Ourense is the Galician capital of the thermal baths, and one of the best places to visit during Carnival (or Entroido) in Galicia.
It is a small city, ideal for going out for tapas and making it your base to move around the province. From here you can see incredible places such as the Ribeira Sacra, the Pozas de Melón or the village of Allariz. In this article I tell you things to do and see and do in Ourense city in one day.
🗺 Things to visit in Ourense
Last March, I went to Ourense to enjoy its carnival, known as Entroido. And I can recommend the city as a future carnival destination if you are looking to escape from the more typical places like Cadiz or the Canary Islands.
Ourense is a perfect place to be visited in one day, and at any time of the year. In summer it has to be wonderful. It is a city where everything is close and can be visited perfectly on foot. And, in addition, from here you can visit one of the most spectacular areas of the province: Ribeira Sacra.
Are you coming to discover Ourense
📍 Ourense Old Town
As I mentioned before, Ourense is a small city, where everything is close. In its historic centre are concentrated most of the main places to see in Ourense.
The Plaza Mayor is the heart of the city. Here are located the City Hall of Ourense and the old Episcopal Palace. Have you noticed that the floor of the square is somewhat inclined?
In an alley with access to the Plaza Mayor is the Church of Santa María Madre, site of the ancient cathedral of Ourense.
The façade of the Church of Santa Eufemia is impressive; a clear example of Galician Baroque. It is the second largest church in the city. In the past it was a former Jesuit school until it was converted into the parish church we know today.
It is a pity that it remains surrounded by buildings and cannot dazzle as it deserves.
Following our route, some squares to see in Ourense are:
- Praza do Trigo: The most beautiful square in the whole city. It used to be a pottery and cereal market.
- Praza de San Cosmede: location during the Middle Ages of one of the gates of the city.
- Praza do Ferro: one of the busiest squares in Ourense.
- Plazuela de la Magdalena: old cemetery.
At the intersection of Paseo and Cardenal Quiroga Street is one of the most charming buildings in Ourense. It is an old hotel that is striking for its colours and its viewpoint.
In the old town you can also find the As Burga thermal baths, the Ourense Food Market and Eirociño dos Cabaleiros, another of the most beautiful squares to see in Ourense.
📍 Ourense Cathedral
The Cathedral of San Martín de Ourense is located in the old part of the city. The entrance fee is 5€ (with audio guide included).
It is the main monument of the city and one of the best places to see in Ourense.
The visit to the Cathedral of Ourense includes different areas: the Cathedral itself, the Portico of Paradise, the Chapel of the Holy Christ, the High Altarpiece and the Cathedral Treasury (the cathedral museum).
The duration of the visit with the audioguide is approximately 45 minutes.
It starts at the Cathedral Museum, where different pieces such as the Misal Auriense, considered the first printed book in Galicia, are housed. Or the treasure of San Rosendo, a collection of pieces from the Monastery of Celanova from the 10th to 13th centuries.
Inside the Cathedral, the Main Chapel is another of the most attractive areas. Its Gothic altarpiece stands out, divided into four sections and five streets.
In the most central part is Saint Martin of Tours, patron saint of the cathedral. It shows scenes from the lives of Jesus and Mary.
Although, undoubtedly, the most attractive place for devotees is the Chapel of the Holy Christ.
The Portico of Paradise is the most dazzling of the whole Cathedral.
Before visiting the Cathedral I had not seen any photograph and finding myself in front of it – without expecting it – was fascinating. From the first moment you are mesmerised by its vivid colours.
Without a doubt, this work has a clear Compostelan influence, although it was created a hundred years later. In fact, its layout is similar to that of the Portico de la Gloria in Santiago Cathedral.
In this work are represented, among others, the prophets – who bear their names on a sign -, the apostles with their books and the 24 elders of the Apocalypse.
📍 Roman Bridge of Ourense
Over the waters of the river Miño stands the Roman bridge, one of the main symbols of the city and an essential place to see in Ourense.
It is usually called Ponte Vella or Puente Mayor. Its construction – in the 1st century AD – was a milestone in the history of the city. In 1961, it was declared a historic-artistic monument.
Barely a few pieces remain of the first Roman bridge. It still preserves 7 of the 11 primitive arches. It also had a tower – which appears on the city’s coat of arms – which was demolished in the 19th century.
The Roman bridge is accessible to pedestrians.
📍 Millennium Bridge
Ourense celebrated, one year later, the entry into the new millennium with this avant-garde bridge.
It stands out for its elliptical shape and its staircase circuit with stunning views of the city. Or so I think. Because I wasn’t able to cross it, let alone walk along its stairs like a suspension bridge over the Miño river. Although, no doubt, they say that crossing it is one of the best things to do in Ourense.
If you travel to the city and you are able to cross it by its platform of stairs, remember me and send me some pictures so I can enjoy the views too 📸.
📍 As Burgas Thermal Baths
This hot springs are located in the city centre, near the food market. Admission is free and they are closed on Mondays.
Ourense is the capital of hot springs. Therefore, one of the essential things to do here is to visit one of its thermal baths.
When I visited them (the thermal baths of As Burgas) there was hardly any water. But it is true that if you search on Google or on social networks, people can be seen bathing in them. I’ll have to go back to check it 🤔.
📍 A Chavasqueira Thermal Baths
It is located on the banks of the Miño River. To get there you will have to cross one of the bridges that connect the two parts of the city of Ourense. I should clarify that there are two thermal baths: those shown in the image, whose entrance is free; and other paid ones that offer circuits and massages.
📍 Thermal Baths Train
The thermal baths train is a train that connects the centre of Ourense with the different thermal baths. The ticket costs less than 1€ and has stops at A Chavasqueira, O Tinteiro, Muíño de Veiga, Termas de Outariz (one of the best thermal baths, according to what I have read) and Outariz and Burga de Canedo.
📍 Statues of Ourense
In Ourense there is a route through the statues in the different streets of the city. In total there are 10 commemorative statues.
In the first image you can see the statue commemorating Concepción Arenal. The second one shows the statue of Padre Feijoo, one of the key figures of the Enlightenment in Spain. And, in the last one, a statue dedicated to Estanislao Reverter, promoter of the Ourense Rallye.
🍴 Where to eat in Ourense
As in Granada, León or Bilbao, in Ourense they also have the custom of going out for pinchos, or doing the Wine Route, as they call it there.
Some places accompany drinks with a free tapa, while in others you will have to pay around 2€ if you want to order some.
I was barely in the city for 30 hours, so I can’t give you an endless list of places. The only thing I can advise you is to enjoy the city, the food and don’t leave without trying some filloas.
📍 Cafetería Pacífico
In destinations I like to look for charming cafes where to start the day with energy, and a good coffee.
Besides, its decoration makes it a cosy place to take refuge from the rainy days in Galicia 🌧.
The menu is made up of different toasts, chocolates, coffees and granola. They have more traditional toasts with butter and jam or natural tomato and oil, and some more suggestive ones such as their Gaditana or Portuguese options. The best thing is that you can choose the type of bread you want (country bread with sourdough, rye or artisan bread).
They don’t appear on the menu, but they also have sweets and small sandwiches to order.
The price of a normal breakfast (toast and coffee) is around 3€.
📍 Arco Da Vella
The potato omelette in Galicia was one of my greatest allies. In Santiago, I couldn’t resist repeating a pincho de tortilla at Bar la Tita. And in Ourense it was not going to be less.
For €1’80 you can taste a delicious pincho de tortilla de patatas at Arco da Vella, in Rúa dos Fornos. This place is one of those that make up the Wine Route. They have more tapas, although the most requested is the omelette.
📍 O Comellon
It is a tavern located in Rúa Lepanto. They accompany the beer with a free tapa, which are usually small sandwiches of roast ham, cheese, cured ham, etc.
📍 Taperia A Saia Da Carolina
In the same street as the previous one, you will find Taperia A Saia da Carolina. They use potatoes as the main ingredient to cook their specialities. The stuffed potatoes stand out. You can order a normal one or one with Arzúa cheese for 3€ a tapa.
📍 Taberna do Perico
The tavern is known for its famous perico sauce, which accompanies almost every dish on the menu. We ordered a perico each and a portion of roast potatoes with raxo to share.
The perico is a small sandwich of roasted ham, mushrooms and perico sauce. You can choose the level of spiciness you want, and they have vegetarian options too. Each perico costs 2.5€, drinks not included. And the tapa de patatas, 9’4€.
📍 Café Bohemio
The décor is classic in style. Patterned floors, marble tables and wood in every detail. It reminded me a lot of certain pubs in Ireland, and my favourite café in Granada: Bohemia Jazz Café. You can have breakfast here for about 2-3€, (giant) buttered toast and coffee.
On my trips I never miss a stop at a bakery, or a sweet or two. So if you have a craving like me, I’ll leave you this place here 😋.
📍 Other places to eat in Ourense
- Casa María Andrea: its star dish is the “María Andrea” skewer.
- O Lar da Sabela: meatballs are the house speciality.
- A cantina de Pedro: known for its choricitos al vino.
- Casa do Pulpo
- Cortés: to savour roast pork shoulder or Galician cheese.
- El Tragallán: be sure to order any of its empanadas.
Places to visit in Ourense Map
🏨 Best hotels to stay in Ourense
During my stay in Ourense I stayed at Hotel Zarampallo, located near Praza do Ferro. The average price per night for two people is 50€. The location is excellent. Central and close to all the main sights to see in Ourense. During our stay the service was great. The hotel has a lift. We stayed on the fourth floor. No noise in the room, despite being in a busy place.