Santiago means it is time to celebrate your Camino de Santiago Trek completion! There is so much to see and do in Santiago, it is worth spending an extra few days to explore this lovely UNESCO Heritage city. The top 6 sites in Santiago are
- Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
- Obradoiro Plaza (area around the Cathedral)
- San Francisco Church and Convent
- Rua do Franco Street (Restaurant Row)
- Santiago Food Market
- Alameda Park
1) Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The Cathedral is beautiful to behold — inside and out. Inside the Cathedral, there is a Pilgrim ritual:
- In the entryway is a pillar with St. James. Touch the pillar and say a prayer.
- On the other side of the pillar is a figure of the stonemason Mateo. Knock 3 times on his forehead to receive wisdom from the master.
- Behind the altar, climb stairs to embrace the gilded statue of St. James. Chances are this will be a long line, but it moves relatively quickly.
- Then descend to the crypt where the relics of St. James are in a silver crypt.
- Attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at noon
2) Obradoiro Plaza (area around the Cathedral)
Then walk all the way around the outside of the Cathedral to see all the area has to offer.
- Obradoiro Plaza – This is the plaza right outside the Cathedral. Pilgrims gather to celebrate, take pictures, and relax. It is a fun place to hang out day and night.
- Cathedral Museum (and roof) – Definitely worth a visit to see the ceilings up close and look down on the plaza from the roof.
- Parador – This was the Royal Hospital, but now is a 5-star hotel (to the left).
- Fonseca Palace (to the right)
- Platerias Plaza (to the right and behind)
- Quintana Plaza (behind) – This is a very lively plaza with restaurants, music, and jugglers. Be sure to look for the Hidden Pilgrim shadow at night! The Holy Door (or Door of Forgiveness) dates back to the 17th Century. The luggage storage service is on the corner.
3) San Francisco Church and Convent
As you face the Cathedral, follow the street to the left. This is where the Pilgrim’s Mass is being held while the Cathedral is being renovated. An amazing church in itself!
4) Rua do Franco Street (Restaurant Row)
This street goes from the Cathedral towards Alameda Park and lined with lovely outdoor and indoor restaurants and bars. All the narrow windy streets around the Cathedral area offer an amazing selection of dining options!
5) Santiago Food Market
Stalls of fruit, vegetables, fish, meats, cheese, local bread, wine, and gift items. The market is open from Monday to Saturday, from 7am until 3pm. Saturday is the busiest day, and enjoying lunch at one of the many restaurants is a highlight.
6) Alameda Park
Large, beautiful park with a church and fountains. Great for walking around on a sunny day and getting great pictures back at the Cathedral. Walk down Rua do Franco Street from the Cathedral, and it is across the street.