Travel Guide

BEST Things to do in Santiago de Compostela

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Santiago de Compostela is a wonderful metropolis in Galicia, Northern Spain. It’s some of the essential cities within the area. Most international vacationers go to it as part of their Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the burial place of Apostle St.James, one of many twelve apostles of Jesus. Because the rediscovery of the tomb of St.James within the Ninth-century a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals arrived in Santiago following totally different Camino routes. Even should you’re not a pilgrim town is a good place to go to. Santiago provides many fascinating things to do from visiting historic monuments to wine and tapas tasting.

The Cathedral of Santiago from Plaza Obradoiro
A go to to the Cathedral is a must-do factor in Santiago de Compostela

The way to get to Santiago de Compostela?

There’s a global airport Santiago–Rosalía de Castro Airport 12 km away from Santiago de Compostela. There are direct flights to Santiago from London, Dublin, Frankfurt, Zurich, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, and plenty of Spanish cities. If you happen to’re coming from the US, Canada, Australia, and so on. you’ll want a connection flight. There’s a bus that runs each 30 minutes between the airport and town. 

Santiago is related by bus and practice providers with many cities equivalent to Madrid (practice and bus), Lisbon, and Porto (bus, practice with one change). If you happen to’re coming from Barcelona it’s higher to take a flight, each practice and bus journeys take very lengthy, over 10 hours.

One of the best time to go to town

Summer time months, June to August, is when the climate is the very best in Galicia; heat, sunny, and never an excessive amount of rain. Not like in Madrid, Barcelona or the south of Spain, it by no means will get highly regarded right here and rains occur typically even in the summertime. August and the primary half of September is the height season for the Camino de Santiago when 1000’s of pilgrims arrive within the metropolis every single day. If you happen to determine to come back at the moment e book your lodging prematurely.

Border season of April-Might and the second half of September-October is much much less busy than the summer time although it could be fairly chilly and wet all is determined by your luck. 

Winter months, November to March, are the coldest and rainiest months in Galicia. It’s not the very best time for visiting Santiago de Compostela. Resulting from dangerous climate, many things to do in Santiago, principally out of doors actions, could be not accessible. 

Locations to remain in Santiago de Compostela

I’ve been to Santiago eight instances; as soon as as a vacationer and seven as a pilgrim. I’ve stayed at many locations in several elements of town. Often, after staying in lots of albergues on the Camino we e book non-public lodging in Santiago. I can undoubtedly suggest staying in or near the middle. It’s cheaper to remain a few kilometers away however you’ll should stroll these kilometers a number of instances a day which isn’t best should you arrive in Santiago after strolling the Camino. No matter you need to do in Santiago de Compostela to go to the Cathedral to exit is within the historic middle. 

My favourite locations to remain in Santiago de Compostela

Funds | Santiago KM-0 | An amazing albergue/hostel simply 50 m away from Praza Obradoiro and the Cathedral, near the Pilgrims’ Workplace. 

Center value | Hospedería San Martín Pinario | This place is positioned proper subsequent to the Cathedral. There are particular rooms for pilgrims at Hospedaría, these rooms are far more primary in comparison with the usual room and price much less. If you happen to’re a pilgrim strolling the Camino you’ll be able to e book certainly one of these rooms by way of e mail [email protected] If you happen to stroll within the peak season the reserving needs to be made a few weeks prematurely.

Excessive-end | Parador de Santiago – Hostal Reis Catolicos | You’ll be able to’t discover a place to remain nearer to the Cathedral and the historic middle than this resort. It’s been an essential a part of the Camino de Santiago for hundreds of years. It was in-built 1486 and is taken into account to be one of many oldest motels in Europe. This resort is only a suggestion, I’ve by no means stayed right here however the subsequent time we’re in Santiago after finishing the Camino we’re going to spoil ourselves and keep at Reyes Catolicos for an evening. If staying at is out of your funds however you actually need to see the way it appears from the within you are able to do a guided resort tour.

There are extra wonderful locations to remain within the middle of Santiago if for some reason you’ll be able to’t e book any of the really useful above. 

Superb things to do in Santiago de Compostela

Go to the Cathedral 

The Cathedral is the primary attraction of Santiago de Compostela it’s one thing to not miss. For pilgrims equivalent to ourselves arriving on the Cathedral is the spotlight of their journey. If you happen to’re not certainly one of them but you’ll see many excited folks with backpacks and strolling sticks on the sq. across the Cathedral. 

The development of the present Cathedral began in 1075 beneath the reign of Alfonso VI. It was expanded and modified over the centuries; the final modifications to the Cathedral have been made within the 18th century. Each the outside and the inside are spectacular. Contained in the Cathedral is simply as spectacular. The richly embellished baroque altar is an elaborate piece of artwork. You’ll be able to go to the crypt beneath the altar with the relics of Saint James. Entrance to the Cathedral is free although you aren’t allowed to stroll round and take images throughout plenty. You are able to do a guided Cathedral and Museum tour to be taught extra about its historical past.

One of the best view of the entrance facade you get from Plaza Obradoiro, a wonderful sq. in entrance of the Cathedral. My favourite time to come back to Praza Obradoiro is late night when it will get quiet and you may benefit from the sq. and the Cathedral with lights. 

  • Open hours – day by day from 9 am to eight.30 pm
  • Entrance – free
The front facade of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela at sundown
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on the sundown

Attend the Pilgrim Mass

Even should you’re not a pilgrim it’s fascinating to go to the Cathedral through the mass. The primary mass takes place day by day at 12 pm. It lasts between 30-45 minutes. If you happen to’re fortunate you may witness the Botafumeiro Ceremony when an enormous silver incense burner connected to the ceiling is swung by 6 specifically educated monks. It doesn’t occur every single day solely on particular spiritual events equivalent to Christmas, Easter, and so on. Within the peak Camino season (August – September) you have got higher possibilities to see Botafumeiro some teams of pilgrims e book the ceremony for his or her arrival in Santiago. 

Do a rooftop tour of the Cathedral

To make your go to to the Cathedral full, do a rooftop tour. Through the tour, you’ll get a novel alternative to see the highest a part of the Cathedral from shut by and to take pleasure in bird-eye views of Santiago de Compostela. The guided tour is about 1 hour throughout that point you’ll be able to discover the roof and luxuriate in 360 views of town and take a look from the highest on the squares and streets across the cathedral. 

Turn into a pilgrim for a day

Turning into a pilgrim even for a day is a novel factor to do in Santiago de Compostela. If all of the Camino de Santiago vibe impressed you for a pilgrimage you may give it a try to spend in the future on the Camino. You can begin in Padron (the Portuguese Camino) or in O Pedrouzo (the Camino Frances). Each cities are about 20 km away from Santiago. Most pilgrims begin their final day there. 

You’ll be able to take a bus to both of them within the morning, discover yellow arrows indicating the Camino route, and observe all of them the best way again to Santiago. If you happen to do it in the summertime you’ll see a whole lot of pilgrims on the Camino. It’s an fascinating experience to turn out to be a pilgrim for in the future and to see if it’s one thing you’ll take pleasure in doing for a few weeks or not. The stroll finishes on Praza Obradoiro in entrance of the Cathedral the place you’ll be able to see many joyful pilgrims. If strolling 20 km in in the future feels like an excessive amount of you are able to do a shorter imaginative and prescient and stroll the final 7 km to Santiago with a tour.

As an possibility, you’ll be able to stroll the final 100 km to Santiago de Compostela. It’s the required strolling minimal for getting the Compostela, the certificates that’s granted to each pilgrim who’s walked not less than the final 100 km to Santiago. The Camino Frances from Sarria is the preferred path to stroll the final 100 km.

The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela has a protracted historical past. In line with historic paperwork, the primary pilgrim on the Camino was Spanish king Alfonso II. He walked from Oviedo to Santiago within the IX century to commemorate the rediscovery of the stays of Apostle St.James. These days this route is called the Camino Primitivo or the Unique Method.

Pilgrims who finished their Camino on Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago
Pilgrims on the Plaza del Obradoiro in entrance of the Cathedral in Santiago

Wander across the Outdated City

Exploring the Outdated City of Santiago on foot is a good way to discover town. Its slim cobblestone streets with stunning outdated buildings, church buildings, squares, fountains, and parks are made for strolling. There are numerous fascinating buildings in Santiago ensure that to not miss the primary sights: the Cathedral and Praza do Obradoiro, Abbey of San Martin Pinario, Praza de Quintana, Pazo da Fonseca, Pazo de Raxoi (Metropolis Corridor), Colegiata de Santa Maria, College of Santiago de Compostela, Convent and Church of San Francisco, Alameda park, and plenty of others. Just about the vast majority of the buildings within the Historic Heart of Santiago are outstanding. 

If you happen to go to town within the peak season and need to discover it with out vacationer crowds early morning is the very best time to do it, particularly if it’s a Saturday or Sunday morning. You’ll be able to be part of a guided strolling tour to be taught in regards to the historical past of town and its primary sights.

Get pleasure from a cup of espresso with Tarta de Santiago

If you happen to’re a bit uninterested in sightseeing, take a break at one of many road cafes. Sit down and watch folks with a cup of espresso and the well-known Tarta de Santiago or Cake of St.James – a must-try dessert in Santiago de Compostela. It’s an almond cake/pie with added lemon zest and brandy served with whipped cream and/or ice cream. The highest of the cake is embellished with the Cross of St.James which provides the title to the pastry. 

Strive Pulpo a la Gallega & Pimientos de Padros

These two typical Galician dishes are very fashionable in Santiago; you will discover them at most bars and eating places. Each are nice to eat as snacks with beer or wine. Pulpo a la Gallega or Pulpo a la Feira is a conventional octopus dish that comes from Melide, a small city 50 km west of Santiago. Octopus is boiled first in a giant copper pot after boiling it’s reduce into smaller items sprinkled with salt, paprika, and olive oil. Pimientos de Padron or Pardon Peppers is one other conventional dish that comes from the small Galician city Padron, 20 km south of Santiago. Small inexperienced gentle peppers are fried in olive oil and served sizzling with salt, a really fast and straightforward dish.

Eating pulpo a la Gallega is one of the things to do in Santiago de Compostela
Pulpo a al Gallega a must-try dish in Santiago de Compostela

Exit for wine & tapas

Visiting native tapas bars is certainly one of my favourite things to do in Santiago. Galician tapas are simply nearly as good and scrumptious because the well-known pintxos from the Basque Nation. At native tapas bars, you’ll discover some unimaginable combos from a tapa with brie cheese, jamón, and a strawberry or candy pepper with chorizo and goat cheese to contemporary prawns grilled in a seashell. Don’t restrict your self to at least one bar, do it the Spanish approach, go to at least one place, drink a caña (a small beer) or a glass of wine and eat a tapa and transfer on to the subsequent bar. In a single evening you’ll be able to go to 5 to six bars, attempt numerous totally different tapas and have numerous enjoyable.

Rua do Franco, one of many streets that begin on the Cathedral is the very best one for going out. There are numerous nice tapas bars. I personally preferred A Taberna do Bispo and Tapas Petiscos do Cardeal however I’m positive others bars are simply nearly as good. Taberna O Gato Negro in one of many close by streets is without doubt one of the hottest bars within the space, it’s at all times filled with locals. 

Friday evening is the very best time for going out when the streets are full of folks and music. Ensure to relaxation effectively earlier than going out and don’t begin too early you may get full and drained by the point the celebration begins. My favourite a part of going out in Santiago is improvised events when an individual with a guitar at a bar begins enjoying well-known songs and others simply begin singing or dancing. If you happen to walked the Camino, going out for tapas is a good way to have a good time the top of it together with your fellow pilgrims!

Seafood and cold meat tapas in a bar in Santiago de Compostela
Going out for tapas is a not-to-miss factor in Santiago de Compostela

Stroll by Mercado de Abastos

One other not-to-miss place in Santiago de Compostela particularly should you’re a connoisseur. The market is a protracted passage with stalls on either side promoting all types of products principally domestically produced or caught. Right here you will discover fruit and greens, meats, cheeses, seafood, and fish. If you happen to like cooking with contemporary merchandise ensure that to lease an residence with a very good kitchen quite than staying in a resort. If cooking shouldn’t be one thing you need to do in your vacation it’s nonetheless price coming right here. There are numerous stalls promoting meals. You should purchase native specialties and wines and sit down at a small desk to take pleasure in them.

  • Open hours – Mon-Sat from 7 am to three pm

Go for a stroll in Alameda Park

The park is a good place to come back for a stroll or a run within the morning. It’s a big inexperienced space within the middle of Santiago. Alameda Park is nearly 500 years outdated. Some alleys seem like inexperienced tunnels created by huge oak timber. There are numerous strolling routes by the park. The Paseo da Ferradura is the round route that enables visiting totally different elements of the park. There are a number of monuments, sculptures, and fountains contained in the park. Resulting from its location on the highest of the hill, the park provides nice views of town middle and the Cathedral. 

  • Open hours – 24 hours
  • Entrance payment – free
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from Alameda Park
A view of the Cathedral and the Outdated City from Alameda Park in Santiago

Do a day journey to Finisterre & Muxía

A visit to the wild Glacian coast is a good factor to do in Santiago. After admiring town and having fun with its gastronomy to find distinctive areas of the Costa de Muerte or the Loss of life Coast. You’ll be able to lease a automobile for a day to do the journey, take a bus or be part of a full-day guided tour. Finisterre and Muxia are two capes with gorgeous surroundings. The title Finisterre comes from Latin finis terrae which suggests “the top of the earth”. In Roman instances the cape was thought of to be the top of the recognized world.

These days many pilgrims after ending their Camino in Santiago de Compostela proceed strolling in the direction of the coast following the Camino Finisterre. The cape is located about three km away from the city Finisterre, you’ll be able to stroll there or take a shuttle bus/taxi. On the cape, there’s a lighthouse and a resort/restaurant with spectacular views of the coast. If you’re searching for a romantic place to remain Lodge O Semaforo is the proper possibility. There are a few small sandy seashores on the best way. If you happen to be part of a tour it’ll take you all the best way to the lighthouse. 

Muxía is one other cape about 30 km north of Finisterre, there’s a day by day bus between the 2 cities. The surroundings at Muxía shouldn’t be as dramatic as at Finisterre however it’s nonetheless very stunning with a chapel constructed on the rocks near the water edge. Each capes are nice for watching the sundown. There are numerous locations to remain at each capes in case you determine to increase your journey and keep right here in a single day. 

Advisable excursions from Santiago to Finisterre & Muxía

Locations to remain in Finisterre

Locations to remain in Muxía 

Cape Muxia with a chapel on the rocks
Santuario da Virxe da Barca in Muxia, an ideal spot for watching the sundown

Get pleasure from native wines and contemporary mussels in Rias Baixas

If you happen to take pleasure in good wines visiting native estates and tasting their wines is a not-to-miss factor in Santiago. Rias Baixas is located within the Pontevedra area, about 1 hour drive from Santiago de Compostela. The world is legendary for its wines particularly Albariño, a white grape with thick pores and skin used to supply refreshing white wine, an ideal wine to drink on a heat summer time day. One of the simplest ways of doing wine tasting in Rias Baixas is to lease a automobile in Santiago for a day and go to a few wine estates. The world could be very stunning with vineyards masking the hills and valleys. If you wish to spend extra time within the wine area you’ll be able to keep for a day or two in Pontevedra and from there go to wine estates.

Locations to remain in Pontevedra

If you happen to don’t need to lease a automobile there are day excursions from Santiago to Rias Baixas which you can be part of.

There are numerous different wonderful day journeys from Santiago when you’ve got sufficient time you’ll be able to discover extra of Galicia;

Coastal scenery in Rias Baixas near Santiago de Compostela
The gorgeous surroundings in Rias Baixas which you can go to as a day journey from Santiago

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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