I’m keeping to the paradise theme of last weeks Memory Lane Monday today, because we all need a little paradise on a Monday! But this week I’m a little closer to home than the Andaman Sea…

While traveling in Southern Ethiopia, me and Oli had made friends with two lovely Catalonians and during one of our many beer fueled chats about everything and anything they had told us about a beautiful Island off of the West coast of Spain, nearish the border of Portugal. They told us about the stunning weather, the fun camping and days spent taking picnics on the white sand beaches… it sounded amazing!

Yet, when my 21st birthday rolled around only a month later and Oli told me we were going to a secret destination that looked like this…

My handmade birthday card!

My handmade birthday card!

I didn’t make the connection… Even though I knew Oli’s student budget couldn’t afford it, I was imagining the Caribbean! But no, ladies and gentlemen this stunning little slice of paradise is in Spain, and with a swift Easy Jet flight and a bus and a boat we had left almost autumn England and were lazing in the sun.

The Island is tiny, with no hotels, three small restaurants and one bare shop, which meant camping! Now, I love camping and when it is in a destination this gorgeous I was in heaven. We spent our days lounging on the beach, our evenings cooking up pasta on our camping stove and our evenings taking the many trails up through the woods to watch glorious sunsets. Isla de Cies is a perfect romantic getaway for those who want to relax without the luxury price tag. Just look at these pictures…

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Getting back to nature!

Getting back to nature!

Approach to paradise...

Approach to paradise…

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White sand beach without the calm water- you can't have it all

White sand beach without the calm water- you can’t have it all

Beach near the lighthouse

Beach near the lighthouse

Tropical much?

Tropical much?

Relaxing on the beach, with the sun on my back and a few beers is my idea of heaven. However, Oli gets a little antsy so the walking trails were a perfect way to mix it up a bit. The campsite will give you a little map when you check in, outlining the paths and how long each walk is, making it really simple and you can definitely do them all in a few days. The island is basically in two hilly sections, connected by a stone path and a beach. The longest trail, Monte Faro, is to the lighthouse from which you can see the neighbouring islands and the ferocious Atlantic Sea beating against the cliffs. Lower down on this side of the island is a bird watching platform offering panoramic views of the whole island:

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The other side, the Monte Aguado route, was our favourite walk by far, leading to a rocky outcrop where you can watch the sun melt into the sea:

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The connecting path, just across from the camp, was also a great place to take a cup of wine and witness the sun’s descent:

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The nitty gritty:

The Island is accessible from Easter until the end of September, when the ferry schedule from the port town of Vigo starts. I would recommend going in September for less crowds but still lovely weather. The ferry is inexpensive and only takes 45 minutes.

Vigo is a nice little town to spend a night or two and possibly longer if you plan to visit more Islands. Otherwise, I would plan to spend a little longer in Santiago De Compostela, which is where we flew to, as it is a gorgeous city! To get to and from Vigo to Santiago you can take a bus or a train and they are both around an hour and a half. The bus is a little cheaper and goes straight from and to the airport, but the train is spectacular and worth it if you are spending some time in the city- which you should! The carriages are pristine and the views are stunning.

Making tea, bright and early!

Making tea, bright and early!

For camping you can either take your own tent or hire one of the stand-up ones on site. Either way you will have access to the bathrooms, which have great showers, and the camp restaurant and shop. We bought food in Vigo for our stay but ended up going to the shop as well to buy extra wine and tins yummy anchovy filled olives!

Where is your slice of paradise in Europe? Or anywhere else in the world? What makes somewhere feel like paradise for you? Talk to me people 🙂

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