Whether you visit Santiago de Compostela to admire the impressive cathedral, walk the historic center or sample Galician cuisine, the city should be on everyone’s bucket list. And of course, the best way to visit Santiago is to walk the ancient pilgrimage route that ends in the Galician capital.
1. To wander through the old center
Santiago de Compostela is a charming city full of historical heritage. The old town is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List for a reason! Stroll through a maze of alleys, squares and parks. Due to the relatively low building height in the city, there are many places from which you can enjoy impressive views.
2. To visit the Galician ‘Versailles’
Galicia is known for its cathedrals and monasteries, but Pazo de Oca shows a whole different side of the area. This opulent palace has large gardens reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Ponds, fountains and a maze of hedges seem like a fairy tale. The palace itself, with a decorative chapel, is also worth a visit.
3. To walk the pilgrimage route to it
Not only the city itself, but also the pilgrimage route to it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. There are many separate reasons to walk the Camino de Santiago, such as the breathtaking nature and the feeling of togetherness that arises between pilgrims. This trail also suits all fitness levels.
4. To see one of the largest incense burners in the world
Anyone who visits Santiago de Compostela should of course admire the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Several masses take place every day in the ancient sanctuary, some of which are held especially for pilgrims. A unique experience, which is sometimes even more special. The Botafumeiro, one of the largest incense burners in the world, can be seen on special occasions and holidays.
5. To try Galician cuisine
The most delicious fish dishes, famous desserts and local cheeses are part of the versatile Galician cuisine. The food is a great reason to visit this region of Spain. Try the famous local dish pulpo, made from octopus, or eat a slice of the iconic Santiago tart, made with ground almonds.
6. To listen to local music
The capital of Galicia is one of the best places to listen to the traditional music of this region. Anyone expecting Spanish flamenco will be surprised. One of the traditional instruments here is the gaita, a type of bagpipe. The frequent use of this instrument in local music styles is a reminder of the Celts who used to inhabit this part of Spain.
7. To admire the architecture
The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is without a doubt the most iconic structure in the city. The church is a breathtaking example of Romanesque art, but it is not the only architectural masterpiece in Santiago. The old town is full of monuments and buildings that are worth seeing. From the historic buildings in different styles to the modern design of the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia – architecture buffs will not get bored in this city.
8. To daydream at nearby villages
Galicia is filled with charming villages and beautiful places. Stay a little longer in Santiago de Compostela to explore some of these nearby destinations. The fishing boats at the lovely coastal town of Cambarro and the medieval buildings in Noia, for example, are highlights not too far from Santiago.
9. To take a trip to Finisterre
Finisterre means ‘the end of the world’ and that’s exactly what this place feels like. Located just eighty kilometers from Santiago de Compostela, you imagine yourself in another world. The peninsula consists of rocky cliffs that plunge steeply into the Atlantic Ocean. The idyllic lighthouse on the cape completes the picture.
10. To taste wine
Not only the food in Galicia is excellent; some wines from this region are also world famous. Wine production in this region dates back to the time of the Romans, about two thousand years ago. The wines made in Galicia are almost all white – the Albariño is the most popular grape grown in this area.