A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

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  • Aerial view of Santiago cathedral and the surroundings

We offer some suggestions for a cultural day out to explore the city's famous cathedral (the final destination on the Way of Saint James), its historic quarter, peaceful gardens and contemporary art museums. Welcome to the capital of Galicia.

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A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela


There is only one way to start off a day out in Santiago: in the Plaza del Obradoiro square with a visit to the cathedral. Once inside, many people follow this route: go in through the La Gloria doorway, see the statue of Master Mateo, go down into the crypt containing the remains of the apostle and then up to the High Altar to see the statue of Saint James.Then we suggest taking a guided tour of the cathedral roofs to see the city from the heights. Access is from the Gelmírez Palace, and it's a good idea to reserve in advance.Behind the cathedral it's well worth visiting the church and the monastery of San Martín Pinario. But don't be distracted, because midday is the time of the famous Pilgrims' Mass in the cathedral. If it's a Holy Year (when 25 July falls on a Sunday) you'll be able to see the immense incense burner known as the 'botafumeiro' in action. The botafumeiro also swings every Friday (except Easter Friday), at the 7.30 pm Mass, as the Pilgrim's Offering.

A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela


This is the time to take a walk around the squares near the cathedral, and if you feel like it, to do a little shopping. If you head for the streets of Rúa do Franco and Rúa do Vilar you'll find shops and street markets selling books and antiques. And what about taking home a Galician scallop shell?You could make a stop to see the Renaissance cloister at the Fonseca College, and have lunch in the area. Suggestions for what to order: 'pulpo a feira' (octopus with potatoes), 'lacón con grelos' (gammon with turnip greens), 'empanada' (filled pastry), steamed mussels... And all accompanied by one of the Galician wines (Ribeiro or Albariño) and followed by a classic dessert: the almond tart known as 'tarta de Santiago'.

A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela

AFTERNOON (15.30 – 20.00 H.))

After lunch you're sure to feel like a stroll around the lovely Alameda Park to enjoy the views.After this short break, head back to the centre so you can see the Geography and History Faculty, the San Fiz de Solivio church and the bustling Mercado de Abastos, or general produce market. If you continue on along towards Bonaval park, you'll be able to visit two of the city's museums: the Museum of the Galician People (you'll want to take a photo of its triple spiral staircase) and the Galician Contemporary Art Centre.

A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela


Don't leave Santiago without going back to Plaza del Obradoiro square and seeing the illuminated façades of the cathedral, the Reyes Católicos Parador hotel and the Rajoy Palace. It's simply breathtaking.You've earned yourself a good dinner. In this area there are numerous restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious plate of shellfish, fish or rice. And to end up, what about a little music while enjoying a nightcap?

A day of culture in Santiago de Compostela


In the summer months and in Holy Years the number of people who visit Santiago de Compostela increases considerably.The Mercado de Abastos market opens in the mornings, and the busiest days are Thursday and Saturday.