VIGO Source: Unsplash
Vigo is a city in South Galicia, located by the Atlantic Sea. It is the biggest city of the Spanish Autonomous Community of Galicia, with approximately 293. 540 inhabitants. It located in a beautiful natural setting, surrounded by mountains in the background and the Atlantic Ocean. It is also very near Portugal, only 150 km to Oporto, and that is why you can get a train or a bus to Oporto daily.
Vigo has a unique essence, and it has many corners that are worth discovering. There is much to see and do in Vigo. It is quite a big city, and you will need around two or three days to see everything and enjoy the city of Vigo. The city is full of surprises, and it is one of the essential destinations for urban tourism in northern Spain. In addition to its pleasing natural environment, the famous beaches of Vigo and the popular Cíes Islands, you will discover in Vigo an authentic industrial city. It is dynamic and entrepreneurial, and it has a big port.
Nautical tourism in Vigo has a great tradition, and many people come to sail in this area. The excellent natural conditions for sailing or practicing water sports that the Vigo estuary offers will allow you to enjoy a unique landscape in Galicia. Sailing in Vigo will allow you to be in the Atlantic Ocean while you can observe the bustling life of the largest city of the Rías Baixas.
If you love nature and hiking, Vigo is the ideal place since it surrounded by many forest Parks where you can go for a walk or even doing cycling routes. You will be astonished by the views of the Vigo estuary from the highest points of the mountains.
In them, you will find small rivers, streams, and even reservoirs where you can practise fishing. If you love water sports, you can practise surfing, windsurfing or kitesurfing on the beaches around Vigo. Vigo is a place that offers many types of tourism, and there is something for everybody.
According to the Köppen climate classification, Vigo´s climate transitions between the Mediterranean oceanic climate and the oceanic climate, tending more towards the first one. That means that summers are usually sunny, with temperatures around 20 to 29 degrees, and winters are rainy and can be pretty windy.
The Vigo estuary is one of the rainiest spots in Galicia, with high rainfall, which makes Vigo the third city in Europe where it rains the most per year (measured in litres per square meter), after Trondheim (Norway, first) and Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, second. So, if you visit Vigo in Winter, Autumn or Spring, there are many chances that it will rain; we recommend bringing with you a raincoat or an umbrella, just in case. Galicia is a part of Spain famous for its rain, but the rain also has its charm.
How to get to Vigo
Vigo has an airport called El Peinador, which is just fifteen minutes drive from the city. From the airport, you can get line 9A, an urban bus that will take you to the city centre. You can get to Vigo by plane from other big Spanish cities such as Madrid, Barcelona or Tenerife.
However, the airport of Santiago de Compostela is near, and then you can get a train from Santiago to Vigo. Also, you can get to Oporto airport in Portugal, and then take a bus to Vigo. There is a new route from the company Flixbus, which is relatively cheap, and it has daily connections from Oporto to Vigo and vice versa.
Vigo is well connected by air, even though there are not many bus connections from Vigo to Spain, which can get quite costly. There is also a train route from Vigo to Madrid, which will take around seven hours.
Where to stay in Vigo
Some of the hotels where you can stay in Vigo city centre are:
- Hotel Zenit Vigo, very close to the train station and the city centre in Avenida de Gran Vía.
- NH Collection Vigo.
- Occidental Vigo, also very close to the city centre and the train station.
- Hotel Axis Vigo
The hotels that are close to the sea and can offer sea views are AC Hotel Palacio Universal, Eurostars Mar de Vigo, and just in the city’s outskirts, the hotel Hotel Pazo Los Escudos Spa & Beach. This last hotel is an impressive traditional stone Galician house transformed into a hotel.
There are many options where to stay in Vigo, and from all range of prices, however, we must remark that hotels do have a high-quality standard in this city. We are going to see now some of the best places to visit in Vigo.
#1. O Castro mountain at the top of the city
The history of Vigo linked to the Monte de O Castro. It is an archaeological site with the remains of the settlements of the first settlers here in the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. This is where the current city created.
To get there is necessary to go up the hill. It can be quite tiring; however, the views from this mountain are truly spectacular and justify the uphill walk. If you feel like seeing all the city of Vigo and the sea, you cannot miss this park. I assure you that you will not regret having climbed to the top of Monte de O Castro. On the way, on Calle Alfonso XII, you also can stop to contemplate the views over the city.
In addition to the panoramic views offered by Monte del Castro, this mountain, which is currently a big urban park, still has a special symbolism for the city. This is where the beginning of the city of Vigo originated since it was the place chosen to settle by its first inhabitants.
During the Iron Age, the Vigo estuary occupied by numerous castros (a Castro is a house or a series of houses done in a circular shape by the celts) that were the first permanent villages in the northwest of the peninsula, hence the name of the place. To remember that historical period, O Castro mountain has an archaeological site where you can see the replica of three round shaped Castro houses. There is also the possibility of getting some guided tourism which held from Tuesday to Sunday.
O Castro Mountain Source: Pinterest
#2. Castro Castle
At the top of O Castro Mountain, there is a castle of the same name, a 17th-century fortress whose entrance is free and from which we get the best panoramic views of the Vigo estuary and this Galician city. The interior of the castle is, without a doubt, the best-kept space in the entire Monte del Castro.
It was made in the XVII century, and from it, you can get the best views of the estuary. The fortress of O Castro was part of the city’s defensive system, together with the walls which are now disappeared, and the fortress of San Sebastián, next to the town hall, from where the entrance to the estuary dominated.
In the year 1809, the castle of O Castro was the protagonist due to the French invasion on March 28, and when later on, the fortress reconquered by the people of Vigo after a hard and heroic battle and the French surrendered to the victory. The town has since then the title of “Faithful, Loyal and Courageous”.
There is a beautiful garden within the walled castle with a pond and various observation points perfect for visiting and relaxing. Here you can also have a picnic while you contemplate the city.
#3. Beaches of Vigo and surroundings
If you get a sunny day, do not hesitate to take a towel and go to one of the beautiful beaches of Vigo. Among the urban ones, the best known and the one that attracts the most public is Samil. A good alternative may be to go to one of the Bouzas beaches. You can go to both with urban transport and avoid parking problems, especially in the first one.
Nine beaches in Vigo have been awarded with the blue flag for the quality of their waters: O Vao, Argazada, Rodas (Cíes Islands), Figueiras (Cíes Islands), A Punta (Teis), Tombo do Gato, Os Muiños de Fortiñón, Canido and Fontaiña. This coastline will dazzle you with the beauty of the views you will have of islands, mountains and the Ocean.
This is an urban beach located west of the city of Vigo. It has a length of more than a kilometer of fine sand, and it is one of the most popular and well-known beaches of the Galician Rías Baixas, both for its beauty and for having all kinds of equipment and amenities.
Samil beach source: Pinterest
This beach is ideal for a walk, sunbathe, go for a swim, and practice many water sports. Samil beach is big and quite crowded in summertime, and it is a place where to walk and enjoy the beach and the fantastic views you will get from it. Integrated into an environment of exceptional beauty, from this beach, you can contemplate an extraordinary sunset, with the wonderful Cíes Islands on the other side of the beach.
#4. Casco Vello or the Old Part of the city
The old area of Vigo has renovated lately, and it is very close to the port. This is an excellent place to walk and discover the city since it is pedestrian mainly. You can start your tour in a Plaza de la Constitución, where the old town hall located. The city centre has also experienced a renaissance of its social and gastronomic life. Numerous cafes, terraces and bars are located in this area.
If you want to know this part of the city of Vigo better, there are two options: a free tour through its streets or a private tour. I would suggest taking the Freetour since it is the best plan to get to know Vigo.
This tour is an alternative to tourist buses, and you will walk while you discover the city. It designed so that you know its most important streets, squares and avenues. It begins at Porta do Sol, kilometer 0 of Vigo and is also the best way to see the history of the city.
Casco Vello Vigo Source: destimap.com
Whether you visit Vigo, or if you live in Vigo, O Casco Vello de Vigo is a must-visit both for its beauty, for its peculiarity, for the variety of restaurants, “tapas” places, coffee shops with beautiful terraces, bookstores, ice cream parlours, areas to buy a typical souvenir from Galicia and Vigo.
During Christmas, the whole city decorated with many lights and charmingly decorative figures. The entire city is spectacular during this period, and the Christmas Tree is very tall with different lighting colours. Vigo is one of the most decorated and illuminated cities in Spain for Christmas.
#5. Try some seafood and Galician food in Vigo
In Galicia, everything is delicious. It does not matter if you are meat or fish. In Vigo, the gastronomic offer is excellent. The estuary supplies fish and shellfish that are difficult to find in other areas of the peninsula. Choosing a restaurant near the port or in the Casco Vello is the best option in Vigo.
Some of the best restaurants you can eat at the port are Taberna a Pedra and O Portón. These restaurants have menus where you can try seafood from the estuary of Vigo, such as oysters and squids. They also have octopus, a very typical dish in Galicia and other typical Galician dishes such as raxo or zorza.
Oysters are undoubtedly an attraction in Vigo, so much so that even one street is popularly known as “oyster street”. They are taken from the Vigo estuary and opened to taste with a splash of lemon and taste even better accompanied by an albariño wine.
Another very famous restaurant in Vigo is Palo Alto, which mixes Galician and Portuguese food and orders a good cod dish.
If you are in Galicia, you can’t leave without trying the famous Empanada Gallega. This is a classic of Galician gastronomy, and it is a pie with many different fillings, such as scallops or pork loin. There are many fillings, and they depend on the area of Galicia where you live. In Vigo you can try some empanadas in A Tapa do Barril.
#6. Visit the Julio Verne Sculpture
Literature fans in Vigo have more than one excuse to follow the routes of great Galician contemporary writers such as Domingo Villar. A good proposal if you love reading is to do literary tourism in Vigo. The city has been the protagonist in some books, especially in the texts of some of the most relevant writers from Galicia, Spain and the world. From the classics of Julio Verne to the latest bestsellers by Offred’s or Domingo Villar and in the books of Otero Pedrayo or Álvaro Cunqueiro. Vigo has been the literary scene of intrigue, legends and police adventures.
However, the writer who has made this city the most universal has been Jules Verne. He only needed one day in Vigo to fall in love with this estuary. He repeated the voyage and dedicated a chapter to it in one of his most famous works, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In his novel, the estuary hid treasures from the Battle of Rande. He was not wrong since this estuary is still a natural wonder, although it has plenty of urban planning. In this estuary, you can visit two statues of the writer—one between the island of San Simón and Cesantes and the other in the port of Vigo.
The French writer visited Vigo two times, and they recorded on his travel diary, in which he captures his impressions of the city and its customs. This statue located by the Nautical Club of Vigo, in the port, and it is also known as the “the octopus” since the writer is sitting on a giant octopus.
#7. Visit the Cíes Islands
The Cíes Islands located in front of the mouth of the Vigo estuary, one of those that make up the famous Galician Rias Baixas. Therefore, they are part of the province of Pontevedra, and the National Maritime Terrestrial Park of the Atlantic Islands declared as such in the year 2002. Since it is a National Park, there are restrictions, and only many visitors can go every day.
CÍES ISLANDS Source: Pinterest
This small archipelago made of three islands, informally known as north, middle and south, but all of them have official names. Two of these islands linked by the sandy beach of Rodas, considered a few years ago by The Guardian newspaper as the best beach in the world. It is crowded and famous in the summer season, and it is recommended to book a ticket in advance.
In the Cíes Islands, there is a campsite that opens only in the summer months, where you can stay in a tent. To get there, you can get a boat from the port of Vigo. The boat ticket price to the Cíes Islands from Vigo round trip in high season (July and August) is 20 euros and children from 5 to 12 years old, 6.50 euros; and in low season, 17.50 euros, and children, 5 euros. In this website, you can get more information about the tickets https://www.mardeons.es/islas-cies/
These are some of the activities that you can enjoy in Vigo. As you can see, the city is full of activities and places to discover. Vigo is a beautiful, modern and unique city with an impressive urbanistic plan and development. Enjoying and discovering Vigo is one the best methods you can do in North-West Spain. For more information about trips and places to see in Spain, we recommend visiting the blog of San Sebastián apartments.