Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Spain’s northwestern province of Galicia, marks the end of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. But, the city’s distinctive cuisine and Old Town architecture provide plenty for history buffs and foodies to discover, as well. If you have just one day here, read on to get the best from this medieval gem.
Most of Santiago’s must-sees lie in its Old Town (Zona Vella), a UNESCO World Heritage Site: It’s compact and traffic-free, so easy to cover on foot in a few hours. Join a free or conventional guided walking tour to ensure you sightsee without getting lost and with a guide’s insight. Day trips from cities within striking distance, such as Porto, often include Santiago de Compostela.
Tours typically cover the Romanesque cathedral’s exterior—with recommendations to explore inside independently later—and its surrounding Plaza del Obradoiro square, as well as nearby squares and highlights such as the Plaza de Abastos market. Add some cuisine to your cultural discovery with an Old Town tour that includes lunch at an authentic local restaurant.
Santiago de Compostela is a foodie haunt thanks to its Galician cuisine. Discover the city’s traditional and modern cuisine, including specialties such as Galician empanadas (flat pastry pies) and fresh seafood on an afternoon lunch tour around the Old Town. Guides often share information on the origins of the food and the city’s wider culinary culture.
If you prefer a more grassroots look at Santiago’s food scene, check out tours of its central Abastos market and food shops to test-run staples such as tortilla, cheeses, and the nutty Santiago almond cake.
As a university town, Santiago has a lively nightlife scene, with much of the action centered on the tapas bars and pubs of the cobbled Old Town. Hop between tapas joints and stop to admire the sunset-washed medieval squares on an evening food walking tour. Stop to taste tapas made with Galician octopus and cured meats paired with wines from the region. End the night at an Old Town bar for a nightcap of orujo, Galicia’s popular pomace liquor.