Tucked away in the north-west corner of Spain, the autonomous region of Galicia could hardly be more different than the widely held perception of Spain as a land of flamenco and bullfighting. This is a Spain of rolling green valleys, a wild Atlantic coastline and historic towns where reminders of their Celtic origins are never far away. Cruise ships visiting this region usually stop in either A Coruña on the northern coast or in Vigo which lies 160km to the south and is just 35km from the Portuguese border.
The Port of Vigo is one of those lesser known destinations where passengers tend to have few expectations yet with a little planning it can prove to be a highlight of your cruise. Visitors can discover the historic centre then enjoy some of Spain’s finest seafood and white wines in the city’s excellent tapas bars. Alternatively, some passengers prefer to arrange a shore excursion to the stunning city of Santiago de Compostela. This is one of Spain’s greatest tourist attractions where St. James is believed to be buried in the magnificent cathedral which marks the end of the popular pilgrimage known as the ‘Camino de Santiago’.
Port of Vigo
Whilst cruise ship passengers might not know what to expect from their visit to Vigo, the local tourism authorities are well aware of the value that the cruise ships bring to their city. The modern cruise ship terminal is testament to the value the city places on the new wave of tourists arriving by sea in what was until quite recently a little-known destination.
You will disembark from your ship at the ‘Puerto De Transatlanticos’ which lies within a short walk of the city centre. Passengers who have arranged to take official shore excursions arranged by their cruise company or have organised private tours will usually meet their vehicles and drivers immediately at the pier where they get off their ship.
Insider Tip: Some passengers who aren’t in any rush to get into the town centre often enjoy a visit to the ‘Centro Comercial A Laxe’ which is an impressive shopping complex located right next to the port.
Walking in Vigo shouldn’t pose a problem for most passengers but please note that it’s uphill from the port to the town centre so a taxi might be preferable in some cases. It also rains a lot in Galicia so be sure to wear good shoes for strolling around the cobbled streets of the Old Town (‘Casco Vello’).
Passengers who are beginning or ending their cruise in the Port of Vigo may arrive or depart through Vigo-Peinador Airport which lies less than 10km east of the city centre. Most incoming flights are domestic services so you might have to arrange a connection via Madrid or Barcelona. Private transport to and from Vigo Airport can be arranged in advance
with airport transfer specialist Shuttledirect. They will also be able to provide services to alternative airports including Santiago de Compostela and Porto. If you’d prefer to travel by public transport you’ll find bus services which operate between the city and the airport and taxis are always available to meet incoming flights.
Getting Around in Vigo
As we’ve already mentioned, walking into town is the preferred way of getting around for many cruise ship passengers although the climb from the port to the Old Town might prove challenging to some. In that case you should simply jump in a taxi as you’re leaving the port area and get a ride into the centre.
A recommended way to see the city is to take a taxi beyond the Old Town to O Castro Mountain from where you’ll get superb views over the city and the ocean. From there you can walk downhill into the historic centre and eventually back to the ship thus avoiding the need to walk uphill at all.
For cruise ships arriving during the summer season and during Easter week there’s a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus service which stops at the port. It cannot access the cobbled walkways of the ‘Casco Vello’ but provides an enjoyable tour with English commentary. Highlights include the climb to O Castro Mountain where you’ll get great sea views and a drive along the coast to some of the region’s beautiful beaches.
Main Tourist Attractions
Walk Around the Old Town: Once you’ve made your way to the ‘Casco Vello’ you can wander around at your leisure in what is a compact area made up of four main squares connected by a series of winding, cobbled streets. Within these streets you’ll come across some fascinating old shops, a number of ancient churches and a number of very appealing tapas bars, cafés and typical Galician restaurants.
Visit Oyster Street: An institution in Vigo is a street referred to by the locals as ‘Rúa das Ostras’ where a number of outdoor stalls sell fresh oysters to passers-by. Officially called ‘Rúa da Pescadería’ this street is also home to some of the city’s best known fish restaurants where visitors can enjoy an outstanding seafood lunch with a glass of local Albariño wine.
Admire the Views from O Castro Castle: Standing on a hill in the centre of Vigo, this parkland was home to the city’s first Celtic settlers between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC. The main attraction of the mountain is the 17th century O Castro Castle from where views across the Vigo Estuary are unbeatable.
Go to the Beach: If you’re fortunate enough to arrive on a hot summer’s day you might decide to spend some time at one of the many beautiful, sandy beaches located along this coastline. A popular choice amongst the locals is Praia de Samil to the south of the city which is easily accessible by frequent local buses or by taxi in about 15 minutes.
Visit Santiago de Compostela: The most popular shore excursion from Vigo Port is to the city of Santiago de Compostela which lies just 85km to the north. Most cruise lines offer day trips otherwise you can get there by taxi from just outside the port gates or take a train from Vigo-Guixar railway station.
One Night in Vigo
Passengers extending their cruise itinerary to include an overnight stay in Vigo should make the most of the opportunity to dine in one of the city’s excellent seafood restaurants. Highly recommended are Casa Vella and O Porton which are both on Rua Pescaderia. For Michelin-star dining head for Maruja Limon (Rua Montero Rios 4) where chefs Rafa Centeno and Inés Abril have helped place Vigo on the culinary map of Galicia.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the most established and respected airport transfer provider in Europe and northern Africa. Our friendly local drivers will ensure your safe, economical, and convenient passage to and from the cruise terminal, airport, or major train station of your choice with a minimum of fuss. Book your transfer with our easy to use online booking system and leave the rest up to us!