Lover of all things ghoulish and mysterious? Have we got the road trip for you – Spain’s creepily named Death Coast (Costa da Morte)! Learn where this holiday hotspot is and just why you should put it on your agenda with our expert guide below…
So, where is the Costa da Morte and what’s the deal with its name?
You’ll find the beautiful Costa da Morte on Galicia’s north-east coast and within the province known as A Coruña. It’s a stunning stretch between Muxia and Malpica that’s made up of rugged coves, lofty viewpoints and charming fishing villages where you can dig into platefuls of delicious Galician grub.
If you’re wondering how this stretch of stunning seaside got its name, one explanation is in fact linked to death. Over the centuries, the Costa da Morte’s rocky coastline, strong currents and ferocious waves have caused numerous ships to wreck along its shores.
There’s also another possible reason behind this area’s less than appealing name – and you’ll like it a lot if you’re a fan of myths and legends! The Costa da Morte’s location at the very western side of Mainland Europe was supposedly considered to be the End of the World by ancient civilisations such as the Romans and the Celts. Thanks to the uninterrupted sunsets, many of them even believed it was the gateway to the afterlife! Guess what? It’s not.
What’s there to see and do along the Costa da Morte?
If this wild yet jaw-dropping coastal spot sounds like your cup of tea, there are a handful of things you’ll want to immediately put on your Costa da Morte itinerary:
For fans of super fresh seafood, make your way to Malpica
As a coastal region, it’s not surprising that the Costa de Morte is famed for its incredible seafood. There are loads of quaint fishing villages nestled along its shores, including pretty Malpica that’s home to a great market where you can watch local fisherman bringing in their daily hauls. It’s the perfect place to pop into if you’re planning to self-cater during your Spanish driving holiday and want some seriously tasty mussels or shellfish!
For keen bird watchers, twitch away at Santo Hadrián do Mar Sanctuary
Planning a Spanish getaway in late summer or early autumn? That’s the prime time of year to see migratory birds gliding through the skies towards the Sisargas Islands – a protected nature reserve just off the Costa da Morte.
Some of the best views of the ocean and its animal inhabitants can be enjoyed from the Santo Hadrián do Mar Sanctuary just north of Malpica. The building honours Saint Adrian who, legend has it, once helped local villages get rid of a plague of snakes…
For amazing arts and crafts, make Buño your priority
The Costa da Morte’s ancient heritage and traditions means there’s plenty of unique culture to soak up. Fans of pretty homeware will want to make a pitstop in Buño, a village less than ten minutes by car from Malpica.
Buño has been producing beautiful pottery for centuries and still has a thriving industry which uses historic techniques. You can learn all about it in the village’s Ecomuseo Forno do Forte, have a go at creating your own during a workshop at a local pottery or simply buy some to take home as a souvenir.
For showstopping sunsets, Nemiña can’t be beaten
Love taking hundreds of pics to get the perfect snap of the sun setting? Well, the Costa da Morte’s are literally legendary! While you’ll be able to see the sun disappearing below the ocean at every point along the coastline, Nemiña beach is a lovely spot if you want to get right down on the sand.
By day, it’s a surfer’s paradise (there’s even a few surf schools). Come dusk, the sky above is a kaleidoscope of colour which reflects right across the water. Nemiña can be reached on foot from the neighbouring village of Lire (the route is about 2.5km long) or you can drive along a scenic country road right to the shoreline.
For sheltered swimming, Laxe is number 1
Despite the Costa da Morte’s reputation for rough waves, there are a couple of more sheltered beaches which are ideal for swimming. Laxe is one of these and it’s great for families dreaming of balmy beach days.
You’ll find Laxe an hour away from A Coruña city and 70 minutes from Santiago de Compostela. Its position in the calm Cabanas bay means its long beach is lapped by small waves which even the tiniest of tot will be able to paddle in. There are also several spots dotted along the shore where you can enjoy tasty local tapas with awesome views!
For those intrigued by local traditions, learn more in Virxe da Barca
Found a stone’s throw from Muxia, the Virxe da Barca (Virgin of the Boat) sanctuary was built in the 17th century as a shrine to protect sailors and fishermen from peril out at sea. Its name has links to a local legend about James the Apostle who is said to have met a virgin in a stone boat at this point along the Costa da Morte.
The church itself overlooks the ocean and is a key spot on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Sadly, it was struck by lightning in 2013 and partially destroyed, but then rebuilt in 2015. Virxe da Barca is a must-see if you’re even a little bit spiritual, plus its prime position on the cliffs makes it an awesome spot for photos.
Remember to swot up on the rules of the road before you set off on your epic Spanish driving holiday. After more inspiration on what to see and do in this sunny country? Continue north from Galicia to begin an awesome Basque Country road trip!