The most irresistible sands of the Ría de Vigo adorn the three islands of the Illas Cíes, which can be reached by boat from Vigo, and (less regularly) from Baiona and Cangas. Sprawling across the entrance to the ría, battered by the open Atlantic on one side but sheltering delightful sandy beaches where they face the mainland, the islands were long used by raiders such as Sir Francis Drake as hide-outs from which to ambush Spanish shipping, but are now a nature reserve. The most southerly, Illa de San Martiño, is an off-limits bird sanctuary; the other two, Illa do Monte Ayudo and Illa do Faro, are joined by a narrow causeway of sand, which cradles a placid lagoon on its inland side.

Most visitors stay on the sands, with their sprinkling of bars and a campsite in the trees, so if you want to escape the crowds, it’s easy to find a deserted spot – particularly on the Atlantic side. From the beach, a long climb up a winding rocky path across desolate country leads to a lighthouse with a commanding ocean view. The islands’ campsite has a small shop and restaurant, but if you’re on a budget you’re better off taking your own supplies.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Spain features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

Video: a 1 minute guide to Spain

From the Moorish marvels and flamenco heartland of Andalucía to Ibiza's bleached-sand beaches and hedonistic nightlife, Spain is a country you'll want to visit…

16 May 2018 • Colt St. George videocam Video
A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

A day-by-day itinerary for the perfect weekend in Madrid

One of the sunniest and liveliest capital cities in Europe, Madrid has a lot to take pride in. Indeed, its inhabitants, the Madrileños, are so proud of their …

15 May 2018 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Madrid

An expert’s guide: the best places to stay in Madrid

A trio of world-class art galleries, an atmospheric historic core, the most successful club in the history of football and some of the best tapas, bars and nigh…

14 May 2018 • Simon Baskett insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right