Santiago de Compostela City Guide for Tourists

santiago de compostela cathedral
••• The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Image: Damian Corrigan

Overview:

The final destination of most people on the Camino de Santiago (some continue on to Fisterra). The cathedral is the main attraction in Santiago. Note that they speak Gallego here, a language very similar to Portuguese, though everyone speaks Spanish and they are quite happy to do so. Read more on Useful Galician Phrases.

There is an airport in Santiago de Compostela, though it doesn't have a lot of international flights.


Compare Prices on Flights to Spain (book direct)

Best Time to Visit Santiago de Compostela:

July 25 is the Feast of Santiago, with some nice fireworks the night before (the fogo do compostelo). From fall until spring, expect rain.

Number of Days to Spend in Santiago (excluding day trips) :

Two days. You might want longer if the rain keeps you indoors!

Hotels in Santiago de Compostela:

For Hotels in Santiago de Compostela, check out the following links:

If you're after a budget-priced bed in a dorm, try Hostelworld.

Five Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela:

  • Visit the Cathedral del Apóstol
  • Eat Local Seafood In particular the 'pulpo a la gallega' (boiled octopus) is renowned, though the texture isn't for everyone.
  • Museo das Peregrinacións Even if you haven't arrived in Santiago on foot as a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago, learn about the origins and significance of Europe's most important pilgrimage.
  • Home-made Chocolate con Churros Café Metate is a former chocolate factory and the owners still make their own chocolate.
  • Santiago's many other museums and religious buildings including Mosteiro de San Paio, Colexiata de Santa Maria do Sar and the Museo do Pobo Galego

See also: Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela.

Day Trips from Santiago de Compostela:

A Coruña is very close but is worth a stay at least overnight (see pictures of A Coruña. The Rias Bajas to the west are a possible day trip, though public transport is poor. Fisterra, the end of the world according to the Romans, isn't far.

See also:

  • Guided Tours Galicia starting from Santiago de Compostela
  • How to Get from Santiago to A Coruña

Where to Next?:

North to A Coruña or east to Leon and Oviedo & Asturias.

Distance to Santiago de Compostela:

From Barcelona 1,145km - 11h by car, 17h by bus, 1h30 flight. No direct train. Read more on Barcelona

Madrid 602km - 6h by car, 7h45 by bus, 8h30 by train, 1h flight. Read more on Madrid

Seville 957km - 9h by car, 14h30 by bus (overnight only - one per day), 1h30 flight. No direct train. Read more on Seville

Car Hire in Santiago de Compostela:

Compare prices for Car Rental in Santiago de Compostela.

First Impressions:

Santiago's old town is very compact, with winding, narrow streets. Most of the center is pedestrianised, so you won't be needing a car while here.

From the train station it is a 20-minute walk north up to the cathedral. Take Rúa do Hórreo, up to Praza de Galicia. Carry on past Praza de Galicia until you see Praza de Toural on your left.

At the far end of this plaza is Rúa do Vilar, which will take you up to the Catedral del Apóstol.

These instructions aren't really necessary - when I first visited it was raining too hard to use a map and I found the cathedral easily enough.

The Cathedral itself could well occupy a few hours of your time, depending on how much you like cathedrals. It is certainly one of the most intricately designed buildings in Spain and does warrant some attention.

You are now in the heart of the old town of Santiago de Compostela. with plenty more to see to your right and straight ahead.

From the bus station, which is a little to the east of the city, take the road immediately a head of you and follow the road for approximately 500m until you see some steps descending on your right. Descend these steps and follow the road round.

You will eventually find yourself on Praza de San Martiño Pinario. The cathedral is a short walk to the south of here.