Praia das Catedrais: The "Cathedrals Beach" of Galicia

Praia das Catedrais, commonly known as Cathedrals Beach, is one of the best kept secrets of Galicia. This amazing natural wonder actually goes by many different names, but its official title is Praia de Augas Santas which translates to Beach of the Holy Waters. Regardless of the label you ascribe this amazing place, it remains a true natural monument, pride of all Galicians, and one of the must-see spots in north-western Spain along the Costa de Galicia.

Cathedrals Beach

Constant pounding from the Atlantic Ocean has sculpted this astounding work of natural art into the fine contours you see today. The sandy shoreline becomes inundated at high tide only to reveal the entirety of its treasures once the waters recede.

Marvels such as the this make the northern coast of Galicia well worth touring. The region is a dazzling spectacle where green mountains and blue sea take centre stage. Along the coast it is common to find the seawater greeting the cliffs and beaches which can not be accessed directly. The rocky heights which adorn this stretch of shore are home to many hidden treasures, and Cathedrals Beach offers a prime location where they can be discovered.

Cathedrals Beach

Artwork Sculpted By Nature

Small vaulted caves, resembling medieval Gothic architecture, are strewn all along this particular section of shore, giving Cathedrals Beach its iconic name. This enchanting landscape can be found between Foz and the municipality of Ribadeo, north of Lugo, on the natural boundary of the Eo River in Asturias.

Cathedrals Beach at Low Tide

The main attraction of this beach is undoubtedly the walk between the cliffs at low tide when a vast array of rock formations and caves of incredible natural beauty are exposed and accessible. Owing to its majestic features, Praia de Augas Santas has gained international fame and was considered in 2013 to be the second best beach in all of Europe.

Cathedrals Beach at High Tide

The landscape changes completely depending on the level of the sea. During high tide the beach disappears almost entirely under the force of the waves. Natural tunnels, formed by years of water erosion, only come to light during low tide. It is worth spending a few hours walking the 1400 metres of sandy beach from one end to the other discovering and exploring the myriad caves, crevices and rock formations which the sea continues to carve.

Cathedrals Beach

The colour of this glorious landscape changes in different light and the sun's reflection off the pools of water left behind in the sand create a truly cinematic atmosphere where, during sunset, rays of sun seem to ooze out of the high stone walls.

Cathedrals Beach

The beach maintains blue flag status but you should keep in mind that it also faces the Bay of Biscay's open waters and strong winds do occasionally whip across the sands. For this reason, special care should be taken when making the trip with children.

If you're lucky, you might find yourself with an added attraction: The Gaiteiro Galego. This peculiar musician dressed in traditional Galician clothing, and always accompanied by his bagpipes, will perhaps be present to enhance your visit with the creation of a soundtrack well suited for the film set which is Cathedrals Beach.

Gaiteiro at Cathedrals Beach

Reservations Are Required But Free

Due to the international fame the place has earned over recent years, reservations are now required to access the Cathedrals Beach during the summer months and Easter holidays. Limited access during those periods has been implemented to deter over-crowding. Still, nearly 5000 people per day embark on leisurely strolls along the enchanted shore.

Cathedrals Beach

The procedure for booking is free and can be done easily through the official website provided by the Galician regional government. Only a few personal details are required to register but remember that you can not book less than 30 days before your planned visit to the beach.

The official website asserts "It's only natural to care for such a place", and we couldn't agree more. In reality, the move to curb the crowds has resulted in a visit far more enjoyable than if the beach were overpopulated with tourists.

Useful information on tide times is also available on the same official website, allowing you to see when the beach can safely be strode. You can conveniently check the hours when the tide is low on the specific day which you've requested entry for, and map out your itinerary accordingly.

Cathedrals Beach

Visit Vigo for Galician History and Culture

Just north of Portugal and tucked neatly into Galicia's south-western corner, the city of Vigo offers up many delights for the inquisitive traveller. With a rich history spanning from humble beginnings as a small medieval village to its current status as the economic engine of Galicia, this cosmopolitan municipality on the Vigo Bay dazzles the visitor with an array of museums, historical structures and cultural activities. For a closer look at what Vigo has to offer, consider this practical guide to the city: 24 hours in Vigo.

Cathedrals Beach

Enjoy Great Cuisine and Aesthetics in Nearby Ribadeo

Notable for the rich and fascinating history of its old town, Ribadeo is one of the small communities near Cathedrals Beach which is well worth exploring. A beautiful fisherman's village, it's the perfect place to sample local cuisine where you can feel free to make your choice among the abundant supply of seafood caught fresh each day. Situated on the edge of the Eo River, the natural border of Galicia and Asturias, the locale also offers ample photo opportunities from each corner of its meandering streets.

Cathedrals Beach

Getting to Praia das Catedrais

Access to Praia das Catedrais couldn't be easier, as it is directly on the 516 exit of the A8 (Cantabrian Motorway). Coming from Ribadeo, you can choose to take either the A8 or the N-634 towards A Rochela, and in about 10 minutes you'll find the beach well signposted.

Cathedrals Beach

Where to Leave the Car

Free parking can be found at the entrance to the beach, and may offer up a convenient place to leave the car should you manage to find a place. Keep in mind that the influx of people during summer months, especially in the first half of August, may impact your chances of scoring a spot at the front. A solution to your woes can be found by parking at the nearby beach, Praia Arealonga, and then walking along the wooden promenade tracing the shore. The walk should take no more than 20 minutes and may provide a brilliant precursor to the natural wonders which await.

Are you interested in paying a visit to Praia das Catedrais, or any other place in north-western Spain? With our selection of holiday homes in beautiful Galicia, we've got you covered!