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Pontevedra Travel Guide

Sanctuary of the Pilgrim Virgin (Pontevedra - Spain)
Coat of Arms of Pontevedra (Spain)

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Coordinates: 42.433611°, -8.6475°

Population: 82,828 inhabitants (2022)

The beautiful Pontevedra is a city located in the Autonomous Community of Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, very close to Portugal. One of the highlights of Pontevedra is its pedestrianized historic centre, which offers an authentic experience to visitors. The narrow, cobbled alleys, the lively squares and the historic buildings make walking through the city centre a wonderful experience.

Among the most important monuments in Pontevedra is the Basilica of St. Mary, an impressive Gothic church dating from the 16th century and one of the most emblematic buildings in the city.

The gastronomy of Pontevedra is another great attraction. The city is famous for its fresh seafood and Galician wines, such as Albariño. In addition, Pontevedra has a large number of green spaces and parks that are ideal for walking and relaxing in the middle of nature. In summary, Pontevedra is a city that has it all: history, culture, art, gastronomy and nature. Without a doubt, it's a must-see if you travel to Spain.

Top 7 places to visit in Pontevedra

We present our selection of outstanding sites in the city of Pontevedra:

Pontevedra Historic Centre

Leña Square (Pontevedra - Spain)
The historic centre of Pontevedra was declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1951. It is one of the best preserved in Spain.

Inside are beautiful cobbled streets that lead to endless squares of great charm and beauty.

This old town has unique spaces that reflect the idiosyncrasies of the city, which in another era was a noble town of great importance for Spain.
Among the most symbolic squares, Leña Square stands out. In ancient times, it was used to store firewood for the city's kitchens. Other representative squares are Teucro Square, named in honour of the founder of Pontevedra, and Herrería Square, where iron craftsmen forged their products for sale.

Royal Basilica of St. Mary la Mayor

Royal Basilica of St. Mary la Mayor (Pontevedra - Spain)
The Church of St. Mary la Mayor is a 16th century Catholic site that in 1962, by decree of Pope John XXIII, was elevated to a basilica and declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. In addition, it was granted the distinction of "Royal Sanctuary".

The Royal Basilica is considered the main church of Pontevedra and is located in the heart of the Historic District, where a small Romanesque church was erected in the past (It was demolished in the 15th century).
This enclosure has a Gothic style, with influences from the Portuguese Manueline. From its exterior, its facades stand out. The main one is oriented towards the west, where it offers a large staircase for access. The door is located in the central body and presents a semicircular arch framed by sculptures of St. Peter and St. Paul.
In the upper part of the door is a relief of the Blessed Virgin, while above it is a decoration in the form of scallop shells, as well as sculptures of saints, biblical characters and even historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Hernán Cortés. At an even higher point is a large rose window illuminating the entire enclosure.

The Basilica of St. Mary la Mayor is the greatest pride of Pontevedra. Also in this church is the Christ of the Good Journey, to whom sailors prayed late in the morning before going out to sea.

Sanctuary of the Pilgrim Virgin

Sanctuary of the Pilgrim Virgin (Pontevedra - Spain)
The Sanctuary of the Pilgrim Virgin is one of the quintessential symbols of Pontevedra. It was built in the 18th century as a church in honour of the Pilgrim Virgin, patroness saint of the province of Pontevedra.

It is an architectural work by Antonio Souto, and its style is a mixture of late Baroque with Neoclassicism. The base of this temple is almost round, similar to a scallop shell. This element is very curious and appreciated by connoisseurs of religious architecture.
The beautiful main façade has an anteroom in an atrium with a staircase that houses a beautiful fountain. Also noteworthy is the image of the Pilgrim Virgin, which is on the front of the enclosure. The legend about this Virgin is based on the fact that she guided pilgrims from the border with Portugal to Santiago de Compostela.

Every second Sunday of August, the Pilgrim Virgin is paraded in a carriage throughout the city.

Provincial Museum of Pontevedra

Ruinas de la Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Pontevedra
The Provincial Museum of Pontevedra is one of the most important of its kind in Spain due to the time at which it was created and the breadth of its collection. Its six buildings house the entire history of the city.

The Provincial Museum was established on December 30, 1927, as an initiative of the Provincial Council, and opened its doors to the public on August 10, 1929.

The collection of historical objects in this museum is divided by buildings and contents. Standouts include the following:
Ruins of St. Dominic: The Ruins of St. Dominic are one of the most outstanding historical and artistic attractions of Pontevedra and are located in the centre of the city. These are the remains of a 14th century Gothic convent that was abandoned in 1834. Here, collections of guild laudas, religious sculptures, architectural remains of other buildings and an important set of heraldic works from various parts of the city are exhibited.

Sarmiento Building: This was a Jesuit College built at the beginning of the 18th century and belonging to the museum since 1979. It houses the archaeological collections of Prehistory and Antiquity.

Castro Monteagudo Building: This is the founding headquarters of the museum, which opened its doors in August 1929. The building houses silverware and a collection of paintings from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods.

García Flórez Building: Built at the end of the 18th century, this was incorporated into the museum in 1943. It houses collections of religious sculptures, popular pottery and iron, linen and wool crafts.

Fernández López Building: This building houses, together with the offices of the management, secretariat and technical staff, the nucleus of the museum commissioned as a research centre.

The sixth building is of recent construction.

Island of Sculptures

Pontevedra capital Parque Isla de las Esculturas Folie de Patrick y Anne Poirier
The Island of Sculptures, also known as Illa do Covo, is one of the most representative places in Pontevedra.

It is located in an enclave of great natural and scenic value, on the banks of the Lérez River.

This beautiful place houses 12 artistic works, in addition to having a space for bicycle rides, hiking trails, water fountains and a beautiful playground.
In 1999, for the celebration of the Xacobeo Holy Year, put an interesting permanent exhibition of stone sculptures in the open air in a unique setting on the banks of the Lérez River.

Twelve sculptors participated in this artistic project comprising works related to man and his relationship with nature. This place is the largest open-air contemporary art museum in Galicia. Some of the most striking sculptures are Robert Morris's Labyrinth, Pedro Croft's Windowless House and Dan Graham's Pyramid.

Burgo Bridge

Burgo Bridge (Pontevedra - Spain)
The Burgo Bridge was of Roman origin and was then reformed in medieval times around the 12th century.

For a long time, it was one of the most important bridges in Galicia from a strategic point of view.

This construction has a total of 11 semicircular arches, some of which are part of the original bridge, while others are from the first reconstruction.
This bridge is made of granite and currently has a pedestrian use. Walking on this bridge allows one to walk through the long history of the city.

St. Francis Convent

St. Francis Convent (Pontevedra - Spain)
The Convent of St. Francis is located in the urban area of Pontevedra. Built during the 14th century, it is one of the most popular and well-known buildings in the city.

This religious site was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi, while he was following the Portuguese route of the Way of Saint James.

The church has a late Gothic style and was declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument in 1896.
Inside, the tombs of Xoan Feijoo de Soutomaior, Padre Gomez Chariño and Paio de Montenegro stand out.

How to get around Pontevedra

Pontevedra is an ideal city for walking and discovering its tourist attractions. The ease of walking around this city is due to its size and its urban model, which was designed for pedestrians. You will surely enjoy getting to know the city on foot, but there are also other good options to get around Pontevedra quickly and safely.
As for getting to and from the city, Pontevedra is very well connected with the rest of Spain. Bus services connect the city with other towns and with numerous destinations such as Madrid, Vigo, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Zaragoza and Barcelona, among many other cities.

In addition, a railway station is located in the southern part of the city. Daily trains travel to various points in Spain such as Madrid as well as regional connections to the rest of Galicia.

It is important to mention that Pontevedra does not have an airport. The closest one is in the city of Vigo, which has multiple connections with all of Spain and part of Europe.

Accommodation in Pontevedra

Pontevedra is a relatively small city, but it has different areas that might be ideal for finding accommodation according to your preferences and needs.

Without a doubt, the best area to stay is the Historic Centre, given its location and authentic atmosphere. Here, one will find a wide variety of accommodation, from luxury hotels to cheap hostels and tourist apartments. In addition, this area is home to the city's main tourist attractions. Visitors can enjoy its charming pedestrian atmosphere.

Another recommended sector is the area near Spain Square, as it is one of the nerve centres of the city and is surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops. Visitors who stay near this square will be close to everything they need and within walking distance of the main tourist attractions.

The port area is ideal if one wants to stay in a more relaxed and quiet environment with stunning views of the sea. This sector is home to hotels and tourist apartments with spectacular views of the port and the Pontevedra estuary. Plus, it is home to some of the best seafood restaurants in the city.

Gastronomy in Pontevedra

Pontevedra is known for its delicious gastronomy, which is based on fresh and local ingredients. Visitors to Pontevedra must try these delicacies.

Arcade oysters

The town is widely known for the quality of its oysters. An essential dish of great relevance in Pontevedra is the famous Festa da Ostra de Arcade.

Arcade oysters are of the ostrea edulis species and have a genuine mild flavour due to the special conditions for their production, stemming from the confluence of the fresh waters of the Verdugo River and the salty waters of the estuary.
The best way to eat these oysters is freshly opened, raw and with a squeeze of lemon, and the best time to eat them is in the month of April.

The Arcade Oyster Festival is held every year on the first weekend of April. It was declared a Festival of Tourist Interest in 2002.

Lérez-style oyster soup

The most common way to consume oysters from Pontevedra is raw and with lemon. However, one can also prepare a Lérez-style oyster soup.

This is a basic and simple broth prepared by crushing the oysters until a paste is obtained. This paste is mixed with the water resulting from cooking the oysters.

Lamprey in sauce

The lamprey is a very special fish, with a fine and delicate flavour. It is prepared using its own blood.

The ingredients for preparing this delicious Galician dish are onion, garlic, Iberian ham, red wine, salt and lamprey. As a garnish, one can use mashed potatoes and white rice.

Carril clams

One cannot leave Pontevedra without trying the clams raised in the sandbanks of this region.

One of the best-loved recipes is clams a la marinera.

This dish is prepared with onion, garlic, wheat flour, olive oil, fresh parsley and, of course, a good Albariño wine, which gives it an exceptional flavour.


On Pontevedra's dessert menu, among the most popular items are “filloas”, which are very similar to French crepes.

“Filloas” are sweet and seasoned with sugar, honey or chocolate. They can also be accompanied by quince or cooked chestnuts.

Other information of interest

Pontevedra has an impressive collection of bridges that make it a unique place. The Lérez River, which crosses this beautiful city, can be traversed by bridges that stand out for their beauty and historical importance.
Tirantes Bridge (Pontevedra - Spain)
The most famous is Tirantes Bridge, one of the symbols of the city and a significant tourist attraction. It was inaugurated in 1995 and designed by the architect Juan José Arenas.

Another notable bridge is Burgo Bridge, which connects the historic centre of the city with the A Moureira neighbourhood. This bridge was built in the 12th century and rebuilt several times throughout history due to damage caused by the flooding of the river. It is currently a very busy transit point and one of the main accesses to the old town.
Also worthy of note is Santiago Bridge, which is located at the exit of the city in the direction of Santiago de Compostela. In addition, La Toja Bridge deserves a visit. It connects the city with the island of La Toja and is famous for its beauty and uniqueness. The bridge was built in 1972 and is characterized by its inclined arches and curved lines.

Curiously, on every Carnival Monday in Pontevedra, the Ravachol parrot is taken out into the street. This is an emblematic character dressed in an outfit that serves as a critique or reference of today. The Ravachol parrot was the most famous parrot in the world, living in Pontevedra between 1891 and 1913. The animal belonged to the pharmacist Perfecto Feijoo and it became a symbol of the city due to its charisma and sympathy. After its death, the people gave the parrot a warm farewell with massive attendance – a fact commemorated every year during the town's carnivals.