Vigo (Photo:jx1306/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Vigo

Vigo is the main port for Spain's Galicia region, with Portugal to its south and the Spanish mainland to the east. Vigo's location between the mighty Atlantic and snow-topped mountains gives the region a cooler, damper climate than the rest of the country and has earned it the nickname of "The Green Spain."

This makes it a popular retreat for Spaniards keen to escape the searing summer heat, enjoy lush country scenery and tuck into some of the world's freshest seafood. And for cruise visitors, in Vigo you can experience "real" Spanish culture, meet the locals and enjoy a city and countryside still largely unadulterated by mass tourism.

Old Vigo rises in tiers to the 17th century hilltop citadel of El Castro, one of three that originally guarded the city. All were necessary to defend Galicia from successive hordes of invaders including Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, French and British, who regularly invaded between the 14th and 19th centuries. Sir Francis Drake famously took the city (for a while, at least) in 1589.

If you have a strong sense of history, you'll find the ghosts of these ancient and unwelcome guests still lingering in Vigo's gray walls and steep streets. The old Ribera del Berbes fishing quarter -- at the bottom of the hill opposite the port -- dates from the 17th century reign of Philip IV and is well preserved and particularly atmospheric.

Although there is plenty to see and do further afield, first-time visitors to Vigo could simply explore the old city, enjoying its world-class seafood and taking in some of the large sculptures that adorn its cobbled streets and squares. These include El Sireno(The Merman) in Puerta del Sol and Los Caballos (a monument to the horses that once roamed free in Castro Park) in Plaza de Espana.

This art-loving maritime gem of a city -- with its beautiful neoclassical cathedral -- has been proclaimed a Spanish national historical monument. Give it your time, and it will reward you with wonderful memories.

About Vigo


Pro

This beautiful old port town is famous for outstanding seafood

Con

Vigo's steep hills can make walking around town a physical challenge

Bottom Line

Nicknamed "the Green Spain," Vigo has no shortage of history, culture and beautiful scenery, including dozens of beaches


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Where You're Docked

Ships dock at the Muelle de Transatlanticos. Just cross the palm tree-lined Avenida del Castillo waterfront promenade and you're in the city.

Good to Know

Traffic is heavy as you cross the Avenida del Castillo from the port.

The fish market features well-stocked but rather pungent stalls.

The town contains steep hills and cobblestones -- wear sensible shoes with a good grip and take a walking pole/stick if necessary.

Be wary of rain showers -- they are why this part of Spain is so green. Take a small umbrella along just in case.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The local currency is the euro. For updated currency-conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.

There are plenty of banks with ATMs in Vigo, and most shops and restaurants take credit or debit card payments. Be aware that the city's streets are steep and, although the town is very close to the port, you might not want to waste valuable time ashore hunting for an ATM. Think ahead and get cash in advance of your port stop if possible.

Language

Spanish, obviously -- and in this remarkably un-touristy part of Spain you will need a good phrase book or language app because few people speak English. In an emergency, dial 112, a free call from any phone to summon police, ambulance or fire services.

In some rural villages, even a phrase book won't be enough because people speak both Gallego (the local dialect) and Castilian (mainstream Spanish), or a confusing mix of the two.

Shopping

It's worth strolling along Calle de los Cesteros (Basketmakers Street) and checking out the woven wares -- way more than baskets -- that hang outside its shops.

Best Cocktail

Pick up a bottle or two of Ribeiro, a delicious local wine made from grapes grown in the valleys between the Mino, Arnoia, Avia and Barbantino Rivers (hence its name, which means riverbank). Galicians usually serve this crisp, fruity wine very chilled in porcelain cups, and it goes well with seafood.