Castro Fortress garden in Vigo

Wondering what to do in Vigo on a cruise? This port city is located in Spain’s Galicia region, a rugged and green corner of northern Spain. Many will only scratch the surface and see the port-side shopping centre and high street, but there’s more to explore…

Castro Fortress overlooking VigoCruise ship port of Vigo

Vigo is located on the north-west coast of Spain, not far from the border of Portugal. It’s wetter, Atlantic-influenced climate makes this region a natural beauty, the green hills could rival those in Ireland and Wales.

Cruising to the port of Vigo, Spain
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Vigo’s Old Town, Casco Vello

The cruise ship terminal is within walking distance of Vigo city centre, the high street contains familiar European brands like C&A and Zara, plus there’s an indoor shopping centre located right next to the port should the weather take a turn. Just beyond the port is Vigo’s old town area called Casco Vello, a cluster of old brick buildings, many of which date back to the Renaissance era.

Vigo Old Town SquareOverlooking Vigo

Casco Vello is home to a variety of independent shops, restaurants and cafe bars centred around the small Constitution Square. During the summer siesta the streets can be eerily quiet, before springing it life at the distant beat of a drum – music and dancing are an important part of the region’s culture.

Related: Highlights of an Iberian Cruise from Southampton, England

O Castro Mountain | Things To Do In Vigo On A Cruise

Leading off from the Old Town is an uphill walk to Castro’s Fortress, a 1km ascent to one of the city’s best viewpoints. On a hot summer’s day you may be rewarded with a cooling sea breeze and a spacious garden area with fountains and flower beds.

Castro Fortress gardenO Castro Vigo

O Castro is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre below and is free to enter.

Related: Parks and gardens walking tour of Cadiz, Spain

Cies Islands

For a real escape (and if you’ve enough time in port), take a ferry trip or Jet Skit Tour to Cies Islands. The Guardian placed Las Islas Cíes in its list of top 10 beaches of the world, describing the Atlantic coastline here as wild and dramatic in comparison to Spain’s popular Mediterranean beaches. Cies Islands is a unspoilt gem thanks to its National Park status meaning the soft white sand and crystal clear sea can be enjoyed responsibly by visitors for many years to come.

Playa del Vao | Things To Do In Vigo On A Cruise

If a trip to the beach sounds appealing, the mainland also has some beautiful spots, such as Playa del Vao, a powdery white sand beach around 15 minutes away from the port of Vigo by road. Closer still is an open 1km urban beach called Samil Beach (Praia de Samil) with a raise concrete path hugging the coast for a breezy walk or run.

Church of St. James in Santiago de Compostela Seashell symbol on The Camino Way

Santiago de Compostela

A shore excursion to Santiago de Compostela is a popular option from Vigo and neighbouring port city A Coruna. Santiago de Compostela is the destination for thousands of Pilgrims across Europe over the past few centuries because it is the resting place of St. James, one of Jesus’s Apostles. The Camino Way (Way of St. James) is a historic route that extends into France and a shore excursion will give you a guided tour of the church and part of the walk itself.

Further reading: An overview of the Santiago de Compostela shore excursion

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