Cies Islands and Vigo City
Dubbed best beach in the world by the English newspaper ´The Guardian` you might wonder where this secret paradise may be found.
The Caribbean maybe or in the waters of the Indian Ocean?
Wrong guess. We are talking about Spain and not the so popular South either but the rather underestimated, at least as a holiday destination, North.
Several miles out in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast from the important port town of Vigo lie the twin islands, Islas Cies in Galicia, Spain´s northwest province.
Playa de Rhodas
The beach in question is called Playa de Rhodas and it´s indeed fabulous for several reasons.
It´s a long, white sand beach which connects two islands, descending very softly into the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic.
You can walk out at least 2oo meters and still be only knee deep in water which makes it ideal for kids.
How to get there
Ferry from Vigo to Cies Islands
The islands are reached by ferry from Vigo, which by itself, is worth a visit, sunshine or not.
To my surprise, the ferry has a strict dress code. Ladies are not allowed to sit in bikini tops and guys have to cover up with a T-shirt.
Heard the captain tell one guy with naked torso off and threatening to stop the boat if he didn´t comply.
Important note !
There is a daily limit of 2200 visitors to Cies Islands so it’s recommended to book in advance in the high season June, July and August.
Other times you usually can get your ticket at the reception on the harbour before departure.
Ferries also goes from Cangas and Baiona.
Attractions and what to see on Islas Cies and Vigo City
A nature reserve
Islas Cies are a nature reserve and like several all over Galicia extremely well kept and looked after.
On arrival you are supplied with plastic carriers bags where you have to deposit your litter, even if it´s just and apple core and leave in containers.
If you don´t and you are caught there will be a fine.
Therefore the beach is clean and so is the water.
Hiking and biking, but no cars
It´s also quite idyllic because it´s bordered by dense forest, criss crossed by hiking and biking paths.
The paths are marked and categorized by difficulty, some are smooth and others include rocky parts and steep climbs.
No cars are allowed on the island safe 1 or 2 which belong to the maintenance people.
Rare flowers and plants grow among the trees and even a spattering of wild life can be observed.
On a promontory overlooking the ocean stands a very lonely lighthouse which is the destination of one of the hiking paths.
The Islas Cies are very popular as a weekend trip for the people of Vigo and other Spanish tourists but not many foreigners find their way here, simply because they don´t know about them.
All of Galicia is very green, which has to do with the fact that it rains a lot which in turn is probably the reason why the province is not such a popular destination with foreign tourists to Spain.
When the sun shines this is a true paradise and even if “The Guardian” may have exaggerated calling it the best beach in the world, they certainly got it basically right.
Camping on the island
There are no hotels on the islands but a few very good restaurants.
If you wish to spend the night, you can camp.
You don´t even have to drag around your camping gear, the camp site will rent you tents and sleeping bags.
The adjacent small supermarket will sell you food, shampoo, toothpaste and the like.
The Camping website: campingislascies.com
One of the most important port towns in Galicia, Vigo`s La Piedra is a famous attraction.
The area in the old part of port, is where seafood lovers head. Stall upon stall sell the freshest oysters ( at least five different kinds) and other seafood which you heap on a plate.
Then you take yourself and you plate to one of the many small restaurants which surround the stalls, sit down, order your drinks and enjoy. Cheap, rustic and a feast for the palate.
Vigo has everything to do with the sea and therefore she has her very own patron in the Virgin Mary.
A huge statue of her stands on a steep hill overlooking the sea. She carries a boat in her hand and you can climb a narrow stone staircase inside the statue and alight in the boat.
A rather windy affair, but you are rewarded by great views.
Things to do in and around Vigo
If you want to see tours, sightseeings and more things to see and do in Vigo;
Where to stay in Vigo City ? Hotel-tips here …
Great hotels in Vigo
Since it is only a short boat trip to the Cies Islands from Vigo, it may be most convenient to stay at one of the fine hotels the city has to offer.
Hotel Pazo Los Escudos Spa & Beach
A good tip is the 5 star Hotel Pazo Los Escudos Spa & Beach close to both downtown and the ferries to Cies.
This luxury hotel has nice sea views.
Not so close to the center but direct access to Carril Beach where the ferries goes to Cies Islands Nature Reserve.
Close to Carril you also find the popular Samil Beach.
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About Greenwich and Docklands International Festival
This event is a leading festival of free outdoor performing arts such as street arts, dance and theatre.
Since this festival is really rapidly growing, year after year there are more and more performances.
In the last couple of years, the festival has hosted more than 100.000 people and over 150 performances by 30 plus performing artists.
Greenwich and Docklands International Festival is always fully committed to breaking limits in outdoor performance;
Always lifting the quality and diversity of outdoor work to develop that work by disabled and deaf artists.
The festival was founded by Bradley Hemmings in 1996 as an independent festival, out of the former Greenwich Fest into a cross-river festival.
GDIF is a member of Without Walls – a consortium of eight of the country’s leading outdoor art festivals.
GDIF also collaborates with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, promoting high-quality festivals and cultural events and celebrating the cultural richness of Greenwich.
All in all, Greenwich and Docklands International Festival in London is something you definitely should visit and dive into the spectacular atmosphere that GDIF every year is bringing outdoor.
It’s a massive program on several venues, so be sure to check it out at their website: https://festival.org/gdif/access-at-gdif/.
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About Antwerpen Proeft – Taste of Antwerp
It’s held in a unique and pretty spectacular location with priceless views of the River Scheldt – basically the hot spot of Antwerp’s city centre.
For the ticket price, just a couple of Euros. You’ll get a day ticket plus a free welcoming drink right on the spot, together with a voucher for a discount.
Surprising and tasteful moments with an exciting and positive atmosphere.
Taste of Antwerp is a great way to try some genuinely iconic dishes for a fraction of the usual price of dozens of restaurants and cafes – and the food you can try goes from traditionally Belgian to Mediterranean or French.
Places to stay and hotel tips
The Astoria hotel is situated next to the park, 2 km. from the market square and city hall.
The central train station is just a 6-minute walk away.
This hotel features air-conditioned rooms, equipped with TVs, private bathrooms and some of the rooms have terraces.
WiFi Internet is free of charge on the spot.
Every morning, the hotel is offering a breakfast buffet, and if you need something to buy from a grocery shop – you’ll find it just one street away from the hotel.
For using the fitness centre – all guests can enjoy it in the nearby Leopold hotel, very close to Astoria.
If you’d like to stay in a hotel near the famous MAS Museum or the Royal Museum of Fine Arts (both under 1.5 km from the hotel), Astoria is a perfect choice for your stay in Antwerp.
More about Antwerp
Want to know what more to see and do in Antwerp?
Please have a look at our Antwerp page >>.
Things to do in Antwerp
Other festivals and more from Belgium
The biggest open-air exhibition in Berlin features over 100 international artists. Paintings, sculptures, photography, and graphics are on display for the viewing pleasure of the 60,000 visitors expected. It takes place on the bridge – Oberbaumbrücke – that crosses the river Spree between the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts. The bridge is closed to traffic, so you can wander along and enjoy the wide range of contemporary art while soaking in the atmospheric character of the day. Usually, open on the first Sunday in June and July.
Open Air Gallery Street Art in Berlin
The biggest open-air exhibition in Berlin features over 100 international artists.
Paintings, sculptures, photography, and graphics are on display for the viewing pleasure of the 60,000 visitors expected.
It takes place on the bridge – Oberbaumbrücke – that crosses the river Spree between the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts.
The bridge is closed to traffic, so you can wander along and enjoy the wide range of contemporary art while soaking in the atmospheric character of the day.
Usually, open on the first Sunday in June and July.
Each year the popularity of the festival grows.
Despite that, it remains faithful to its mix of professional, established, and less-known artists.
Artists from the fields of painting, graphic arts, sculpture, and photography will exhibit their works.
All artists have to apply to participate in the OpenAirGallery.
A jury decides who will participate.
Hotels in Berlin
The Kreuzberg district is a good location to stay if you want to visit the OpenAirGallery.
It’s a funky area full of street art, students, artists, thrift shops, and cafes where you can chill out.
More about Berlin
Berlin is without doubt one of Germany’s and Europe’s most vibrant cities.
It’s the capital of Germany, the country’s largest city with a population around 3.7 million.
Attracting creative people from around the world and home to a truly eclectic mix of people.
The city has something to offer every visitor, Festivals, museums, parks, shopping, great public transport, and fantastic culinary options.
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In 2003, this unique event was recognized by UNESCO as a “masterpiece of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage.” The exceptionally long tradition makes this carnival completely different, and each year the whole city of Binche is getting ready for it for months.
About the Carnival in Binche
In 2003, this unique event was recognized by UNESCO as a “masterpiece of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage.”
The exceptionally long tradition makes this carnival completely different, and each year the whole city of Binche is getting ready for it for months.
From the programme
Highlights of the carnival in Binche is the journey of more than 1000 Gilles on Shrove Tuesday.
Day 1 – Shrove Sunday – from 9 am violas and tambours, disguised entertain the city, while from 3 pm will be held carnival procession departure.
Day 2 – Shrove Monday – from 10 am, youths are accompanied by viola; from 4 pm starts friendship Rondeau and from 7 pm, the organizers will show fireworks in Eugene Derbaix square.
Day 3 – Shrove Tuesday – there will be a programme that will begin in the dawn – Gilles, Peasants, Pierrots and Arlequins that will entertain the city.
Don’t miss wearing the wax masks, procession and rondeau on the grand-place and many more.
Observe: Hours and programmes may change.
Check their website/Facebook for updates and the actual programme.
Places to stay
Gite de Binche is a cosy four-bedroom house with a furnished terrace in a landscaped garden.
The train station is only a 10-minute walk from Gite de Binche.
More about Binche
Binche is a place with a vibrant heritage, and all about all the sights to see in the city, you should contact the tourist office staff that will explain to you all about the region, the city and a whole year’s travel offer.
The astonishing thing – that intrigues visitors is the city’s folklore.
Binche is located in the Belgian province of Hainaut and has more than 30.000 people.