An insiders guide to Santiago de Compostela. Heading to the Camino and Santiago de Compostela soon? It is difficult not to fall in love with this miniature city of arched granite streets and charming hidden nooks and crannies; where students, pilgrims and locals have been mixing for many centuries. The CaminoWays.com team has picked their personal favourite insider tips to the city of Saint James of the Field of Stars.
Check out our Insiders Guide to Santiago de Compostela:
Pinchos: one bite at a time
Pinchos are small bites given for free with your drink; some bars will have their own speciality pincho. Rúa do Franco and Rúa da Raiña are two of the most traditional streets where you can sample Santiago one bite at a time; but most bars across both the old quarter and the new town will have pinchos for customers. They are generally served around lunchtime and in the early evening, usually served automatically with your drink order.
La Tita in Rúa Nova is our director Roland’s favourite bar in Santiago, as their tortilla pincho is a local institution. Another classic is Bar Orella in Rúa da Raiña, which serves pigs ear, hence its name (Orella means ear in Galician); like it or hate it, it is a must-try.
If you order coffee or a hot drink, you are likely to be presented with a couple of complimentary ‘churros’, a favourite of Jennifer’s from our Customer Care team. Beware, they are highly addictive!
Andrea from Customer Care was a student in Santiago de Compostela and highly recommends exploring the new town of Santiago as well as the historic quarter; it doesn’t have the charm and history of the Old Town but you’ll find bars with great tapas and terraces.
A very important tip in terms of pincho ‘etiquette’: they are given complimentary so it is not polite to ask for them!
The Alameda Park (official name: Carballeira de Santa Susana) is Santiago’s green heart and a must-visit: the view point over the University Campus; the colourful statue of As Marias, as well as the statue of writer Valle-Inclán chilling on a bench are some of the Alameda’s best loved spots. However there are many other great green spaces, not as well known as the much-loved Alameda.
Bonaval Park is both the favourite of Santiago native Tania from our Reservations team and Marketing Manager Maria. It is a fantastic spot to chill with a book, enjoying the views of the city and cathedral below. It’s a true green haven for hot summer days. Bonaval is also very close to the Museum of the Galician People and Santiago’s Contemporary Art museum, a treat to ethnography and arts buffs.
The Vista Alegre Park, by the Sarela River, between the Old Town and the North University Campus is another wonderful green space in the city, recommended by Andrea.
The city’s top spot for foodies is Praza de Abastos, the market hall. Galicians take their food very seriously, particularly when it comes to fish and seafood. The market is a lively space where stall holders sell their wares; including an incredible variety of fish and seafood; meats, fruit and vegetables, cheeses … as well as all sorts of trinkets and crafts, both traditional and contemporary, such as ‘caldo’ ceramic bowls, wooden clogs, etc…
Superb new restaurants have opened near Santiago’s market in recent years, such as Abastos 2.0. Their secret: using the freshest ingredients from the market next door, and dish up Galician classics with a modern twist. Fish, seafood and Galician beef are nearly always on the menu.
Not far from there, in Praza de Cervantes, Casa Manolo has been serving food at great prices to many generations of students and pilgrims; while María Castaña in Rúa da Raíña is another favourite of the CaminoWays.com team.
Santiago University was founded in 1495 and therefore one of the world’s oldest universities. Student life as well as the influx of pilgrims, have shaped the city’s character: open, friendly and vibrant. University buildings and colleges, old and new, dot the town and some of them are not to be missed.
We recommend you pay a visit to the old University Library and elegant cloisters in the Colexio de Fonseca, the University’s first college, located in Rúa do Franco, very close to the cathedral. Up in Praza da Universidade (University Square), admire the impressive library in the neo classical Faculty of History.
For an unusual view point, the cathedral’s rooftop tour is a must-do. It gives visitors a fact-filled insight into the history of not only the cathedral but Santiago as well, in addition to the best panoramic views over the city. Tours are run in Spanish and English but make sure you book in advance.
To finish off, there are many great terraces, bars and pubs across the old and new town for evening entertainment. We have picked two all-time favourites: the Modus Vivendi which claims to be the oldest pub in Galicia, located in the old stables of the Pazo de Somoza in Praza de Feixóo; and they regularly host live music, poetry readings as well exhibitions…
Casa das Crechas in Via Sacra is another favourite of students, visitors and locals. Downstairs, Casa das Crechas, hosts live music, mostly Celtic and folk.
And on a sunny day or balmy evening, there is no better place for people-watching than the steps of the Praza da Quintana, listening to the jazzman… according to Tania. Insiders Guide to Santiago de Compostela
We hope you enjoy your Camino trip and Santiago!
You might also like to read: 10 things to do in Santiago de Compostela.
For more information and to book your Camino de Santiago trip, contact our travel specialists.