The 7 must-do things in Santiago de Compostela

Visiter Saint-Jacques de Compostelle

Visiting Santiago de Compostela: what are the best things to do and see in Galicia’s capital, which is particularly famous for its pilgrimage?

The name Santiago de Compostela is known to all as that of the famous Catholic pilgrimage, with the city marking the end of the route. Home to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James the Greater, before which pilgrims come to worship, the city has a thousand and one other riches linked to its history and culture.

Galicia is a very special region, with a strong cultural imprint on the city. Visiting Santiago de Compostela means discovering a unique heritage and immersing yourself in Galician culture. Wondering what to do in Santiago de Compostela? Here are a few tips to guide your stay in the city.

1. The majestic cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Cathedrale de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Photo credit: Flickr – Contando Estrelas

A visit to Santiago de Compostela begins with the Plaza do Obradoiro, which leads to the cathedral. This impressive monument is a must-see during your visit. Built in 1075, it has undergone several phases of construction and enlargement, offering a blend of styles from Romanesque to neoclassical, Baroque and Gothic. Take time to admire the Obradoiro façade, the Portico of Glory and the high altar.

The Plaza do Obradorio is unique in that it features the facades of four monuments in different styles: the cathedral with its Baroque façade, the Hotel des Rois Catholiques for the Renaissance, the Palais de Raxoi in neoclassical style and the Colegio de San Jeronimo for the Gothic!

2. A stroll through the historic center

Ruelle de Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Photo credit: Flickr – Dani Oliver

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town is well worth a visit. Take the time to stroll through its charming arcaded streets and numerous squares, where it’s pleasant to rest for a moment. Along the way, you’ll also come across beautiful parks such as Bonoval and Alameda, with its famous « Dos Marias » statues.

3. Getting to know the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario

San Martiño Pinario, Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Photo credit: Flickr – Trevor Huxham

A true jewel of Baroque art, it contains a number of treasures for lovers of fine objects. This is one of the region’s major monasteries, built in the 17th century and covering more than 20,000m²! The monastery not only boasts beautiful gardens, but also a church whose facade and altar are well worth a look.

4. Museums pay tribute to Galicia’s culture

Cité de la Culture de Galice, Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Photo credit: Flickr – Trevor Huxham

In Santiago de Compostela, Galician culture takes pride of place! There are several museums dedicated to this theme, including the City of Culture of Galicia and the Museum of the Galician People. The former, more out of the way, is a resolutely contemporary building whose aim is to promote the regional language and culture. The latter showcases Galicia’s heritage and boasts a magnificent 13th-century spiral staircase.

5. A seafood tasting is a must!

Poulpe à la Gallega, Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Photo credit: Flickr – Trevor Huxham

As well as the cathedral and other historic monuments, there’s one thing you can’t miss when visiting the city: gastronomy! You can’t leave Santiago de Compostela without having sampled the region’s seafood specialties. Garlic octopus or Galician octopus is a sure-fire choice.

6. Also in Santiago de Compostela

Mercado de Abastos, Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle

Santiago’s Mercado de Abastos – Photo credit: Flickr – Dan Perez

Here is a list of some additional places to continue visiting Santiago de Compostela:

  • Hotel des Rois Catholiques
  • Plaza de la Quintana
  • Santiago’s Mercado de Abastos, one of Spain’s most famous markets
  • The Convent of San Francisco
  • Monte do Gozo, pilgrims’ last stop before Santiago

7. Things to do in the Santiago de Compostela area

Cap finistère, Saint-Jacques de Compostelle

Cape Finisterre – Photo credit: Flickr – Alain Rouiller

Now you know what to do in Santiago de Compostela, but what about the surrounding area? Here are a few suggestions:

  • La Coruña, Galicia’s largest city
  • Lugo, its cathedral and walls
  • The Samos monastery, a pilgrimage stopover near Lugo
  • Cape Finisterre, the westernmost point of mainland Spain and the end of the pilgrimage to Compostela
Read also about the Galicia guide :

How do I get to Santiago de Compostela?

Every year, many pilgrims choose to travel to Santiago de Compostela on foot, following the Camino de Compostela. But it’s also possible to get there by plane (with direct flights from Paris) or by car and train. To find a cheap flight to Santiago de Compostela, please use our partner website Skyscanner.

Where to stay in Santiago de Compostela?

Santiago de Compostela is not a large city, and we recommend that you stay in or near the historic center, where you’ll find plenty of affordable hotels and hostels. You can find a cheap hotel in Santiago de Compostela by searching on this hotel comparator.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Santiago de Compostela