jueves, junio 18, 2009

Brief Guide For Vigo

Vigo is the city in Galicia, Spain, where I moved like 9 or 10 years ago. I will make a "little" post explaining some things about the city, so it could help you a bit if you are interested in visiting like Erasmus student or maybe just like a tourist.

So let's go:

Vigo is situated in Northwest Spain on the Atlantic coast. It is less than 25kms from the North Portuguese border in the Galicia region, and unlike many other areas in Galicia, boasts some of the driest and sunniest weather conditions to be found in the region. The city is coastal, being located on the Ria de Vigo inlet - one of four making up the Rias Baixas.

Vigo is the largest city in Galicia, Spain, having around 300,000 residents.

Get in:
Vigo-Peinador International Airport) is 15 km from the center of Vigo, and is situated in the municipalities of Redondela, Vigo and Mos.
It serves mainly national routes such as Air Europa (Madrid, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife-South), Clickair (Barcelona, London-Gatwick), Iberia Airlines (Madrid) Operated by Air Nostrum (Alicante, Bilbao, Malaga, Valencia) Spanair (Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Madrid, Tenerife-South)

There is a bus shuttle which connects Porto airport (Portugal) to Vigo.

People from Vigo are expecting a growth in their air traffic by the introduction of new destinations: Such as Bruxelles or London. As well as a non stop flight to Cancun, Mexico, which are expected to set Vigo in its height of international air traffic.

There has been for months a much expected ferry route serving Bristol, United Kingdom.

There is a highway that borders a bit of the Atlantic shores. From the south you can reach to Vigo from Porto and from North from Santiago de Compostela, all connected by highway.

We, natives of Galicia speak Galician, a language which originated centuries ago and that later morphed into portuguese in Portugal. Galician is talked as first language by half of the population in Galicia, but in big cities like Vigo or Coruña it has been rejected by their population due cultural factors that I dont want to spend too much time talking about that right now. Just point that you will not have any problem speaking spanish in Vigo cause for 90% of the people living in the city, that is their first language.

History: During the Middle Ages the small village of Vigo was part of the territory of neighbouring towns, particularly Tui, and suffered several Viking attacks. However, the number of inhabitants was so small that, historically, Vigo is not considered to be a real village until around the 15th century, when the earliest records began.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was attacked several times. In 1585 and 1589 Francis Drake raided the city and temporarily occupied it, leaving many buildings burnt. Several decades later a Turkish fleet tried to attack the city. As a result the walls of the city were built in 1656 during the reign of Felipe IV. They are still partially preserved.
In 1702 the Battle of Vigo Bay occurred, and in 1719, because a Spanish fleet which departed from Vigo attempted to invade Scotland in support of the Jacobites, the city was temporarily seized by an English fleet.

In 1808 the French Army annexed Spain to the Napoleonic Empire, although Vigo remained unconquered until January, 1809. Vigo was also the first city of Galicia to be freed from French rule in what is now celebrated as the Reconquista (reconquest from French in the context of the Peninsular War) on the 28th of March each year.

The city grew very rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries. This resulted in continuous urban planning changes, making Vigo less structured than other Galician towns.

Unlike many other Galician towns, Vigo experiences high summer temperatures and milder winters. This is due to its sheltered location, surrounded by mountains inland and the Islas Cies out in the bay towards the sea. Yes, we can reach easily more than 30º in summer.

Vigo is the leading industrial area in Galicia, with car factories, shipyards, and auxiliary industry. Situated in Vigo is Galicia's leading employer, PSA Peugeot Citroën.
Vigo has the largest fishing port in Europe as well, and the home port of the world's largest fishing company, Pescanova. The headquarters of the European Fisheries Agency are placed in here.


The University of Vigo is situated in a mountainous area outside the city. The campus of Vigo is a modern project of the architect Enric Miralles. From the center of the city you might have 20-30 min. to arrive by public bus to that isolated mountain. The place is famous between students to have an own micro-climate, so when it is sunny in the center, it might be rainy up there or the opositte. Same with hot/cold.
It's funny when foreigners are coming there and they are surprised (as we all were once) that you might stumble on your way with some sheep or horses, or step on some nice gift from them.

Faculty of Economics

The main area of the university is the "Plaza Miralles" (Miralles Square), a modern square that costed to the university a big amount of money and that you can find there snack bars, restaurants, an agency travel office, a bookshop, banks (Caixanova and Banco Santander), and all the offices of the International Relations, Job Support, and so on...
In the middle of the square universitary students use to celebrate their parties, being the most famous Sant Teleco (from Telecommunications faculty -beginning of November) and San Pepe (Industrial Engeneering faculty -beginning of May).

Parties at U.Vigo

My own opinion about that place is that is a total waste of money. It is ugly and not functional. For example, you should watch your steps if you want to keep them safe with that ground.

Plaza Miralles

In the center of all the universitary complex, surrounded by all the faculties there is the central library. And in one side we can find the Sports Centre, with 2 big fields and several tenis grounds.

Inside the city there are 2 more faculties: Technical Engeneering and Economics (3 years-grade)

Vigo is getting each time more and more shows and concerts since some years ago, the most famous take place in summer when there is the "city party" called Festas do Cristo da Victoria at the beginning of August.
Night in Vigo has 3 main areas to spend some fun.

-The first one is the old town, called Viños (wines). Years ago it was a place really full of people if you would like to go out. Lots of little pubs and variety and stone roads that makes an interesting view at night. Around 7 years ago the place started to be rejected by people due several violence acts in a row. Right now people stopped massively going there and streets are quite empty, but there is a little reemerge. You can find very young people around there cause those little pubs have approachable prices.

-The second is the place in the very center called Churruca. It is a complex of several streets with bigger pubs than Viños, but not really too much. Alternative people uses to go there, and prices are a bit higher in general than in the old town. There are 2 or 3 places for concerts as Iguana, Fábrica de Chocolate or Havana 20. One of the owners of most of the pubs is the well-known Silvia Superstar, singer of a punk-rock band called Killer Barbies.

-The third one is called Arenal, close to the harbour. It is the most exclusive zone for going out in Vigo and prices are high. You might have problems to enter in most of those places if you wear any sport clothe or you dont wear shoes (if you are male, girls dont use to have problems). Most of those places are quite the same playing the same music, mostly latin-pop-techno.

Distinguished places
*The beaches around Vigo are very popular with tourists and residents alike. Most are small and sandy, truncated in places by spectacular rock formations that plunge into the sea. The view from many of the beaches takes in Cies Islands - a breathtaking island surrounded by pure white sandy beaches and home to one of Europe's most important nature reserves.

Unfortunately boat trips from Vigo to these islands at the sea end of the Ria de Vigo only run in the summer season.
In the Cíes Islands you can find a beautiful beach, and a route to visit all the place.

*The mountain of O Castro is another must to see. Inside the city is a little breath of fresh air and nature. It was originally a fortress where natives could protect from invader's attacks.

*O Mercado Da Pedra is a marketplace in some streets of the old town. Decades ago it was a place where people from Vigo gathered to buy fresh fish, eat at some typical small restaurants and taste oysters, but right now it has developed in an usual market where you can find all kind of sellers. Take care with your wallet. It might happen some people can try to sell you stolen stuff and try to bargain with you.

You can find more pics here

*As I said before there is a big party in the city at the beginning of August: As Festas Do Cristo Da Victoria. There is nothing special but concerts of international artists and few more.

*Maybe the other big party in the city is the Reconquista, where is celebrated the freed from napoleonic troops. There is a representation in the streets with figurants and so on and galician folk music in live.
The date of celebration is on 28-29 March

Something that is totally proper of Vigo is the mess. All the years I have been living here, we had to survive driving through narrow extra roads because some are cutted, walked carefully over the pavement, looked road signals telling there are public works and so on and so on.
Public work in Vigo right now

The government is literally placing a ground and taking it away every few time, and it is really annoying for everyone. Besides, Vigo grew drastically in the last decades and organisation for building was a total disaster and later generations were suffering that misfortune. Right now at june of 2009 the mess is complete. And many people are asking themselves howcome in this finantial situation of crisis in all Spain (specially hard) they are deciding to waste millions of € reforming a whole city for making that more "human" (they want to reduce the traffic placing more sidewalks and increasing the size of the ones already exist).
So, at first sight, I would say Vigo is a closed city. There are few green places and too many big buildings. The colour of the streets is quite grey, and I dare to say that it is one of the ugliest city I have visited, because of the mess, bad organisation, too many commercial centers, too few green space and though it is not the fault of constructors, it is a kind of ladder of a mountain, so almost everywhere you go is up or down. Well, this in a general view...
I can go on talking about the few good architecture, awful modern statues like the one of the Sireno or the Homage to the Industry (that actually costed a lot cause the architects were famous). Besides one of the few good things inside the city, the old town, is being left to rot, most of the houses there are in ruins.
I'll leave you with some pics about the inner city and monuments/streets:
Sight of Vigo with the Rande Bridge (almost like San Francisco :D)

Club Náutico

Plaza España (and the horses, the best sculpture in Vigo, no doubt)

Plaza América

City Hall

Old Town

Calle Príncipe (pedestrian street -end and beginning-)

Sireno statue (some people says they placed it up there so nobody would laugh of such ugly thing too much)

Football Stadium

Examples of the inner city (some well-known streets from Vigo)

Random architecture:

Some useful gadgets about moving in Vigo
The Vigo public transport's website: http://www.vitrasa.es/php/index.php
If you want to go to the University Campus, called as well CUVI, there are several buses (aka Vitrasas) that guide you there depending on the point of the city you are. Vigo has 2 main squares: Plaza España and Plaza América. Both are connected through the road called Gran Vía.
There are buses going from each one of those squares to the University of Vigo with a regular schedule of 30 min. each bus more or less:
From Plaza España: U2
From Plaza América: U1

Besides, there are other public buses that you can find schedules (horarios) and streets in the website:
Universidad - Porto - Areal: 8
Universidad - Samil: C15C

Prices (2009):
- Ordinary ticket: 1,13 €

- Bus cards (you must apply first to the bank Caixanova, in case of being universitary, first talk with ORI):

* Normal: 0,77 €
* Student: 0,74 €
* Universitary student: 0,57 €
* Pensioner I: FREE
* Pensioner II: FREE
* Social: 0,57 €

Train Station is situated quite well in the center of the city, you can find more info at the webpage: http://www.renfe.es/

Bus Station is situated close to the Plaza España, more info here: http://www.vigobus.com/

More info about tourism in Vigo: http://www.turismodevigo.org/index_en.php

Air sight of the Ría de Vigo

Hope it was useful for you as visitor/international student, I surely left lots of things on the way, but I will be pleased in letting you know everything you might ask and help about Vigo or Galicia as I have already done for 2 years with Erasmus students. Please leave any question/comment and I will answer.
Good luck knowing Vigo, and let's pray for those public works, trucks, mud and ruble will be finished soon.... and FOREVER :D

Thanks to Tomas R for the pics
Several info taken from wikipedia, wikitravel, and world66.com

13 comentarios:

Helen dijo...

thanks for the guide! I realy want to visit now, it looks beautiful!

Enlil dijo...

Thanks to you Helen for watching and reading!
If you need more help/doubt dont hesitate asking ;)

mike the trike dijo...

I found your Vigo information very informative. Excellent pictures. Can you possibly give me any information about General Homobod (British) who attacked Pontevedra in 1719 after the battle of Vigo. I can't find any information about this General.

Enlil dijo...

Thanks a lot Mike!
First telling sorry that I might have answered a bit late due I am in vacation, so I dont check everyday internet.
Oh I havent heard about Homobod, but give me a little time to search in spanish or galician, it might be more probable there is some info in these languages about the history of Pontevedra than in english.
Just give me some few time and I will tell you if I finally found something.

Thanks for writing (by the way, I started thinking about making a post talking about the Cies Islands, I went there for first time few days ago and I found them really interesting, and really a must visit -I'm a bit embarrased I hadnt visited those before hehe-)


mike the trike dijo...

Muchas gracias por su atención. El apellido Homobod es la información de la oficina de turismo en Pontevedra pero es possible es una corrupción. No hay información del apellido en los archivos de Inglaterra. Espero su respuesta. Lo siento por los errores en Español porque soy ingles.

Enlil dijo...

La verdad es que he buscado pero no he encontrado mucha info por la web (practicamente nada) sobre Homobod (de hecho he incluso llegado a otro blog en el que aparecías también preguntando al dueño y no ofrecía mucha respuesta :( )
Lo siento por ser de tan poca ayuda en ese tema :(
Un saludo!!

mike the trike dijo...

¡Moitas graciñas!

Anónimo dijo...

Hola! i'm a forieng student who will study in vigo this semater 09/10.I found your blog in google search. Your "guide for vigo" is very useful for me!I would like to say thank you for those information you share to us!By the way, do you know how to get to vigo from the airport of santiago de compostela? is there any direct bus from airport of santiago to vigo?

Enlil dijo...

Hola Mila!
Sorry my late answering, these days I'm having some vacation time and dont check very often internet. First, saying I'm very glad you found useful the info here ;)
Uhm so you are arriving to Santiago's Airport... well, I guess the most usual way to come to Vigo would be to take a bus(there should be one) or taxi (maybe a bit expensive, like 20 eur.) from the airport to the bus or train station of Santiago. Once there you will have buses or trains to Vigo every few time. Cost of bus Santiago-Vigo would be like 10-12 eur. and 1 hour 15-20 min. (not sure, I have to ask) and train Santiago-Vigo one way is around 7 eur., 1'5 h. the fastest and 2 hours 15 min. the slowest.
Anyway, give me some days to have more internet (right now I am in my friend's flat) and I hope I will have a more concrete answer :P

Enlil dijo...

Hmm strange but I cannot find anyone who tells for sure that there is a public bus to Santiago's center.
Anyway I think there must be, you can always ask to the personal in the airport, they must speak english and they will know.
Otherwise taxis are always there, though expensive :(

I hope you will have a nice erasmus in Vigo!!
These days I was saying goodbye to some good friends from Estonia and Poland and it's so sad cause we had so good times ;(

Really hope you have a good time here, if you need something... picking you up in the station or some question dont doubt in asking. You can find my mail in the profile :)

See u!! Have a nice trip!!

Anónimo dijo...

- Hi !
Found this blog when I was searching for info about Vigo since I am going to the Uni there Jan-April and wanted to thank you for a good blog entry that was filled with information !

Do you study at the University of Vigo ?
If you're still in that city I'd love to meet you and maybe get a little tour of your town ?

I'm very excited !

This site is a bit confusing with its spanish bits, heheh O.O
So I;ll write my email here, in case you want to take contact: Shirini.g@hotmail.com

Peace, Love and Respect,

Enlil dijo...

Hi Shirini!
Well yes I am the first one stating that my blog can be confusing with the using of galician and english, my friends also complain about it XD
The story of these shared languages is long but it is also related with being student abroad.

Well, yes I am studying at U.Vigo, hopefully for the last year, but I am still member :P and of course I would be pleased to meet you!

So, you are coming as Erasmus student, right? It is supposed the people from the ORI (International Relations Office) will give you the name of a volunteer to help you in the first days in Vigo and joining trying to find a flat and so on, but in the case your volunteer is not appearing, or just in case to be sure, we can meet of course! and I will help you in this first contact with the city :)

I am as well volunteer and as I already have a student from the spring semester, I can introduce her to you and the other internationals, sure they will meet you pleased and soon you will enjoy with them parties and events ;)
I have been already in some erasmus parties and they are quite party animals :D
So be prepared to have a good time, make lots of friends and enjoy a different culture ;)

I miss to be Erasmus :(

See u soon!

smo Trevor dijo...

I hope you will have a nice erasmus in Vigo!!
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