As you sail along the Ria de Vigo estuary heading for the Vigo cruise port terminal you’ll no doubt be struck by the enormity of what is Europe’s largest fishing port which has docks spreading along the coast for 10km. In a city of almost 300,000 people this is by far the biggest employer with many people working for some of the world’s biggest fishing companies which have bases here.
Many cruise passengers visiting Vigo make the mistake of underestimating what it has to offer with some going no further than the ‘Centro Comercial A Laxe’ shopping centre which lies right next to where ships arrive. This is such a mistake as Vigo has so much to offer the visitor. It may not be Spain’s most beautiful city but it is home to a lovely old town packed with ancient buildings and a fine selection of tapas bars and restaurants where you can enjoy some of the country’s finest wines and seafood. If you do want to take an excursion from your ship then the top destination is the historic city of Santiago de Compostela which lies just 90km to the north.
Port of Vigo
The city of Vigo places great value on cruise ship tourism and has invested heavily in its infrastructure. This is evident as soon as you arrive at the ultra-modern cruise terminal known as the ‘Puerto De Transatlanticos’ where you’ll find first class amenities for passengers. This Transatlantic Dock welcomes more than 250,000 passengers per year including some well-known cruise ships such as the Queen Victoria, the Queen Mary 2 and the Independence of the Seas.
In spite of the size of Vigo Port the cruise ship terminal couldn’t be better located as it lies very close to the city centre. Just take the footbridge which crosses the busy Avenida del Castillo and you’re almost in the Old Town. There’s a tourist information office across the road from the port where you can pick up a city map.
Insider Tip: Do bear in mind that if you’re not as fit as you used to be or aren’t in the best of health the walk into town is uphill so you might prefer to grab a taxi. There are also cobbled streets in the Old Town which are often slippy when it rains so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.
If you’re heading off on an excursion you’ll find taxis, tour buses and private tour operators parked on the pier immediately where you disembark.
Getting Around in Vigo
If you’re reasonably fit and take your time you shouldn’t have a problem walking from the port to the Old Town. However, you should be aware that Vigo is very hilly so if in doubt you can take a taxi into the centre. Some cruise passengers like to take a 10-minute taxi ride from the ship to the top of O Castro Mountain for great views over the Vigo Estuary then take a gentle walk back via the Old Town.
Taxis are available immediately outside the gates of Vigo’s cruise port, their green light shows they are available. There’s no need to barter with drivers as all vehicles are official, metered vehicles. An alternative form of transport is to take the hop-on, hop-off tourist bus which departs from outside the port’s tourist information office. This service during the summer months and at Easter as well as whenever a cruise ship is in port.
Shore Excursions from Vigo Cruise Port
If this is your first time in Vigo and you’re only visiting for a few hours then you’ll find plenty to pass your time in the Old Town. Just take a look at our Vigo city travel guide for information on tourist attractions and recommended places to eat and drink. However, if you have some extra time on your hands you could take a day excursion to the historic city of Santiago de Compostela or enjoy a gastronomic treat by arranging a food and wine tour with a local specialist. Here are or recommended excursions for cruise passengers:
Santiago de Compostela
Duration: 8 Hours
Following the death of Saint James in Jerusalem in 44AD his body is believed to have been transported to north-west Spain by ship where it was buried in a tomb in a location which became forgotten. It wasn’t until 815AD that the body was rediscovered and a local bishop had a church built on the site of the tomb which would grow into the city of Santiago de Compostela. As word of the discovery spread across the Christian world, pilgrims from all over the continent began journeys to this holy place which became one of the most important pilgrimage destinations along with Rome and Jerusalem. To this day there are more than 250,000 pilgrims per year who head for the city on the Camino de Santiago.
On this private tour your driver will collect you at the cruise port and transfer you to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santiago de Compostela. On arrival in the Old Town you’ll meet your official tour guide outside the Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos which is a beautiful 5-star Parador hotel located in Praza do Obradoiro which is the city’s main square. Your guide will then escort you on a walking tour of the city’s historic attractions including the Cathedral where Saint James is said to be buried. Following the tour you’ll have time for lunch and a wander around on your own before meeting your driver for the return trip to the Vigo cruise port terminal.
Baiona Village and Wine Tasting
Duration: 5-6 Hours
The Rías Baixas wine region in Galicia is best known for the Albariño grape which produces some of Spain’s finest white wines. The region is made up of five sub-regions including the O Rosal Valley which lies on the Portuguese border to the south of the cruise port of Vigo. On this private tour you will be collected at the cruise port by your driver-guide who will transfer you to Bodegas Terras Gauda in the O Rosal Valley for a tour of their winery and a tasting of its Albariño wines.
After the winery visit your driver will escort you to the beautiful coastal village of Baiona which is best known for having been the first place in Europe to learn of Columbus’s success in discovering the New World. The visit includes a stop at the 16th century Monterreal Castle which is now a member of Spain’s exclusive chain of Parador hotels. Views from the Baiona Parador towards the Cíes Islands in the distance are quite spectacular. From Baiona the tour returns to your ship at the Vigo cruise port.
Vigo Wine and Tapas Tour
Duration: 4 Hours
A look at the street names on a map of of Vigo’s Casco Vello is enough to give you a good idea of the quaint Old Town which awaits you as you wander up from the port. Calle de la Pescadería, Calle Sombrereiros and Calle Cesteiros still function as places where you buy fish, hats and baskets in this historic port town. If you’d prefer to take a self-guided tour of Vigo just pick up a tourist map at the tourist information office opposite the port and off you go. However, if you’d like to spend a few hours in the charming centre of Vigo whilst sampling some of the city’s fine local wines and tapas then a private tour is highly recommended.
A local food and wine expert will meet you as you disembark from your ship in the Vigo cruise port terminal. He will then escort you to the Mercado do Progreso which is a new urban market in the city centre. Notice how many of the fishmongers are women because their husbands are the fishermen! The tour then continues to a bar in the Old Town where you can enjoy some tapas and a glass of Ribeiro white wine served in a typical white ceramic bowl. The next stop is a tavern where you can try a red wine with some local hams and cheeses. Finally, the tour visits a venue in the port area where you can enjoy fresh seafood tapas with a glass or two of Albariño white wine before returning to your ship.
Vigo Coastal Escape Trek and Tapas Tour
Duration: 5 Hours
This is an alternative tour which allows you to get out of the city and sample some of the area’s finest tapas across the Bay of Vigo in Cangas. A local food expert will accompany you on this trip and introduce you to a selection of Galician food and wine in a traditional tavern.