Vigo may now be the biggest city in Galicia, but its old town has survived the expansion of the last couple of centuries. This is a city that is all about the sea, so it is hardly surprising that this labyrinth of lanes is close to the harbour – you just cross over to O Berbés, the square at the bottom of the old town, which is framed by a curving line of porticoed houses. It’s all a bit dilapidated at the moment, but the houses are gradually being done up.
O Berbés wasn’t always the vast open space that it is now. The sea used to come right up to the porticoes, where the fishermen and their wives sold the catch of the day. Nowadays, the fish landed in Vigo is sold all over the world from the huge market a bit further down the quayside, but if you wander into the old town, you can still get a flavour of how it used to be.
Granite houses line the lanes, one of which – Rúa da Laxe – is better known as octopus alley, where local women sell the freshest octopus you’ll ever taste. Turn the corner and you are in Rúa de la Pescaderia, a lane where tables, which are also made of granite, are piled high with oysters – €12 a dozen. You buy a plateful and eat them at one of the bars in the lane with a glass or two of Albariño – some of the best white wines in Spain are made here in the Rias Baixas region. Couldn’t be simpler.
You can fly to Vigo from London Heathrow with Vueling.