La Coruña is one of Spain's lesser-known but most intriguing destinations. Aside from Santiago de Compostela, it is the largest city in the "autonomous community" of Galicia (in the Galician language, it is known as A Coruña), and an appealing place in October.
If the weather's warm, you can enjoy the urban beaches of Playa del Orzan and Playa de Riazor. If cold, culture abounds at institutions such as the superb Museo de Belas Artes, on Calle Zalaeta (museobelasartescoruna.xunta.es). A series of free autumn classical concerts begins on 27 October at 12.30pm.
Get your bearings
Pitched almost at the north-west corner of Spain, La Coruña is a city flanked by water on a curiously shaped spur of land which juts east and then north into the Atlantic. The beaches are on the upper side of the peninsula, and the port area on the lower. The old town (Ciudad Vieja) lurks at the heart of the matter, spreading out above the Plaza de Maria Pita – where you can also find the tourist information office, at No 6 (turismocoruna.com). Public transport is limited to 22 bus routes (busurbano.tk), which cover most of the city for a flat fare of €1.45. Most of the significant sights can be ticked off on foot.
Take a hike
Start in the Plaza de Maria Pita – named after the city heroine who helped to defend it from attack by Francis Drake's English hordes in 1589. Her statue stares at the elegant three-domed Palacio Municipal, on the north side of the square. Exit to the east – up the steps on Calle Marques de Cerralbo and Calle Alfonso IX, and enter the Plaza del General Azcarraga and Plaza de la Constitucion.
These twin spaces, leafy and café-lined, epitomise the Ciudad Vieja. Go left at the end of the latter into Calle del Principe, then take the second right into Calle de Santo Domingo – passing the hanging hams of Jamoneria la Leonesa (facebook.com/jamoneriala leonesa) at No 2. The street runs uphill to Plaza de Santo Domingo, where the Iglesia de Santo Domingo is the third church sited on this spot, Drake's privateers having burned down the original (domicoru.com).
The lanes off the main drag of Calle San Andres have many retail options. Sombrerero Loco (sombrereroloco.es) sells bright teapots and fruity brews at Calle Olmos 6 – while La Petenera, at Calle Riego de Agua 50 (bit.ly/LaPetShop), does quirky homeware and colourful crockery.
The Mercado de San Agustin (coruna.es/mercados) has been dispensing fruit and vegetables on Plaza de San Agustin since 1932. For pricier purchases head south-west to the Centro district, where stores on Plaza Lugo include jewellers Swarovski (swarovski.com).
Lunch on the run
The modish Adegas Abica, at Calle Riego de Agua 31 (abica.es), proffers inventive modern morsels – such as tuna with sun-dried tomato pesto for €8.90.
Walk in the park
A mile's stroll from the centre along the seafront promenade of Paseo Maritimo (a route also traced by bus 3), the Parque de la Torre de Hércules hogs the northern tip of the peninsula. Here you'll find the Torre de Hércules, a Roman-built lighthouse dating back to the First Century. The Romans, who believed Galicia (Finisterra) to be the end of the world, regarded this headland as the site where Hercules defeated the giant Geryon. Their Unesco-listed creation offers fine views (daily 10am to 6pm), at Avenida de Navarra (torredeherculesacoruna.com); €3.
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