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Santiago de Compostela

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Shira taking selfie in front of cathedral

Santiago de Compostela:

Santiago de Compostela is located in the autonomous regions of Galicia in northwestern Spain. It is known to Americans as the “Seattle” of the country it frequently rains. The city is small with a population of a little more than 100,000 residents. The main attraction points are the cathedral, and Galician food. The city itself serves as a final destination for many people who do “El camino” which is a pilgrimage that leads back to the Cathedral.

Arriving to the city

Transfers from the Santiago de Compostela airport (SCQ) are very easy. You can buy a one way ticket (€2.90 single ticket or €5.1 round trip) from the ticket machine right in front of the bus stop outside of the airport. Follow the signs. The bus is orange and is ran by the company Empress Freire. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the bus station and from there it’s a 15 to 20 minute walk (or you can catch a city bus) to the city center.


Albergues (hostels) are the primary choice for those doing the “El Camino” pilgrimmage. They are €15- €20 per night. An AirBnB will be about €10 per night. Santiago de Compostela is small university city so I would suggest staying in a hostel to meet people.

Things to do in Santiago de Compostela:

  1. Free Walking Tour: Tour will most likely start in Praza Obradoiro which is where the famous Cathedral is located. Most of the free tours are 90 minutes and tip based. The city center is really small so after your free walking tour you will have seen most of the city. Wear comfortable walking shoes.

  2. Mercado Abastos de Santiago: A fruit, vegetable, and seafood market located in the city center. In addition to selling fresh products the market also has food stalls where you can eat typical Galician food. An average meal with an alcoholic beverage included should cost you about €15.

Also, some restaurants (stalls) will cook the seafood that you buy at the market for only €5. You should always check to see how long their waitlist is. I asked at 12:30pm and was told that the food would not be ready until 4pm.

Shira taking selfie at night in front of a cathedral

Best eats in Santiago de Compostela:

I don’t have a particular list, but the food is delicious. Try some of the typical foods listed below.

Always get the “Menu del día” for lunch. It is the cheapest and most filling option.

restaurant street menu

The region of Galicia is known for their pulpo gallego (Galician octopus) and it is delicious! Unfortunately it is also expensive. A small ration will cost you anywhere from €12-15 euros for a small plate, but it is worth it.

pulpo gallego (Galician octopus)

Another popular food is Caldo gallego (Galician soup) which is filled with vegetables, beans, and potatoes, and sometimes meat (pork).

In some bars they will give you a free tapa (small plate of food) with the purchase of any drink.

Picture of bar menu

Conclusion: Without visiting any museums, you can see the city of Santiago de Compostela in 3-4 hours. I opted not to visit any museums, as I really only went to see the city itself and the cathedral. As famous as it is, I was expecting more out of the city. It didn’t disappoint but I did not expect it to be as small as it was.

If you have the time, I suggest taking a day trip to A Coruña. A Coruña is Galicia’s second largest city and is on the coast so you’ll have the chance to visit the beach.

Also not that northern Spain is very different from the rest of Spain (e.g. Madrid, Valencia, Cadiz, Seville, etc). You’ll notice the cultural differences, accent change, and overall different vibe than in southern spain. Regarding accents, Galicians (people from the region of Galicia) sound much more Italian. The primary language spoken in the region Gallego and is very similar to Portuguese.


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