La Coruna, Spain cruise holidays
The name of Coruna's cruise dock - Transatlantic Quay - reflects its location on the northwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsular making it - you might be surprised to learn - the closest European port to New York. It is a charming mixture of old town and new town also with a couple of beaches along the two-mile stretch of coastline it overlooks. The colonnaded Maria Pita Square is at the heart of the old town, with many shops, bars and restaurants all around. There are various fascinating museums including the interactive House of Mankind plus an aquarium and planetarium. La Coruña is also the main Atlantic gateway to one of the most ruggedly scenic regions in Spain - Galicia. Among its attractions is one of the worlds great pilgrimage destinations: Santiago de Compostela, with its Romanesque cathedral.
The bustling, historic La Coruña cruise port sits on a promontory in the Golfo Artabro on Spain’s Atlantic coast. With its history as a fishing and commercial port, it has an interesting Romanesque mix of streets, squares and churches and a picturesque medieval quarter. It’s also home to the Roman Tower of Hercules, the oldest lighthouse in the world, which has been in continuous operation since the 2nd century. Dramatic galleria-style buildings with their characteristic glazed window balconies dominate the harbourfront, giving the striking area the nickname Crystal City. Visit the imposing Maria Pita Square with its awe-inspiring Palacio Municipal building and the Old Fortress, now the Garden of San Carlos, in which Sir John Moore is buried. Take a seaside stroll along the peninsula on the Paseo Maritimo, one of the longest seafront promenades in Europe. Relax in one of the many cafés or restaurants, enjoying the city’s fine food and buzzing nightlife.
To experience the ethereal beauty of the Galicia region, a shore experience out of town is a must. A few miles east of La Coruña is the sheltered coast around Sada, while heading west towards Arteixo, huge Atlantic rollers batter the brooding Rías Altas coastline. Along the way, densely forested inlets echo Norway rather than Spain, especially if you cross the Fornelos Hanging Bridge over the Eume River into Fragas do Eume nature park, where you’ll also find the 9th-century Caaveiro Monastery.
The Calle de la Franja is a gourmet’s heaven, especially restaurants Mesón do Pulpo (no 9) and O Xestal (no 38). If you’re looking for souvenirs to bring home to foodie friends, seed packets of the region’s most famous veggie dish, Padrón peppers, make nice gifts, as does a bottle of the delicious local albariño wine, or the delightful domed queso de tetilla; look for them at the old-school delicatessens of the Ensanche district or the enticing stalls of the central market.
For a town of fewer than 250,000 inhabitants, La Coruña offers a wide and refreshing mix of museums – among them the Museum of Fine Arts, the Picasso House Museum and the Caixa Galicia Foundation, an art space designed by Nicholas Grimshaw. The Regional Military Museum is worth a visit, with displays of more than 1,600 objects from three centuries on the former plot of the San Francisco Convent. In the ancient stone fortress of San Anton, the Archaeological Museum offers an insight into the city’s history, with everything from Celtic jewellery and Roman pottery to a Viking leather boat and a traditional 18th-century kitchen.