Cíes Islands are one of the most important tourist attractions of Vigo. Widely known worldwide, “The Islands of the Gods”, are more than a small archipelago: a protected nature park in the middle of the Atlantic and a gateway to the Vigo estuary from the open seas where ships take shelter from the bad weather. They are also an iconic place for treasure hunters, looking for the remains of the Battle of Rande.
Cies can be visited all summer long and also during Easter. But regular ships are not available on winter and autumn, so you will have to change your trip to Cies Islands for a picture of the islands from the coast.
Finding the perfect spot to photograph them is a very good excuse to wander around the city, from O Castro Mountain to the Old Town. We have chosen our favorite places below.
Where to take a photo of Cíes Islands when you visit Vigo, any time of the year
Cies views from O Castro mountain
La Fortaleza (the fortress) is located on the highest point of Vigo City, at O Castro Mountain. The views from here cover from Cies Islands, protecting the estuary from the wild Atlantic Oceand, to Rande Bridge and San Simón inlet.
Discover a garden full of statues and monuments, including the anchors from the Rande Galleons, taken there to remember the battle for the Spanish Crown and treasuries and the pirate attacks that took place at the Ria de Vigo (Vigo Bay).
O Castro is also an entertainment and sport area. Including a playground area and a café next to the entrance to the fortress.
Views from Paseo de Alfonso XII Street
Close to the historic centre of Vigo there is an important vantage point at Alfonso XII street. It offers everyone a panoramic view of the Ria de Vigo, including Cies Islands and Vigo Industrial Area.
If you want to see some live history of Vigo, discover the old Olive Tree at the beginning of the street. This Olive Tree was rescued from the ancient olive trees that were burned at the time of the Catholic Monarchs, as punishment for supporting Beltraneja, the sister of queen Isabella the Catholic.
In addition to the great views over Cies, this is a good place to start your visit to the old town of Vigo, with plenty restaurants and nightlife, museums and art galleries and Garcia Barbon Theatre.
Cies from the Old Town and Marina
During high season, the boats to the Cies Islands depart from the Marina next to the Cruise port. It is located in the Old Town, close to Montero Rios street, one of the most popular hubs for leisure and gastronomy.
While you wait to take a boat from there, you can enjoy the views of the Cies Islands from port. Another good photo is from the runway that connects A Laxe shopping center with the old town of Vigo.
Here too, you can also enjoy another “must visit” of Vigo: the Oysters at “La Piedra” street.
Museo del Mar Views
The Sea Museum of Galicia is a small museum showcasing the importance of the sea industries in Vigo city. You can also enjoy a small aquarium with species from Ria de Vigo.
Built in what was the old abattoir of Vigo, the museum is located in a stunning point on the southern banks of Vigo estuary. Surrounded by two small beaches with views over Vigo and Cies Islands, it also hosts a small archaeological excavation of an old Celtic settlement.
The small cafe on the Sea Museum also has a lovely overlooking the bay of Santa Baia and Vigo.
Samil Beach is the most famous beach in Vigo area, partly because of location and partly because it allows you to enjoy a beach with all the services (restaurants, swimming pools, playgrounds and a sport areas) with some beautiful natural areas.
If you want to run away from the most “urban” side of Samil Beach, take the one kilometre stone walkway to the pine forest, from which you can access a variety of protected coves.
If you are looking for a perfect photo of an endless sunset over Cies Islands, look for it at Samil Beach at the late evening, and don’t miss the reflections on the water on the left, at Toralla Island.
Some extra info
Vigo is on a steep slope but you can connect many of these spots by bus (with the exception of El Castro Mountain). The other option is to use a car, which will also be helpful to explore the small villages and interesting sites nearby (Cangas, Baiona, Mondariz…) or visit Pontevedra.
There are several private parkings available around town and many public parking areas (pay, but weekends are free.)
How to get there
By train: Renfe operates direct trains from A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela and even Madrid and Barcelona on a daily basis. Connecting trains with Portugal (via Porto) are also available
By plane: Vigo has its own airport (VGO), next are: Santiago de Compostela (SCQ 101km) and Porto (OPO 150km)
Camino de Santiago: via the Portuguese Way.