PEARL OF SPAIN; Europe's Biggest Fishing Port Vigo Has a Vibrant Town, Ancient History and Sunny Stunning Spanish Beaches. but It's the Oysters and Mussels That Make It a Real Catch

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Byline: BRIDGET McGROUTHER

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Why go to Vigo?

Galicia's largest town is also Europe's biggest fishing port, renowned for its seafood. If you reckon oysters are the food of love, you'll find a whole street dedicated to them here. Although a busy, vibrant town, Vigo enjoys a picturesque setting amid an amphitheatre of hills on Spain's north–west coast.

She sells seashells

Vigo's Ria is famous for its mussel and oyster beds. On Calle de la Pescaderia, oysters are sold from slabs of granite, which is why the street is also nicknamed La Pedra, or The Stone. Nimble, female osteiras open shells for customers who then enjoy their oysters with slices of lemon and drinks at nearby bars.

Ria Grande

Vigo lies on one of four large Rias that make up the Rias Baixas, with pine–covered hills and beautiful beaches. Vigo Bay is so deep that it's said to be large enough to hold the combined fleets of the world. The magnificent Rande Bridge is Europe's answer to the Golden Gate.

On a high

The best viewpoint over Vigo Bay can be enjoyed in the Parque del Castro, reached by the hop–on, hop–off double–deckers if you don't want to trudge uphill. The tour bus is only [euro]7.50 a day and also takes you to the main visitor attractions as well as its large beach.

A fine figure

The stainless steel merman or El Sireno in Porta do Sol is a modern symbol of the town. Crafted by the Galician sculptor Francisco Leiro, he's also the talent behind Badista no Areal, or The Bather, in Vigo Marina. The horse sculpture Os Cabalos in Praza de Espada is by another local artist, Manuel Oliveira.

Basket case

The Old Quarter next to the port has magnificent granite buildings as well as atmospheric streets and squares. Near Oyster Street is Cesteiros, an area dedicated to basket weavers, as well as the renowned pulpeiras or octopus sellers, a market, the cathedral and crowded Constitucion and Princesa Squares.

A shore thing

The entrance of Vigo estuary is guarded by the mythical Cies Islands. These three islands in the shape of a crescent moon are famous for their Caribbean–style beaches and turquoise water. The uninhabited nature reserves are easily reached by boat.

So green

Galicia enjoys a mild climate, with orchards of orange trees and vineyards. One of the greenest provinces, it's sometimes called the Wales of Spain. El Castro, the Citadel, sits on the hilltop above the port, where the remains of an ancient Celtic culture can be explored.

Culture vultures

The Quinones de Leon Park is home to the Municipal Museum, set in 60 acres of gardens. MARCO is Vigo's Museum of Contemporary Art, while the Galician Museum of the Sea has an aquarium alongside its exhibitions. …