I fell in love with Spain twenty years ago when I lived in Madrid. I rekindled that love after this fall with another adventure on the Camino de Santiago. After my second Camino Frances, I decided to treat myself to two days of R&R in a jewel of a town, Ourense, located on the Miño River in Galicia, which happens to be on another Camino, the Silver Way (Via de la Plata). Whether you are doing the Camino or just visiting Galicia, I would highly recommend that you don’t leave Spain without a couple days in Ourense.
Take a Soak in the Thermal Pools (Termas)
From the city center, you can walk to all of the thermal spas that I recommend here, but remember I was used to walking 10-15 miles a day. Most people prefer to take the small train, that leaves hourly for a less than a euro per ride from near Plaza Mayor to the thermal baths.
The closest thermal spa is Chavasqueira, which has changing rooms and bathrooms, and is free to the public. These outdoor pools have a water temperature around 104 F. I found the temperature very nice, but I would suggest you try more than one location.
Outariz Thermal Baths
If you would like to have a more Asian fusion experience, try the private Outariz thermal baths (pictured above). The fee is roughly 5 euro, but you are limited to two hours. With a circuit of over a dozen thermal pools ranging in temperatures from cold to hot with various types of massaging jets or features, the world is your oyster. The indoor area is for additional services such as massages and wraps as well as a silence area. My favorite was the outdoor section with the backdrop of the Miño River. The combo of the thermal baths, Asian design, and Mother Nature was lovely. If you would like to have a bite to eat, a glass of wine, or a coffee the upper level is a café.
Burga de Canedo
The furthest set of public thermal baths were the favorite of the locals and also my favorite. I found them by befriending a retired woman late on a Sunday afternoon to her spot, Burga de Canedo (pictured above). There are changing rooms, but you must bring your own lock if you use the lockers. During the day, there is a lifeguard. The Burga de Canedo was the hottest of all of the spas, some water comes out close to 160 F which is then mixed with cooler water to be ideal for musculoskeletal ailments.
Three Tips for Your Thermal Bath Experience in Ourense:
1) Bring a towel, bathing suit, flipflops, and lock with you.
2) Shower before entering either the public or private baths.
3) Leave your camera/phone in the locker because photos are not permitted. (FYI: Forgive me. I took the photos above from the outside of the spa area or when closed.)
Take a Walk along the Bridges
Although Ourense is known as the Capital of Thermal Baths, I would say another nickname would be the City of Bridges. The most dramatic for me was the Roman bridge built in the first century. It is only a pedestrian bridge now, but it was impressive to see the Camino signs on the bridge after just being in Santiago de Compostela the day previously.
However, not all of the bridges are historic. In fact, the Millennium Bridge is a work of art, plus a workout. As you can see from the included picture, the elliptical design of the bridge allows both car and pedestrian traffic.
The most interesting feature is for the adventurous. You can climb the bridge’s design up to 22 meters in height along a pedestrian staircase.
Tapas Tour – Buen Provecho y Salud
In most Spanish towns, you can’t go wrong with the food; it is locally sourced and homemade. As the region of Galicia is known for its rich soups, cheeses, tortilla española, seafood, and wine, I would like to highlight my favorite dishes with a couple of recommendations for tapas bars in Ourense.
Caldo Gallego (Galicia Soup)
Quesos Gallegos (Galicia Cheese – favorite from Arzúa)
Tortilla Española (Potato Omelette)
Pimientos al Padrón (Sauteed Green Peppers) & Pulpo a la Gallega (Galician Octopus)
All of the above taste great paired with an adult beverage, such as some of my favorite Galician wines, Ribiero and Albariño for whites and Mencia for red, OR a draft of Estrella Galicia.
Best Spanish Tapas Places in Ourense
If you are interested in my posts about other adventures in Spain, check out these posts:
As always, here's to looking up!