Few cities enjoy such a magnificent natural setting as VIGO. Arrayed along the sloping southern shoreline of its namesake estuary, it enjoys superb views not only of the bay itself, surrounded by green forest ridges, but also out towards the ocean. While it's undeniably magnificent when seen from a ship entering the harbour, however, it has to be said that once ashore it fails to live up to that initial promise, and few visitors use it as anything more than an overnight stop.
Vigo is now the largest city in Galicia, home to some 300,000 people, and it's also Spain's chief fishing port, with wharves and quays that stretch almost 5km along the shore. Cruise passengers mingle with tourists arriving at the Estación Marítima de Ría off the ferries from Cangas and Moaña, and set off to explore the steep, cobbled streets that climb up into the old city, known as O Berbés and crammed with shops, bars and restaurants.
Along the seafront early in the morning, kiosks revive fishermen with strong coffee, while there and in the lively daily market hall nearby, the Mercado da Pedra, their catch is sold. Immediately below, women set out plates of fresh oysters on permanent granite tables to tempt passers-by on the aptly named Rúa da Pescadería. Climbing the nearby stairs to Praza A Pedra, you'll find the understated El Emigrante, a good place for raciones. Virtually all of the bars in the old streets serve great tapas; good options on Rúa dos Cesteiros, off Praza de Constitución, include the deliberately rustic Taberna da Curuxa and the no-frills Taberna A Pedra.
A stiff but enjoyable climb up from the old town, mostly along stone staircases, brings you to the top of the Castro hill. So named for the circular ancient ruins still visible on one side, and also the site of a seventeenth-century castle, the hill enjoys comprehensive views.
Most of the beaches near Vigo are crowded and unappealing. Farther south, however, the beach at Samil is better, while those at Vao and Canido, further on, are also quite reasonable, and equipped with campsites,