The Charm of Vigo in Spain: traveler’s guide to Galicia’s largest city

Ponte em Vigo.
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2024-01-25

Discover the Best Things To Do and See in Vigo, Spain!

Vigo, the largest city in the Galicia region of northwest Spain, beckons with its captivating attractions and activities. Situated on the Atlantic coast, Vigo boasts breathtaking natural beauty, a vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine that will leave you craving for more.

Start your adventure by immersing yourself in the blend of modern and historic architecture that graces the city.

Wander through the old town’s narrow streets adorned with colorful houses and marvel at the sleek skyscrapers that define the bustling business district.

Delve into Vigo’s rich heritage and artistic flair by visiting its museums, galleries, and cultural centers that showcase the city’s fascinating history and vibrant art scene.

Nature enthusiasts will be enchanted by Vigo’s outdoor wonders. Explore the pristine beaches that fringe the city’s coastline or embark on invigorating hikes along the scenic mountain trails nearby.

Discover tranquility in the city’s parks and gardens, offering serene settings for leisurely strolls and delightful picnics.

No visit to Vigo is complete without indulging in its renowned seafood.

Sample the freshest mussels and octopus, savoring the flavors of this coastal paradise. Don’t miss the opportunity to relish local specialties like lacón con grelos (pork with turnip greens) and empanadas gallegas (savory pastries filled with seafood or meat), which tantalize the taste buds with Galician culinary delights.

Vigo epitomizes charm and vibrancy, catering to diverse interests and passions.

Whether you seek history, culture, or thrilling outdoor pursuits, Vigo promises a fulfilling and memorable experience. Discover the allure of this beautiful corner of Spain and uncover the best things to do and see in Vigo, an exceptional destination that captivates the heart and mind.

Best things to see and do in Vigo Spain

Castro em Vigo.
Castro in Vigo.

Below is a list of interesting activities to do in Vigo, and believe me, there is something special for everyone.

From a historic center with lively squares, terraces and historic monuments, you’re sure to find plenty to see and do.

And if you visit Vigo in summer, don’t forget that Vigo’s beaches are famous and that you can go to the Cíes Islands from Vigo.

Visit the Castrelos Park

When in Vigo, Spain, make sure to visit the Castrelos Park, a hidden gem that offers the best of nature and recreation.

Situated in the heart of the city, this expansive park spans approximately 60 hectares and beckons visitors with its tranquil ambiance and picturesque landscapes.

At the heart of the park lies the magnificent Castrelos Palace, a neoclassical masterpiece that once served as the summer residence of the Count of Tovar.

Immerse yourself in its grandeur as you take a guided tour, offered by the Provincial Council of Pontevedra, and learn about its fascinating history.

As you explore the park, you’ll encounter an array of captivating features. Admire the serene lake that mirrors the surrounding beauty and adds to the park’s allure.

Discover the meticulously manicured gardens, such as the sensory-rich Garden of Sensations and the visually stunning Garden of the Senses, designed to engage your senses in unique ways.

The park is also adorned with remarkable sculptures, crafted by acclaimed artists like Francisco Asorey and José Ramón Fabelo, adding an artistic touch to the natural surroundings.

Parque de Castrelos is not only a place for leisurely walks and relaxation, but it also hosts a variety of events and concerts throughout the year, attracting both locals and tourists alike. From cultural exhibitions to lively performances, there’s always something happening in this vibrant park.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the best things to do in Vigo, Spain by visiting the Castrelos Park.

Let its beauty enchant you, its tranquility rejuvenate you, and its cultural treasures leave a lasting impression. Vigo’s hidden oasis awaits your exploration.

Explore the Old Town in Vigo, Spain

Vigo’s Old Town, also known as the Casco Vello, is a historic neighborhood located in the center of the city, and a must-see attraction in Vigo, Spain

It is home to a number of landmarks and landmarks, including the Church of San Francisco, the Convent of San Francisco, and the Castle of San Sebastian.

The Church of San Francisco is a Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century. It is known for its beautiful stained glass windows and ornate altar. The Convent of San Francisco is a convent that was founded in the 13th century and is now home to a museum.

The Castle of San Sebastian is a medieval castle that was built in the 14th century to protect the city from attacks by pirates. It is now a popular tourist attraction and offers panoramic views of the city from its walls.

The Old Town is also home to a number of narrow streets, plazas, and squares, such as Plaza de la Constitución and Plaza de Amboage. These areas are home to a number of shops, restaurants, and bars, and are popular destinations for both locals and tourists.

Overall, the Old Town is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Vigo. It’s a great place to explore the city’s rich history and culture, and to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of this historic neighborhood.

Visit the Vigo Ocean Museum

The Vigo Ocean Museum, also known as the Museo do Mar in Spanish, is a museum located in the city of Vigo, Spain. It is dedicated to the history of the city’s relationship with the sea, and features a number of interactive exhibits, as well as a large aquarium with a variety of marine life.

One of the highlights of the museum is the permanent exhibition “The Sea, Our History”, which explores the history of Vigo and the role that the sea has played in the city’s development. The exhibition features a number of interactive exhibits and displays, including a replica of a 17th century galleon and a mock-up of a traditional fisherman’s house.

The museum also features a number of temporary exhibitions that focus on different aspects of the sea and its relationship with Vigo. Past exhibitions have covered topics such as marine biology, oceanography, and the history of fishing in the region.

In addition to the exhibitions, the museum also offers a number of educational programs and activities, including workshops, guided tours, and lectures.

Overall, the Vigo Ocean Museum is a great destination for anyone interested in the history of Vigo and the role that the sea has played in the city’s development. It’s a fun and educational way to learn about the city’s maritime heritage.

Location of the Museum of the Sea in Vigo: Av. da Atlántida, 160, 36208 Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain.

Take a boat tour in Vigo Spain

Passeio de barco na Ria de Vigo.
Boat trip on the Ria de Vigo.

Vigo is home to a number of boat tour companies that offer a variety of tours around the city’s beautiful coastline. These boat tours are a great way to see the city from a different perspective and to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the region.

There are a number of different boat tours available in Vigo, ranging from short sightseeing tours to longer excursions that visit nearby destinations. Many of the boat tours depart from the city’s harbor and offer views of the city’s landmarks and attractions, such as the Old Town and the Castle of San Sebastian.

Vigo is also a popular destination for cruise enthusiasts, and there are a number of companies that offer cruises that depart from or visit the city. These cruises typically take passengers to destinations along the Atlantic coast of Europe, including cities in Spain, Portugal, and France.

One of the popular destinations for cruises departing from Vigo is the Galician coast, which is known for its beautiful beaches, charming villages, and delicious seafood. Other popular destinations include the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto, as well as the French city of Bordeaux.

Many of the cruises that visit Vigo offer a variety of activities and excursions for passengers to enjoy during their time in the city. These might include guided tours of the city’s landmarks and attractions, such as the Old Town and the Vigo Ocean Museum, as well as excursions to nearby destinations, such as the Rias Baixas wine region.

Try some seafood

The region is known for its abundant seafood, which includes a variety of fish, shellfish, and other marine life.

One of the most famous seafood dishes from Vigo Spain is pulpo a la gallega, which is octopus cooked with paprika and served with potatoes. Other popular seafood dishes from the region include percebes (goose barnacles), vieiras (scallops), and xoubas (sardines).

Fish and seafood are an important part of the local diet in Vigo, and there are a number of restaurants in the city that serve up delicious dishes made with local seafood. These restaurants range from casual seafood bars to more formal dining establishments, and many of them offer outdoor seating with views of the harbor.

In addition to restaurants, there are also a number of markets in Vigo where you can purchase fresh seafood to cook at home. The city’s fish market, located in the Old Town, is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and it’s a great place to try a variety of fresh seafood.

Accomodation in Vigo in Spain

Hotel Tryp Los Galeones.
Vigo Los Galeones Affiliated by Meliá.

When booking your hotel in Vigo Spain, I recommend that you bear in mind some indications.

So, if you want to enjoy the busiest bars and restaurants, that is, you want to take advantage of Vigo’s nightlife, the best areas are:

  1. The Old Town: The Old Town, also known as the Casco Vello, is a historic neighborhood located in the center of the city. It is home to a number of bars, clubs, and restaurants, and is a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Choose from Hotel Puerta Gamboa or Hotel Alda Puerta Del Sol;
  2. Samil Beach: Samil Beach is a popular beach located in the city center, and it is home to a number of bars and clubs that stay open late. The beach is a popular destination during the summer months, and it’s a great place to spend a night out. Choose from ATTICA21 VIGO 4 Superior or Apartaments Dunas de Samil.

If you prefer quieter areas to enjoy with your family, as was our case, I believe that the Hotel Vigo Los Galeones Affiliated by Meliá is a good choice. In any case, if you didn’t like any of these hotels, check out the other accommodations in Vigo below.

Hotels in Vigo (Galicia – Spain)

Best destinations and cities to visit near Vigo Spain

Torre de Hércules na Corunha (Galiza).
Hercules Tower in Coruña (Galicia).

Vigo is a short drive (or bus ride) away from several other interesting cities that are worth visiting. Here are some suggestions of cities to visit near Vigo:

Santiago de Compostela: Santiago de Compostela is a historic city located approximately 90 kilometers from Vigo. It is known for its beautiful cathedral, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its rich cultural and artistic heritage.

A Coruña: A Coruña is a coastal city located approximately 120 kilometers from Vigo. It is known for its beautiful beaches, its historic Old Town, and its lively nightlife.

Ourense: One of the main attractions in Ourense is the city’s thermal baths, which are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The thermal baths are known for their therapeutic properties and are believed to have a number of health benefits. There are a number of thermal baths located in and around the city, including the Baños del Molino, the Baños de Bande, and the Baños de Allariz.

Porto: Porto is a city located in neighboring Portugal, approximately 150 kilometers from Vigo. It is known for its beautiful architecture, its delicious port wine, and its vibrant culture.

Lisbon: Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and is located approximately 450 kilometers from Vigo. It is known for its beautiful historic center, its lively nightlife, and its delicious seafood.

Best beaches in Vigo Spain

Praia de Rodas nas Ilhas Cíes.
Rodas Beach in Cíes Islands.

The city is surrounded by a number of sandy beaches that are popular with tourists and locals alike. Here are a few of the most popular beaches in Vigo:

Samil Beach: Samil Beach is a popular beach located in the city center. It’s a great place to sunbathe, swim, and try a variety of water sports, such as surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. The beach is also home to a number of bars and restaurants, making it a great place to relax and enjoy a meal or a drink.

Praia de Bouzas: Praia de Bouzas is another urban beach, but that doesn’t make it lose its charm. Smaller than Samil beach, it is suitable for families.

Sereíña Beach or Fechiño Beach: this is a beach located in the municipality of O Grove, about 10 km from Vigo. It is a long sandy beach known for its beautiful scenery and its crystal clear waters. The beach is equipped with a number of amenities including showers, toilets and a lifeguard station. It is located in a beautiful setting, surrounded by dunes and pine forests, and with a breathtaking view over the Atlantic Ocean.

The beaches of the Cíes Islands: The Cies Islands are a group of small islands located off the coast of Vigo, in the province of Pontevedra, Spain. The islands are part of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia and are known for their renowned beaches, crystal clear waters and stunning natural landscapes, including Praia de Rodas, which is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

Where to see the stuning sunset in Vigo?

Parque de Castrelos.
Castrelos Park.

Samil Beach: Samil Beach is a popular beach located in the city center, and it’s a great place to watch the sunset. The beach is located on the western side of the city, so it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down over the ocean.

Castrelos Park: Castrelos Park is a large park located in the center of the city that is a popular destination for sunset-watching. The park features a lake, several gardens, and a number of sculptures, and it offers beautiful views of the sunset.

Monte del Castro: Monte del Castro is a hill located on the western side of the city that offers stunning views of the sunset. The hill is home to a number of trails that offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, and it’s a great place to watch the sun go down.

Gastronomy and restaurants in Vigo

Ementa de restaurante em Vigo.
Restaurant menu in Vigo.

First of all, I must say that it is very difficult for me to recommend just one restaurant in Vigo Spain.

This happens because in recent years I have been trying different restaurants, all of them excellent. On the other hand, recommending one or another restaurant would be unfair, as I am very far from knowing most of the restaurants in Vigo.

So, instead of recommending places to have lunch or dinner in Vigo, I’m going to share some tips that help me choose restaurants.

So that’s how it works, as restaurants with terraces and in more tourist places tend to be more expensive, I prefer to look on the GPS in the surrounding streets to see if there are restaurants.

Almoçar em Vigo (Espanha).
Lunch in Vigo (Spain).

At lunch there is usually a dish of the day, which, usually is cheaper.

You’ll notice that most restaurants in Vigo have a tapas section, and dishes like octopus, grilled meat and paella are almost always present.

Sangria is quite popular, so if you’re not driving, try the white, rosé and red fruit sangria.

Also, there is a wide variety of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, Panini’s Town (sandwiches), Taco Bell, KFC, which, although not traditional, are an option if you have little time.

Tourist bus and Tours to explore Vigo

The tourist bus is a comfortable way to get to know the city of Vigo, as well as its history. This type of tour is suitable for those who have little time and don’t want to walk from one place to another.

Basically it works like this: there is a route that goes through the main tourist attractions in Vigo and people go by bus from one point to another, listening to the recorded explanations of the guide. As a rule, in Vigo, tourist buses are translated into English.

However, these buses only operate in summer, Easter and whenever there is a cruise ship docking in Porto.

For this reason, I recommend that you check out the tours and excursions in Vigo:

Best time to visit Vigo Spain

Natal em Vigo.
Christmas in Vigo.

If you’re a beach lover planning a trip to Vigo, the best time to visit is during the summer months of June to September. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches are at their busiest. If possible avoid the month of August.

In addition, there are some highlights where the city is very popular: the Christmas Festivities in December, the Fiestas de San Juan in June, the Fiestas de la Madalena in July, and the Fiestas de San Xusto in August.

These times are very busy with free events all over the city.

If you prefer to enjoy the city more peacefully, think about visiting Vigo in the mid-season, that is, when it’s not too cold or too hot and prices are more friendly. Examples of these months are March, April (except Easter), May and October.

How to get to Vigo from Porto Portugal

Jardim Castelo do Castro.
Castro Castle Garden.

There are a few different ways to get from Porto, Portugal to Vigo, Spain:

By Bus: Flixbus has direct bus from Porto Campanhã to para Vigo with a stop at Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport and with prices starting at €6.99 per way, with the journey to Vigo taking around 2h15. You can also take the bus from Porto Campanhã Station in the center of Porto.

By Train: There are regular trains that run between Porto and Vigo, with a trip of around 3 hours. Trains depart from Campanhã Station in Porto and end at Estación Intermodal de Vigo.

By Car: If you have your own car or a rent car, you can drive from Porto to Vigo. The journey takes around 1,5 hours and follows the A3 motorway.

How to get from Vigo to the Cíes Islands?

Barco de Vigo para as Ilhas Cies (ferry).
Boat from Vigo to the Cies Islands (ferry).

To get to the Cíes Islands from Vigo, you can take a boat from the city’s port. There are several boat companies that operate regular services to the islands, with the journey taking around 40 minutes.

Boats depart from the port on a regular basis, and tickets can be purchased at the port or online in advance.

Once you arrive on the islands, you can explore the three main islands – Monte Agudo, O Faro, and San Martiño – on foot or by bike. There are a number of trails on the islands that offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape, and you can visit a number of beaches, including Rodas Beach, which is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Remeber that the water is cold.

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