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The port city of Vigo in the lush green province of Galicia is your gateway to the Cíes Islands, an archipelago with powdery white sand and pristine waters off Spain's Atlantic coast. It has a distinctive culture influenced by its Celtic roots, but there's also plenty of Spanish flavour to be found in the convivial squares and tapas traditions. Vigo's a foodie destination too, known for its locally sourced oysters. It's been welcoming travellers for centuries – it lies on the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, which people have walked since the 9th century.
Hostels in Vigo are ideal spots for exploring from, and most have comfy common areas and free linen with your dorm bed. You can also choose from cheerfully decorated options with en-suites and modern spaces with airy high ceilings. It's worth splashing out on a Vigo hostel with a room overlooking the estuary for the dramatic sunsets over the water. If you're on a Galician road trip, look out for Vigo hostels with parking.
Vigo's old town is the most charismatic part of the city, with cobbled alleyways flanked by charming stone buildings leading down to the historic (but still bustling) port. You can reach the Cíes Islands from here by ferry in the warmer months. The wide and walkable Príncipe Street is more modern, and this is the city's main shopping area. When night falls, head to upmarket El Areal for tapas and cocktails or hit Churruca for dusk-till-dawn clubbing.
Vigo's known for its beaches, like the crescent-shaped Playa de Rodas on the Cíes Islands, and there are lots of sandy shores worth visiting nearby. You can stroll along the wide boardwalk for 1.2km by pretty Praia de Samil, a 15-minute drive from the centre of Vigo. Back in the old town, the Praza da Pescadería square is where market sellers trade oysters. It also houses the vibrant El Berbés fish auction, and the seafood here is some of the best in Spain.
You can get around in Vigo using the local Vitrasa bus network, including to the beaches in summertime. Download the Moovit Vigo app for on-the-go updates. Trains head to and from nearby towns and cities like Ourense, Pontevedra and Santiago de Compostela, as well as further away to places such as Madrid, Barcelona and even Valencia. To get into town from Vigo Airport, take the bus in front of the terminal. It takes about 15–30 minutes and drops off on Rúa Travesía de Vigo.