Understanding Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region. It’s known as end point of the Camino de Santiago, and the alleged burial site of the apostle Saint James.

Map of Santiago de Compostela
Map of Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela Statistics

Area: 223 km²
Average Weather:  Mild & Humidity, rainy in Winter
Population: 95,800 (2014)
Number of airports: 1
Points of interest: University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Monasterio de San Francisco & San Martín Pinario

Finding your way in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela like so many other cities that were born in the Middle Ages was built to serve the simpler needs of those times without any though towards the future.

As any visitor will notice in the Old Town (“el casco antiguo”) its streets (“Rúas”) are mostly narrow rambling alleyways that lead to beautiful squares and churches. The general feel and look of those street is very similar within the wall Medieval Town. Over the centuries those streets have grown in number and interweaved themselves creating a real maze where it is easy to get lost.

Often Compostelanos will tell you the best way to “discover Santiago is by losing yourself in it”. Let yourself wander through the Rúa do Vilar or Rúa Nova, take the smallest alleyways in between two buildings and discover a small hidden terrace. Try touring around the Monastery of San Martín Pinario and enjoy stunning views onto the Campus and Monte Pedroso (the closest hill in Santiago).

By losing yourself in Santiago, you might catch a glimpse of how life was 800 years ago in a Medieval Town and no matter how long you have been living in Santiago or going for Guided Tours, reading about the History of Galicia, there will always be something new and amazing to discover.

Arriving to Santiago de Compostela

Most people arrive in Santiago walking, cycling or horse-riding after the Camino de Santiago or as newly arrived students. To discover Santiago the first time start from one of the historical doors into the walled town and try to find your way to the Cathedral. From there, head to the Plaza del Obradoiro and enjoy the sights: the arrival of pilgrims, the impressive view onto our majestic Cathedral and the different buildings that surround the square.

Once you soaked in the unique atmosphere of the square go meandering around the city and get to understand what we mean by the pleasure of getting lost in it.

After you feel like you start to get your bearings you now have to enter into a very important tradition in Galicia. Enjoy a drink and free tapas in the bar of your choice and see how modern-day Compostelanos live.

If time allows, however, we strongly recommend you also plan to follow a Guided Tour of the City. With the help of the Galician Guides Association, we offer regular departures from the Platerías Square. Let us know if you are interested in joining or if you prefer planning a private tour.

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Ultreya Tours

Ultreya Tours is a incoming Tour Operator specialized in organizing comprehensive and highly personalized walking tours for groups and solo travelers on the Camino de Santiago. Founded and based in Santiago de Compostela, we know the region of Galicia and the secrets of the Camino by heart. Let us introduce you to our vision of the Camino.