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On the Road from Ribadeo to A Coruña

From Ribadeo, take the corniche road west (N-634) until you reach the Ría de Foz. About 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) south of the Foz-Barreiros highway, perched somewhat in isolation on a hill, stands Iglesia de San Martín de Mondoñeda, part of a monastery that dates from 1112. Please keep in mind that while corniche roads are sinuous and panoramic, they are often located high above the major roads and have steep, usually dangerous drop-offs on the other side.

The little town of Foz is a fishing village and a summer resort with beaches separated by a cliff. You might stop here for lunch.

From Foz, cut northwest along the coastal highway (C-642), going through Burela, another fishing village. You can make a slight detour south to Sargadelos, a ceramics center. You can purchase the famous Galician pottery here much more cheaply than elsewhere in Spain.

Back on the coastal road (C-642) at Burela, continue west approaching Ría de Viveiro and the historic village of Viveiro. Part of its medieval walls and an old gate, Puerta de Carlos V, have been preserved. The town has many old churches of interest, including the Gothic-style Iglesia San Francisco. Viveiro is a summer resort, attracting vacationers to its beach, Playa Covas, and it makes a good lunch stop.

The road continues northwest to Vicedo, passing such beaches as Xillo and Aerealong. Excellent vistas greet you, and oxen can be seen plowing the cornfields.

Driving on, you'll notice the coastline becoming more saw-toothed. Eventually you reach Ortigueira, a major fishing village at the head of the ría (estuary) from which it takes its name. A Celtic folk festival is staged here at the end of August.

From here you can continue south along C-642 to El Ferrol, which used to be called El Caudillo, in honor of the late dictator Francisco Franco, who was born here and who used to spend part of his summers in this area. El Ferrol is one of the major shipbuilding centers of Spain, and since the 18th century it has been a center of the Spanish navy. It's a grimy town, but it lies on one of the region's most beautiful rías. Despite its parador, few tourists linger at El Ferrol (also spelled O Ferrol).

From El Ferrol, C-642 continues south, passing through the small town of Puentedeume (also spelled Pontedeume), on the Rías Ares. Historically, it was the center of the counts of Andrade. The remains of their 14th-century palace can be seen, along with the ruins of a 13th-century castle, rising to the east.

Shortly below Betanzos, head west along N-VI until you reach A Coruña. The entire trip from Ribadeo is roughly 242km (150 miles) and takes at least 4 hours.

From A Corña to Cape Fisterra

This next section, the drive "to the end of the world," takes you from A Coruña to Cabo Fisterra (called Fisterra or Finisterre on most maps). The 145km (90-mile) trip takes at least 3 hours. For the ancients, Cape Fisterra was the end of the world as they knew it.

This route takes you along A Costa da Morte (the Coast of Death; in Castilian, La Costa de la Muerte), so called because of the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred here.

Leaving A Coruña, take the coastal road west (Hwy. 552), heading first to the road junction of Carballo, a distance of 36km (22 miles). From this little town, many of the small coastal harbors are within an easy drive. Malpica, to the northwest, is the most interesting, with its own beach. An offshore seabird sanctuary exists off this former whaling port. From Malpica, continue to the tiny village of Corme at Punta Roncudo. This sheltered fishing village draws summer beach fans to its isolated sand dunes.

From Corme, continue along the winding roads to the whitewashed village of Camariñas, which stands on the ría of the same name. Camariñas is known as a village of expert lace makers, and you'll see their work for sale at many places. A road here leads all the way to the lighthouse at Cabo Vilán.

The road now leads to Mugia (shown on some maps as Muxia), below which stands the lighthouse at Cabo Touriñan. Continue driving south along clearly marked coastal roads that are sometimes perched precariously on cliff tops overlooking the sea. They will lead you to Corcubión, a village with a Romanesque church. From here, follow signs that lead you along a lonely southbound secondary road to the end of the line, Cabo Fisterra, for a panoramic view. The sunsets from here are among the most spectacular in the world. The Roman poet Horace said it best: "The brilliant skylight of the sun drags behind it the black night over the fruitful breasts of earth."

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.