21 Summer days in the “NW” of Spain
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Cies' Islands' night

Mention Spanish beaches and most people instinctively think of the Mediterranean. Yet the wilder, stunning Atlantic coastline of Galicia, just north of Portugal, has far more dramatic praias – with far fewer people on them. One of the jewels of this coast is on Las Islas Cíes, a 40-minute boat trip from the pretty town of Baiona. Once a pirates' haunt, Cíes is now an uninhabited and pristine national park, open to the public only in summer. Galicians come here to spend long, lazy summer days on the Praia das Rodas, a perfect crescent of soft, pale sand backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of crystal-clear sea.


Sleep in an idyllic campsite, shaded by tall pine trees, with a view over the ocean. To get an overview of the coves and beaches, climb the 175m up to the main lighthouse and looked down on seagulls swooping and soaring in front of the jagged granite cliffs that plunge into the ocean. Look out over this seemingly infinite blue and white expanse of Atlantic, the spot feels like the end of the world. In fact, the assumption that the world war flat was consigned to the dustbin of history over in Baiona when the Pinta, one of the smallest caravels in Columbus's first fleet, appeared from over the horizon in 1493, to inform the old world that there was a new one out there.


"Best beach in the world", says The Guardian.