Santiago Walking Tour
Explore the Attractions & Highlights of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is a beautiful city with lots to see and do. Although not a large city, it is a vibrant, exciting place filled with history that is well worth the time to explore. At least one full day is highly recommended — and even two or three wouldn’t be unreasonable.=== Exploring Santiago ===
This walking tour around Santiago takes in the major attractions and viewpoints. The full tour is a little over 5.2 km in length and would be suitable as a half or a full-day tour, depending on how long you opt to spend at each attraction.
There are many things to see and do in Santiago and many different ways you could ‘tour’ through all the attractions. This tour is simply one option. Follow it as-is or use it as a source of ideas in creating your own personal tour. One really nice thing about Santiago is that you don’t necessarily need to follow any specific ‘tour’ at all — you could just wander aimlessly and you will constantly stumble upon great things to see. If you prefer that approach, you can still use this guide as a reference.
Tip: At the very least, don’t rush yourself. Santiago begs to be ‘absorbed’ every bit as much as it is ‘seen’.=== What the Tour Includes ===
The tour begins and ends at Praza do Obradoiro, next to the Cathedral, though you could easily start at any point along the tour and simply make the full loop from there — which might be more convenient depending on where your albergue / pension is located.
The tour explores the Cathedral as well as each of the beautiful squares around it, then heads south to explore several historic streets (with a side-trip to Parque de la Alameda, which has some of the best viewpoints of Santiago – great place for panoramic photos!).
From there, the tour goes through the university / market area southeast of the Cathedral, then heads northeast before finally winding through the neighborhood to the north. The tour passes many different churches / convents, two nice parks, numerous town squares, lots of museums, dozens of architecturally interesting buildings, and approximately 1,261,387 cafés (or does it just seem that many?).
Note: The description of each attraction given in the walking directions is intentionally very basic — follow the link for each attraction to get more information on it. Where distances along the route are listed, they represent the total distance from the start according to the associated GPS track — they do not take into account distances walked while exploring the various attractions.
Have fun! And when you are done, please send us feedback on the tour — what can we improve, did we get anything factually wrong, was anything unclear / misleading, would you prefer more / less detail on the various attractions, did we make any silly spelling / grammar mistakes, and so on.
Useful Stuff to Know…
|Start:||Praza do Obradoiro|
|Finish:||Praza do Obradoiro|
Praza do Obradoiro is a great place to start exploring Santiago given its central location. Situated on the west side of the Cathedral, it’s a ‘required’ destination for every visitor to Santiago – there is a lot to explore just in this one square.
At the center of the square is a marker / plaque indicating the finishing point of the Camino de Santiago. It’s the finishing point for the Camino but also a perfect starting point for this tour! From there, you can get some great photos of the Cathedral as well as of the other buildings enclosing the square.
Tip: consider coming back in the evening for additional photos in the changing light.
For the purposes of this tour, we’ll go clockwise around the square, starting at the Cathedral. Many people could spend the entire day just exploring this amazing structure. See the entries for the Cathedral itself and for each of the surrounding squares for details about the Cathedral.
Next, to the south (on your right when facing the Cathedral) is the Colegio de San Jerónimo (Colexio de San Xerome).
On the west side of the square, opposite the Cathedral, is the imposing Pazo de Raxoi. The overhang of the arcade that runs along the length of this building is convenient if it is raining.
From the north end of Pazo de Raxoi (on your right when facing the building), leave the square along the road descending westward. Just at the bottom of the short hill is Iglesia de San Fructuoso [240 m]. Consider also walking westward along the front of Hostal de los Reyes Católicos where you’ll get a great view of the church from above.
Head back uphill to Praza do Obradoiro. On the north end of the square (to the left when facing the Cathedral) is Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. It’s a beautiful building – you are able to visit its courtyards and its small but very nice chapel.
From Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, walk east towards the Cathedral. Attached along the north side of the Cathedral is Pazo de Xelmírez (the “Bishop’s Palace”). Access is included within the Cathedral museum pass — highly recommended.
To the left of Pazo de Xelmírez, you’ll see a passageway / tunnel — that is Arco do Pazo. It connects Praza do Obradoiro with Praza da Inmaculada, the square on the north side of the Cathedral. When you are done in Praza do Obradoiro, walk through the tunnel.=== Praza da Inmaculada ===
When you come out of Arco do Pazo, you’ll be in Praza da Inmaculada [520 m]. The Cathedral is on your right. You can enter it again via Porta do Paraiso (“paradise door”), the northern entrance. Opposite from the Cathedral is the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario. Both the monastery and its associated church can be toured – the church, in particular, is quite nice.
To the left (western side) of the Cathedral is a narrow passageway. Follow it around the Cathedral to Praza da Quintana de Mortos .=== Praza da Quintana de Mortos ===
You’ll enter Praza da Quintana de Mortos [615 m] on its upper level. To your left will be Casa da Parra. Across from you, at the southern end of the square, is Casa da Conga where there are cafés. Sitting and relaxing on the steps between the lower and upper levels is popular.
The Cathedral has two doors of note from this square: Porta Real (“Royal Gate”) and the Porta Santa (“Holy Door”). You probably aren’t, um, ‘qualified’ to enter via the Royal Gate and the Holy Door is only open in Jubilee years (when July 25th -Saint James Day- falls on a Sunday), the next of which is in 2021. The Holy Door is the one that is closer to the steps.
The wall running along the entire east side of the square is the rear side of Monasterio de San Paio de Alteares.
Exit from the square via the open walkway at the south side of the Cathedral, bringing you to Praza de las Platerías.=== Praza de las Platerías ===
You’ll arrive in Praza de las Platerías [670 m] at the top of the stairs by the southern entrance to the Cathedral. The Cathedral has a very different look from this square — it is the only side of the Cathedral that still has its original Romanesque façade. This is also the smallest of the squares and thus is much more intimate.
After exploring the southern entrance to the Cathedral, head down the steps and into the square. Ahead and to your left is the new Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago, the Pilgrims’ Museum.
Straight ahead, opposite the Cathedral, is Casa del Cabildo. Don’t rush by this building – it has some fascinating details in its architecture.
In the middle of the square is the much-photographed Fuente de los Caballos (“Fountain of the Horses”).
Exit from the square via Rúa de Fonseca, the road heading west from the southwest corner of the square.
Optional detour: If you want to return directly to Praza do Obradoiro, you can follow this road straight ahead and then turn right when it ends (ie keep following the exterior of the Cathedral).
To continue on the tour, turn left onto Rúa da Raíña almost immediately after leaving Praza de las Platerías.=== South of the Cathedral ===
The neighborhood south of the Cathedral is comprised of narrow roads that are mostly pedestrian-only. They are filled with historic houses (many once the homes of the top aristocracy), cafés / bars / restaurants, small shops, and so on. There are multiple old churches. The entire neighborhood has great ambiance – it’s a wonderful area to simply explore aimlessly if you have the time and the energy.
The neighborhood is primarily comprised of three roads running north-south in parallel: Rúa do Franco, Rúa do Vilar, and Rúa Nova. Rúa da Raíña is also nice. Exploring these roads is generally considered to be a ‘must do’ part of every visit to Santiago. You’ll see lots of crowds of people, but the neighborhood is worth it.
Tip: Remember to look up and not only around as you work your way through this part of the tour. Many of the balconies are intricately designed, there are interesting rooftop sculptures to spot, and so on.
This section starts from Rúa da Raíña, a pedestrian-only street lined with bars, cafés, and restaurants. Shortly after turning onto Rúa da Raíña, you’ll come to Praza de Fonseca on your right. This small square is a peaceful place to stop for a brief rest if you need one.
Cross diagonally through the square to Rúa do Franco on the opposite side. That will put you in front of Colegio de Fonseca – well worth exploring, especially the magnificent courtyard. [790 m]
From there, head south along Rúa do Franco. This narrow, busy street was named after the pilgrims coming from France. It is filled with cafés, restaurants, bars, and small shops. And, of course, tourists! You’ll encounter a steady stream of attractive old buildings, most formerly private homes. The road ends at Porta Faxeira, a small town square at the junction of several major roads. [1.05 km]
Optional detour: If you want to skip Parque de la Alameda, you can turn left onto Rúa dos Bautizados, which re-joins the tour after it leaves the park.
Assuming you want to visit Parque de la Alameda (recommended!), continue straight through the square (westward), across the road, and into the park. Once in the park, follow the trail to the right (northeast) along the hillside. There are amazing viewpoints all along the hillside where you can snap some great panoramic photos. [1.31 km] From there, the trail will loop left (west) briefly then go up some stairs to another trail. Turn right and follow that trail until you come to the turnoff to Iglesia de Santa Susana. Veer left (east) to visit the church [1.68 km] and then continue eastward out of the park.
Cross back through Porta Faxeira. Continue straight past Rúa do Franco, walking along Rúa dos Bautizados to Praza do Toural. [2.05 km] There are some interesting building to see in this square, especially the 17th century Pazo de Bendaña (“Bendaña Palace”) on the north side (to your left as you enter the square), which houses Museo Eugenio Granell (Art Museum). There is a large fountain in the middle of the square.
From Praza do Toural, head north up Rúa do Vilar, which exits from the northwest of the square (left side of Pazo de Bendaña). This is a beautiful road – one of the most popular in Santiago. You’ll pass the Santiago Tourism Office at #63 [2.10 km], the Oficina de Turismo Galicia / Pilgrim’s Information Office at #30 [2.18 km], and the Pilgrims’ Office (where you get your compostela if you’ve completed the Camino de Santiago) at #3 [2.26 km]. Mixed among them are lots more cafés, restaurants, and gorgeous buildings.
Follow Rúa do Vilar all the way back up to the edge of Praza de las Platerías and then turn right onto Rúa de Xelmírez. One short but attractive block later, turn right onto Rúa Nova.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you are now on another incredibly picturesque, famous road. Despite its name, Rúa Nova is most certainly not a new road. It is, however, particularly well-known for its elegant manor houses, many emblazoned with the family crests / shields of their original owners. Arcades (overhanging arches) cover almost the entire road, which gives some respite on those extremely rare Galician days when there is rain (rain in Spain??? Never!).
The Pazo de Santa Cruz, at #9, is a notable 19th century three-story building with impressive balconies. Likewise, Casa das Pomas, at #12, has nicely sculpted columns and attractive details throughout the façade. There are many other notable houses as well. You’ll also pass the Teatro Principal, Santiago’s live theatre venue.
When you come to Iglesia de Santa María Salomé [2.51 km], turn left onto Rúa Tras de Salomé (though optionally, you can explore further south along Rúa Nova first if you wish). Work your way around the church and then onto Rúa do Cardeal Payá, which leads you to Praza de Mazarelos [2.67 km].
Optional: As you pass Rúa das Orfas, just before reaching the square, you can optionally turn right and take a look at Convento, Iglesia y Colegio de las Huérfanas, which is on your left just around the corner.=== University / Market Area ===
On the southeast exit from Praza de Mazarelos is Arco de Mazarelos, the last remaining part of the medieval city walls. From there, head north through the square, past Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús, and into Praza da Universidade.
The impressive Faculty of Geography & History building of the University of Santiago, with its column-framed portico, is on your right – it’s very hard to miss! [2.73 km]
Continue past the Faculty, turning right at its northern edge onto Travesía da Universidade and then left at the next road onto Praza de San Fiz de Solovio, which houses the church of the same name [2.84 km].
Continue heading north as the road becomes Rúa das Ameas. On your right is Santiago’s famous food market, Mercado de Abastos de Santiago [2.93 km]. It’s a fun place to explore.
From near the north side of the church, turn left onto Rúa de San Bieito then immediately turn right onto Rúa Travesa. This will take you past Iglesia de Santa María do Camiño [3.12 km] and to Rúa das Casas Reais.
Optional detour: If you want to skip the northeast section of the tour, you can turn left onto Rúa das Casas Reais and follow it until it merges back with the tour at Iglesia de las Ánimas.
To stay on the tour, turn right onto Rúa das Casas Reais, pass through Porto do Camiño (which pilgrims coming in from the Camino Francés would have passed through when coming into the city) [3.19 km], and straight through onto Costa de San Domingos (note, this is the left branch of the Y-junction – not the road which the Camino Francés uses).
Just up the road is Museo do Pobo Galego, housed in the former Convent of San Domingos de Bonaval. Directly opposite is the Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporánea [3.32 km]. For a little peace and tranquility, you can optionally explore Parque de Santo Domingo de Bonaval, which is accessed via the walkway between the two buildings. The park is not as busy as other green spaces in Santiago and thus makes for a nice place to take a rest break.
From there, follow Rúa de Ramon del Valle Inclán past Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporánea. Turn right at Rúa de San Roque which will bring you to Convento de Santa Clara [3.71 km]. Walk down the steps on your left that connect Rúa de San Roque with Rúa de Santa Clara, bringing you to Convento do Carme.
Follow Rúa de Santa Clara south. It will turn into Rúa dos Loureiros. Continue following it southwest until you come to Rúa do Hospitaliño.
Optional detour: If you want to cut off most of the remainder of the tour you can turn right instead of left here, go down the steps, and continue on the tour to Convento / Iglesia de San Francisco.
To continue on the tour, turn left onto Rúa do Hospitaliño. You’ll pass Antiguo Hospital e Iglesia de San Roque on your left at the next intersection (note, the entrances to the antique hospital and its sister church are to the left, off of Rúa de San Roque). Continue straight ahead onto Rúa das Rodas and then turn right onto Rúa da Algalia de Abaixo. Follow this road south, turning left onto Praza de Salvador Parga which takes you to Iglesia de las Ánimas [4.38 km]. (If you happen to miss the turnoff onto Praza de Salvador Parga, Rúa da Algalia de Abaixo will end one block later, at Rúa das Casas Reais. The church is just one block to the left.)
Turn right onto Rúa das Casas Reais and follow it to Praza de Cervantes [4.44 km]. Iglesia de San Benito is on the left (east) side of the square. You’ll see a bust of Cervantes himself atop the fountain in the middle of the square – wave ‘hi’ as you pass.=== North of the Cathedral / Finish ===
From Praza de Cervantes, turn right (west) and head out of the square onto Rúa de Acibechería.
Optional detour: you can return directly to Praza da Inmaculada by continuing straight ahead along Rúa de Acibechería; the Cathedral is only a short distance away.
To continue on the tour, turn right off of Rúa de Acibechería onto Rúa da Troia. Casa da Troia will be on your left at #5 [4.57 km].
A little further ahead you’ll come to Praza de San Martín Pinario [4.68 km]. The highlight here is Iglesia de San Martín Pinario. Also, off the southeast end of the square, is Iglesia de San Miguel dos Agros.
Follow Rúa Porta da Pena north out of the square and then turn left down the stairs and onto Costa Vella (you were at this junction previously on the tour, on your way from Convento do Carme to Antiguo Hospital e Iglesia de San Roque). Costa Vella will take you to the very impressive Convento / Iglesia de San Francisco [4.97 km].
Finally, make your way south from the convent / church along Rúa de San Francisco – a beautiful road with attractive shops along one side and both the majestic Faculty of Medicine building and the east side of Hostal de los Reyes Católicos on the other. That brings you back to Praza do Obradoiro and therefore the end of the tour.=== Final Thoughts ===
We hope you had a great time exploring some of the best sites (and sights) in Santiago. There are, of course, lots more to see in the city, though most other attractions are further away from the center. Iglesia Santa María a Real do Sar, for example, is a beautiful church about a kilometer south of the Cathedral. Convento de Belvís is another good option. Talk to the good folks at one of the tourist offices for brochures and suggestions on more destinations if your schedule still has time available.
Gentle reminder: Don’t forget to send us feedback about the tour. We need your help to make it better. Thanks in advance! 🙂
Enjoy your visit to Santiago! We hope this tour was helpful.
Got pictures? Send them to us!
AttributesThe following attributes are keywords or characteristics that add some context to this route section:
- Albergue La Estación [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Porta Real [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue La Estrella de Santiago [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Seminary Menor [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Fin del Camino [Albergue – Church]
- Albergue Acuario [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue San Lazaro (Xunta) [Albergue – Muni]
- Albergue Santo Santiago [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Meiga Backpackers [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Mundoalbergue [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue O Fogar de Teodormiro [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue La Salle [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Azabache [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue The Last Stamp [Albergue – Private]
- Albergue Roots & Boots [Albergue – Private]
- Hospedería San Martín Pinario [Albergue – Church]
- Antiguo Hospital e Iglesia de San Roque [Architectural]
- Cathedral Santiago [Religious]
- Convento / Iglesia de San Francisco [Religious]
- Pazo de Raxoi [Architectural]
- Iglesia de San Miguel dos Agros [Religious]
- Teatro Principal [Cultural]
- Mercado de Abastos de Santiago (Food Market) [Misc]
- Iglesia de San Fructuoso [Religious]
- Iglesia de Santa María Salomé [Religious]
- Iglesia de las Ánimas [Religious]
- Iglesia de San Martín Pinario [Religious]
- Convento de Santa Clara [Religious]
- Convento de Belvís [Religious]
- Casa da Troia [Historical]
- Iglesia de Santa María do Camiño [Religious]
- Convento do Carme [Religious]
- Museo Eugenio Granell (Art Museum) [Cultural]
- Iglesia Santa María a Real do Sar [Religious]
- Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús [Religious]
- Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago [Historical]
- Iglesia de Santa Susana [Religious]
- Museo do Pobo Galego [Cultural]
- Colegio de San Jerónimo (Colexio de San Xerome) [Historical]
- Arco de Mazarelos [Historical]
- Iglesia de San Fiz de Solovio [Religious]
- Iglesia do Pilar [Religious]
- Hostal de los Reyes Católicos [Architectural]
- Iglesia de San Benito [Religious]
- Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporánea [Cultural]
- Convento e Igrexa de Santo Agostiño [Religious]
- Monastery / Church of San Martiño Pinario [Religious]
- Colegio de Fonseca [Architectural]
- Casa del Cabildo [Architectural]
- Faculty of Geography & History [Architectural]
- Convento, Iglesia y Colegio de las Huérfanas [Architectural]
- Points of Interest:
- Praza de Mazarelos [Town Square / Park]
- Praza de Fonseca [Town Square / Park]
- Praza de las Platerías [Town Square / Park]
- Praza de Santo Agostiño [Town Square / Park]
- Parque de la Alameda [Town Square / Park]
- Praza do Obradoiro [Town Square / Park]
- Praza de San Martín Pinario [Town Square / Park]
- Porto do Camiño [Landmark]
- Praza da Quintana de Mortos [Town Square / Park]
- Porta Faxeira [Town Square / Park]
- Praza do Toural [Town Square / Park]
- Praza da Inmaculada [Town Square / Park]
- Praza de Cervantes [Town Square / Park]
- Paseo de la Herradura (Photo Spot) [Scenic Vista / Photo Op]
- Parque de Santo Domingo de Bonaval [Town Square / Park]
- Monte Pedroso [Scenic Vista / Photo Op]
- Praza da Universidade [Town Square / Park]
- Route Sections:
|Date Created (?):||23 Feb 2015|
|Date Last Updated (?):||02 Mar 2015|
|Content Accuracy (?):||Very Good|
|Completeness (?):||Very Good|
|Coordinates (?):||Very Good|
|TrekRight Status (?):||Included|