Discover Santiago de Compostela
Discover Santiago de Compostela the capital of the Region of Galicia. Millions of people from all over the world come to this city every year, many of them reaching the end of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route. Its historic centre has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. This is not the only reason to come, however. Here you can discover the main reasons to visit Santiago. Whatever your preferred means of transport, getting to Santiago de Compostela is easy thanks to its good transport connections with the main cities in Spain and Europe.
There are regular flights between Santiago de Compostela international Airport and major European cities such as London, Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and Bilbao. The airport is in Lavacolla, just 10 kilometres from the city centre.From the airport you can reach Santiago by taxi for a fare of about €21. You can also take the bus which will drop you in the historic centre, costing €3.
The train is another convenient way to get to Santiago. There are daily trains linking the city with Madrid, San Sebastián, Hendaye and Barcelona. With one change, there are also daily routes to Barcelona, Bilbao, Portugal and Paris and to almost all the major destinations in Spain. Another way to explore Santiago de Compostela is on the Transcantábrico sightseeing train. This is a scenic train that runs through northern and northwest Spain – Green Spain – from San Sebastián in the Basque Country to Santiago de Compostela.
Renfe Spain Pass. This pass allows non-residents to travel around Spain by train. This system is very practical, as it can be used on all AVE long-distance and mid-distance high-speed trains. The Renfe Spain Pass is valid for one month from the first trip and comes in two formats (Business/Club and Tourist). It can be purchased up to six months in advance, and is available for 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 journeys. More information: Renfe Spain Pass
A modern network of motorways (toll and free) lead to Santiago by road. The AP-9 motorway links Santiago with the towns and villages along the Galician coast and Portugal, from Ferrol and A Coruña via the Rías Baixas estuary area, Pontevedra and Vigo. From Madrid, access is via the A-6, linking with the A-52. The A-8 Autovía del Cantábrico motorway connects Galicia with France (and links with Santiago de Compostela by way of the A-6 Autovía del Noroeste motorway).
A route through Santiago
Santiago de Compostela is the final destination on the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route and its old quarter has the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
If there is one outstanding thing in this ancient city, it is its stunning buildings and monuments. Be sure to look at the palaces, churches, alleyways and squares in the historic centre and you will see why.
The best thing is to make a good plan for your stay in the capital of Galicia before you arrive. Dress comfortably, get a map of the city and don’t forget the camera. This is our suggestion for a pleasant day out in Santiago.
An excellent way to start is with a good walk around the streets and squares of the historic centre. Here you will find a series of narrow streets, squares and granite buildings with centuries of history. Many of them date from the Middle Ages. The Cathedral is particularly outstanding. Its majestic façade towers above Plaza del Obradoiro Square. After visiting this architectural gem you can attend the 12.00 midday pilgrim’s mass. During the service they swing the botafumeiro, a gigantic incense burner, from the ceiling of the church. Watching this spectacle from close to is a memorable experience, for sure. Make the most of the occasion to head up to the roof of the cathedral and look out over the whole city.
Before you continue, head for any of the bars and restaurants to discover the gastronomy of Galicia. Once the stomach is full, a good idea is to spend the first few hours of the afternoon in one of the many parks and gardens to be found in Santiago. We would suggest a visit to Alameda Park, in the centre, close to the old town. The park dates back to the 19th century and is, to this day, a privileged viewpoint over the old quarter.
After another pleasant stroll across the centre, you will come to Santo Domingo de Bonaval, another beautiful park situated in an old cemetery with a truly peaceful atmosphere.
Good food culture
Gastronomy is one of the major attractions in Santiago de Compostela, and it is an important part of the city's way of life and identity.
The restaurants in Santiago stand out for offering excellent value for money. We recommend dishes made with fresh, tender regional produce.
In the capital of Galicia you will eat well, and plenty, because the selection on offer is hard to beat: from the most select restaurants to informal dining houses, bars, taverns and, of course, shellfish restaurants. In Santiago you will find quality cuisine to suit every pocket. For under €10 you can enjoy a set menu in a host of establishments throughout the city. For about €30, the finest delicacies of the region await you, with Galician beef and an all but endless list of shellfish being the star dishes.
We suggest you head for Franco and Raíña streets, in the heart of the old quarter. Here almost all the doorways lead to restaurants and bars, with windows displaying a wealth of typical dishes and produce.
Restaurants offering traditional, regional cuisine are not only to be found in the old town of Santiago, but also in areas slightly further out such as the San Pedro neighbourhood, Rúa Travesa street or the Ensanche, the new part of the city. Besides tapas, raciones (literally “portions”) and pinchos (tapas on bread), in San Clemente and Carretas streets, as well as in the Ensanche area and in the outskirts of the city, you will also find places offering more elaborate Galician specialities. On the other hand, if meat is your thing, then make for any churrasquería. Many of these are to be found on the outskirts of the city, serving flame-grilled meats, T-bone steaks, chorizo sausage and barbecued steaks. Bear in mind that they tend to get busy, especially on Sundays.
Enjoy shopping in a city with great commercial activity
Santiago's long, historic tradition of commerce is reflected to this day in its streets.
Crafts and jewellery shops and workshops, boutiques, major brand names, traditional commerce, street markets, large shopping centres… In the capital of Galicia you will find typical, traditional products, but you can also purchase the latest in fashion and design.
The continuous flow of people – pilgrims and tourists – add hustle and bustle to the city and its shopping areas. The main areas for shops are the historic centre and the Ensanche area, along with two major shopping centres located not far from the centre. Don’t leave without visiting the Mercado de Abastos, a huge market with Galician produce.
Other useful informationOpening times: most shops open from 10am-2pm and from 4.30-8.30pm. The shopping centres open from 10am-9.30pm.Sales: the winter sales generally begin in the second week of January and go on until the end of February, and the summer sales begin on 1 July and run until the end of August.How to pay: most people pay in cash or with a credit card, when you must show your passport or identity card.Tax free: residents from outside the European Union are entitled to have Value Added Tax (IVA) refunded on purchases of more than €90.15.