A Coruña’s location on the northwestern tip of the Iberian Peninsula makes it an ideal port of call for cruise ships travelling between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. So much so that over the past few years it has become an increasingly popular cruise destination in its own right, with most cruise lines now including this fair city in their itinerary, be they on European routes or transatlantic cruises to and from the Americas.
The cruise companies that drop anchor in A Coruña include Saga, P&O, Aida, Royal Caribbean International, Costa Cruises, Pullmantur, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, MSC Cruises, Cunard, Seabourn and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. They dock in Porto da Coruña, right in the centre of the city, and the port is ideally positioned between the new and old parts of town, making it easy to get around by foot. There are also buses that cover the city centre and a tourist tram that departs from the port to the famous lighthouse and the beach. The lighthouse, The Tower of Hercules, is the oldest Roman lighthouse in the world and the only one that remains in service. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit in its setting amid a coastal park.
The cruise terminal is modern and equipped with all the necessary facilities, bordering also the modern shopping centre of Los Cantones Village that is home to a large variety of popular shops, perfect for picking up any essentials before setting sail.
Just inland from the cruise ship pier is San Carlos Garden, which sits atop the old San Carlos Fort that has seen so much action in centuries past. It holds the tomb of Sir John Moore, an English general who died at the Battle of Elviña in 1809 and forms a picturesque spot for visitors to begin their sightseeing. Indeed, the beautiful garden makes an excellent starting point for a stroll about A Coruña’s centre.
The most important and beautiful part of A Coruña, as with most cities, is the old quarter, The Ciudad Vieja. Meandering about the streets of this charming part of the city is a veritable journey through the ages. With each nuance in architecture, detailing and build, we are reminded of the many different stages of its exciting and diverse history. A wander through the pedestrian streets, perusing the shops and boutiques and relaxing in the cafés and tapas bars of the many squares, allows one to drink in the ambience a city whose heritage takes in the ancient Roman fortifications of the Santiago church and monastery to the Louis XV style Cornide Palace in the Santa María square in the style. Everything, from the classical age to the medieval and baroque eras, is exposed in the varying styles of architecture and design in this ancient port city steeped in history.
Venturing further out of the town, The Elviña fortress is a proto-historic settlement on the outskirts of the city. The nearby promenade along the sea is the longest in Europe and an enjoyable walk if the weather is agreeable. For people with a love of science and history there are a number of museums including that of María Pita, MUNCYT, the Three Science Museums, while those who yearn for a more spiritual and religious side to this historic city there are a great deal of striking churches, monasteries and of course, the famous Cathedral of Santiago in nearby Santiago de Compostela.
Whether stopping in A Coruña for a week, overnight, or even just for a whistle-stop afternoon tour, this city is so much more than a simple Port of Call. Its beauty and history make it a holiday destination in its own right that offers a rich diversity of activities, sights and sensory explorations, making this a highly memorable stop-off that sees many coming back for more.