Visiting Santiago De Compostela in Spain

View Of Buildings In Town
••• Veronica Crocitti / EyeEm / Getty Images

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.

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

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.

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.

Distance to Santiago de Compostela

From Barcelona 1,145km to 11h by car, 17h by bus, 1h30 flight. No direct train. 

Madrid 602km to 6h by car, 7h45 by bus, 8h30 by train, 1h flight.

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

First Impressions

Santiago's old town is very compact, with winding, narrow streets. Most of the center is pedestrianized, 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 ahead 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.