Teams, tales and tips – a guide to the local game
Historic, seafaring Vigo, largest city in Galicia in Spain’s far north-western corner, is home to flagship club Celta. Their name echoing their Galician/Celtic heritage, Celta were formed 90 years ago at the instigation of Manuel de Castro.
A journalist on the local paper Faro de Vigo, ‘Handicap’ de Castro was behind the merger of two local teams, Vigo Sporting and Fortuna de Vigo, to create a united representative for his city.
Wearing red-and-white halves, Sporting (formed as Vigo FC in 1905) had been made the Spanish Cup Final in 1908 and been crowned Galician champions eight times from 1907 to that seminal year of 1923. Ironically, the team they had beaten that March was Fortuna, who had won the Galician Championship eight times from 1906.
Settling on red-and-black, later Galician sky blue, Celta bore the red cross of St James on their badge and were soon based at the Estadio Balaídos. The street that leads to it off the main road is Rúa Manuel de Castro, named after the club’s instigator. ‘Handicap’ met a cruel end, when he was killed by a train, shortly before his beloved club scaled the heights of the Spanish top flight in the 1940s.
Top scorer of the era was Pahiño, who finished his prolific career at local rivals Deportivo La Coruña, spicing up O derbi galego (or ‘O noso derbi’, ‘Our Derby’) with Vigo. Both cities hosted the group matches involving Italy, Cameroon, Poland and Peru for the 1982 World Cup.
Despite generations of animosity between supporters of the two local clubs, fans of both were united in 2003 in the aftermath of the Prestige oil tanker disaster. For derby games that season, fans held banners proclaiming ‘Nunca Mais’ (‘Never Again’ in Galician), and co-operated in the huge clean-up operation.
Ironically, the tragedy coincided with the best period in Galician football history. Celta gained their highest league place in modern times, fourth, and made the Champions League. La Coruña had just brought the Spanish title to Galicia for the first and only time. Even little Santiago de Compostela had just enjoyed a four-season spell in the top flight.
Celta, promoted in 2012, were later joined by La Coruña in La Liga. Promoted to the Segunda that year were fellow Galicians Club Deportivo Lugo, who have managed to stay there since – sometimes only just.
One level below them are Coruxo, Vigo’s other team, from the outer community of the same name. Founded in 1930, Coruxo finished ninth in the third flight in 2013 , behind Tenerife and Oviedo – their highest ever position in the Spanish league pyramid. That was until 2020, when the team in green finished fifth, battling it out with the B sides of Real Madrid, Atlético and, of course, Celta Vigo.
The modest, 1,200-capacity O Vao ground lies reasonably close to Vigo’s southern outskirts – and within easy reach of the Estadio Balaídos, on the other side of the Rego Lagares waterway.
Arriving in town, local transport and timings
Vigo Airport is 8km (five miles) east of town, connected by C9A Vitrasa bus (every 30mins, journey time 10-15mins) to Plaza América, between the stadium and the city centre. Local buses have a single fare of €1.40, exact change preferred. The PassVigo card (single journey €0.89) needs to be applied for online, it’s not sold around town.
A taxi (+34 986 123 123) from the airport to town has a fixed price of €22.
Budget airlines use Santiago de Compostela Airport, 90km (55 miles) from Vigo. A bus (€3, every 30mins) takes 20mins to reach Compostela bus station. A taxi (+34 981 569 292) has a fixed fare of €20. A train to Vigo (€10.70) takes 1hr 30mins, the bus (€8) is slightly quicker.
Vigo-Guixar train station is at the top of Rúa Alfonso XIII, a 15-minute walk downhill to the port and city centre. You’ll need a bus or taxi for the stadium way south-west of town. The bus station at Plaza América is three-quarters of the way to the stadium a 15min walk away.
Where to Drink
The best pubs and bars for football fans
Tapas bars fill the compact area of narrow streets set back from the harbour, with the plenty of wining and dining to be had at Playa Samil beach and along Calle de las Ostras, ‘Oyster Street’. Bars dot the the streets fanning out from Plaza de la Constitución. Standard beer is Estrella Galicia, usually sold by the bottle or in a ceramic cup.
In the Old Town on Rúa Palma, Cervexaría Nós puts the focus on house and other Galician craft beers while Buqué alongside. Nearby on Rúa Gamboa, tiny but lively El Pasillo keeps the beers flowing.
Across the Old Town at Rúa Real 48, O Faneco Casco Vello is a wonderfully idiosyncratic Celta bar done out with scarves and signs offering beer at bargain prices during the week. Closer to Guixar station, Cervecería-Lateria La Porchaba (Rúa de Oporto 11) feels attractively old-school, with a big TV for sport.
In the shopping zone, Silabario is the pricy restaurant of the Celta Vigo HQ (with club shop) at Rúa do Príncipe 44, where chef Alberto González Prelcic has earned a Michelin star serving contemporary Galician cuisine in a high-design, panoramic setting.
Where to stay
The best hotels for the stadium and city centre
The nearest to the stadium is the four-star Hespería Vigo, halfway between the ground and the bus stop for the airport at Plaza América. Fashionably renovated in 2009, the 126-room Hotel Coia de Vigo is also convenient for both stadium and airport.
If you prefer to stay in the old quarter of Casco Vello, among the many choices is the comfortable two-star Hotel Puerta Gamboa, well positioned and affordable.
For a sea view, the Sercotel Bahía De Vigo has jacuzzi baths and a bar shaped like a ship.
Hotels dot this prominent part of Vigo, tucked in from the waterfront, including the elegant 101-room Ciudad de Vigo, the modest but comfortable, and affordable, Hotel del Mar, and the Gran Hotel Negari Boutique & Spa, whose skyline pool, spa and rooftop bar represent the height of luxury in Vigo.