Inland Galicia’s most spectacular scenery can be admired not far northeast of Ourense, though it’s only practicable to explore this area by car, and you can expect the driving to be slow. Follow the N120 out of the city, alongside the Río Miño, and after 20km you’ll reach the confluence of the Miño with the lesser Río Sil. For roughly 50km east from here, the final stretch of the Sil is quite extraordinarily picturesque and dramatic, flowing through a stunning canyon known as the Gargantas del Sil.
This magnificent gorge is the heartland of the Ribeira Sacra wine region – the only place in Galicia that produces more red than white wine – and even where they’re all but vertical, the river cliffs are almost always terraced with grape vines. That phenomenal landscaping project was started by the Romans, and has continued for two millennia. A high mountain road climbs east from the N120 just before the confluence, then winds along the topmost ridge of the canyon’s southern flank, passing through a succession of lovely villages.