Cathedral Beach - As Catedrais Beach
The “Praia das Catedrais Beach” is the most popular beach in Galicia and a photographer’s dream. During Easter, the summer months, and on long bank holiday weekends a permit is required. In the winter you may enjoy your walk at the beach almost alone. The beach and in particular the arches and the cathedral are accessible around low tide only!
Accessible during low tide only. This is particularly the case for the end of the beach where the three well-known arches are located. These arches are accessible during a short time frame roughly one hour before low tide and one hour afterwards. Furthermore, the sea level has a relevant impact on how far you can get and how long you can enjoy your visit.
- Tide Times Cathedral Beach for the upcoming two weeks
- Tide Times and permit booking; open the booking system and select a date to get the low tide for your visit. It doesn't exist any other website for low tide data for the entire year.
Avoiding the Crowds
Peak Season (Easter - Summer)
Due to the popularity; well-known from social media, a permit is required since 2015 for Easter and from July to September now to preserve this extraordinary place. August is the worst month of the year. In July 2014 75 thousand visitors came here each week. The reason for the permit system. However, the limit of 5000 people per day is still quite high. To gain access, you even may queue before entering the beach. Cathedral Beach can get quickly crowded during low tide depending on the time of the day. Early morning is much quieter than the rest of the day. If you arrive at the end of the low tide in the peak season signs are put up, and you don’t get access to the furthest part, which is the most stunning and picturesque. It's such an amazing place in winter that it is hard to believe having thousands of visitors here in summer. Consider that booking of at least 30 days in advance is mandatory. The permit is free and easy to book. Tickets Booking Cathedral Beach – Praia das Catedrais
Accommodation rates are the highest, and mostly there isn’t anything available on short notice.
Shoulder Season (Spring - Autumn)
Cathedral Beach is accessible without a permit except for Easter. Though the beach can get a little busy early morning or late in the evening it’s quiet and peaceful. Accommodations are available on short notice although the best rated are already fully booked. The weather can be capricious, therefore, carry a raincoat.
Low Season (Winter)
During winter very few people visit the beach in the morning and also midday is bearable. It’s quiet and peaceful, and you take back home unforgettable memories of this outstanding piece of nature. In our opinion the best time to enjoy this marvellous place in Galicia. You can book a cottage last minute for lower fares. Consider it frequently rains in the winter but you can't get disappointed at this time of the year.
The Cathedral Beach and its famous rock arches and bridges are located towards the north. Getting the right light for a shot may be challenging, but if you come here at sunrise during the wintertime, an atmospheric shot is almost guaranteed.
The north of Spain experiences much more rain than the south. The driest and warmest months are from June to September. Usually, pleasant day temps around 20°C not hot as you would expect in Spain. Night temps can be chilly. Mostly one-digit day temps from November to April. Even if it is cold, foggy or rainy, Cathedral Beach does not disappoint,
Where to Stay
Our favourite cottages are the Villas las Catedrales; fully equipped also with heating which is essential during winter. These villas are newly built, super clean, and Maria is taking care of you. She lives just 100 m before the self-catering cottages. You can park your car right in front of your rental home. Leave your car at your accommodation and take their offered bikes to get to the nearby Cathedral Beach. Especially during the peak season or long bank holiday weekends the parking might be full.
Praia de Illas nearby
There is a variety of self-catering cottages, holiday homes, and hotels nearby. All available accommodations around Cathedral Beach. Bookmark the link for the lowest fares at booking.com. During the summer, advanced booking is necessary. In the winter check the weather forecast first and then book your accommodation last minute as we did. Cathedral Beach is exceptional. We loved to explore this mind-blowing beach and watched the incoming tide afterwards from the cliffs. Stay at least one night to enjoy this place without being in a rush. We spent two nights here and went twice to Cathedral Beach. This place is too amazing to be in a hurry. We enjoyed walking along the beach in both directions, watching the incoming tide. There are more scenic beaches around where we also had a closer look too.
Official name; Praia de Augas Santas, which means the Beach of the Holy Waters but much better known as Praia das Catedrais or Cathedral Beach. The rugged beach scenery is truly an unforgettable place in the north of Galicia, a 15 minutes drive from Ribadeo.
Walking along the beach between the huge rock formations at low tide is exciting. You never know what comes next. After exploring the beach, wait at the shore to watch the tides coming in with enormous power, and the beach disappears again.
The caves and rock arches change constantly getting formed by the strong power of mother nature. The wind and the powerful Atlantic Ocean carved these beautiful caves and arches out of the rocks and cliff. The trail on top of the arches is currently closed in some sections. To get a view at high tide, you may use the observation platform, which is located west from the beach staircases. A boardwalk leads to the platform as well to a small beach before.
When you reach the cliffs, a staircase is leading down to the beach. You can walk in either direction; walk to the right to get to the spectacular cathedral cave and the other arches roughly 600 meters one way. To the left are around 400 m to walk but not as spectacular. The beach itself is not safe for swimming. There are several caves on the right waiting to be explored. The first impressive rock arch appears to the left next to the sea. We continued walking, getting to the cathedral and the natural bridges first. Just sharp at low tide, we could get to the very end of the beach and the last rock formation.
Puddle and Rock; the picture was taken on the way back. Climb above it to get to the arches and the same way back.
You have to climb over one bigger rock to continue walking. The puddle to the right is too deep to walk through. We were the only ones early morning at sunrise, and we got captured by the beauty of mother’s nature and power. Always watch the waves when you get close to the rock arch formations.
Where to Park the Car or Camper
There are ample of parking lots nearby. The nearest is located next to the beach, a parking garage is nearby, another parking lot at the roundabout, and one at Playa de Arealonga just 20 minutes walk to the Cathedral Beach. However, they fill up quickly in summer. Some people spend the night at the parking lot in their campervan.
Top Tip for an Excellent Visit in the Winter
During summer, you can walk barefoot. At low tide, puddles are spread along the beach, and you can’t avoid getting wet feet. It’s pretty chilly in winter with often one-digit temps. We decided to walk with neoprene socks to keep the feet warm and tolerate water. The best idea we could have. Any type of water shoe is helpful also to climb over one of the rocks to continue walking. Some visitors turned back due to the deep puddles and missed the highlight of the beach. These shallow pools are great fun during summer, but you should avoid them during the colder time of the year.
Brief Summary and What to Bring
- Check the exact tide times before visiting the beach.
- Leave the arches before the tide rises and get back to the main beach.
- Schedule at least half a day to explore the beach and to watch the incoming tide.
- Book your free permit far in advance for Easter (March or April), summer (July-September), long weekends.
- Book your nearby accommodation far in advance for the peak season.
- Bring water and a sandwich, especially during winter. There isn't any shop opened at this time of the year.
- Carry a raincoat and a waterproof bag in spring, autumn, and winter to protect your valuables and camera during rain.