Visiting Ourense with friends: perfect things to do as a group
Wandering along streets steeped in history, enjoying the terraces on spectacular squares, taking advantage of the hot springs, the city’s greatest secret, and sampling the flavours of the local area. All this is possible in Ourense, a perfect destination to discover with friends. It’s impossible not to succumb to the pleasure of learning about the legends that the city holds or be tempted by food as hearty as pote gallego or as unusual as lamprey or eel from the Miño river. Discovering the food on offer in a group is an enticing idea, don’t you think? You can also try the region’s famous octopus dish as well as a whole host of other items.
And if you are a fan of wine, bear in mind that part of Ourense falls within the Ribeiro denomination of origin, so a wine tasting is an excellent idea. What’s more, other denominations of origin (Valdeorras, Monterrei and Ribeira Sacra) also fall within the province of Ourense. Hedonistic pleasures don’t stop at the table, however, as you can also take the so-called Hot Springs Route, which takes you to the different springs, most of which are free, along a short distance. The water at the springs is hot, so it’s a great thing to do ‘almost’ all year round.
Essential things to do in Ourense
Planning things to do with friends is not usually easy. However, in Ourense it is possible to do a range of different things in a short amount of time. Walking its historical streets, tapas-hopping at its bars and terraces, taking a dip in its hot springs, and enjoying the lively local festivals are essential on a group trip.
Must-sees: the historical quarter and surroundings
We always recommend getting to know a city by starting with its historical centre and, although it’s not obligatory, it’s a great way to get a feel for a place and familiarise yourself with its layout. Ourense’s old town offers beautiful surprises and picturesque spots with terraces where you can take a break from time to time. Some of the historical landmarks that should not be missed include San Martiño cathedral, with its impressive thirteenth-century Pórtico del Paraíso and its ornate Santo Cristo chapel; Praza Maior (Plaza Mayor), with its arcades and stone houses, and other charming small squares (do Ferro, do Trigo, da Magdalena); the lively Rúa de Santo Domingo; and Santa María Madre church. There is no shortage of things to see in Ourense…
Going out for tapas with friends
There is no such thing as a trip to Ourense with friends without going for tapas. In the city you will find an endless array of small and large delicacies as well as delicious local wines. Great food is served almost everywhere and, usually, at decent prices. But we do suggest going out for tapas in the historical quarter, in the Os Viños area, which runs between the area around the cathedral and Praza do Ferro. Ourense’s cuisine is characterised more by meat and river fish, but you will also find delicious octopus and seafood everywhere you go. And what about to drink? Ourense is on the edge of the Ribeiro region, so it wouldn’t hurt to sample some of the area’s delicious wines. According to tradition it’s ‘un pincho – un bar’, so we highly encourage you to keep the tradition alive.
Dressing up at carnival
In Ourense, festivities are a big deal and if you have the opportunity to take your group of friends for carnival (Entroido) you will see what we are talking about. It’s also the perfect occasion to mingle with the local population and enjoy the music, the good food and the party atmosphere. If the dates don’t fit in with your friends’ agenda, however, another great option is heading to Ourense for the Spring Jazz Festival, the Pórtico do Paraíso Festival or Magosto. The most important thing is visiting the city and enjoying every minute.
Taking a dip with friends
Ourense is one of the few European cities where you can visit hot springs, do wine tours and visit cultural landmarks, all without leaving the city limits. Does that sound good to you? The only thing you should do when you leave the hotel is take a backpack with everything you need, because most of the hot springs are public and do not provide towels or extras. So pack your swimsuit, flip flops, etc. and sample the benefits of Ourense’s thermal water, which enchanted a whole empire, no less than the Roman empire. There are several options along the Hot Springs Route (A Chavasqueira, Muíño da Vega, Outariz y Burga de Canedo and As Burgas), so it won’t be hard to find one to your taste that isn’t too busy. And if you prefer to have something booked, there are also private hot springs.
From bridge to bridge
It may seem a bit risky but admiring the bridges that cross the Miño river in the municipal area of Ourense is a very interesting journey through history. A good place to start is the Puente Viejo, (or the Old Bridge, also known as the Roman Bridge, one of the symbols of the city (it appears on the coat of arms) and continue on to the Ponte do Milenio (the Millennium Birdge), the most recent, most modern-looking bridge. Other bridges that may be of interest include the Puente Nuevo, Puente Novísimo, the Viaduct and the Puente del Loña.
Tips and recommendations
On a trip to Ourense with friends it’s a good idea to plan your days well so there is time to visit some cultural landmarks, which usually have set opening and closing times. In short, the main recommendation is to enjoy the city, move about at a leisurely pace and always leave room for improvisation. If you plan on staying for several days, you should also include a trip to beautiful towns and villages such as Ribadavia, Allariz, Verín, As Ermidas and O Carballiño. And if you have nature lovers in your group, you can also make the most of a route through the Serra do Xurés natural park, the Sil canyons and the footbridges of the river Mao.
Where to sleep in Ourense
One of the best hotels to enjoy a trip with friends is the Barceló Ourense, a four-star hotel situated in the historical quarter where you can discover the beauty of this Galician city. We like everything about this establishment, from its well-designed interiors, its modern character and comfortable rooms to the fact is has a gym and sauna. Without a doubt, relaxing in one of its B-Rooms with top-quality mattresses, a pillow menu, rain showers, tea and coffee kit and free Wi-Fi so you can share your photos with friends, is a true delight.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget its generous buffet B-Likeat breakfasts and the snacks on offer in the lobby-bar. We can’t think of a better place to enjoy Ourense to the max.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the essential things to do in Ourense with friends?
In Ourense you can always have a good time with friends but there are some foolproof things to do which will make any trip a success. Be sure to do a tapas-hopping route through Os Viños, take in some culture in the historical quarter, visit the public hot springs and enjoy festivities such as carnival (Entroido).
What are the best trips to make with friends in Ourense?
If you plan on staying in Ourense for several days, it’s a good idea to think about making a few return trips with friends. Take note of the following towns and villages: Ribadavia (30 km), Allariz (20 km), Verín (73 km), O Carballiño (27 km) and As Ermidas (115 km).
When is the best time of year to visit Ourense with friends?
Ourense is usually cold and damp in winter and hot (for Galicia) in summer. In other words, the best time of year to visit Ourense with friends is from spring to autumn (from May or June to September or October).