Safe to say, after visiting dozens of museums, churches, and parks, I’ve whittled down what I think are the ten essentials of any visit to the Galician capital. If you’ve got limited time, stick to the cathedral, the market, and octopus-eating, but if you can stick around for longer I hope you can try to hit up everything on this list.
1) Enter the Cathedral
|Barrel vaulting in the main nave|
I recommend reserving a spot on a guided tour of the cubiertas or cathedral rooftop. Not only is it a unique experience to explore a place normally off-limits in a cathedral, but it’s also an enlightening way to learn more about this building dripping in history. The views are pretty great, too!
2) Go shopping at the food market
|Cabbage and carrots|
|Nécoras or velvet crabs|
3) Explore the monumental old town
|Praza de Cervantes|
When the rain does inevitably let up in the evening, the granite streets glisten in the lamplight. Some of the sett stones used for paving the many rúas in Santiago are earthy and brown, others cold and gray. But wander around at night when the old town is reflected in this mirror, listen to the baritone of the cathedral’s bells calling out the hour, carefully avoid the puddles that hide in the middle of the road as you hop from tapa to tapa—and you’ll catch Santiago at its most dazzling.
4) Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago
|Model of the cathedral|
5) Museo do Pobo Galego
6) Eat octopus
|Octopus at Bodegón Os Concheiros Pulpería|
7) Enjoy free tapas
|Tapa at Café Venecia|
Santiago is no different, and no matter what you order—from a sweet glass of Albariño to a cup of Coca-Cola—you can expect to get a little something to munch on while you drink your beverage. It can be as simple as in-house marinated olives with peanuts and Iberian cured ham to the amazing spread pictured above of paella, a cube of potato omelet, anchovy mini-pancake, and a dollop of “Russian” potato salad.
8) Have a slice of tarta de Santiago
|Tarta de Santiago|
9) Relax in the park
10) Go hiking
|Looking out towards Santiago from the top of Pico Sacro|
What would you most be interested in doing if you visited Santiago? Tell me below in the comments!
For more pictures, check out my albums on Flickr.