We asked one of our Spain Private Guides, Ana Paula, about her favorite places to bring visitors to Spain’s northwestern Galicia region and here’s what she had to say.
Placed in an excellent natural delta, the Vigo port is preserved from storms by the Cíes Islands, which form a natural cove. Vigo is the most populated city of the province of Galícia in Northwestern Spain and is home to nearly 300,000 people. It’s the biggest and most important maritime port in Spain, comprising three ports in one: the fishing port, the commercial port and the cruise port.
If you are a cruise passenger docking at Vigo Cruise Port, here are five places you shouldn’t miss:
Monte del Castro
A fabulous city park placed in a hill in the city center, Monte del Castro is the site of well preserved monuments of Vigo History, like the XV century fort (built to defend the city from Viking attacks, and latter, from pirate fleets, led by the famous Francis Drake) and the Atlantic Iron Age Settlement, which attests the city’s antiquity. The City Hall ordered the reconstruction of some houses in this settlement, so the visitor can have a clear idea of how they were at 5,000 years ago.
Casco Viejo is the city’s medieval historical center, which has still old buildings from that time and where you can find parts of the ancient defense wall. Crossing its narrow alleys and old streets is an adventure, as they seem a large labyrinth. It’s easy to get lost, so keep your city map by hand. In this old part of the city are also based the best and affordable typical restaurants and bars, as well as some good quality clubs. It’s is a good area for shopping also, home to international shops and designer labels like Mango, Springfield, Carolina Herrera, Elizabeth Arden, Gucci, Valentino, Channel, Nike, Adidas, Lacoste and more.
An amazing Roman Salt Pans Underground Museum, here you can learn the importance of the salt production and its commercialization in the times of Vigo Roman occupation. These salt pans were at the seaside in the second century, but, over the centuries, and due to the sea water erosion, they became buried under tons of mud. They were only found recently, during the construction of an underground garage.
Palácio de Quiñones de León
A beautiful manor from 1670, the palace is now the Municipal Archaeological Museum, where you can see an exhibition of archaeological remains from Vigo's historical past. It is located at the Castrelos park, surrounded by romantic "Versailles" style gardens with 18th century fountains and ponds.
Certainly, one of the most stunning places to visit in Vigo, the Cíes Islands or Islands of Gods, as they were called in ancient times, are a National Park since 2000. Thousands of species of animals, plants and marine life can be observed while walking around the islands or hiking to the top, where you’ll find a bird observatory and a lighthouse. They’re also home to Vigo’s best beaches, and can be reached by ferry from March to October.
Photo courtesy of Mario Prada via Flickr. Islands of the Gods in Galicia.