Following is our suggested itinerary, please note that you may extend the number of nights in each city:
Day 1: Santiago de Compostela
Santiago has been a destination for pilgrims and travelers of all kinds for centuries. It's one of the most fascinating cities in the world, and also one of the most hallowed places on earth. The famous pilgrimage route, "Camino de Santiago" ends here. For centuries, devout Catholics from all over Europe have been making their way to here - in spite of the dangers of the trip (in olden times that is - it's quite safe now). Legend has it that a peasant saw a shower of stars that pointed him to the bones of St James that had been hidden near this spot. Those very bones are interred in the great Gothic cathedral on the main square fronting the Parador. Santiago is a World Heritage City, and offers travelers any number of sites to visit: Obradoiro Square with its beautiful cathedral, the university?s square, the ruas along which you can stroll and experience the life of the city?s inhabitants, palaces and churches, and museums such as the cathedral museum, Museo del Pobo Galego. (Museum of the Galician People), or the Galician Center for Contemporary Art. The city cannot help but seduce you.
The Parador Santiago de Compostela, a 5-star hotel, is considered to be the oldest hotel in the world - functioning as a shelter for travelers since 1499. Its beauty is immense, its quality unmatched. You will be staying in a luxurious museum - every turn presents new wonders. This is authentic 5 star sumptuousness - one of the world's great hotels.
Santiago de Compostela to Cambados - 40 miles - 50 minutes)
Day 2: Cambados
Cambados has avoided the foreign tourist crowds - though it does attract in-the-know Spanish vacationers. It is situated on the Ria de Arosa (a huge fjord) and has a pretty waterfront promenade. The town is very low-key and maintains a peaceful, pleasant atmosphere.
A good half-day excursion is to drive out along the shores of this Ria - or even to drive a bit further afield and visit the other rias in the area. Also you could take the short excursion over to ancient Monesterio de Santa Maria de Armenteira (founded in 1162), or drive down and around to O Grove.
The Parador Cambados is a century-old "noble house" - spacious and open. Don't miss having a seafood meal in the fine restaurant - and be sure and order a bottle of Albariño to accompany your meal. It is made only in Galicia, and is by far the best wine anywhere for pairing with seafood.
(Cambados to Baiona - 51 miles - 1 hour)
Day 3: Baiona
Baiona sits on a wide inlet on the mouth of the river Miño. Its bay, arranged around which are its most picturesque streets, opens out next to the mouth of the river Miño. The Pinta arrived here in 1493, the first caravel to put into port after the adventure in the New World. Taking in the sunset is an unavoidable reason for visiting the fortress of Monterreal and its famous Prince's Tower. The site has three kilometers of walls. Also worth a visit is the collegiate church of Santa María, from the 18th century. The monument bears traces of the Romanesque style on a Gothic layout which resembles a fortress.
The Parador Baiona occupies the whole of its own small, fortified peninsula - "Monte Real." Wandering out along the fortress walls and taking in the sea and harbor views is very pleasant after a magnificent meal served in their fine restaurant. The grounds are well lit and guarded, so walking on warm nights can be especially romantic.
(Baiona to Tui - 29 miles - 35 minutes)
Day 4: Tui
Tui is, above all, a walled cathedral which emanated cultural, economic and military life. Always with an eye on neighboring Portugal ?sometimes a friend, sometimes an enemy-, it sits on a border which no longer serves any purpose: the modern motorway replaced the iron bridge ?which is still standing and is one of its most emblematic images- and customs controls make no sense in the European Union. Tui is more peaceful for it, and as they stroll through its medieval streets, travelers can understand why the city has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site. Featuring among Tui's architectural heritage is the Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral, the churches of San Bartolomé ?Romanesque- and San Telmo ?baroque- and several miradors.
Tui is a pretty little town situated on the banks of the Rio Miño. Tui is a good place from which to take a day trip to the fine beaches along the coast there, or visit the attractive Portuguese town of Caminha, or down to picturesque Viana do Castelo.
Tui also has some of the liveliest bars during the high season when it gets flooded with Portuguese, international, and Spanish tourists all at the same time.
The Parador Tui is a bit non-descript on the outside - being constructed of granite block - but makes up for it with very fine terraced gardens and great views out to the river. As well - their restaurant is one of the best in the Parador chain. They serve a creative cuisine that you will not encounter anywhere else.
(Tui to Pontevedra - 35 miles - 40 minutes)
Day 5: Pontevedra:
Pontevedra, a city with a long maritime and trading tradition, boasts one of the largest and most elegant historic quarters in the whole of Galicia. Situated on the edge of the estuary of the same name, the old town extends in a network of streets and squares and maintains a striking, intact medieval old quarter which is nicely contrasted by an elegant new town. This city is the favorite of many travelers to Galicia. There are few cities anywhere better made for leisurely strolling: Little discoveries are around every corner. Take your time getting here from Cambados (it's a very short drive), get situated in your Parador, then go out exploring in the town. Walk yourself into a good appetite and return to the Parador for some of the finest seafood to be found anywhere!
The Parador Pontevedra is the courtly old ancestral home of the Count of Maceda. It has recently been completely redone and it really has an understated grandeur to it. The building maintains a completely harmonious feel throughout.
(Pontevedra to Monforte de Lemos - 101 miles - 2 hours)
Day 6: Monforte de Lemos:
Monforte has been inhabited since ancient times, and has been known by several names: Castro Dactonium, San Vicente del Pino or Monte Forti. There are a great many archaeological remains from the Bronze Age and the hill-fort culture in Galicia.
In town, there are several emblematic buildings, sights, streets and squares of interest which make up the historic quarter. Begin with the monumental site of San Vicente do Pino, from where it is also possible to take in the excellent views of the area's capital while visiting the Benedictine monastery and its church, the Convent of Nuns of the Order of St. Clare, which has an exceptional Museum of Religious Art, or the monastery of San Jacinto. In the convent school, also called the 'Galician El Escorial' because of its Herrera-influenced Renaissance style from the 17th century, is a museum which contains paintings by, among others, El Greco.
The Parador Monforte de Lemos is a recent addition to the Parador chain. It's a completely refurbished 17th century Benedictine Monastery. The rooms are situated around a marvelous central cloister, and many have fine views out over the city below.
(Monforte de Lemos to Nogueira de Ramuín - 23 miles - 35 minutes)
Day 7: Nogueira de Ramuín
The attraction here is the surrounding countryside. Drive out and explore.
Be sure to ask at the Parador for map guides for any of the following routes: Catamaran Route: Set off from any of several piers to enjoy the region¿s landscapes. Route of the Vantage Points: Take in the landscapes around the banks of the Sil and Miño Rivers on this route. Romanesque Route: Visit churches and monasteries from the late 12th and 13th centuries on this route. Then head back to one of the most recent additions to the Parador chain and just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.
This Parador Santo Estevo is a former monastery and one of Galicia's oldest - having been founded in the 6th century! The accommodations are completely captivating. There is a large and grand colonnaded cloister that surrounds tranquil gardens.
(Noguiera deRamuin to Zamora - 180 miles - 3 hours and 20 minutes)
Day 8: Zamora
Today you'll travel out of Galicia and into Castilla y Leon. It will be a drive of several leisurely hours that will bring you to a little-visited city of this province, Zamora.
The old-world town of Zamora lies on a rocky hill above the Río Duero. With its numerous Romanesque churches of the 12th and 13th centuries it has been called a "museum of Romanesque art?. Stroll along the main square, Plaza Canovas; cross the arched Romanesque bridge from the 1300s; and take in at least some of the Romanesque churches for which the town is known, many dating from the 12th century. Don?t miss the Cathedral San Salvador. It is topped by a gold-and-white Eastern-looking dome. Inside, you'll find rich hangings, interesting chapels, two 15th-century Mudéjar pulpits, and intricately carved choir stalls.
The Parador Zamora is a 15th century Renaissance Palace - and a real treat. It has a dramatic courtyard that is surrounded by wonderfully carved columns, and all public spaces are filled with ancient tapestries, coats of arms or suits of armor. The whole place has a delicious, classic medieval feel to it.
(Zamora to Madrid - 16 miles - 2 hours and 45 minutes)
Day 9: Madrid
Spend your last day in Madrid.