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Seafood and Culinary Vacation in Spain

On this week-long seafood pilgrimage, you’ll delve deep into the world of barnacle hunters, oyster fishermen, lobster trap builders, razor clam-diggers, and net menders, along with the local chefs who are harnessing the incredible offerings of their coast, transforming Galician cuisine into something new and exciting. Though the focus will be seafood and the traditional artisans along this coast, you’ll be exploring all facets of Galician identity – history, folklore, architecture, music, language, and religion – and gaining a deeper understanding of its unbreakable bond with the sea.

Highlights

  • Join Michelin starred chefs for a hands-on demonstration
  • Visit winemakers, join clam diggers, and meet seafood hunters
  • Join Michelin starred chefs in the kitchen for the secrets of their amazing menu
  • Take in the best of the wild coastline and historic Way of St. James
  • Get an inside view of Galician heritage
  • 6 nights accommodation

Styles


6 days with instruction
Group size: 6-12 participants
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Accommodation

You will stay in a hotel in Vigo and Santiago de Compostela.

Program

The Romans once considered Galicia, the rugged coastal region of northwestern Spain, the end of the world. Today, it remains one of Europe’s least-explored corners. The region’s Celtic heritage, seafaring tradition, and language – closer to Portuguese than Spanish – all contribute to a distinct Galician identity.

Here, still-working fishing villages, monasteries, lighthouses, and ancient settlements punctuate panoramic views of the sea. For most visitors, the region’s allure is the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, the resting place and shrine of St. James, but it’s the seafood bounty of the Galician coast that has put it on the culinary map.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and welcome

This afternoon, arrive in Vigo and settle into the hotel, located just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Ría de Vigo estuary. You’ll meet in the hotel in the early evening for a welcome drink and introductions.

From there, you’ll head out for dinner, where you’ll be introduced to the stars of the Galician kitchen, shellfish, and crustaceans, which you’ll be hunting down throughout the week. You’ll raise a glass to a captivating – and delicious – week ahead.

Day 2: Galician ruins, wine, and bagpipes

This morning after breakfast, you’ll head out for an introduction to Galician history, culture, and of course, cuisine. You’ll start in the historic town of La Guardia, where you’ll have a guided walking tour of the hilltop castro, the pre-Roman ruins of Galician civilization. Meandering down to the rocky shore, you’ll tour the port and meet the people working in this area, known for its rock lobsters.

From there, you’ll head up the road to the town of O Rosal, where you’ll be introduced to Galicia’s other claim to fame, wine-making, by a vintner working with the local albariño grapes. Along with the wine, you’ll enjoy a late lunch featuring the lobsters we encountered back in La Guardia. As afternoon blends into the evening, everyone will have some free time to rest or wander before a private visit to the atelier of the region’s master bagpipe-maker, where he’ll show you his work and maybe play a couple of tunes.

To cap off the day, you’ll head to a traditional taverna for a dinner of regional standards washed down with jugs of local wine.

Day 3: Castles, oysters, and (Michelin) stars

This morning, you’ll leave Vigo and drive to Soutomaior, a small riverside town known for its wine and oysters. At a 12th-century castle, you’ll enjoy a wine-tasting accompanied by local oysters, while learning about the estate’s founder, a nobleman believed by some to have been Christopher Columbus.

The early afternoon will bring you to the picturesque seaside village of Combarro where unique, stone granaries jut out from the shore. Take some time to relax and enjoy the sea breezes before you head off to meet celebrated chef Pepe Vieira. You’ll be treated to a hands-on demonstration in his Michelin-starred kitchen, then afterward enjoy his elegant tasting menu for dinner.

You’ll end the evening with a hearty night’s rest at the hotel in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

Day 4: Historic tour of Santiago

You will begin the day with a tour to unravel the mysteries of the famous pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela. Walking around the city, you’ll visit the area’s significant historic sites, including the cathedral, as well as a few of the more hidden corners.

For lunch you’ll explore the day’s catch at the famed Mercado de Abastos. You’ll have the evening to enjoy Santiago on your own.

Day 5: Harvesting shellfish in Cambados

Today you’re setting out for the shellfish hotbed of Cambados. You’ll spend the morning with a local woman who heads an all-female cooperative focused on shellfish, and you’ll have the opportunity to join her for each stage of her work, from collecting clams on the shore to taking them to the market.

After lunch, you’ll head across the estuary, where you’ll join a fisherman collecting mussels. He’ll take you to his hatcheries by boat and treat you to a fresh-tasting, right there onboard.

In the late afternoon you’ll head back to Santiago, where you can enjoy a free evening to wander and relax.

Day 6: Barnacle hunting and sunset farewell

In the morning you’ll head to what local sailors refer to as the “Coast of Death,” where stone crosses on the shore mark lost ships. Here, some of the world’s finest barnacles cling to dramatic cliffs pounded by the surf. You’ll meet with a local barnacle hunter who’ll introduce you to his work and explain how he “reads” the sea on his dangerous daily hunts. You’ll also meet one of the last artisans practicing a traditional method of drying conger eel.

After walking along one of the minor paths of the St. James pilgrimage route, you’ll end at a lighthouse on the tip of a cape. Since ancient times this stretch of coast has been a site where pilgrims watch the sunset, believed to be a gateway to the beyond – Greek and Roman ruins attest to that. You’ll watch the sun sink into the water before feasting with our new friends, the barnacle hunter, and eel dryer, at a local taverna serving exquisite seafood and other local specialties.

After the final celebratory meal together, you’ll head back out to the rocks for a special purification ritual known as queimada. Involving shots ladled out of a pot of flaming brandy by a toastmaster, the ritual’s roots may be Druid or Gallego-Cuban or a mix of both – and, like all of the week’s experiences, it is uniquely Galician.

Day 7: Farewell and departure

Until the next adventure!

Note

Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. Culinary Backstreets expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Activity level

Travelers should feel comfortable walking three to five miles each day and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get hands-on during a couple of cooking workshops.

Included excursions

  • Visit winemakers, join clam diggers and meet seafood hunters, learning the distinct process of their work and how they struggle to preserve it.
  • Take in the best of the wild coastline and historic Way of St. James with short scenic hikes.
  • Join Michelin starred chefs in the kitchen for the secrets of their amazing menu.
  • Get an inside view of Galician heritage, from pre-Roman Celtic settlements to one of the holiest Cathedrals in the Catholic world.

Location

This seafood holiday takes place in Galicia.

Food

Due to the region’s seafood traditions, there will be a number of meals during the trip that are exclusively shellfish, and which won’t have vegetarian substitutes. While most of Culinary Backstreets' trips can generally cater to vegetarian and vegan diets, this culinary itinerary has more limited options. If you are neither a pescatarians nor omnivore, it will be hard to fully participate in this trip.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Soda
  • Alcoholic beverages

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • Six nights of accommodation in a boutique hotel
  • Two talented local guides to accompany you throughout the trip
  • All meals, drinks, and transportation during the trip, including in a private coach
  • All activities and events as mentioned in the itinerary

What's not included

  • Transportation and flights to Vigo and from Santiago de Compostela (note that the trip begins and ends in different locations)
  • Additional meals, drinks, and personal expenses outside of Culinary Backstreets offerings
  • If applicable, applying for a Spanish visa (not required for U.S. citizens)
  • Travel insurance (recommended)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Vigo–Peinador Airport (VGO). Please note that the trip begins in Vigo and ends in Santiago de Compostela. Vigo’s Peinador Airport has direct connections to Madrid, Barcelona, London, Paris, Lisbon, and other nearby cities, while its Guixar Railway Station has connections to Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Porto, and more.

Culinary Backstreets team recommends that you arrive in Vigo by 3 p.m. on day 1 and depart from Santiago de Compostela anytime on day 7. If you’d like to extend your stay on either end, they are happy to arrange extra nights and provide suggestions for things to do and see on your own.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 6 participants

Availability

Arrival: Friday October 7, 2022
Departure: Thursday October 13, 2022

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