Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Spain’s Galicia region and an important city, as it lies at the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Filled with historic architecture, lively tapas bars, beautiful parks and gardens and fascinating museums, it’s well worth a visit. Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Santiago de Compostela.
Take a look around the Old Town, exploring the quaint cobbled streets, stone archways and magnificent monuments dotted around it. It’s a great part of the city for enjoying a coffee in an atmospheric square, shopping for souvenirs and simply taking in Santiago life. Look for the majestic Hostal dos Reis Católicos (below), now a luxury Parador Hotel.
Stop for lunch at O Curro da Parra, a traditional Galician restaurant, offering great value three-course meals on weekdays. Think Galician cockles to start, roasted lamb in semolina sauce for main and a chocolate coulant with rhubarb and red wine sorbet for dessert.
Visit the Museo de Peregrinos y de Santiago (the Museum of the Pilgrims and Santiago) to discover all about the history of the city and why it has attracted so many pilgrims. The museum may even inspire you to become a pilgrim and one day walk the Camino de Santiago yourself.
Visit the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Museum to learn all about its significance for pilgrims and its history. Admire the permanent collection of relics and sacred art or take a guided tour to visit the cathedral’s rooftops. After your visit, stay to experience mass at the cathedral, held every evening at 7:30pm. At the end of the service, you’ll hopefully see the famous Botafumeiro – a giant censer, which swings at a rate of up to 68km per hour across the top of the church, dispersing incense throughout.
For dinner, make your way through the cobbled streets to Bar La Tita (Rúa Nova, 46 bajo), home of the best tortillas (Spanish omelettes) in the whole of the city (and dare we say, even the whole country). They’re so big that even half of one of these tortillas will feed at least six people!
Head to the famous city food market – Mercado de Abastos, which dates back to 1873 and is filled with over 70 stalls selling traditional Galician produce. Why not pick up something for breakfast or buy some traditional Galician cheeses and honeys to take home with you?
Make your way to the Convent of Santo Domingo de Bonaval, located on a hill outside the Old Town. Originally built in 1220, today it houses the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People), where you can learn all about some of the most important people in Galicia’s history. When you’re done looking around here, head next door to find the CGAC – the Centre for Galician Contemporary Art, one of the region’s best art galleries. The museum showcases around 1,200 works from the second half of the 20th century.
Dine at one of Santiago’s best tapas bars or restaurants for dinner and try some of Galicia’s most typical dishes, including pulpo a la Gallego (boiled octopus sprinkled with paprika) and tarta de Santiago (a sweet moist almond cake). The city also has a vibrant nightlife with plenty of traditional bars.