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Orense Travel Guide

Orense (Spain)
Coat of Arms of Orense (Spain)

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Coordinates: 42.33556°, -7.86406°

Population: 103,756 inhabitants (2022)

In the heart of Galicia is the beautiful Orense (Ourense in Galician), which, despite not having an outlet to the sea, is known as the "City of Water". This beautiful city is the capital of the province that bears its name, being the third most populated city in Galicia, after Vigo and A Coruña.

Located in the southeast of Spain, very close to the border with Portugal, Orense is crossed by the Miño, Barbaña and Lonia rivers. Orense is also known as the "City of Las Burgas", as it is home to the famous natural hot springs with temperatures ranging between 60 and 68°C. The vast majority of the thermal areas in the city are free, and in them one can find spas and places for beauty treatments.

Orense is full of historical vestiges that remind one of its Roman past. Its medieval network of streets and temples gave it a very rich and extraordinary architectural heritage. The Cathedral of Orense, the Roman Bridge and the Cloister of St. Francis are some examples of the historical monuments that one should visit.

The city is also surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes that are ideal for family enjoyment and for hiking, cycling or horseback riding. In Orense, one will also find numerous rivers and reservoirs for water activities.

Orense hides great patrimonial treasures, corners of extreme beauty and a gastronomy that will make you want to lick your fingers. For all this and many other things, Orense is a majestic destination.

Top 5 places to visit in Orense

Cathedral of Orense

Cathedral of Orense (Spain)
The history of the Cathedral of Orense is an interesting journey of more than eight centuries of reconstructions and alterations.

It is the main religious temple of the city, with a construction dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Experts consider this church to be one of the great works of the religious Romanesque style in Spain.

The Cathedral of San Martiño, as this enclosure is known, is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours.
It was declared a National Monument in 1931 and has had honours as a minor basilica since 1887.

Its structure has a Latin cross plan eighty-four meters long, with three naves separated by cruciform pillars and bent and pointed arches with ribbed vaults.

The main altar stands out for its magnificent Gothic altarpiece (1516-1520), the work of Cornelis de Holanda, and its tomb in the same style by an anonymous author. Another outstanding element in this temple is the Portico of Paradise, a set of sculptures of great beauty with a perfect polychromy. This work reproduces the Christian prophets.

In a chapel of this cathedral is the consecrated image of Holy Christ, a two-meter-high carving of beautiful and impressive realism. Around this cathedral are very curious stories. One indicates that a barber regularly went to the venue to cut the hair of the Holy Christ. There is also a legend that the image when it was found had natural hair and a natural beard.

Medieval Bridge

Orense Medieval Bridge (Spain)
The Orense Medieval Bridge, also known as Roman Bridge, Old Bridge or Major Bridge, was built in Roman times (1st century AD) and is part of the history of the city, directly linked to its origins, as this was the only passage available to cross the waters of the calm Miño river.

It was declared a historical-artistic monument in 1961 and is of great importance to the city, as it is represented on its coat of arms, where it appears with a tower that existed but was demolished in 1839.
This bridge was rebuilt in the 13th century and consolidated in the 17th century. Currently, the bridge has seven arches. The highest is in the middle and supports the more than 200 meters in length of this wonderful monument.

As a pedestrian crossing, it is a quiet and fantastic place on the Miño river, perfect to enjoy with the family and discover all its greatness and history.


Main Square

Main Square (Orense - Spain)
Main Square is located in the centre of this beautiful city and is surrounded by the oldest buildings in Orense, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Its main characteristic is its slight inclination towards the side of the City Hall. It is one of the few squares in Europe with an inclination.

This square is located where most of the festive activities and important events for the citizens take place.
There are also popular activities such as the antiques market. In addition, the square is the concentration point for visitors to the city, as the tourist train to the hot springs begins and ends there.

Cloister of St. Francis

Ourense, claustro de San Francisco 01-01b
The city of Orense is home to the Cloister of St. Francis, an architectural work of Gothic style that at one time was a Franciscan convent.

This 14th-century cloister impresses with the excellent state of conservation of its fantastic stone arches. They are supported by double columns beautifully decorated with plant, animal and human motifs.

As a curious fact, this building was the headquarters of an infantry barracks.

A Chavasqueira Hot Springs

Orense - Termas Chavasqueira
On the banks of the Miño river in Orense, very close to the Millennium Bridge, are the A Chavasqueira Hot Springs, a very curious thermal facility decorated in the style of a traditional Japanese bathhouse.

A Chavasqueira is a quiet and interesting place, with beautiful details in wood and stone that make you believe you are in the enigmatic nation of Japan.

The site has four hot springs: Rotenburo, Ofuro, Templarium and Sudarium.
In addition to the bathing experience, visitors can enjoy a massage or beauty treatments.

How to get around Orense

The best option for getting around in Orense is walking, as the distances between the main monuments are not great. Other characteristics that make a walk through Orense pleasant are its gentle slopes and the longitudinal layout of its avenues. However, if you prefer another option, you can use urban transport or take a taxi or bicycle.

Regarding the use of bicycles in this city, it is ideal, as Orense has several routes close to the rivers that cross this beautiful town. There are also more than 10 bicycle rental points promoted by the municipality.

The city’s urban transport service is very efficient. This service has routes that cover the north-south axis of the city and two night routes. There is also a tourist route known as "The Baths Train", leaving from Main Square.

To get to the city, the most recommended option is the train, as a high-speed service is available. This service has connections with cities in the same autonomous community and with the main cities in Spain, such as Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao. The Orense train station is located on the outskirts of the historic centre.

Note that if you travel using your own car, this city has a good network of roads connected to the main towns in Galicia. The city is five hours by land from Madrid and less than two hours from the Portuguese city of Porto.

Accommodation in Orense

Without a doubt, the beautiful historic centre is the best place to stay in Orense.

By staying in this area, one can visit all the interesting places in the city on foot. In addition, the best restaurants, bars and shops are concentrated here. The As Bugas hot springs are located in this sector of the city, and from there begins the tourist route "Train of the Hot Springs", which takes visitors to the thermal pools and spas on the banks of the Miño river.

In the centre of Orense, one can find a wide range of accommodation, from small functional hotels to cheap hostels and tourist apartments.

Gastronomy in Orense

Galician-style octopus

Galician-style octopus
This is the star dish of the region. Galician-style octopus is served cut into slices sprinkled with paprika powder; sometimes it is accompanied by boiled potatoes with their skins cut in half.

Its preparation is based on cooking the octopus to its best point.

This process involves a series of very particular actions such as "scaring the octopus", which is done by introducing it to boiled water three times.

Galician empanada

Galician empanada
Like Galician-style octopus, this dish has transcended its region and is well known throughout the world for its magnificent flavour.

The “empanada” dough contains wheat flour, lard and water. The texture must be very fine.

The filling can be beef, pork or fish typical of the region, made with a sauce based on onion, garlic and peppers.

Marrón Glacé

Marrón Glacé
Orense is known for “Marrón Glacés”.

This is a chestnut-based sweet widely consumed at Christmas and at the Magosto Festival in this city.

To prepare this delight, one needs chestnuts, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, anise and a touch of brandy to enhance the flavour.
For this recipe to be perfect, the best chestnuts must be chosen for their size and condition. They must be placed whole and cooked over low heat.

This preparation culminates upon placing the syrup and leaving it to rest for a day.

Other information of interest

Orense is one of the places with the greatest thermal activity in all of Europe.

This city has its own thermal route so that visitors can enjoy the waters, which have healing properties. The route is located on the banks of the Miño river in the western sector, just after the Millennium Bridge. There, thermal springs are properly conditioned so that visitors can take a bath in their waters.
Muíño da Veiga Hot Springs (Orense - Spain)
This walk is approximately four kilometres along a path connecting the seven thermal spaces that are available at any time of year.

The route begins in the thermal zone of A Chavasqueira, which is closest to the city. There, one can enjoy the sun and the river.

This path will take visitors to O Tinteiro, a beautiful fountain-viewpoint, and to the Muíño da Veiga Hot Springs, which has four spectacular pools.
A little farther on are the Outariz and Burga de Canedo Hot Springs, which offer beauty treatment services, saunas and two thermal circuits, comprising the most active hot springs in the city. The route continues along the Paseo de las Ninfas, at the Fuente de Reza, a unique and fascinating thermal space.

Off the route and in the heart of the city are the As Burgas Hot Springs. This is the emblematic thermal pool of Orense, as it is the most visited.

All these spas, swimming pools and thermal circuits are beautiful and unique places. Most of them constitute an important part of the history of this city and are available to everyone.

In the nearby town of Carballino, every year, during the second weekend of August, the world-famous Octopus Festival is held. It has been declared of National Tourist Interest. This celebration began in 1964 to pay homage to the greatest star of Galician cuisine, as well as to the other characteristic products of the region’s gastronomy, such as Galician “empanadas” and Cea bread.

This celebration sees a massive attendance of more than 100,000 visitors who taste thousands of kilos of octopus.