Ponte de Rande in Vigo Estuary, Spain

Vigo (Spain) Cruise Port: Must-See Attractions on a DIY Shore Excursion

Sometimes, the unexpected detours lead to the most delightful discoveries. I was on Serenade of the Seas bound for Lisbon and I was excited to return to the vibrant Portuguese capital. But as fate would have it, stormy weather diverted our ship to Vigo, a smaller port nestled in the Galicia region of Spain. With little knowledge of this city and a hint of disappointment at missing Lisbon, I stepped ashore, prepared for a lacklustre substitute.

Little did I know, Vigo held a surprise of its own. While it might not have the renown of Lisbon or Porto, this charming coastal city boasts a rich history dating back to its Roman roots.

And despite its smaller port, Vigo led me to one of the most breathtaking beaches in Europe! Join me as I uncover the hidden gems of Vigo and show you how to plan an unforgettable DIY shore excursion there.

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Vigo (Spain) Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? 😎😎😎😎 (Straightforward)

My DIY Shore Excursion rating for Vigo cruise port is a respectable 😎😎😎😎 (Straightforward). You might wonder why I didn’t rate Vigo even higher considering the cruise terminal is just a stone’s throw away from Old Town. So here’s the lowdown:

  • Easy Breezy to Old Town: Vigo’s Old Town is easily accessible from the cruise terminal and very walkable. But there honestly aren’t that much to see!
  • Limited attractions in City Centre: The views from Monte do Castro are worth it but to truly make a full day of sightseeing in Vigo, you’ll need to venture further afield.
  • Getting Around Challenge: Local buses do exist but they aren’t always the most tourist friendly option, with infrequent scheduled. The “Tourist Bus” runs only 4 times a day, so not great for a supposedly hop-on-hop-off option.

So a DIY excursion in Vigo is certainly straightforward but be prepared to adjust your expectations and go with the flow!

Vigo (Spain) Cruise Port Essentials: All You Need to Know

Voyager of the Seas at Vigo Cruise Dock
  • Vigo Cruise Port Address: Estación Marítima de Vigo, Rúa Cánovas del Castillo, 5, 36202 Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain – see this marked in my Vigo cruise port map below 👇
  • Currency: Euros
  • Language: Spanish
  • Official Websites: Vitrasa is the local bus authority (Spanish only), Turismo de Vigo is the local tourism office
  • Recommended Transport App:
    • Navigating Old Town: Use Google Maps for walking directions & general navigation but note that it does not show bus routes well!
    • Vigo’s Buses: Note that Vigo’s urban bus routes don’t show up in Google Maps well. If you intend to head to the beach, then use Movvit Vigo for bus routes, available in the usual app stores – I’ll talk more about that below. If you don’t want to download the app, then use the Moovit webpage here – it’s not the most user friendly web page!
  • eSIM for roaming in Spain: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when you’re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Vigo Cruise Port Map & Orientation: Getting your Bearings

My Vigo Cruise Port Map: 👇 Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version. Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. If the map is not loading, then click here to see it directly on Google Maps.

Vigo is compact and easy to navigate around by walking from the cruise port (except heading to Samil Beach). But the local bus network is not particularly tourist friendly, so there’s two “Tourist” buses which you can consider:

  • “Official” Tourist Bus: Run by the local bus authority Vitrasa, the Vigo Tourist Bus runs a 90-minute loop around the city – there’s 3 stops: the Castillo, Samil Beach and Pazo Quiñones de León.
    • Caveat: Buses are infrequent, to say the least, and there’s a noticeable (big) gap in services in the afternoon. I mean literally no buses running for 4-5 hours when the buses enjoy their siestas. But this is great if you’ll like to sit on the bus, enjoy the views and don’t want to get off. €7.50 for adults and €4 for kids.
    • Tickets: Stop by the Tourist Info Office outside the cruise terminal (marked on my map). They can confirm the bus schedule for the day. More info on the Vitrasa website here (Spanish only).
  • Private 2-Hour Bus Tour: These seem to operate when a cruise ship is docked and you will not fail to be approached by a ticket seller outside the cruise terminal. It’s not a hop-on-hop-off bus, as it only stops at the Castillo, Samil Beach and Pazo Quiñones de León for short stops and expect you to be back in the bus in a flash after a photo stop. I did take one of these and discovered Pazo Quiñones de León which otherwise would have been too difficult to get to on public transport. €15 for adults.

Must-See Attractions Near Vigo Cruise Port

1. Casco Vello (Old Town)

A few minutes’ walk from the cruise terminal is the start of Vigo’s Old Town. Once a Roman settlement, a fact echoed in the narrow, winding lanes. It’s not the most picturesque Old Town in Europe but it is worth a wander on the way up to Monte do Castro.

2. Monte do Castro: Top of the Town

View of the Vigo Estuary from Monte do Castro

Ready for a little adventure? Monte do Castro was an ancient Celtic settlement dating back over 2,000 years. As you wander up, stop at Castro de Vigo (marked on my map 👆) where you can still see circular foundations of their homes and the defensive walls that protected them from invaders. In the 17th century, the fortress was built atop Monte do Castro to protect the city and harbour from pirates. The fortress is no longer intact but its imposing walls still stand.

Best Walking Route Up: Head to the Praza do Rei (King’s Square). From there, look for the signs pointing towards Monte do Castro. There’s a well-maintained path that winds its way up the hill, offering beautiful views of the city as you ascend. You’ll see stairs too for a quicker ascent. I’d say that the incline is moderate and there are places to stop along the way.

3. ⛱️ Samil Beach: Sun, Sand and Sea

Samil Beach outside Vigo, Spain

Samil Beach turned out to be one of the nicest beaches I’ve visited in Europe! With its golden sands, crystal-clear waters and picturesque promenade, it’s the perfect place to unwind and soak up the Galician sunshine. Beach is well equipped with all the usual amenities. There’s loads of cafes and restaurants for drinks and snacks.

How to Get There: There’s 3 options – (a) Taxi outside Port (b) Tourist Bus (c) Public Bus.

  • Option 1 – Taxi: Obviously the quickest way and my recommended option, if you don’t want to see anything else in Vigo.
  • Option 2 – Tourist Bus: Near the Mall outside the cruise terminal is the Bus Turístico (“Tourist Bus”) stop. It will stop at Samil Beach and you can catch the next bus back. Caveat: See my comments above 👆
  • Option 3 – Public Bus: Hop on Vitrasa Bus L10 or L15B and you’ll be at the beach in 20-30 minutes depending on traffic.
    • Bus Stop: Just outside the cruise port at Rúa de Cánovas Del Castillo (Centro Comercial) – see it marked on my map above 👆
    • Tickets: Buy from driver. One way fares are €1.60 cash only.
    • Timetables: L10 runs hourly – timetables here. Unfortunately L15B runs even less frequently.

4. Pazo Quiñones de León: A Glimpse into Galician Aristocracy

Entrance to Castrelos Palace in Castreolos Park, Vigo Spain

This stunning 17th-century manor house, also known as the Castrelos Palace, is set within the beautiful Castrelos Park. It’s on the Tourist Bus itinerary or you can catch a taxi here.

Inside the Manor House is the Municipal Museum of Vigo. But the star is undoubtedly the manicured gardens and wooded areas in Castrelos Park.

Featured Image by Sergei Gussev on Flickr

While Vigo’s not the most popular cruise port, it certainly surprised me with its charm. If you find yourself unexpectedly docked in Vigo, like I did, I hope this guide helps you make the most of your time ashore. If you found this guide helpful in planning your Vigo DIY shore excursion, please share it with fellow travellers who might be looking for inspiration! Happy cruising!

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