The town of Vigo was not considered a town until the 15the century, as it was too small prior to that. The partially preserved walls of the city were built in the 17th century after many attacks on the city and then it grew very quickly in the 19th and 20th centuries and Vigo is now a less structured city compared to its neighbouring Spanish cities.
Located between snow capped mountains and the Atlantic ocean, Vigo has a cooler climate than much of Spain and therefore it has lush green countryside as well as beautiful beaches. As the most populated town in the Galicia region it is the economic centre, although not the capital. With its main port for cruise ships, Vigo and the surrounding towns attract tourists with a blend of history, beautiful scenery and beaches and a cosmopolitan city.
There is much to be seen and discovered in Vigo’s steep streets and cobbled squares as this city has been labelled a Spanish National Monument. The old quarter is impressive with its plazas, buildings and streets that retain their history from the medieval days and the original settlement.
One of the most historic streets is Calle Real, a main street in the old town with traditional Galician houses lining it and at the end you will find Alameda Square with excellent examples of the elaborate architecture.
A visit to the fish market is worth a look for its bustling atmosphere and offers a fresh seafood lunch stop. Just past this market is a street filled with small shops selling their local baskets.
La Guia Hill not only has amazing views of the city and straits but you can also find the Castrelos Palace Museum showcasing artifacts from the middle ages and past.
- Getting around
Although a large city, the old quarter can be explored on foot. Sitting on a hillside, the streets can be steep but there is no better way to fully take in this area.
Taxis will be waiting at the port gates with a green light to signal they are available. There is a Europcar rental located about 5 minutes away by taxi.
A local bus can take you to one of the beaches along Avenida de Galicia, look for bus numbers 1, 2 or 18.
- Beyond Vigo
One of the most attractive towns on the north coast is La Toja. Although it is quite small it is very popular for locals to holiday there. You can find an unusual church here that from a distance looks charming but as you get closer you will find it is entirely covered from ground to top in shells from the local area. The main beach here overlooks a large submerged clam bed that is harvested by the local elderly women.
The city of Pontevdra has a well-preserved medieval town centre along with many small squares with cafes to sit and take in the local atmosphere. This city is full of charm, rich in culture and has many architectural attractions.
The neighbouring city of Santiago de Compostela is the regions most famous city and has a large medieval district full of monuments and unique buildings. Dating back to he 9th century, the old town shows amazing examples of Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque designs, most all on a very large and impressive scale. The streets are full of bars serving tapas and cafes to watch the locals.
- Local activities
Bird watching paradise
The Cies Islands off the coast of Vigo can be reached in about 45 minutes by boat. This collection of three islands offers spectacular scenery with amazing beaches and high mountain terrain. As a nature reserve there is no fishing here so the marine life is abundant and it is home many species of birds.
Pazo de Castrelos
Pazo de Castrelos is a proper example of a 17th century style of manor house owned by the Galician nobility in past centuries. Now converted to a museum with its grounds on a huge wooded park with formal gardens and a rose walk, it is open to the public to enjoy the amazing and well-manicured property and museum featuring archaeology and painting collections.
Bayona La Real
A drive through the beautiful countryside tales you to Bayona La Real, an important fishing town as it was the location where Christopher Columbus’ boat first arrived back after his voyage to the Americas. With old walls and ramparts the town is a beautiful historical place.
- Local cuisine and drinks
Fresh seafood is a constant throughout the city and surrounding areas including amazing oysters served with local crusty bread and Spanish paella, a rice and seafood dish. In the town, Plaza de Compostela you will find an array of fine restaurants and food bars serving tapas.
- Where you are docked
The cruise ships dock at the Muelle de Transatlanticos, directly in front of this old city. The delightful city of Vigo is Spain’s busiest fishing port with a deep harbour and the entire port area has been renovated to make for a beautiful arrival. Where your ship docks, there are a few small shops and a café offering internet access but get into the city as soon as you can to enjoy the sights by crossing the busy Avendida del Castillo promenade directly across from the port.
- Regional weather
Vigo experiences an oceanic climate, yet still retains the warm, generally mild winters experienced by other locations in the area. Being sheltered geographically between mountains this does give Vigo slightly warmeer summers and slightly milder winters than other locations in the area.