by Andrea Gambaro  |  Published November 1, 2018

The UNESCO-listed Tower of Hercules, a science museum, the city’s history and unforgettable Galician food. This and more feature in our top things to do in A Coruňa.

The menhires and, in the background, the Tower of Hercules (Photo: Contando Estrelas via Flickr)

Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with its famous Roman lighthouse, A Coruña is one of the lesser known outposts of northwestern Spain. An intriguing mix of old and modern, the city boasts a lively local culture, history, grand nature and irresistible food. From art and science, to a traditional tavern or a trendy spot, this list of unique things to do includes both the main attractions and the less obvious experiences that are available.

Sip Albariño and Ribeiro while tasting Galician delicacies

Although wine and food are the main focusses of this tour, A Taste of La Coruña is also an occasion to discover parts of the city that are normally off the radar of tourists, such as Romanesque churches, quaint squares, local markets and traditional taverns. The four-hour walk includes stops at three different locations with tastings of great Galician wines such as Albariño, Mencía and Ribeiro. Naturally, they are accompanied by local cheeses, cured ham and other specialities. Operated by Northwest Iberia Wine Tours, this walking tour is for small groups (max ten people) and takes place from 10am to 2pm, although evening tours can be arranged.

Meeting points vary

A stroll along the pier with Northwest Iberia Wine Tours (Photo: Adrian McManus)

Learn about science in the Crystal Prism

A family-friendly attraction, the Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología stores over 17,000 items, among them, scientific instruments, technological devices and transport vehicles. It is housed in one of the city’s most emblematic modern buildings, the Prisma de Cristal, designed by architects Victoria Acebo and Ángel Alonso. The collection’s highlights include the gear of the Boeing 747 that brought Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ back to Spain from New York and the first particle accelerator designed and built at the Nuclear Energy Board. Temporary exhibitions are also held throughout the year. Entry is free.

Plaza del Museo Nacional 1, A Coruña 1501

The Crystal Prism of A Coruña (Photo: MUNCYT)

Hear the story of a Galician heroin on a free walking tour

Look for the blue umbrella in Plaza de María Pita and join a two-hour guided walk with LCG Freetours. In addition to exploring major landmarks such as San Carlos Garden and Real Street, the tour ventures into the streets of the old town and stops by the local market in Lugo Square. Accompanied by a certified tour guide, you’ll hear about María Pita and how she became a Galician heroin, the relation between Pablo Picasso and A Coruña, and what the stories and myths behind the Tower of Herculés are. Local advice on where to eat, drink or shop is also included in the tour.

Meeting point – Praza de María Pita, A Coruña 15001

Plaza de Maria Pita (Photo: Gary Bembridge / Tips For Travellers via Flickr)

Visit the world’s only operating Roman lighthouse

The city’s flagship attraction, the Tower of Hercules, is the world’s only fully functioning Roman lighthouse. It was built in the 1st or 2nd century AD as Farum Brigantium, taking its name from the Roman settlement which gave rise to A Coruña. The promontory on which it stands was a sacred field in pre-Roman times and is today a natural park located at the north edge of the city, providing a wonderful break from the urban hustle. Thanks to its historical and architectural interest, the Tower of Hercules was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2009.

Avda. de Navarra, A Coruña 15002

A wind rose next to the Tower of Hercules (Photo: Xosé Castro)

Relax in a hip café boasting one of Spain’s best terraces

Pablo and Ana Silva launched Valentín in 2014, providing A Coruña with the hip, young and cosmopolitan joint it was missing. The menu betrays a keen fondness for international and healthy cuisine, while the welcoming decor is a creative mix of rustic elements and modern design. From breakfast to dinner, the kitchen serves dishes from across the globe, salads, bagels, gourmet sandwiches and desserts, while a good selection of wines and cocktails is also available. The bright and cosy covered terrace in the back was considered among Spain’s best by Vogue España.

Rúa San Agustín 30, A Coruña 15001

El Valentin’s award-winning terrace (Photo: Luis Díaz Díaz)

Have a local dining experience with wine and jamón

Originally located on the waterfront, Taberna O’ Secreto used to be a gathering place for sailors and fishermen. Later, during the 1970s, it served as a meeting point for artists, philosophers and intellectuals. A few years ago it moved to a different location in the heart of A Coruña. What hasn’t changed during all those years though is the authentic feel of a typical tavern, where good wine and food are proclaimed the true secret to happiness. Cold cuts, cheese, patés and cooked dishes feature on the menu, providing plenty of options to accompany a good glass of wine.

Rua Alameda 18, A Coruña 15003

Make sure to try the local pulpo (Photo: Fran Villena)

Discover Galician art

The Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña is an underrated gem of the city. Started at the end of the 19th century, the collection includes Spanish and European paintings from the 16th to the 20th centuries, as well as works from Galician modern artists. Additionally, the museum displays sculptures, engravings, decorative arts and archaeology pieces, while one of the highlights is the remarkable collection of sketches by Francisco Goya. The Museo de Belas Artes da Coruña is located in a modern building that recovers part of an ancient monastery.

Rúa Zalaeta 2, A Coruña 15002

An overview of A Coruña (Photo: Galicia Free Tours)