The abelian Higgs model on a compact Riemann surface \Sigma supports vortex solutions for any positive vortex number d \in \ZZ. Moreover, the vortex moduli space for fixed d has long been known to be the symmetrized d-th power of \Sigma, in symbols, \Sym^d(\Sigma). This moduli space is Kahler with respect to the physically motivated metric whose geodesics describe slow vortex motion. In this paper we appeal to classical properties of \Sym^d(\Sigma) to obtain new results for the moduli space metric. Our main tool is the Abel-Jacobi map, which maps \Sym^d(\Sigma) into the Jacobian of \Sigma. Fibres of the Abel-Jacobi map are complex projective spaces, and the first theorem we prove states that near the Bradlow limit the moduli space metric restricted to these fibres is a multiple of the Fubini-Study metric. Additional significance is given to the fibres of the Abel-Jacobi map by our second result: we show that if \Sigma is a hyperelliptic surface, there exist two special fibres which are geodesic submanifolds of the moduli space. Even more is true: the Abel-Jacobi map has a number of fibres which contain complex projective subspaces that are geodesic.