Visit Playa de las Catedrales in Galicia – Spain Road Trip

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Playa de las Catedrales (Cathedral beach) in Galicia is easily one of the most beautiful places we saw during our road trip through Northern Spain. You’ve probably seen pictures like the one below.

Yes, it looks like that and it’s beautiful, but before you show up expecting to have the beach to yourself while you craft a National Geographic-level photograph, read on.

Playa de las Catedrales is a must-see and totally worth your time — even if you have to drive out of the way to see it. That said, the beach will probably be crowded, the lighting probably won’t be perfect, and you’ll probably get wet. In fact, you should get wet. More on that below.

Also known as the Praia de Augas Santas or “Beach of the Holy Waters,” Playa de las Catedrales/Cathedral Beach should be one of your must-see spots when you visit Galicia. We’re not really a big beach-day kind of family, although the kids like the sun, salt, and sand combination more than Keiko and I.

That said, we love the water (*see canyoning, rafting and wild swimming), and places like Playa de las Catedrales are in a class by themselves with regard to natural wonder.

TIPS FOR VISITING PLAYA DE LAS CATEDRALES

At low tide, this stretch of coastline near the eastern edge of Galicia is marked by spectacular caves and arches. The water is clear, cold and varies between azure and emerald green. The stone walls themselves are shocking in their blunt grandeur, alternating between organic and almost unnaturally geometrical shapes.

Some walls are covered in seaweed, while others have long beds of goose barnacles, which are a delicacy in much of Spain. I wouldn’t eat these though. That would just be rude.

The beach is well marked and easy to find, but here are a few things you need to know before you visit Playa de las Catedrales.

Register online before you arrive (if high season)

Visiting this beach requires a reservation/registration during the high season (Jul 1 – Sep 30 and Easter). It’s free, but only a certain number of people can be on the beach per day. You’ll be glad they do this because it’s crowded enough as it is.

I’ve read reports of people just showing up and registering on the spot after a small wait. However, if that day is already full, you’ll miss it. Register beforehand if you can.

As you can guess, this is not just a beach you wander up to. It’s organized. There’s a parking lot and a parking attendant. There’s also a toilet and a toilet attendant to take your coins (it costs a few cents to use).

Go during low tide…or before

The most amazing geological formations are underwater during high tide. You want to visit Playa de las Catedrales at low tide (baixamar in Spanish). We were fortunate enough to be in the area when the tide was at its lowest that day — around 12:40 pm. I recommend being there about one hour before low tide. You can check this link for a more accurate prediction for your specific date.

If you’re in a hurry, you can be in and out of there in an hour and be glad you did. If you want to hang out, swim or take a lot of pictures, however, then try to get there as early as you can.

I’ve read multiple places that high tide and low tide happen quickly, not gradually. The angle of the beach is rather flat, so it switches from low to high tide rather quickly.

Bring Swimsuits!

This may seem obvious, but I saw lots of people down there in jeans and sneakers. Sure, you can see a lot of Playa de las Catedrales dressed like that at low tide, but this limits where you walk. Even if you don’t plan to swim in the ocean, wear something you can get wet in.

Some of our favorite spots in the Playa de las Catedrales required walking through waist-deep water. It’s cold, but you definitely should be prepared to walk through some of it if you want to experience all of it.

Prepare for Crowds

The best images of Playa de las Catedrales have no people — just the majestic stone arches and the water. You will have a hard time recreating those images during high season. Why? Because there are a hundred or more people around trying to do the same thing.

Food is Available

There’s a cafe and a few souvenir shops near the parking lot. Expect tourist prices of course, but it’s not outrageous: six euro for a sandwich, 15 euro for a set menu, etc. Pulpo de feira (Galician-style octopus), however, was almost double the price of the one we ate at the Santiago de Compostela. It only got more expensive as we went further east away from the Galicia.

We visited Playa de las Catedrales on our way to the Asturias region. With no time to stop in anywhere for lunch, we ate lunch here after the beach. Not bad, and beer and ice cream are available, as well…but not together. That would be disgusting.

What to Bring to Playa de las Catedrales

HAVE YOU BEEN TO PLAYA DE LAS CATEDRALES?

When did you visit: high tide or low tide? Did you swim, wade through or stay dry? What did you do for food? How were your pictures?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you, we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Image credits: #1, #3, #10

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