Santiago is a wonderful city, but I’ll be totally honest with y’all—you can see the city in a single day. I usually took friends who visited me on daytrips to A Coruña or the hot springs in Ourense after we had gotten our fill of Santi-town. But that fill was almost always overflowing with endless tapas, walks through parks, and ancient granite churches.
|Rainy streets in the old town|
Before we start our day, make sure you’ve got a good pair of comfortable walking shoes, as days like this in hilly Santiago can easily surpass 10,000 steps, a sturdy umbrella, and lots of cash so you can quickly pay for your coffee without having to wait for your credit card to get charged.
8amThere’s a lot of ways you can get to Santiago: by bus, train, or airplane. Whichever method you use to arrive, catch a bright orange airport bus that connects the bus station, train station, and airport and get off at Praza de Galicia, a busy square at the center of the city.
|Latte art at Café Venecia|
|Clock tower of the cathedral|
By this hour, the nuns at the San Paio de Antealtares convent should have their window open for business. You can find your way to their east-facing entryway by heading east from the cathedral until you get to Praza de Cervantes, head south along the shopping street Rúa do Preguntoiro, and take a right after Churrería Metate. Push the buzzer and a friendly nun will slide open the window and ask what you’d like to order. Their tartas de Santiago (local almond cakes) are a little dry but unbelievably fresh. I recommend getting something a little more manageable: pastas de té (assorted shortbread cookies) or almendrados (chewy almond cookies).
|Mackerel at the market|
If it’s sunny and dry outside, pick up ingredients for a quality picnic: a label-less bottle of “homemade” wine, half a loaf of moist Galician bread, a healthy wedge of smooth tetilla cheese, some slices of cured ham or chorizo, a portion or two of empanada (Galician meat pie—ask for bacalao con pasas or cod with raisins), and maybe some juicy strawberries or cherries if they’re in season.
|Tortilla from La Tita|
|Hillside of Belvís Park|
If it’s rainy and miserable outdoors (count on it in winter), follow the Camino de Santiago northeast out of the old town onto Rúa de San Pedro and duck in to any of the restaurants on this street that offer a menú del día, a fixed-price set menu that includes an appetizer, an entrée, dessert, bread, and something to drink, usually for 10 to 15€.
|Loose-leaf tea at Café Tertulia|
|Spring flowers along the trail|
|Botafumeiro swinging in the cathedral|
|Strolling in the Alameda|
|Platter of octopus|
11pmSupper may be over, but the night is young, my friend. Grab a glass of red Mencía at the cozy O Filandón (Rúa da Acibechería, 6), a literal business-up-front-party-in-the-back establishment where you squeeze past the refrigerated charcuterie display at the entrance and place your drink order in the back. Seating in this narrow bar is limited, from a single four-top in a corner to a wooden bar that extends the length of a fireplace, but once you grab a chair, make sure to doodle or write funny messages on napkins and fasten them to the wall with toothpicks. At the very least, it will keep you occupied until your free tapa of freshly-sliced sausage and chorizo on bread arrives.
12pmThread your way through Santiago’s old town to Modus Vivendi, the city’s oldest bar de copas at Praza de Feixóo, Nº 1. It’s based in a converted horse stable and even today still smells a little dank inside, but that’s honestly par for the course for a humid basement in Galicia. Grab a mojito or a caipirinha here and take in the atmosphere of the most authentic cocktail bar in town.
|Sign outside Momo|
|Casas Reais street|
Full disclosure: I wrote this as part of Accor Hotels’ 24 Hours In… promotion in which bloggers write a post or create a video about how they would spend 24 hours in their favorite city and compete to win a nine-night vacation exploring Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin.
How would you spend 24 hours in your favorite city? Does this jam-packed itinerary for Santiago sound irresistible or overwhelming to you? Tell me below in the comments!