Welcome to La Coruna cruise port, Spain!
La Coruna (A Coruña, in Galician; La Coruña, in Spanish) is a port city in the Galicia region of northwest Spain and one of the frequent stops in the Mediterranean cruise itineraries. Known for its Roman historic heritage, sweeping coastal views of the Atlantic Ocean, beaches, bustling city center and a medieval old town, La Coruna has a lot to offer to everyone!
In this article, read about:
- La Coruna cruise port (La Coruna cruise terminal, getting around)
- 11 best things to do in La Coruna & top La Coruna shore excursions
La Coruna Cruise Port
La Coruna cruise terminal is located on Muelle de Trasatlánticos quay, only a 5-minute walking distance from the city center. The cruise terminal features a small building with facilities such as a tourist office desk (make sure you pick up maps), souvenir shops, security screening. Upon exiting the terminal, on your left side you’ll see large parking for tour buses.
To get to the city center, you need to exit the terminal, walk straight past the glass building of Los Cantones Village shopping center, cross Avenida da Mariña street and you’ll reach Rúa Real, a pedestrian shopping street.
The port of La Coruna is also a major cargo port that serves the distribution of agricultural goods from Galicia, which makes the city the region’s industrial and financial center.
- The currency in Spain is EURO (€). Local currency or credit cards are accepted everywhere. ATMs are available in the city. Some cruise lines provide ATMs onboard, however, you may find the better exchange rate in the city. See the currency converter.
- Los Cantones Village shopping mall is located right in front of the terminal and offers numerous shops, cafes and bars.
- The city center is walkable and the best part of it sits on a peninsula. La Coruna is perfect for biking as it’s flat, and the beach is located a few blocks away from the main street Rúa Real (a 15-minute walk from the terminal).
- You will find public transport (buses and taxis) on Avenida Marina, located only a few minutes away from the terminal building. This notable street is famous for its charming Marina filled with recreation boats and beautiful glazed balconies that you’ll spot from the ship’s outer decks. You can reach the majority of city attractions on foot, so you may not need public transportation. However, if you want to explore the city by bus, bus 3 goes to the major attractions including the Tower of Hercules. Taxis also offer tours and transfers to the nearby cities including Santiago de Compostela, Galicia’s capital.
- Free wi-fi is available in the Los Cantones shopping mall as well as cafes and restaurants in the city center.
- A large number of shops are closed during the Spanish siesta time (from 13:30 to 16:00), except for the big department stores, supermarkets. Museums are normally closed on Monday.
- La Coruna train station (Estación de La Coruña) is located 2.5 km/1.5 miles or a 10-minute drive from La Coruna port.
- The nearest airport is Santiago Airport (Santiago–Rosalía de Castro Airport), located 66 km/41 miles, a 45-minute drive from the port La Coruna.
- Check out the best hotels in La Coruna, Spain
Top 11 Things to Do in La Coruna Cruise Port
La Coruna city center is located within a short walking distance from the port and you can visit the majority of the city’s landmarks on foot. Before I share with you the best things to do in La Coruna, I invite you to sign up below and get my insider, exclusive SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE FOR FREE!
1. Tower of Hercules
The Tower of Hercules (Torre de Hércules) is the UNESCO-listed ancient Roman lighthouse dating from the late 1st century A.D. Built on a 57-meter high rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the lighthouse has been in continuous operation ever since and is the oldest lighthouse in the world still in use. It is 55 meters (180 ft) tall, which makes it Spain’s second tallest lighthouse.
The whole site also features a sculpture garden, the massive statue of Breogán, the rock carvings from the Iron Age and a Muslim cemetery.
- The Tower of Hercules is located approximately 2.6 km/1.6 miles from La Coruna port (a 40-minute walk or a 15-minute drive).
- Due to the location of the tower facing the Atlantic Ocean, it can be very windy so make sure to wear appropriate clothes (a light jacket and comfortable shoes are recommended).
- The Tower of Hercules is located on a promontory and the vehicles cannot park in front of the entrance. There are a parking lot and public toilets available at the foot of the promontory, and there is a portion of the slightly uphill road that needs to be handled on foot.
- The Tower of Hercules is partially wheelchair-accessible.
- There is a Visitor Center in the parking lot and here you can purchase the tickets to climb the tower (the general admission fee is 3€). For more information, check the http://www.torredeherculesacoruna.com/
2. Saint Anton Castle
The Castle of San Antón is the 16th-century fortress located at the strategic location protecting the Bay of Coruna and the entrance to the harbour, built as part of a strategic network of castles and towers to defend the city back in history. Nowadays, it houses an archeological museum where you can see prehistoric and ancient artifacts, weaponry, medieval sculptures, and learn about the history of the fort and the city.
From the castle’s ramparts, you can enjoy magnificent views of the coast and the entrance is only 2€ per person (free on Saturday). The disadvantage is that all information in the museum is available only in Spanish and Galician.
Saint Anton Castle is located only 1.3 km/0.80 miles or a 15-minute easy walk from the cruise dock.
3. Maria Pita Square
Situated only 600 m from the La Coruna dock (a 5-minute walk), Praza de Maria Pita is the central square of the city dominated by the imposing building of the Town Hall (Concello da Coruña) and surrounded by a great number of shops, cafes and restaurants.
In the center of the square, you’ll find the statue of Maria Pita, the city’s heroine who played a significant role in reducing the losses of the Corunans during Sir Francis Drake’son A Coruña in 1589.
While there, you can admire the beautiful historic buildings with galerias, balconies enclosed in a glass frame built to protect from the cold Galician winds in the wintertime. Because of the galerias, La Coruna is often referred to as “the glass city” and “the crystal city”.
Adjacent to Maria Pita Square, you’ll find a little Marqués de San Martín square dominated by the beautiful Baroque Church of Saint George (Iglesia de San Jorge).
4. Ciudad Vieja (Old Town)
While in La Coruna, don’t miss the chance to explore the medieval cobblestone streets of Ciudad Vieja (Old Town), situated only 1 km/0.60 miles or a 15-minute walk from the dock, near Saint Anton Castle.
Besides quaint tapas bars and restaurants, in the Old Town you’ll find charming historic buildings, monuments and landmarks, including the churches Santa Maria do Campo, Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Convento de Santa Bárbara and the 12th century Iglesia de Santiago. The best views of the harbour are from the historic San Carlos Garden (Jardín de San Carlos), a verdant, quiet garden dating from the 14th century.
5. Shopping, Wine and Food Tasting
I’ve been to La Coruna many times and this is one of my favorite ports of call for shopping (besides Cartagena, my number 1) and eating out.
Only a 5-10 minutes walking distance from the port of La Coruna, you’ll find Rúa Real with its beautiful galerias, offering a variety of gift shops, clothing and shoe stores, and a few blocks away, Rúa Orzán that has the best bars and restaurants. The famous beach, Playa del Orzán, is located only a few minutes’ walk from the street.
Galicia is known for its award-winning wineries, vineyards and wine cellars spread across the region. If you want to try the region’s premium wines, you should book one of the wine tours offered by local tour agencies or your cruise line. I joined a wine and food pairing led by a sommelier at Hotel NH Collection A Coruña Finisterre as part of a cruise ship shore excursion, and the overall experience was amazing. This hotel is located next to the Marina, only a 5-minute walking distance from the dock.
6. La Coruna Beaches
La Coruna boasts a beautiful, long coast ideal for activities such as biking, segway or rollerblading. If you come in the summertime, you can surf, play volleyball or sunbathe on the wide, urban Playa del Orzán, backed by a waterfront promenade offering fantastic views of the bay. Another popular beach is Playa de Riazor, situated next to it, perfect for walking or running.
7. Gardens of Méndez Núñez
Only 750 meters from the cruise terminal (upon exiting, turn left), this lovely landscaped park dating from 1868 features old trees, colorful flower beds, fountains and sculptures, as well as areas for kids and walking. It’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Public toilets and a coffee shop are available for visitors.
8. Aquarium Finisterrae
Aquarium Finisterrae is a public interactive science center that opened in 1999 and is dedicated to wildlife preservation, particularly the sea ecosystem and sea life. Here you can encounter and interact with the marine underwater life of Galicia’s coast and the Atlantic Ocean, including seals, sharks, rays and other types of fish.
The Aquarium features various interactive exhibits and fascinating exhibition rooms including Sala Nautilus, the most spectacular one, designed to offer an authentic emotional experience. The whole place is very scenic, offering unique views of the coast and marine life. The general admission fee is 10€/adults, 4€/children.
9. Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the Galicia region, located 76 km/47 miles (a 50-minute drive) from La Coruna cruise port. The fascinating medieval city is known as the final destination of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route and the 11th-century Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which is the reputed burial place of the Biblical apostle St. James.
The Cathedral boasts an impressive Western facade that overlooks Praza do Obradoiro (“Square of the Workshop”), the main square of Santiago de Compostela old town that is also surrounded by the university and a few more important buildings.
The medieval Old Town is filled with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and landmarks such as the Museum of Pilgrimage, Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares (medieval church and monastery & a museum of historic art), Praza da Quintana de Vivos (a square behind the Cathedral), Mercado de Abastos (traditional market), and other medieval churches and monuments.
- The medieval Old Town is a pedestrian-only zone. The parking lot where the tour buses drop passengers off is located a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral and main landmarks. Taxis and private vehicles can get closer to the downtown.
- The medieval Old Town is cobblestone, the streets are narrow and wheelchair users may find it difficult to handle.
- Find out more about the opening hours and the prices on https://catedraldesantiago.es/
Nestled in a fertile valley 27 km/16.7 miles (a 25-minute drive) southeast of La Coruna, Betanzos is one of the best-preserved old towns in Galicia and one of the stops on the English Way path of the Camino de Santiago.
Named “Brigantium” by the Romans, Betanzos sits on a hill on the mouth of the Betanzos estuary, where the sea mixes with the freshwaters of the Mandeo and Mendo rivers. Due to its architecture and historic heritage, the town was declared a Historic-Artistic Site.
Betanzos boasts three beautiful Gothic churches: Igrexa de San Francisco (St Francis Church) dating from the 14th century; Igrexa de Santiago (St James Church) built in the 15th century, famous for its main portal decorated with a horseback statue of Saint James; and Igrexa de Santa María do Azogue (Church of Santa María do Azogue) built between the late 14th and early 15th centuries.
Located on a hill on the banks of the river Miño, 103 km/64 miles (a 1-hour 10 minutes drive) southeast of La Coruna, the historic city of Lugo is the capital of the province of Lugo and the fourth most populous city in Galicia.
Lugo is surrounded by completely intact Roman walls (Muralla Romana de Lugo) built between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD to defend the city against local tribesmen and Germanic invaders. The walls are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and they reach the height of 15 meters (49 ft), spreading along a 2.117-meter (6.946 ft) circuit ringed with remaining 46 towers.
Nowadays, visitors can stroll along the whole length of the wall and admire beautiful views of the historic quarter inside the walls. The Old Town is filled with medieval buildings, squares, churches, among which the 12th century Lugo Cathedral, the Episcopal Palace and the City Hall of Lugo with its magnificent 18th century baroque façade stand out.
To get the most of La Coruna port of call, I suggest you plan your day ahead! The city is beautiful and accessible to explore, but if you decide to join a shore excursion to Santiago de Compostela, Betanzos or Lugo, a memorable day is guaranteed!
Read more about the ports of Spain in my article Ports of Spain: 20 Best Cities to Visit on a Cruise to Spain
11 Best Things to Do in La Coruna Cruise Port
- Tower of Hercules
- Saint Anton Castle
- Maria Pita Square
- Ciudad Vieja
- Shopping, Wine and Food Tasting
- La Coruna Beaches
- Méndez Núñez Gardens
- Aquarium Finisterrae
- Santiago de Compostela
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