BAIONA (Bayona), 21km south of Vigo, is situated just before the open sea at the head of a miniature ría, the smallest and southernmost in Galicia. This small and colourful port, which nowadays makes a healthy living from its upscale tourist trade, was the first place in Europe to hear of the discovery of the New World. On March 1, 1493, Columbus’ Pinta made its triumphant return to Spain; the event is commemorated by numerous sculptures scattered around the town. An exact replica of the Pinta (daily 10am–8.30pm; €2) is moored in the harbour, which these days contains pleasure yachts rather than fishing boats.
The medieval walls that surround the wooded promontory adjoining Baiona enclose an idyllic parador (see Praia de América). It’s definitely worth paying the €1 fee to walk around the parapet, which provides a series of changing, unobstructed views across the ría to the chain of rocky islets that leads to the Illas Cíes. Another hugely enjoyable footpath circles beneath the walls at sea level, and provides access to several diminutive beaches. These are not visible from the town proper, which despite its fine esplanade has only a small, if attractive, patch of sand.