Have you ever seen a forest of bay trees? Very few people have, because it is something truly exceptional, a botanical rarity visited by experts from all over the world.

In Galicia there is an island whose woods smell of bay and seafood: the most mouth-watering combination. The sand banks of the Ría de Arousa produce clams, cockles, razor clams, and other types of shellfish. And the Island of Cortegada provides the bay leaves to flavour these delicious seafood products.

Centuries-old trees conceal meadows and fields that were once cultivated in times past. A crumbling chapel, an uninhabited ghost town and a stone cross survey the scenery. The bay woods and Island of Cortegada are full of mystery. You wouldn’t want to miss this!

Island of Cortegada Route
Starting pointRoute typeKmEstimated time requiredTerrain difficultyOrientation difficulty
Centro de recepción de visitantes (Isla de Cortegada)Circular21 h.LowLow
PROFILE:  All walkers

The first amazing experience you will have of the woods of the Island of Cortegada is getting there! What better way to begin your exploration of these woods than from the coast as you approach at a leisurely pace on the calm waters of the Ría de Arousa? The island, the river, the soft lapping of the waves, the sea breeze, the seafaring culture that is palpable on all sides, the little fishing villages that sit on the shore, the white sands that adorn the coastline….

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All of these things tell you that this will indeed be an unforgettable experience.

When you get to the island you will find the Park’s visitors centre opposite the jetty. Here you will be able to gather more information of interest on the landscape that you are about to explore. The island offers two circular routes that are easy to follow and will reveal the different aspects of this natural treasure. The two paths divide near the ruins of the Chapel of the Virgen de los Milagros, dating from 1652, which attracts many pilgrims due to its healing powers.

The first route circles the whole island, while the second circles half of the island and then cuts across its centre. This second option is the most complete route, since apart from offering coastal views it also allows you to visit the biggest bay woods in southern Europe. Immersing yourself in the intense atmosphere of the woods with its undergrowth full of green hues is a unique experience. What’s more, you will also pass through some enormous eucalyptus trees and the ruins of an old village that was inhabited until the island was donated to King Alfonso XIII in 1910.

It is a good idea to hire transport to the island and take a guided tour with one of the local companies that provides these services. If you like, you can also agree on your trip back in the afternoon having enjoyed a day on the beach or some of the most secluded and peaceful corners of the island.

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