What I love the most about travelling is discovering the underrated places that turn out to be beautiful although you’ve never heard about them before. This Easter weekend was the first time I was spending Easter abroad and not with my family, so I knew I had to take the opportunity to do something special. So My Travel Companion and I decided to take advantage of the four days off and take a citybreak in Vigo with a trip to Islas Cíes. It was a trip that absolutely exceeded my expectations. It wasn’t too expensive and easy to fit into my internship schedule- a perfect getaway for students!
The biggest city of Galicia, it’s said to be rather ugly. The thing with Vigo however is that it’s just very different from what a tourist in Spain is used to see. Actually, looking at the dark stone buildings, ornamental façades and narrow streets I was rather reminded of Glasgow or Edinburgh. It has a different atmosphere than the southern, Mediterranean cities.
The old town is a small district very close to the coast. A labirynth of narrow streets, with the cathedral hidden in the middle. The locals spend time in bars and restaurants enjoying a coffee or a dinner with friends. The typical food in Galicia is Pulpo a la Gallega- octopus seasoned with red pepper. A true delicacy together with all the other kinds of seafood served in Vigo and all around Galicia. It’s not the cheapest, but worth trying at least once when you’re in Galicia.
If you venture a little bit more inland, just around 10 minutes from the old town there’s a beautiful city park. It’s actually a mountain in the middle of the city, where the first settlements were, dating back to the 3rd century BC. But the park is not only historically interesting and beautiful, but it provides amazing views over the city and the sea. You can see the harbour and the islands just off the coast of Vigo.
Going down and through the old town again, you get to the marina. What I loved about Vigo is how close together the most important places in the city are. It’s very easy to move between the most beautiful part of the city- the old town, the park and the harbour. If you take a walk around the marina you can see some starfish and mussels living between the boats. This is also where we take the ferry to take us to the Islas Cíes.
Islas Cíes are three islands around 30 min by ferry from Vigo. The ferry takes you to the Isla de Monteagudo, connected to the Isla de Faro. The third island, unfortunately, is only accessible by a private boat. Which made My Favourite Travel Companion and me seriously consider buying a boat.
The island was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The rocky shores, the beautiful sandy beaches and crystal clear water make it a true paradise. There’s something for everyone: four hiking routes of medium difficulty leading to the viewing points of the island and a beautiful beach to relax afterwards.
Taking the longest route you can get to the Faro de Cíes- an old lighthouse. The views from there are truly breathtaking. The other routes are a little shorter, but also provide an interesting walk with a varying landscape and amazing views. The hike is rather easy and enjoyable. The islands are a National Park with a diverse flora and fauna. On a hot, sunny day you will definitely see small lizards running off the path.
I recommend spending the whole day on the island, as there’s time to both do some hiking and relax on the beach. If I were doing my Erasmus in Vigo I would surely go to the islands every weekend. The ferries tend to circulate between Vigo and the islands around every hour, so it’s easy to plan a one-day trip. If you want to stay longer, there’s a camping and a couple of restaurants. You can plan your trip by checking out the information here.
Islas Cíes are a hidden gem of Spain, absolutely worth visiting if you have a chance. Vigo is an easy train ride away from Coruña or Santiago so don’t miss it if you’re in the region. Make your visit to Galicia complete, by following this itinerary of its two main cities.