Baiona is much more than a beautiful town. Its culture and history have made this town one of the most interesting places in the Rias Baixas. Located on the Atlantic coast, it is famous for being first to receive news of the “discovery of America”, as the Caravel Pinta docked in its waters in 1493. As part of the Portuguese Way (camino portugués), it bears witness to pilgrims passing through on a daily basis who are interested in the qualities this stunning coastal area has to offer.
If you are planning to visit Baiona, you are in luck because, in today’s post, we tell you about the essential places to visit in and around Baiona.
Baiona’s historic quarter (casco vello)
Baiona’s historic quarter was declared a Site of Historical-Artistic Interest in 1993 by the Directorate General of State Assets (Dirección Xeral de Patrimonio). Its cobbled streets lead you to discover the ancient squares and buildings that make up its breath-taking architecture. The historic quarter is home to numerous stately homes, such as Pazo Correa, built in the 18th century, and which is now the location of Baiona’s Town Council. There are also other equally spectacular buildings, such as the former Collegiate Church of Santa María, with its Romanesque style and fortified appearance, dating back to the 13th century.
There are three entrances to Baiona’s historic quarter: through Plaza del Padre Fernanado, Santa Liberata or from the Holy Trinity Stone Cross (Cruceiro de la Santísima Trinidad).
The Holy Trinity Stone Cross is a very special cross. It is Gothic in style and dates back to the 15th century. In addition to the usual figures of the Virgin and Christ, it depicts the figures of Mary Magdalene (La Magdalena), Our Lady of Sorrows (La Dolorosa) and James the Great (Apóstol Santiago) at its feet.
It is a truly unique cross which is well worth a visit. If you want to see it, you should head to the district of Santísima Trinidade, located in the upper part of the town.
Monterreal Fortress (Fortaleza de Monterreal)
The Monterreal Fortress is one of Baiona’s most iconic spots. Built in the 16th century, it consists of walls stretching 3km in length and two defensive towers. Inside, you will find Monterreal castle or Baiona castle, which houses a National Parador Hotel. Several events take place there each year and it also has a beautiful green relaxation area where you can take a pleasant stroll.
The Caravel Pinta was one of the three ships that Christopher Columbus took on his first voyage to America and which, years later, docked in the port of Baiona announcing that new lands had been discovered that hadn’t previously been explored by the Europeans. In 1999, it was decided that a replica of the ship would be built and fitted out with elements from the Columbian era, mixing the Christian and Taino cultures. This replica of the ship is now a museum that you can visit to discover what the ships of this period in history were like.
Baiona is one of the most widely visited parts of the coast in summer. Because of this, its beaches are perfectly equipped for swimmers and holidaymakers. If the plan for your visit includes enjoying the sun and hot weather, we recommend you visit its small urban beaches: Barbeira, Ribeira and Cuncheira, situated at the foot of Mount Boi.
If you are looking for larger beaches, we recommend you head to the town of Nigrán, right next to Baiona. There, you will be able to enjoy Playa America beach, which is large and wide. There are several bars and restaurants nearby where you can enjoy a delicious meal after your swim.
La Guardia Road (Carretera a la Guardia)
The road that goes from Baiona to La Guardia is like an enormous balcony that stretches 32 kilometres along the Atlantic ocean. The views are unrivalled! You will come across pilgrims, cyclists and walkers on route. The journey is spectacular and well worth doing on foot. However, if your destination is A Guardia, you can travel by car and stop at some of the viewpoints on the way to admire the scenery.
Santa María de Oia Monastery
Along the Baiona-Vigo road, 20 minutes from Baiona, we find the Santa María de Oia Monastery. It was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1931 for being heritage of enormous historical value. Built in the 12th century, it played a crucial role in defending the coast. In 1624, an attack by Turkish ships was prevented and, because of this great feat, King Philip IV of Spain gave the monastery the title of “Royal” (Real).
Today, the monastery is privately owned and the church continues to operate as a parish church. The monastery offers guided tours for those who want to find out more about it, including a partial tour around the interior of the building.
La Guardia (A Guarda)
If you decide to travel along the Baiona – A Guarda road, we recommend that, in addition to visiting the Oia Monastery, you stop to take a look around the town of La Guardia (A Guarda in Galician).
This stunning coastal town is notable for its spectacular landscape. Its colourful houses offer a joyful picture postcard view of the town, its port offers breath-taking sunsets and its small beaches are perfect for summer days. In addition, its bars and restaurants will offer you some wonderful local cuisine, with the highlight being its delicious seafood. La Guardia also features one of the best-preserved military settlements in Galicia. If you are heading to this town, climb Mount Tecla to discover these Celtic remains while enjoying a fantastic panoramic view of the river Miño estuary and the Atlantic ocean.
The Cíes Islands
If you are planning to stay in Baiona for a few days, you simply must discover the magnificent Cíes Islands. If you are going in summer, you will be able to enjoy their incredible beaches. One of them, in its day, was named the most beautiful beach in the world by The Guardian. During Easter and the high season, we set sail every day from Baiona to the Cíes Islands.
You can also visit them at other times of year. Once there, you can walk along the wonderful hiking trails that will lead you to some unique and perfectly preserved natural spots. This natural wonder is a “must” for those travelling to the Rias Baixas.
We hope this list of essential places in and around Baiona enables you to enjoy an unforgettable experience in this stunning part of the Rías Baixas. Remember that, in this part of Galicia, there is a great deal to explore, so come and visit us and discover one of the most beautiful corners of the whole of Spain.