This week we’re in one of the largest Galician seaside cities, to get the insider tips from local Rodrigo Gil. Here’s what do do in A Coruña.
Mmm… this is good, what are we drinking?
It’s called queimada as is a very traditional Galician drink. It’s a kind of punch made from a herbal liquor, sugar, lemon peel, coffee beans and cinnamon. We even have a special ritual that we perform while the drink is being prepared and people cite witch style incantations or spells while the queimada is set on fire before it can be drunk.
Another typical drink from A Coruña, which is actually my favourite is crema de orujo – a liquor made from special herbs that kind of tastes likes Baileys.
What are your favourite local dishes?
It has to be pulpo a feira, one of the most famous Galician dishes, which translates as ‘octopus to the party’. The octopus is cut up into small pieces and boiled in a large saucepan along with laurel leaves – there is a very precise boiling time – too much or too little and it won’t taste right. The octopus is usually served with potatoes and saffron – always on a wooden dish. Traditionally women make this dish and we call them pulpeiras. For desert, I love flan de queso – a kind of crème brûlée made from soft cheese and caramel.
And where would you suggest I go to find these?
For the octopus dish you should go to Pulpeira de Melide, which is famous for this particular dish. The restaurant is named after the village of Melide where this dish typically comes from. There a couple of these restaurants to be found around the city.
My favourite place to eat though is La Bombilla (Calle Galera), a small tapas bar. It’s very small and cosy and serves typical Galician tapas such as croquetas, tortilla, empanadillas and Galician chorizo. The tapas are very cheap, and because the place is so small everyone spills out onto the street.
The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
You should visit Monte de San Pedro, a big hill that overlooks the city. You can reach the top via a large glass elevator ball, which travels up the side. At the top there are amazing views over the city and the bay. Also, you can’t come to A Coruña without visiting the beach. There are two good sandy beaches here, Riazor and Orzan. Riazor is good for swimming and Orzan is good for surfers.
And if it rains?
It rains a lot here so this is quite typical, but there a few good museums to keep you occupied. Visit Domus located by the sea on the Paseo Maritimo, designed by a famous Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Inside is a great science museum dedicated to the human being, with over 200 interactive displays.
You should also visit San Anton Castle, an old 16th century fort designed to defend the harbour against attacks. It is located on a small island connected to the mainland.
If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
Without a doubt go to Torre de Hercules – it has become the symbol of the city. It’s the oldest working Roman lighthouse in the world. For a couple of Euros you can climb to the top to see spectacular views over the sea.
Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know…
Go to places where you see a lot of local people hanging out, rather than places you see tourists going to. These places are always a lot cheaper. Also don’t worry if it rains a lot because it will always stop quickly.