People ask me why I love Vigo and why would they want to visit an Industrial city like Vigo. But the answer is easy: Vigo is a vibrant city with wonderful landscapes and great people.
It also has a rich history: from the small Roman town of Vicus or Burbida, to the Celtic fortified villages in Toralla and the skirt of Monte de O Castro, and the walled city that fought against pirates and conquerors; they all are part of the industrial city we now know as Vigo.
But they are not the only reasons to visit Vigo. Keep reading for our…
top 5 spots you should visit when visiting Vigo
The Fish Market and the old fishing industry
When you arrive by plane or train to Vigo, the first thing you will notice is the industry along the Ría de Vigo. The port grows along on the west side of the coast, from Teis to Bouzas neighbourhood and is one of the reasons why the city has grown to be one of the biggest in all Galicia.
Yes, it is an industrial city, but also a very interesting one!
First thing to visit here is the Maritime Station. It is the boarding area for all ships heading to Cíes Islands, Cangas and also the Cruises that stop at Vigo. The place has a nice promenade, with some of the best restaurants really close by and great views over the Ria and Cíes Islands.
Continuing along the coast (to the right if you have the sea on your back) is the old fishing town of Berbés. It used to be a capital point of the city but now it is mostly famous for its Mercado (our favorite fresh food market is at Progreso street, but this one has some great fresh products too) and for the Lonja (deep-sea Fish Market, where only companies and restaurants.)
If you continue from here, you will find the real industrial Vigo, with some beautiful factories (and some not that beautiful) but access inside is limited. I would only recommend visiting the Congress Center here for a great view over the harbour.
Note for travelers: The deep-sea fish market can be visited, but it requires authorization to get inside the Industrial Zone. Ask at the Tourism of Vigo offices for more information or request your own athorization to visit at the Port Website. Just be prepared to stay up at 6a.m. or you’ll miss most of it.
The old quarter of Vigo
Right a few steps from the Maritime Station, you will find one of the best places to try seafood and fish: the Old Town or Casco Vello.
Vigo has a fairly big old town which extends from hills where the Town Hall is located, to the Port. Once a medieval town, now it is one of the hot spots for gastronomy and culture in Vigo, with many restaurants, cafes and taverns that open until late.
Also here, you will find one of the biggest touristic spots in Vigo: the Oyster street. A street where fishmongers sell and prepare fresh oysters for you, which you can enjoy at any of the many restaurants in the area.
Here is also the Co-Cathedral (“co” because it shares the label with the one at Tui town, where the Bishop used to live,) where you will find the saint-patron of the city: Cristo de la Victoria.
Get in lost in the streets of a beautifully restored old town with a medieval style of intricate and steep streets with fishing houses and small palaces of no more than 4 floors . And don’t forget to stop by the little shops with artisan work and galician products.
And, if you are looking for a more lively and modern Vigo, continue onto Puerta del Sol, where you will find major fashion brands and some cultural spots, like the Pinacoteca Art Hall, Marco Museum, Laxeiro Foundation, Pacheco Archives and more.
Castrelos Park and Museum
Castrelos Park is the biggest urban park of Vigo. It was donated, together with the Pazo (Manor house), by the Marquis of Alcedo to the city in 1924.
The park is one of the favorite spots for locals because of its wooded trails, along the Lagares River, the huge playground area for kids and its lakes with ducks and swans. It is also a great place for sports, hosting some running events and many training groups from the area.
The park houses the Pazo Quiñones de León Museum. The small palace, a typical Galician Manor House with beautiful botanical gardens, is famous for its archaeological exhibition, as well as for its impressive collection of masterpieces from Galician and Spanish painters, which come from the collections of Vigo’s Town hall as well as from Prado Museum.
While the Museum has a limited timetable (please check their website before visiting) the botanical and rose gardens can be visited any day of the week.
When visiting on summer, make sure you check the schedule for public concerts at the outdoor amphitheatre. Most seats are free of charge.
Castro Mountain and Fortress
La Fortaleza (the fortress) is located at the highest viewpoint of Vigo City: O Castro Mountain. The views from here cover from Cies Islands, protecting the estuary from the wild Atlantic Ocean, to Rande Bridge and San Simón inlet. On the back, you can see the city from above and the mountains that surround the city.
There are only a few remains of the fortress but the stone walls, but it hosts a garden full of statues and is surrounded by many interesting monuments, including the anchors recovered from the Galleons that sunk at the battle of Rande, placed there to remember the battle for the Spanish Crown, the treasuries hiding under the waters of Vigo Bay and the pirate attacks that took place centuries ago.
Also at O Castro mountain, you will find the Iron Age fortified village that gave name to the mountain (the castros, a keltic village that can be visited with a guide from Tuesday to Sundays.
Island Cíes and the beaches of Vigo
As I told you on our previous post on how to choose which beach to visit when you visit Vigo, they are one of the main reasons why people from all over Europe come to Vigo. Transparent waters and fine white sand that are great for sunbathing and water sports.
If you are in a hurry, here are the Beaches you must see when you visit Vigo:
- Rodas and Figueiras, the natural park beaches inside Cíes Islands
- Samil, the urban beach great for families with children and to visit on winter time.
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.