When Is the Best Time
The “Praia das Catedrais Beach” is the most popular beach in Galicia and a photographer’s dream. People from all over the world come here during the summer attracted by pictures on social media. Due to the popularity, a permit is required during Easter, the summer months, on long bank holiday weekends.
The Cathedral - roughly a 600 m walk
The best time to visit this awe-inspiring beach without a permit and very few people is during winter, followed by May, June, and October.
Regarding the weather, May to September are the best months. The beach, in particular, the arches and the cathedral are accessible around 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; Holy Week and Summer; July-September)
Due to its popularity; well-known from social media, a permit is required since 2015 for Easter and July to September 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 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; March-May and June - Autumn; Oct-Nov)
Cathedral Beach is accessible without a permit except for Easter. Though the beach can get a little busy during the day. 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; December- February)
During winter very few people visit the beach in the morning and also midday is bearable. It’s a tranquil experience, and you take back home unforgettable memories of this outstanding piece of nature. In my opinion, the best time to enjoy this marvellous place in Galicia.
Me in the winter
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 an atmospheric shot is almost guaranteed if you come here at sunrise during the wintertime. The light in the summer is even better; sunrise before 7 am. The only chance to experience the beach not utterly crowded.
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, it also has heating 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.
The Cathedral during high tide - View from the clifftop
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 stunning 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.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Still plenty of free permits for summer 2021 available.
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 is terrific at low tide. 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. Mother nature at its best!
The staircase is leading down to Cathedral Beach but inaccessible at low tide.
The caves and rock arches constantly change, getting formed by the savage spirit of an untamable sea. The wind and the powerful Atlantic Ocean carved these beautiful caves and arches out of the rocks and cliffs. The trail on top of the arches can be closed in some sections but provides the best view. Another option at high tide is the observation platform, which is located west of the beach staircases. A boardwalk leads to the platform and a small beach before.
Accessible during low tide only!
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.
Puddles and Rocks occur on your walk along the beach to the Cathedral. Climb above the rock to get to the arches.
You have to climb over one bigger rock to continue walking. Some of the puddles are too deep to walk through. We visited the beach twice in the morning. On the first day in January, low tide was around sunrise.
We were the only ones on this beautiful early morning and got captured by the beauty of this spectacular beach. Always watch the waves when you get close to the rock arch formations.
Where to Park the Car or Camper
There are ample 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 Packing List
- 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.
- Wear waterproof shoes or better neoprene socks in winter
I have the copyright for all those pictures. All were taken by me or my husband (the ones with me). We spent several days here to write this ultimate guide for this exceptional beach in Galicia.