The capital of Galicia, in northwestern Spain, Santiago de Compostela gets its name after St. James of Compostella. One of the city’s main attractions is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which originally started out as a shrine to Saint James the Great. The city is even the concluding destination of the Way of St. James, a Catholic pilgrimage route which has been popular with followers since the 9th century. As you explore this breathtaking place, you’ll come across so much beauty, history, religion, and culture. Must visit sites in addition to the cathedral and its museum include The Galician Center of Contemporary Art and the Mercado de Abastos.
1.Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and an integral part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a must-visit attraction when in Spain. The church is one of only three in the world that is built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus - Saint James the Great. The iconic structure which stands over 246 feet high and nearly as wide took 136 years to complete and has been a place of pilgrimage since the Early Middle Ages. Take in the magnificent exterior of the cathedral as well as the surrounding of the Praza do Obradoiro Square; inside, you’ll find the original Romanesque interior to be perfectly preserved.
Address: Praza do Obradoiro, s/n, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-881-55-79-45
2.Museo de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela
The Cathedral Museum of Santiago, or the Museo de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela as it’s locally known, gives visitors the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the cathedral’s history and the many cultural and artistic artifacts it houses. There are several spaces dedicated to temporary and permanent exhibitions including the Praza de Obradoiro Museum, the Pazo de Xelmirez Museum, and the Treasure Museum. The permanent collection comprises artifacts dedicated to the origins of the cathedral, art from the 13th to the 18th century, the Apostle Santiago, Chapel of the Relics, the Royal Pantheon, and textile arts among other things.
Address: Praza do Obradoiro, s/n, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-881-55-79-45
3.Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo
The Galician Center of Contemporary Art, or the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, is an establishment which houses exhibitions and events focused on Galician culture, contemporary art, and much more. Since its opening in 1993, it has attracted a number of local and international visitors who are interested in accessing interesting works of art while learning about local culture and history. There are over 1,000 pieces which have been acquired over the years, many of which have also been donated by institutions, private collectors, or the artists themselves. Through its partnerships, you’ll also be able to see pieces from other collections from the Carlos Arean and Xunta de Galicia Collection.
Address: Rúa de Ramón del Valle Inclán, 2, 15703 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-54-66-19
4.Mercado de Abastos
One of the most visited places in Santiago de Compostela, the Mercado de Abastos is a market which brings together the best of Spain’s historical, architectural, and gastronomical worlds. You can spend hours walking around, taking in the beautiful surroundings and better understanding the culture. Have a chat with one of the local craftsmen or artists to get an inside look into their art, whatever it may be. You’ll be able to taste some of the best foods, purchase a wide range of fresh products, and take back some traditional and interesting souvenirs back with you during a trip to Mercado de Abastos.
Address: Rua Ameás S/NSantiago de Compostela, Phone: +34-981-58-34-38
5.Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago
© Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago
Created in 1951, the Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago is an institution that was the brainchild of Manuel Chamoso Lamas. Initially, the purpose of the museum was to highlight the history of the city and the phenomenon of pilgrimages. Today, the establishment is a national museum institution which has, over the years, built an impressive collection of artifacts exhibited to the public. Some of their popular exhibitions include archaeological drawings by Heitor Picallo titled The Tower of Valle Bermudez O Caraminal, Homo Sapiens, Transmitter of Knowledge at the Pedagogic Museum of Galicia, and We Refugees at the Galician Center for Contemporary Art.
Address: Praza das Praterías, 2, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-881-86-73-15
6.Restaurante Pulpería Fuentes
© Restaurante Pulpería Fuentes
Restaurante Pulperia Fuentes is a lovely little dining establishments that’s perfect for trying authentic Galician cuisine filled with local flavors. Their specialty, as are many of the restaurants in the area, is a Galician-style octopus dish which patrons rave about. All of the dishes created are made with the best and freshest ingredients. Some of the other popular items on the menu include pork or veal churrasco, ribeye steak, serrano ham, hake, moruni skewers and more. No meal is complete without one of their tantalizing desserts such as the homemade cheesecake, flan, almond cake, apple pie, or chocolate cake.
Address: Rúa do Campo de Conxo, 5, 15706 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-52-10-07
7.Museo do Pobo Galego
© Museo do Pobo Galego
The Museo do Pobo Galego aims to preserve and promote Galician culture for all people to experience and enjoy. It’s a wonderful place which conserves historical photographs, artifacts, and documents, and combined, they piece together the city’s rich past. There are an array of exhibitions and activities that visitors can choose to explore and experience. There are permanent exhibits dedicated to society, habitat and architecture, archaeology and art, music, costumes, crafts, countryside, sea, and the press. One of their most popular workshops for adults is Regueifa for Equality and is something like a debate team on popular topics.
Address: Costa de San Domingos, s/n, 15703 Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-36-20
8.City of Culture of Galicia
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City of Culture of Galicia is a collection of establishments which includes the Gaias Centre Museum, the Library and Archive of Galicia, the Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship, the Centre for Cultural Innovation, the Fontan Building, Hejduk Towers and Surroundings, Theatre Garden, Galicia’s Forest, Lake Park, Literary Garden, Canteen, and Whale Park and the surroundings. Visitors can have free access to the museum at any time, and those who are interested can go on one of the guided visits which provides details on the City of Culture and additional lesser-known secrets about the architectonic project.
Address: Monte Gaiás, s/n, 15707 Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-881-99-75-65
9.Museo Casa de la Troya
© Museo Casa de la Troya
Museo Casa de la Troya, or the House of Troy, is a museum which immortalizes Gerardi Roquer - a character from Alejandro Perez Lugin’s novel, La Casa de la Troya. You’ll be taken back in time as you see a detailed recreation of university life at the end of the 19th century. The house has been decorated with period furniture and preserved in a manner exact to when the novel takes place towards the end of 1885. You’ll be able to see the reception area, the living/ dining room, as well as the “respect room” which was used for students to socialize with visiting relatives.
Address: Rúa da Troia, 5, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-51-59
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10.Monasterio de San Martín Pinario
The Monastery of San Martino Pinario is a Benedictine monastery that can be found in the heart of Galicia, Spain in the quaint city of Santiago de Compostela. It is the second largest monastery in the entire country and dates back to the ninth century when it was originally a chapel dedicated to Santa Maria. Though little remains of the original medieval structures, visitors will still be able to see the immaculate 16th century architecture from when it was rebuilt. Some aspects you shouldn’t miss in addition to the exterior facade are the cloisters, the staircase, the main chapel, the choir stalls, and the main altarpiece.
Address: Praza da Inmaculada, 5, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-30-08
11.Plaza de las Praterias
Dating back to the 10th century, Plaza de las Praterias is a stunning town square that can be found on the south facade of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is renowned for its stunning views of the cathedral’s only remaining Romanesque facade; visitors today will be able to see several Romanesque figures, murals, and statues that have been added over the years such as signs of the zodiac, apostles, angels, Jesus, St. James, King David, and much more. As you walk around the plaza, you’ll find several other historical and architectural marvels that deserve a special mention such as the clock tower, Renaissance medallions, and the Fountain of the Horses which can be found right in the center.
Address: 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
12.Parque de la Alameda
You will come across a number of gardens and parks as you explore Santiago De Compostela, but none are as lively and as historic as the Parque de la Alameda. The origin of the park dates back to the mid-16th century, when the land was donated to the city by the Count of Altamira. It was embraced by the community as a place of leisure, recreation, and relaxation, amidst the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. The park continues to play an integral part in the community today and visitors will be able to see an array of unique flora, historical monuments, and diverse artistic elements. The park is also home to several cultural events and celebrations throughout the year.
Address: 15705 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-650-12-55-89
13.Convent of San Paio de Antealtares
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The Monastery and Church of San Paio de Antealtares was originally founded in the 11th century. It was the work of Alfonso II who appointed 12 Benedictine monks to worship and overlook the tomb of Apostle James. Though no aspect of what you will see presently is of the original structure because it was eventually demolished, you will see stunning aspects of 17th and 18th century architecture from when it was rebuilt. Unique aspects that shouldn’t be missed include the Door of the Carriages, which is the main doorway opposite of the Plaza de la Quintana, as well as a stone plaque which commemorates the Literary Battalion, an organization comprising university students who stood to defend Galicia against Napoleon’s troops. Learn all about the monastery and church’s unique and interesting history before exploring the in=house Museum of Sacred Art.
Address: Rúa de San Paio de Antealtares, 23, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-56-06-23
14.Fundación Eugenio Granell
The Eugenio Granell Foundation was created in 1995 as an agreement between the surrealist artist and the city council of Santiago. The foundation’s aim is to promote the study and understanding of Granell’s work and you’ll be able to explore the wide-ranging collection yourself during your visit. In addition to the museum’s permanent collection of Granell’s work, you’ll also find it to house a number of temporary exhibits throughout the year. These constantly evolving events are known to display the works of renowned artists such as Paco Pestana, Esteban Frances, Jose Hernandez, and so many more. Visitors can also choose to go on a guided visit or take part in one of the museum’s many workshops or special children’s events.
Address: Praza do Toural, 8, 15705 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-57-21-24
15.Pazo de Xelmirez
© Pazo de Xelmírez
Pazo de Xelmirez, or the Palace of Gelmirez, is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela’s former episcopal palace. It was built between 1120 and 1136 by the then archbishop of Santiago, Diego Gelmirez, and can be found on the north side of the cathedral. Presently, only the tower gate, the grammatics gate, and the grandstand door still stand from the original structure. The palace houses arched vaults, the weapons room, the hall adjoining the cathedral tower, and the patio that leads to the Hall of Ceremonies. Today, a majority of it is used as part of the Museum of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Address: Praza do Obradoiro, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
16.Museo de Tierra Santa
The Museo de Tierra Santa, or the Holy Land Museum, can be found in a monumental structure that is Compostela’s Convent of San Francisco. The convent itself dates back to 1214 and visitors love taking in the building’s interesting Galician baroque style in addition to the unique artifacts housed within the building itself. You will be able to familiarize yourself with the culture and history of Israel’s historical monuments. The collection on display explains ancient cultures in intricate detail and links the cultural bridge between Jerusalem and Santiago. Interesting aspects include paleolithic exhibits, craftwork, war memorabilia, religiously significant artifacts, and much more.
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17.USC: Museo de Historia Natural
© USC: Museo de Historia Natural
The Museum of Natural History which can be found in the University of Santiago de Compostela is a must-visit attraction for visitors of all ages. The museum has been around for years, providing the community with a social and educational center which focuses on science, nature, culture, and so much more. Their permanent exhibits are displayed throughout the three-story structure. On the ground floor, you’ll find the focus to be biodiversity and terrestrial biodiversity, while the second and third floors are dedicated to geodesy and marine biodiversity. You’ll find the museum to host an array of temporary exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year.
Located in: University of Santiago de Compostela
Address: Parque Vista Alegre, s/n, 15705 Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-881-81-63-50
Spanning nearly 170 hectares, Casco Historico is the historical center of Santiago de Compostela. The stunning city has been rehabilitated over the years and has special protection for everything it encompasses because of the significant historical value it adds. There are still several parts which continue to be utilized as residential areas - the social fabric from the residents there are what continue to sustain the urban growth of the city. In addition to the 6,000+ homes, there are also nearly 3,000 buildings used and preserved for various purposes. As you walk the charming streets, you’ll find examples of breathtaking architecture around every corner.
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19.Bodegón Os Concheiros
© Bodegón Os Concheiros
A restaurant that truly stands out from the rest, Bodegon Os Concheiros is a unique dining establishment which has many star dishes patrons love. One of the most popular is their octopus dish, of course, as it captures all of the unique cooking styles of the area as well as local ingredients and flavors. The family business has over forty years of history and is an integral part of the community. Stop by during your visit to Santiago de Compostela for an in-depth look into the community, a chat with the locals, and delicious cuisine that’ll fill your stomach as well as your soul.
Address: Rua de Berlin, 3, 15707 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-86-90
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Casa Marcelo is a unique restaurant where you can have a delicious meal comprising an array of famed local cuisine. Their set-up is one of a kind and they’re only able to accommodate groups of eight or more. You’ll have to reserve well in advance for one of their lunch or dinner sittings; lunch sittings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. while dinner sittings are at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Though it may take some time to get a seat at the revered dining establishment, it is definitely worth your wait. Once you’re in, you’ll be feasting on an incomparable array of mouthwatering appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
Address: Rúa das Hortas, 1, 15705 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-55-85-80
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© Mauro Holanda/stock.adobe.com
Located beside the Plaza del Obradoiro, right in the heart of Santiago de Compostela, Enxebre is an amazing dining establishment that you must try during your visit. As soon as you walk in, you’ll see an array of traditional motifs which really add to the cozy atmosphere. The restaurant uses fresh, authentic ingredients to carefully prepare cuisine which really encapsulates the flavors of Santiago de Compostela. Popular items on their menu include the Iberian ham croquettes, the gilthead fillet with citrus sauce, pork rib cooked with honey, stewed beef cheek, and baked cod with onions and red peppers.
Address: Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, Costa do Cristo, s/n, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, La Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-22-00
© O Dezaseis
O Dezaseis has a creative and varied menu that is sure to please those with even the most particular palate, but its star dish which people come from all over to try is the grilled octopus. They’ve been serving their grilled octopus from the early 2000s and it remains popular to this day. If grilled octopus doesn't seem like your forte, then choose from the multitude of Galician-influenced dishes which can be found on the menu. Some are more traditional while others, such as the Secreto de porco de castañas ó porto, or the Chestnut Pork Secret, push the boundaries of the chef’s imagination.
Address: Rúa de San Pedro, 16, 15703 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-57-76-33
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23.A Taberna do Bispo
© Maksim Shebeko/stock.adobe.com
For an amazing atmosphere and a delicious array of tapas, there’s no better choice in Santiago de Compostela than A Taberna do Bispo. The mouthwatering cuisine, along with the great service and fun environment, guarantees that you’ll go back there throughout your stay in the area. The restaurant has been around since 2003 and is a lively and comfortable place to have a beer or coffee and definitely some tapas. Popular options include calamari, mussels, and huevos rotos which includes fried eggs over a bed of fried potatoes, ham, and other delicious ingredients.
Address: Rúa do Franco, 37, 15702 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain, Phone: +34-981-58-60-45
© Los Caracoles
No vacation to Spain is complete without indulging in delicious Galician cuisine, and one of the best places to dine at is Los Caracoles. The restaurant opened in 1986 and has been filling their patron’s stomachs with delicious culinary concoctions since then. The house specialty is caracoles, or snails, which is what the restaurant is named after. You can have it in many different ways, but if your palate is craving something else, the restaurant has several other popular dishes. Favored choices include the homemade ham shoulder with turnip tops, the Galician veal, or the house-style octopus.
Address: Carrer dels Escudellers, 14, 08002 Barcelona, Spain, Phone: +34-933-01-20-41
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24 Best Things to Do in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
- Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Photo: TIFFotos/stock.adobe.com
- Museo de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, Photo: Luxian/stock.adobe.com
- Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo, Photo: Teerayut/stock.adobe.com
- Mercado de Abastos, Photo: Lydia/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago, Photo: Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago
- Restaurante Pulpería Fuentes, Photo: Restaurante Pulpería Fuentes
- Museo do Pobo Galego, Photo: Museo do Pobo Galego
- City of Culture of Galicia, Photo: Roi sande/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Casa de la Troya, Photo: Museo Casa de la Troya
- Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, Photo: lkonya/stock.adobe.com
- Plaza de las Praterias, Photo: JB/stock.adobe.com
- Parque de la Alameda, Photo: joan_bautista/stock.adobe.com
- Convent of San Paio de Antealtares, Photo: pixs sell/stock.adobe.com
- Fundación Eugenio Granell, Photo: JB/stock.adobe.com
- Pazo de Xelmirez, Photo: Pazo de Xelmírez
- Museo de Tierra Santa, Photo: analuciasilva/stock.adobe.com
- USC: Museo de Historia Natural, Photo: USC: Museo de Historia Natural
- Casco Historico, Photo: acaballero67/stock.adobe.com
- Bodegón Os Concheiros, Photo: Bodegón Os Concheiros
- Casa Marcelo, Photo: smspsy/stock.adobe.com
- Enxebre, Photo: Mauro Holanda/stock.adobe.com
- O Dezaseis, Photo: O Dezaseis
- A Taberna do Bispo, Photo: Maksim Shebeko/stock.adobe.com
- Los Caracoles, Photo: Los Caracoles
- Cover Photo: Massimo/stock.adobe.com