Our opinion of Vigo
Having driven through Vigo many times over the last few years, our first proper look at the city was long over due. It was also one that made us wish that we had added Vigo to our "places to see" list much earlier.
One of the factors that can intimidate tourists is Vigo's shear size. As you approach, and then drive through the city (on the motorway toll road), you really do wonder where Vigo starts and ends and which exit to take. We actually entered Vigo without a street map and that was a big big mistake – but ours, not Vigo's.
Once in Vigo the key is to head for the port and, as long as you stay on the road that shadows it, you will ultimately hit the recreational marina, the Nautical Club and the old quarter which lies directly above the two. From here you can then explore much of the town and port. You can also walk up into the new town with the knowledge that in order to get back all you need to do is go down hill and follow the signs for the marina.
Right, this is the start of the old quarter leading away from the marina and Nautical Club.
On our visit to Vigo in late July we had temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and that is a little on the high side for wondering around a town on a hill. That said, we really liked Vigo's old quarter and although it is small it has a totally unspoilt feel to it. We also saw it on a very quiet Sunday with few tourists (or anyone else for that matter) and consequently missed out on the atmosphere that it normally enjoys.
Size is not everything in Vigo
Vigo's old quarter is certainly not as big as that of Pontevedra or Santiago, but it has an altogether different charm and its small plazas are in some cases superb.
Also getting high marks is the area that runs between the marina and the old town, specifically the “las Avenidas” promenade, which is lined with bars and cafes and overlooks the nautical club of Vigo. This is a must for those who like ports, boats and everything to do with the ocean. It is also a great spot to relax and watch the world and numerous boats go by.
Just above the old town lay the first expansions of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century city of Vigo. This part of the city leads on to the shopping district and also the “Castro” park, but it also has some wonderful civic buildings and the occasional structure from much earlier. This district also emphasizes what a clean and organised city central Vigo is. Many of the streets off the main roads are lined with trees and just when you think that the street scene is becoming bland, or caught up in the mindless designs of the sixties and seventies, a great looking building jumps out at you.
Close to Vigo
Away from the actual city, Vigo really does have some great beaches and we get more feedback from people on Vigo's beaches than those of anywhere else – good feedback that is.
Vigo's size also makes it a "one stop shop" and you can find, see or buy virtually anything in it.
Whether you like Vigo will ultimately depend on what you want from Galicia. Vigo is ideally placed to branch out to Pontevedra, Santiago and beyond. But it is a very different city to those two and you are always aware that it is the present rather than the past that dominates Vigo.
In summary, Vigo's historic district is not as large as those of Santiago de Compostela or Pontevedra, but it is worth seeing none the less. Vigo has a port, several very good beaches and it settles nicely just above Portugal making a two center (or two country) vacation a realistic option. It is also a “twelve month a year” city with something to offer the tourist in any season.
A further "tick" for Vigo is the increasing number of cruise liners now using Vigo's port and not just to disembark on route to Santiago or Pontevedra. Vigo is rapidly becoming one of Galicia's major tourist draws and any visitor to the city will quickly see why.
Left, yet another of Vigo's older buildings. This one is in another "mini" old district away from the actual historic quarter and next to one of the city's beaches.