The capital city of Galicia is Santiago de Compostela, located in the autonomous community directly above Portugal. Two native languages are spoken here, in equal measures, they are Galician and Castellano, otherwise known as Spanish. Luckily due to the high volume of tourists, or rather pilgrims, that pass through the city, English has become another popular language here.
Santiago de Compostela is famous for two significant reasons. The first is that it is the finish line to the Christian pilgrimage 'Camino de Santiago.' In English, we refer to it as 'The Way of Saint James.' Have you heard of it? Keep reading to discover the second reason.
How to get to Santiago de Compostela
Santiago Airport has an excellent international airport, as it is the busiest city in Galicia, due to a large number of people that complete the Santiago Way. To get to the city center from the airport and vice versa, you can take a 20-minute taxi ride or take the public bus.
A bus operates every 30 minutes, during the week, from the airport to Plaza de Galicia in the inner city of Santiago de Compostela, with a few stops in-between. A return ticket costs €5.10.
Santiago is a small city so you won't need to hire a car unless you plan on a day trip to A Coruna, Vigo or somewhere close by.
Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela has plenty of accommodation at varying prices. As a primarily backpacker city budget hotels and hostels are rife. For a room costing lower than €50 a night, consider staying at a pension. For example, Pension Mar Azul, Pension Centro and Pension Santa Cristina.
For a treat, stay at The Eurostars Gran Hotel Santiago, a 4-star hotel, that often has sales on rooms. Prices can drop from €108 per night to only €68. If you want a night of luxury, keep an eye out for this surprise price cut. Hotel Bonaval is another excellent hotel. It is only 600 meters away from the city center, and for €66 per night, you can start your day with breakfast.
Top Tourist Attractions in Santiago de Compostela
The number one attraction of the city is also the second reason that Santiago de Compostela is famous. It is the Cathedral of Santiago. This religious building is free to walk around and admire. Construction started in 1075 and is currently experiencing some restoration, which doesn't affect your visit too much.
Other great attractions with Santiago are:
• Plaza de Obradoiro, located next to the cathedral is an absolute must see. This grand plaza provides a unique view of the Catholic cathedral.
• If you are interested in the pilgrimage, then the Museum of Pilgrimages and Santiago is an essential itinerary stop, where you can learn about how the pilgrimage has evolved over the centuries.
• The 16th-century building, Hostal dos Reis Católicos, located in Plaza de Obradoiro. Now, it is a luxury hotel, but previously it has been used as an orphanage and a poorhouse. But initially, it was built as a place for the pilgrims to recuperated after their 780km walk.
• The Mosteiro de San MartiñoPinario, located a stone's throw away from the cathedral is a monastery that was once the second largest in Spain. It was founded in the 10th century, and today it is filled with remarkable decorations, including monuments, church centerpiece, flowers and paintings.
• Finally, Alameda Park is a beautiful place for an afternoon stroll. It has three main paths, which contain gardens and remarkable views. Stay alert to see the statue of the two old ladies. They were local best friends who walked the parks every day. The statue is life size!
Places to Eat in Santiago de Compostela
The old town has hundreds of restaurants which are all divine. The food is so fresh in Santiago that you really can't go wrong. So, what it comes down to when making a decision is the restaurant atmosphere. Don't be afraid to poke your head in and have a look before deciding whether or not to sit down.
Ruas da Hortas and Calle de San Pedro are great streets to find a bite to eat.
Do plan to visit Santiago de Compostela in the summertime. Yes, it can be busy, but this is when they receive their best weather. Galicia is famous for its greenery, which can grow because of the large amount of rain it receives from October to April.
Do be prepared for rainfall, have a waterproof jacket or umbrella to hand.
Do visit every 'nook and cranny' of the city, especially in the old town. The narrow streets can hold a secret gem just waiting to be discovered.
Don't pull a face when you see some of the food that is on offer. Expect to see lots of seafood and fish on display in the restaurant windows. Some you may never have seen before.
Don't plan for a fancy night out, in high heels. Much of Santiago de Compostela's roads are pebbled or bricked. So, best to stick to trainers or ballet pumps.