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What to see in Vigo in one day: discover the Olivic City

There is a lot to see in Vigo in one day. The city of Vigo and the places to visit near it offer us an infinity of tourist attractions to admire and enjoy. Vigo is an ideal place from which to plan excursions to the Rías Baixas and its best beaches. Also as a starting point to visit the Cíes Islands or Ons Island.

If you only have one day in the city, here are our recommendations on the best plans for Vigo and its estuary, as well as some of its legends and anecdotes. Will you join us?


Free excursions to see Vigo in one day

What to see in Vigo

A good starting point to visit Vigo in one day is to take one of the free tours around the city. Free of charge, they are usually walking routes of no more than two hours in which we can discover the various corners, houses and neighborhoods of Vigo.

Vigo in a day, the sculpture of the siren
The Siren, a sculpture made by the sculptor Francisco Leiro located in the Puerta del Sol, in the city of Vigo.

Day or night, these tours and excursions are guided by multilingual guides who lead us through all the sights, history, architecture and art of Vigo. It is, without a doubt, a great way to see the must-see sights of Vigo and get to know better all that the so-called ‘Olive City’ has to offer.


The siren, emblem of Vigo

The meeting point where the free tours start is usually in the center, at Porta do Sol, in front of the famous statue of El Sireno.

Reservations can be made in advance through the Internet and the opening hours are usually in the morning. However, it is worth mentioning the thematic night tour on mysteries and legends of Vigo and Galicia linked to its Celtic past .

On this tour we will walk under the moonlight through the narrow streets of the old town and get to know in depth the most amazing stories and myths that float over the city, the Ría and its islands (such as the intriguing San Simón Island). A very different experience from visiting the old town of Vigo during the day in broad daylight.


What to see in Vigo in a day through its history

History of Vigo

There is something you should know if this is your first time in Vigo: to visit Vigo in one day is to visit more than three thousand years of history in just twenty-four hours. Here you can find the footprint of the human being at every step we take. From the Iron Age to our times, countless cultures and civilizations have passed through Vigo, being perhaps the most important gateway city to the northwest of the peninsula.

Military remains, the most valuable vestiges of the ancient Roman Empire in Pontevedra, fortresses, castles and churches. There are a number of monuments to see in Vigo in one day.

Three of them have been erected, the most durable of which is the Gothic style completed in the 14th century. It suffered from looting by Francis Drake ‘s pirates to the explosion of a nearby powder magazine in 1809, causing great damage that condemned it to its final destruction.

A visit to the Co-cathedral of Santa María de Vigo is a must. Vigo shares cathedral seat with the Cathedral of Tuy, hence the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria is called “co-cathedral”. The temple itself is a mute witness to the passage of history, since Since the 12th century, several places of worship to Santa Maria have been planned.

The Co-cathedral as we see it today

The Co-cathedral of Vigo today is the one built in the early nineteenth century, in neoclassical style but with baroque towers and a considerable robustness in its structure, perhaps taking into account past accidents. As a curiosity, it is said that the centennial olive tree that presides over Alfonso XII Street grew from a cutting of another specimen that was in the atrium of the old church, perhaps having been there since the construction of the first temple.

Always besieged throughout history, during the Middle Ages and the Modern Age, fortresses and walls were built in the region to protect the population. Some of these buildings are still preserved in very good condition and their privileged location makes them, without a doubt, places worth seeing in Vigo.


Vigo Fortresses

The Castillo de San Sebastián, or Fortaleza de San Sebastián, is perhaps the most famous of this ancient strategic defense network. Its 17th century walls were built during the reign of Philip IV to protect the city of Vigo. Its views of the estuary allowed its inhabitants to anticipate any attack from the sea.

You can also visit the Castro Fortress, on top of Monte O Castro. It dates back to the Middle Ages and today is integrated in one of the most famous parks of the municipality, along with the Alameda Park or Castrelos Park. Although it can be a somewhat demanding walk, going up to the highest point we will find what is considered the most spectacular viewpoint in the whole area.

The Cíes Islands and their coasts were also a regular refuge for pirates and corsairs, making naval battles almost continuous over the centuries.

The most remembered of these battles is the Battle of Rande, which took place in 1702. Precisely in the park of Monte O Castro we find the imposing Monument to the Galleons of Rande. It is a sculptural ensemble consisting of three large anchors and five cannons belonging to the ships that sank during the war.

Monument to the Battle of Rande in El Castro de Vigo
Monument to the Battle of Rande in El Castro de Vigo

Jules Verne in Vigo

For many years it has been said that a great underwater treasure still exists, legends echoed by Jules Verne himself in his Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

The visionary French writer visited the town on two occasions, being captivated by the charms of Vigo.

The importance of Jules Verne for Vigo is recognized with two sculptures. The statue of Jules Verne in the gardens of Montero Rios, where we can see the writer sitting on giant tentacles. The second is the monument to Jules Verne and his Captain Nemo, located between San Simón Island and Cesantes beach, which recreates in bronze the search for the treasures of Rande.

The figure of the legendary sailor and some divers are only visible at low tide.

The avant-garde of our times is also represented in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Vigo (MARCO). Inaugurated in 2002 in the former Palace of Justice, this museum hosts all kinds of activities, exhibitions, events on contemporary culture and art.


What to see in Vigo in one day if you love the sea and beach

If you love the smell of the sea, the sound of the waves and feel the touch of fine sand on your feet, Vigo has some of the best beaches in the Rias Baixas and Spain as a whole.

Samil Beach in Vigo, in the parish of Navia, is the paradigm of the urban beaches of the town. Recognized with the blue flag, it is a sandy area of more than one kilometer long and is provided with all the services for the bather.

Thanks to its easy access, Samil Beach is the most popular and crowded beach in the city. The most seafaring beach of Vigo, meanwhile, is Bouzas. Visiting Bouzas and the neighborhood of the same name is one of the best destinations to see in Vigo in one day.

Samil Beach in Vigo
Samil Beach (Vigo).

The islands belonging to the municipality are home to a good number of paradisiacal beaches. Rodas Beach, in the Cíes Islands, has been awarded as the “best beach in the world” by different publications such as The Guardian.

They are part of a natural park and, therefore, a permit to visit the islands is required to travel to the Cíes. They can only be accessed by private boat or through Piratas de Ons.


Contemporary architecture and a beautiful lighthouse

In a town with a tradition so closely linked to the ocean, it is impossible to conceive of Vigo without its Museum of the Sea. A day in Vigo would not be complete without seeing first-hand this ambitious and modern project that is open all year round.

It has a permanent exhibition, whose common thread is fishing and the development of the fishing industry. It also includes an aquarium and a small archaeological site. We owe much to the estuary and the Galician Museum of the Sea is a recognition of its vital importance in the habitat of the city of Vigo.


Where to eat and tapas in Vigo

Where to eat in Vigo

A day in Vigo to get to know the city and all that it offers requires us to make the most of the time if we do not want to miss anything. However, it’s always a good time to recharge your batteries. A recommendation that never fails: NaBeira Restaurant, next to the Maritime Station of Vigo. Updated traditional cuisine and economical menu without sacrificing the best quality in the Port of Vigo.

Also, in the historic center, at any time of the day, between houses and businesses we will find all kinds of places where you can enjoy cuisine for all tastes.

In the emblematic Plaza de la Constitución you can have a wine or an aperitif. Also the Plaza de Compostela and Plaza de la Princesa are one of the most frequented areas of Vigo to have a drink.

Here you will find the most avant-garde proposals, contributing to a great extent to the fact that this is the Galician city with the greatest culinary projection. Even if you are only going to be in Vigo for one day, a visit to one of its restaurants is a must. Start with NaBeira!

Constitution Square, Photo Hans Pohl
Constitution Square, Photo Hans Pohl

Vigo, a lot to see in one day


Vigo in one day may seem too little time for everything the city has to offer. However, if we plan the day carefully and have a clear idea of what to see, it will be an unforgettable visit. A whole experience in which tradition and modernity combine perfectly in a place with a great maritime culture.

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