday destinations, it is full of tourists. To avoid this you don't have to leave the radar; you just have to drive to the end of the Vigo estuary to meet the Val Miñor, an area less traveled, but just as recommended .
Views towards Toralla from the Vao beach, in Vigo © Getty Images
Here you will find archaeological remains, routes for cyclists, large beaches (and secret coves), as well as the possibility of hiking. And as an extra, you can admire the Cíes Islands and in the foreground As Estelas, an archipelago of exceptional beauty, which protects Baiona's cove from the open sea.
But we will not lie to you: knowing their routes is not easy ; the good part is that you arrive where you arrive with the car, it will be worth it.
For beaches and walks overlooking the sea you can choose between Baiona and Nigrán, but if you are looking to escape the summer marabunta that crammed the sand, O Val Miñor offers you another possibility that is in Gondomar, its third municipality and river vertex. Hiking trails, mountains, archaeological remains and, of course, places that offer the best of Galician cuisine, fusion of sea and land, such as Catro Camiños .
Estelas Islands seen from Baiona © Alamy
Take the car and enter 17 kilometers and you will arrive to where the Miñor river is born, in the lost forests of Gondomar, where there are multiple river walks. Far from the most suffocating heat of the coast you can walk under the shadow of the mountains where the innumerable rivers of the area pass.
And if you like to get tired, here you will be in your sauce . Highlights include the Donas and San Cipriano routes, which end in a beautiful waterfall. In the parish of Couso, you will find a path with ethnographic heritage, the route of the mills that decorate the Matalagartos and Couso rivers . Enjoy these roads alone through the most rural and rural Val Miñor.
The dense forests of Gondomar © Getty Images
If you like to go for tapas, and prefer the elegant and stately, here is Baiona, a villa that you can discover by walking its narrow and cobbled streets, full of restaurants and tapas venues under arcades; Charming hotels and churches with an important artistic and cultural heritage.
Simply stroll to try delicious (and abundant) tapas in places like La Fuente or La Boquería, which has a very appetizing terrace, where you can enjoy a pleasant evening.
The Pazo Mendoza restaurant © Taberna Mendoza Restaurant
For special and modern bars are La Micro – artisanal brewery and with an alternative menu– and La Crep . If you are more classic and prefer traditional cuisine, place on your route the restaurants Paco Durán, Casa Rita, Pazo Mendoza or Los Abetos.
And if your thing is seafood (crab, crayfish, nécoras or cockles) or fish (sea bass, turbot or sole), the classic of the area is the Rocamar, with unsurpassed views of the Cies Islands.
When it gets dark, have a cocktail at the D'Sastre pub and, if you want something quieter, bet on Villa Rosa, a restored colonial house in an unbeatable location, facing the sea and with a chill out area.
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When you leave the old town of Baiona through one of its three entrances - the Plaza de Santa Liberata, that of Father Fernando or from the Trinity cruise -, you cannot miss a walk along the Monte do Boi, a magnificent tour of two kilometers around the fortress and the castle of Monterreal, in which the Parador de Baiona is located today , with spectacular walls on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.
When you finish your route, you will meet Mount Samson. On its rocks and in granite, the architect Antonio Palacios - very well known in Baiona - raised perhaps the most peculiar and most famous monument in the area, his own Christ the Redeemer: the imposing Virxe da Roca, which will evoke you to the statue of the Christ of Rio de Janeiro.
To Virxe da Roca © Getty Images
AND NOW THE BEACHES
As a final touch of the tour stay in the hidden and less crowded coves, which decorate the promenade of Monte do Boi (better known as the Paseo do Castelo for locals) and which are A Cuncheira and Praia dos Frades.
Praia dos Frades, in Baiona © Wikimedia Commons
On the other side of the fortress, which you can access through one of the historic doors of the town, the Principal or Felipe IV, are the Ribeira and Barbeira beaches , near a small pine forest and next to the facilities of Monte Real Yate club.
These two beaches, of no more than 220 meters and ideal for the little ones for their calm and crystalline waters, became the family beaches par excellence.
To Ladeira, the largest and last northbound before entering Nigrán, it gives you the option of staying right there in your campsite.
On the beaches surrounding the fortress of Baiona © Getty Images
From here there are numerous pedestrian walks that will take you to the coves of Mount Lourido, a great tour to enjoy the beautiful landscape, which includes the Roman bridge of the twelfth century of the Ramallosa and the estuary of A Foz, another of the natural treasures of Nigrán . Known as the 'Galician Doñana' and at the mouth of the Miñor River, a natural border that separates Nigrán and Baiona.
And almost without realizing it, you've already reached Nigrán.
From here you can pedal along the coast: there is a wooden promenade and a bike path that connects Baiona with Ramallosa , Playa América and Panxón . Precisely, among the immense white sand beaches of Nigrán, Playa America stands out , surrounded by a small dune complex that has a large leisure area for sunbathing, walking, playing sports or relaxing in one of its beach bars.
Playa América © Alamy
And if you have already decided on any of them and you are hungry, do not worry, leave the towel and just a few minutes you can taste the local cuisine at the beach. To tapas, the most emblematic are the Michigan, in Nigrán; Alcalá, in Panxón; La Serrano, in Playa América; and the Fidalgo, in Sabarís.
One of the strengths of Nigrán is that you can contemplate the magnificent views offered by taking a relaxing walk. You also have the option of climbing to the viewpoint by car; Of course, in this communal mountain nothing is indicated, better park your car at the beginning of the climb and let yourself go: walk along a circular route, surrounding the peninsula, until you reach the starting point . And if your thing is not hiking and you want to reward yourself with this panorama, you can make the tour in just one hour without more difficulty than a slope. Worth.
As for the beaches of Nigrán, do not worry, there are for all tastes. Coves in Monteferro, where privacy is assured and where you can camp. If you prefer big beaches, stay in Playa América or in Panxón, very central, with a sheltered port and beach bars.
Panxón © Alamy
Ducks, is the beach with more 'vidilla' and with a wider offer during the summer. In front of the surf school there is a street full of gastronomic places for all tastes: the Druid (traditional), Chac Mool (tacos), Miyagi (sushi), Pénjamo (burguers and special dishes) or a pizzeria. Here you will also find the best terraces.
Although what you can not miss is the sunset from the terrace of Praia D´abra ('the Suso', for locals) with a Voll-Damm rod in hand and with the Cies Islands in the background. A perfect place to regain strength.
At the end of the day you will know that you have made the best decision coming to the south of Galicia, where the tourist mass has not yet arrived, although some say it is close. Take advantage of this peace because we don't know how long it will last.
Pénjamo interior hall, a classic of Patos © Pénjamo
Las Rías Baixas (or why paradise is closer than you think)