Santiago de Compostela in 1 Day: all you need to know

If your goal is to visit as many destinations in Santiago de Compostela in one day, then you will need a list of the essentials. This way, you won't waste a single minute.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

Santiago de Compostela in 1 Day: all you need to know

Santiago de Compostela | ©Jo Kassis

During your one-day visit to Santiago de Compostela, you may think that it is too little time to visit the main monuments, squares, museums and markets of the city. However, if you organize a route with the best things to do in Santiago de Compostela, you will be surprised with everything you can know.

In your tour you will visit the historic center of the city, the green route of squares and forests, and stroll through the Mercado de Abastos and the Mercado La Galiciana. In addition, you can visit the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, the Monastery of San Martín Pinario, the Alameda Park and the main streets of Santiago de Compostela.

Start the day visiting the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela| ©Maribel Ibañez
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela| ©Maribel Ibañez

Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to start the itinerary of a day in the homonymous capital of the city of Galicia. It is a temple of Christian worship inaugurated during the year 1211 and, in whose structure, you can contemplate several architectural styles: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque.

You can connect with a guided tour of the Cathedral of Santiago without queues or make the tour in this enclosure on your own. In any case, you will explore the different areas of this cathedral complex:

  • Portico de la Gloria: you will see an impressive architectural work of transition of Gothic art in the arches and columns, highlighting in them the polychrome granite. You should also pay attention to the iconography inspired by the apocalypse.
  • Library: you will find a series of books, parchments, musical archives, among other documents of great historical and religious value.
  • Museum: here you will go through three floors to discover the historical origins of the cathedral and the art from the 13th to the 14th century and from the 16th to the 18th century. You will also have access to the Renaissance cloister, the royal pantheon, the relic chapel, the chapter house and the collection of textile art by Rubens, Goya, José del Castillo and Teniers.
  • Palace of Gelmirez: here you will visit the Ceremonial Hall and the Manrique Hall, in which a medieval architectural style stands out.

You can also go up to the roof area, with the purpose of enjoying an incredible panoramic view of the city.

Information of interest

  • Price: from 15€ per person.
  • Hours: Every day (7:00 to 20:30 hours)
  • Place: Center of Santiago de Compostela. Praza do Obradoiro.

Book a guided tour of Santiago Cathedral

Tour Santiago de Compostela in a tourist train and discover the main places of interest

Tourist train of santiago de compostela| ©Hector Faz
Tourist train of santiago de compostela| ©Hector Faz

Just outside the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in the Praza do Obradoiro, you can board a tourist train, which will take you through the main sights of the city.

This way, you can learn about the history of each of the monuments through the audio guide and discover hidden places that you can visit later. Also, you will be contemplating the panorama from the wagons, getting a different view.

Historical route

This historical route lasts 45 minutes, starts at Praza do Obradoiro and runs along the edge of the historic center.

The route passes through San Francisco, Alameda and Rúa de Senra, which is the area where the old wall was located. Similarly, the tourist train runs through the Music Park and Bonabal, the San Pedro neighborhood and the auditorium of Galicia to finally return to the starting point.

Green route

Like the historical route, the green route starts at Praza do Obradoiro. It is a tour of approximately 45 minutes, during which you can get to know and contemplate the main green areas of the city of Santiago de Compostela.

For example, you will walk through the Parque de la Música and the Auditorio de Galicia, the Parque de Carlomagno, San Domingos de Bonaval and the neighborhood of As Fontiñas. In addition, the train will travel through the beautiful Galicias Forest, which is located on the slopes of Monte Gaiás.

Afterwards, you will pass by the City of Culture, see the Belvís Park and the Collegiate Church of Sar. Finally, the train will head towards the Alameda and continue to the Cathedral Square of Santiago de Compostela.

Useful information

  • Price: from 6€ per person.
  • Schedule: Historical Route (11:00 to 19:00 hours) and Green Route (11:15 to 19:15 hours). The schedules change monthly.
  • Place: Plaza do Obradoiro.

Visit the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo (Galician Center of Contemporary Art)

Galician Center of Contemporary Art| ©Emilio PP
Galician Center of Contemporary Art| ©Emilio PP

Approximately nine minutes away from the previous destination, you will find the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, where you will find a series of permanent and temporary exhibitions.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in other activities aimed at all ages: workshops, film series, seminars, concerts, dance, among others.

The Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo is a space created in the early 90s, with the purpose of promoting the development and dissemination of Galicia's cultural platform at the international level.

Access is completely free, so you just have to go to the entrance of the building and ask for your ticket. You will be able to visit the galleries, the library and participate in the wide range of activities that the art center offers on a daily basis.

Information of interest

  • Price: free admission.
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday (11:00 to 20:00 hours).
  • Place: Center of Santiago de Compostela. Praza do Obradoiro.

Discover the Museo do Pobo Galego to contemplate the samples of Galician art

Inside the Museo do Pobo Galego| ©Ola Pogo
Inside the Museo do Pobo Galego| ©Ola Pogo

From the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo you only have to walk 60 meters to reach the Museo do Pobo Galego, in whose rooms you can enjoy a significant display of art, which pays tribute to Galician culture. Also, during the visit you can access the cloister and the pantheon.

This anthropological museum was installed at the site of the former convent of Santo Domingo de Bonaval, being officially inaugurated in 1976. Since then, it exhibits works that have managed to transmit the true essence of Galician culture.

In this sense, you will see paintings and sculptures focused on the craft of agriculture, fishing and livestock. In addition, you will see traditional costumes, musical instruments and much more.

On the other hand, the triple helical staircase, which connects the cloister area with the whole church, attracts a lot of attention.

You will also learn about the history of some Galician personalities who were buried in the pantheon of this building, such as Castelao (cartoonist, playwright and essayist), Alfredo Brañas (journalist and economist), Rosalía de Castro (novelist and poetess) and Francisco Asorey (sculptor).

Information of interest

  • Price: from 4€ per person.
  • Hours: Tuesday to Saturday (11:00 to 18:00 hours). Sunday and holidays (11:00 to 14:00 hours).
  • Place: Museo do Pobo Galego, San Domingos de Bonaval street.

Come to the food markets of the city

Abastos Market| ©Miguel Sanchez
Abastos Market| ©Miguel Sanchez

At this point of the tour you will surely be a little hungry, so you can take advantage of the proximity of your last destination with respect to the Mercado de Abastos and Mercado La Galiciana, to eat and buy some fresh ingredients.

In addition, you can take a gastronomic tour of Santiago de Compostela and, thus, have a more complete culinary experience.

The Mercado de Abastos is an emblematic place in the city, visited by hundreds of people. There, you will put all your senses to the test. You will find a range of artisanal, processed and other completely fresh foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, seafood). In fact, you can buy the ingredients of your choice and go to the market's restaurant, so that they can prepare the food you want.

Meanwhile, in the Mercado La Galiciana you will find several gastronomic options. You will have the opportunity to try traditional Galician cuisine and other international preparations. It also houses bars, cafes, ice cream parlors and artisan dessert stalls.

Information of interest

  • Price: free admission.
  • Opening hours: Mercado de Abastos (Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm). La Galiciana Market (Monday to Sunday from 13:00 to 00:00 hours).
  • Place: Mercado de Abastos, calle Ameas S/N. Mercado La Galiciana, Rúa de Gómez Ulla.

Book a tapas tour in Santiago de Compostela

Stroll around Plaza Cervantes and see some monuments.

Cervantes Square| ©Eunice Kim
Cervantes Square| ©Eunice Kim

From the Mercado de Abastos you will have to walk approximately 200 meters to the Plaza Cervantes, where you can see some monuments of great cultural value. This is an iconic space for the locals, where the town criers of the 12th century communicated the legislation of the archbishop and the Holy Inquisition performed acts of faith, since the 13th century.

When you reach the Plaza Cervantes you will see in the center a statue of the poet, playwright and novelist Miguel de Cervantes. Towards the south side there is a tower, belonging to the disappeared church Santa Maria la Mayor, from where you will have the opportunity to contemplate the city completely free of charge.

There is also a bandstand, built in the late nineteenth century, for the presentation of small concerts.

Now, if you go to the west side of the square you will find the old City Hall and the Corral de Comedias, a space that in the early seventeenth century was used for the presentation of plays. In addition, the square connects to the Calle Mayor, where Jewish merchants used to meet during the Middle Ages and which today houses a number of restaurants, cafes and bars.

Head to the Monastery of San Martín Pinario and be amazed by its architectural style

Monastery of San Martín Pinario| ©Diego Delso
Monastery of San Martín Pinario| ©Diego Delso

After finishing the tour of the Plaza Cervantes, you should head to the Monastery of San Martin Pinario, whose construction dates from the tenth century. You will be surprised from the first moment, thanks to the sobriety of its architectural style, which combines Renaissance, Baroque and neoclassical lines.

To reach the facade of this Benedictine monastery you must go up a staircase. Immediately you will reach the monumental façade (do not miss the architectural details of the door). There are also two pairs of Tuscan columns with a niche of St. Benedict, the coat of arms of Spain and the equestrian sculpture of St. Martin.

Next, enter the area of the Cloister of the Processions, a space made up of two floors, which are joined by a system of columns. In the center is a fountain carved in stone. You will also have the opportunity to contemplate the Cloister of the Offices, which, although smaller in size, has a great visual appeal.

Also, during this visit you can enter the Church of San Martin. This 17th century construction will capture your attention due to its façade with three-story altarpieces.

Information of interest

  • Price: from 4€.
  • Hours: Every day from 10:00 to 20:00 hours.
  • Place: Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, Praza da Inmaculada.

Walk through Belvís Park and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city

Belvís Park| ©Maarten van der Velden
Belvís Park| ©Maarten van der Velden

Belvís Park is a natural space with a large grassy area, labyrinths and playground for the little ones of the house.

You will also find trails to walk quietly, benches to rest, urban gardens, streams and ponds. Certainly, a place where you will get away from the hustle and bustle and relax.

Similarly, from some corners of this park you will have great views of the Convent of Belvís, recognized construction of the fourteenth century, which had for the first time the order of Dominican nuns in Galicia. In addition, you will see in the distance the Minor Seminary, which currently serves as a hostel for pilgrims.

Finally, you can go to the highest part of the park and enjoy this excellent viewpoint. You will have the opportunity to contemplate a unique panoramic view of the whole city while the sun goes down.

Say goodbye to Santiago de Compostela with tapas and wine

Tapas in Santiago de Compostela| ©Haydn Blackey
Tapas in Santiago de Compostela| ©Haydn Blackey

If you still have time, then don't miss the opportunity to try some tapas accompanied by a glass of wine or a cold beer. All this, while listening to a good chill out, relaxing and resting from this long day of adventures.

In addition, if you go to a terrace, you will be able to enjoy a different perspective of the city. Contemplating the streets under a dim light is one of the best things to do in Santiago de Compostela at night.

In any case, some of the places where you can enjoy the culture of tapas, wine and beer in Santiago de Compostela are:

  • Bar de tapas La Tita in Rúa Nova, to taste the famous tortillas de patatas.
  • Caña Hueca in Praza da Universidade, you will taste empanadas, cheeses and chicken wings.
  • Ventosela on Rúa da Raíña, where the main tapas are composed of sausages.
  • Moa in Rúa de San Pedro, you will be able to choose your favorite tapa from a wide selection (fried cuttlefish in rice tempura, sausages, pork ear, tripe, empanadas, etc).

Tourist card to save money on the 1-day itinerary in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela| ©Joaquim Rocha
Santiago de Compostela| ©Joaquim Rocha

With the Compostela Pass Plus you can save up to 30% on the price of individual tickets to the main tourist attractions of the city.

Likewise, during your stay you will get significant discounts in some stores, cafes, restaurants and local bars.

Another advantage of this tourist card is that it incorporates a tour in which a local guide who speaks English or Spanish, will accompany you to tour the old town of Santiago de Compostela, the main squares, museums, religious temples and markets, among others. All this, while he tells you the history of each of these monuments.

However, if you plan to take one of the best day tours and excursions from Santiago de Compostela to Rías Baixas or Finisterre and Costa da Morte, then the tourist card will not be of great help.

Book an excursion to the Rias Baixas from Santiago

Means of transport that can facilitate transfers in the 1-day itinerary in Santiago de Compostela

City bus| ©JJdonson
City bus| ©JJdonson

Santiago de Compostela has several means of transportation for you to move from one destination to another during your tour. Among them, the city bus and the tourist train route.

However, the best plan will always be to walk through the streets in search of monuments and attractions.

Regarding the buses, there are several routes managed by the company Tussa, which run throughout the city. You only have to pay 1€ for the ticket to access the service.

For its part, the tourist train has two routes: the monumental and the parks. Either of them has a price of 6 € and will take you through the main monuments and green areas of the city.