Islas Cíes – Rodas beach, access, camping, best places to see
Islas Cíes are beautiful islands located near the city of Vigo, in Galicia, northwestern Spain. Islas Cíes is an archipelago of three islands: the northern Monteagudo, the central to Faro and the southern San Martiño. The central and northern islands are connected by the Playa de Roda beach, which was named the world’s most beautiful beach (!) by The Guardian magazine in 2007.
The Islas Cíes are part of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia (Parque Nacional Marítimo-Terrestre de las Islas Atlánticas de Galicia). It also includes the nearby islands of Isla de Ons, Isla de Sálvora and Isla de Cortegada. This adds to their splendor, as entry to the islands is limited and must be booked in advance.
I went to the islands in late June 2022, arriving by train from Madrid to Vigo. On the islands I spent 2 nights at a campsite in my tent. I continued on to Baiona, from where I took the Camino Portugués de la Costa route to Santiago de Compostela.
Islas Cíes – access
We can get to the Cíes islands by ferry departing from the city of Vigo in Galicia. We can get to Vigo from several cities in Spain (from Madrid by train, from Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña and other cities in northern Spain by train or bus) and Portugal (the closest is Porto, from where we can get there by bus or train). We can also reach Vigo by car.
During the high season, we can also get to the islands from other destinations: Baiona, Cangas or Portonovo.
Before buying a ferry ticket, you need to book an entry permit to the islands on this website. Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance. During the vacations, the place is quite popular, so it is best to book tickets fairly early. When staying overnight on the island, we don’t need to make a reservation, as we get the permit automatically when we book an overnight stay.
After obtaining an entry permit, we can buy a ferry ticket online or on the spot in Vigo. In general, the route is served by 3 ferry companies: Mar de Ons, RG Naviera and Cruceros Rías Baixas. When buying a ticket, we must also specify in advance the time of return from the islands.
Important note: even when buying tickets online, we need to show up at the carrier’s office in advance to show our entry permit to the islands and pick up our ferry ticket.
Islas Cíes – camping
There are no hotels or plenty of bars or restaurants on the Cíes Islands. We can only spend the night at a campsite located on Faro Island. We can choose to stay overnight in our own tent or in one of the permanently set up large camping tents. Overnight camping should be booked in advance, as we then automatically get a permit to enter the National Park. We can book an overnight stay at this website.
The campsite is open from mid-May to mid-September and during Easter week. The high season is in July, August and September 1,2,3.
Accommodation prices with your own tent:
- Low season
- adult – EUR 8.9/day
- tent – EUR 8.9/day
- High season
- adult – EUR 9,9/day
- tent – EUR 9.9/day
Accommodation prices with rental tent:
- Low season
- small tent – EUR 53/day
- big tent – EUR 83/day
- High season
- small tent – EUR 59/day
- big tent – EUR 89/day
Stores and restaurants on the islands
It is best to bring your own food to the island (if we have cooking utensils at the campsite). There is one store on the island where we can stock up on survival essentials (but at a correspondingly increased price). There is a spring with drinking water at the campsite, but the water (at least in my opinion and looking by the scant use of other users) is unpalatable and it is better to get drinking water at the store.
There are also several restaurants on the islands, also if we don’t have a stove we have other food options. If we are going to the islands for just one day this is also a good option, without taking too much luggage with us.
Islas Cíes – best places to visit
There are many points of interest to see on Islas Cíes. We can choose between relaxing on the beach, short treks or bird watching. We can also, depending on the time we have, try a little bit of everything 🙂
Playa de Rodas
The most popular on the islands is, of course, the beautiful Playa de Rodas beach. It is 1,300 meters long and about 60 wide. It connects two islands – Monteagudo and do Faro. As the islands are located by the Atlantic Ocean, the water is extremely cold and refreshing.
Alto del Principe
Alto del Principe is a hill 115m above sea level that offers a beautiful view of the beach and surrounding islands. The Alto del Principe lookout point is located on the north island (Monteagudo). The route from the information desk at the port to the top measures about 1.7 kilometers, and the ascent takes about 30 minutes.
Lighthouse – Faro de Cíes
Faro de Cíes Lighthouse is located on the southern island (O Faro) on a hill 178m above sea level. There is a wide road 3.5 kilometers long leading to the lighthouse (from the pier where the ferries stop).
Viewpoint – Pedra de Campá
On the way to the Faro de Cíes lighthouse there is a viewpoint with an interestingly shaped rock – Pedra de Campá. This is one of the best places to watch the sunset on the islands (if you decide to stay overnight at a campsite). The sun passes through a hole in the rock for a few minutes, creating a wonderful spectacle.
Just beyond Pedra de Campá is a birdwatching point and a vantage point overlooking the North Island.
Lighthouse – Faro da Porta
On the way to the Faro do Cíes lighthouse, we can take a different route and head to the Faro da Porta lighthouse. This option won’t require us to go up high. It’s a nice walking option. The lighthouse offers a beautiful view of the third island included in the Islas Cíes archipelago – Isla de de San Martiño.
Lighthouse – Faro do Peito
The last lighthouse in the Faro do Peito is located on the North Island. A trail of about 2.1 kilometers leads to it, starting from the marina. Access to it is through the forest, where we can admire the nature of the islands. We pass Figueiras beach, and initially follow the common trail to Alto de Principe. We continue along the trail into the forest. Just past the lighthouse is another birdwatching spot worth visiting.
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