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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 26 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

The beautiful granite city at the end of the Camino is one of Europe’s original tourist destinations.

Along with one of the greatest cathedrals in Spain, it has a historic centre so perfect it could be a film set, filled with the joyous atmosphere of a finish line as pilgrims from around the world relax after their journey.

It often rains, but this makes its granite buildings glisten, making them even more beautiful. There are art-filled churches and museums, great restaurants and bars, a university and outside the centre, a new City of Culture by Peter Eisenman to adore or deplore.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Camino de Santiago trail

Spain

A world-famous pilgrimage, crossing Northern Spain in 33 stages from Roncevalles, taking in the art cities of Pamplona, Burgos and Leon, and dozens of spectacular medieval churches along the way.

Best for ages: 18+ | £50 | 30 days

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Cathedral of Santiago

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

A Romanesque and Baroque jewel, Santiago’s mighty cathedral offers a fitting climax to the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Best for ages: 18+ | £9

Rias Baixas Wine Region

Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

Galicia’s delightful Albarino-based white wine grows on distinctive pergolas, and is the perfect match for the region’s superb seafood.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Fiesta of the Apostle Santiago

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Spain’s patron saint is celebrated in July with music, dancing, fireworks and dramatic swoops of the Cathedral’s massive incense burner.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 2 days

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Galician Contemporary Art Centre
Experience

Galician Contemporary Art Centre

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

This art centre, founded in 1993 and housed in a striking granite building designed by Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza, exhibits works by established international artists as well as leading Galician ones. There’s a panoramic terrace on top.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Museum of the Galician People
Experience

Museum of the Galician People

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Housed in a former convent, this ethnographic museum is dedicated to the cultural heritage of Galicia. Learn about the local culture through their exhibits of traditional costumes, archaeological finds, music, crafts and artworks. Don’t miss the famous triple spiral staircase, beautiful garden and sculpture by Chillida.

Best for ages: 18+ | £3

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Old Town of Santiago de Compostela Walking Tour

Old Town of Santiago de Compostela Walking Tour

• Ticket to participate in a 2 hour walking activity through the main streets of Santiago de Compostela Old Town • Includes the main squa...

€1 | Rating 4.66 / 5 [169 ratings]

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Santiago de Compostela Private Tour with Cathedral Ticket

Santiago de Compostela Private Tour with Cathedral Ticket

Explore Santiago de Compostela, declared by UNESCO as a world heritage site, next to a local licensed tour guide. You will discover, explore...

€120 | Rating 4.92 / 5 [14 ratings]

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Tapas Tour Santiago de Compostela

Tapas Tour Santiago de Compostela

The best way to get to know a city is accompanied by a local guide who knows all the aspects of interest. Combining history, popular culture...

€28 | Rating 4.73 / 5 [42 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Moure

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Small, affordable, convenient and chic two-star design hotel superbly located in Santiago’s historic centre.

Official star rating:

Hostal Suso

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

The best cheap and cheerful option in Santiago’s historic centre, with lovely owners and a great café.

Official star rating:

Hotel Pazo de Altamira

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

A friendly, stylish three-star boutique hotel with a popular restaurant, five-minute walk from the cathedral.

Official star rating:

Hotel Altair

Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain

Japanese-style serenity awaits inside this delightful little boutique hotel, on the edge of Santiago’s historic centre.

Official star rating:

When to go

Unlike some destinations, Santiago stays open all year. The busiest season runs from Easter to October, when thousands of footsore but happy pilgrims arrive.  Crowds are biggest in July and August, especially for the feast day of St James, on 25 July, and especially if it’s a Holy Year (next ones are 2022 and 2027), when hotel and restaurant reservations can be hard to come by.

Summers rarely get too hot, and winters temperatures rarely dip below freezing. The rainiest months are October through January, when the city deserves its nickname the ‘Urinal of Spain’! But even though you’ll need rain gear and it can get windy, winter is a great time to visit to feel more like a local than a tourist. April and May and September are probably the nicest months – the weather is good, and it’s not very crowded.

Getting there and away

Santiago’s airport is 15km east and linked to the centre and the town’s railway station every half hour by Empresa Trulusa buses. By taxi, the journey takes about 20 minutes, depending on the traffic.

Santiago also has rail links to the other cities of northern Spain, with frequent trains from A Coruna and less frequently from Leon. Taxis in town are easy to find; many offer tours around the area as well.

Getting around

Although the suburbs sprawl in every direction, the historic centre – home to all the main sights, and mostly pedestrianised – is quite small, so walking is your best option. There are plenty of taxis if you need them.

If you’re driving, leave your car in one of the large public parking garages on the fringes of the centre and walk into the city. The closest to the cathedral are Parking San Clemente Plaza del Obradoiro and Parking Xoan XXIII.

Where to stay

If it’s your first visit, try to stay in the historic centre or within walking distance of the sights, restaurants and bars. If you’re touring by car you might consider a hotel on the outskirts for the sake of the parking; there are several choices around the Parque de Domingos de Bonaval, a ten-minute walk to the Cathedral.  There are quite a few hotels out towards the convention centre 3km to the east, but don’t expect much in the way of atmosphere.

Where to eat or drink

Appropriately for a pilgrimage symbolised by a scallop shell, Santiago is famous for seafood. There are some great places specializing in it near the Mercado de Abastos, while pedestrianised Rua do Franco is lined with dozens of tapas bars as well as top-rated restaurants. The popular food court, the Mercado La Galiciana at Rua de Gomez Ulla, features international dishes (with a Galician touch), bars, and frequent live entertainment.