Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

A destination for pilgrims from all over the world, the interior of the Cathedral of Santiago is well worth a visit - don't just look at the façade!

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

8 min read

Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Detail of the Portico de la Gloria | ©Tom Parnell

The city of Santiago de Compostela is inconceivable without its cathedral. Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque style, the temple that houses the mortal remains of the Apostle is the most famous place of pilgrimage in Spain and the main place of interest of the Galician capital. Read on and I will explain the best options to visit it.

The best option

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Guided Tour

Discover the incredible Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela with an expert guide.

A visit to Santiago de Compostela will never be complete without seeing the cathedral. With this 2-hour tour you will see the entire sanctuary including the choirs, the Great Altar, the botafumeiro and the Cathedral Museum.

Duration: 2 hours

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Visit the interior of one of the most important cathedrals in Spain declared World Heritage Site by Unesco with this guided tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. As a religious and cultural symbol of the city, this Christian temple deserves the explanations of an expert guide who will detail its great heritage value.

From the tomb of the apostle Santiago, through the Great Altar, the Museum or its chapels, you will make a complete tour of the cathedral and discover the famous botafumeiro. In addition, with this guided tour you can include a visit to the famous Portico de la Gloria, a masterpiece of universal art that crowned the work of the cathedral.

Recommended if... You prefer to be told the history and symbolism that surrounds this Romanesque cathedral to understand why it is a destination of worship for thousands of pilgrims from all over the world.

How much does it cost to visit the Cathedral of Santiago?

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from Obradoiro Square| ©WOMEX
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from Obradoiro Square| ©WOMEX

Tickets to the Cathedral of Santiago can be purchased individually on the official website from 12€. You can select a specific time and day. The price to see the whole complex is around 20 euros without a guided tour.

To not miss anything and, above all, to understand the importance of this architectural jewel I recommend booking a guided tour of the Cathedral of Santiago. For only about 25€ you get the complete tour plus a tour of the historic center of the city.

Keep in mind that more than 10,000 tourists enter the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela every day. Although the entrance to the main nave of the temple is free, the complete visit to the Cathedral of Santiago includes the museums, the tribune and the climb to the roofs. It is undoubtedly essential to see the Cathedral in its entirety when visiting the city for the first time.

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

This is what a guided tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is like

Platerías Square| ©Simone Ramella
Platerías Square| ©Simone Ramella

When visiting a place as significant as the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, my recommendation will always be to do it, at least once, as part of a guided tour that covers the Cathedral and the surrounding area.

The Cathedral means one thing to architecture lovers, another to locals, another to historians and another to pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago; a specialized guide will explain all these meanings to you, giving you a complete and authentic view of this monument. Likewise, he will also take you through the historic center and will tell you curiosities and legends about the city that do not appear in the guidebooks and textbooks.

Itinerary

  • Piazza del Obradorio: the most famous square in the city. In it, in addition to the Cathedral, there are emblematic buildings such as the Hotel de los Reyes Católicos, the Colegio San Jerónimo or the Palacio de Rajoy.
  • Plaza de la Quintana: with buildings such as the clock tower, the Puerta Santa or the Cathedral Closing.
  • Plaza de las Platerías: the square south of the Cathedral. It is named after the goldsmith workshops that were located there in the Middle Ages.
  • Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: during the visit the guide will tour the interior of the Cathedral and the chapel of the Corticela with the group explaining the works of art that can be seen inside and, of course, its meaning.
  • Mercado de Abastos: the most visited place after the Cathedral.
  • Alameda Park: one of the largest green spaces in the city from where there is a panoramic view of the Cathedral.

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

How to book a guided tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Woman seated with laptop on her legs|© Thought Catalog
Woman seated with laptop on her legs|© Thought Catalog

This complete tour available on the Hellotickets website includes the services of the guide and the entrance tickets to the Cathedral. It is available in English and Spanish and you can book it online knowing that if your plans change you can cancel 24 hours before your visit. Once you make your reservation, you will receive an email as a receipt with the meeting point to start the tour (it will always be in a central point of the city easily reachable).

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Practical information for visiting the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on your own

Main nave of the cathedral with its famous
Main nave of the cathedral with its famous "botafumeiro" (firedrum).| ©Contando Estrelas

How to get to Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela can't be missed. It is located in the center of the city and is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The city of Santiago is accessible on foot so, even if your accommodation is far from the historic center, you can probably walk there without having to look for any transport, although there is also a city bus network at your disposal.

When to go

The climate of the city is good for traveling all year round, you just have to keep in mind one thing and that is that in Galicia it rains a lot, both in summer and winter. Apart from the weather, the Cathedral is open to the public all year round, but keep in mind that if you spend Christmas in Galicia during the holidays you will find it closed.

Opening hours

Normally, the Cathedral is open from 7 am to 8:30 pm and going at one time or another will depend on whether you want to see the Cathedral without people or with the arrival of pilgrims arriving mid-morning to Santiago. What I do advise you to do is to visit it both during the day and at night because the image changes a lot.

Organization of the visit

The most important thing to know is that at the ticket office you will only be able to buy tickets to visit the museums and roofs of the Cathedral for the same day. If you arrive early you will avoid queues. On the other hand, there is no specific dress code, but remember that it is a place of worship to which many visitors have great respect.

Free entrance

You can enter the Cathedral without paying, but a complete visit also includes the ascent to the roofs, the entrance to the museums, the cloister, the Portico de la Gloria, the library or the Treasury room. For all this you will have to pay an entrance fee of approximately 15 euros.

Where to eat

In Galicia you will find excellent food and wine, but if you look for a restaurant near the Cathedral it will always be more expensive than if you walk around the center. Avoid places aimed at tourists, those that have the menu in big signs in English and go for local and small places to taste the authentic Galician cuisine. If you are going on a guided tour during your stay, don't hesitate to ask your guide for restaurant recommendations.

The best views

You will see the Cathedral from different viewpoints throughout your stay in Santiago, but one of the best views is from the Alameda Park.

A tip: if you visit the Cathedral on Friday at 19:30 you will be able to see the famous botafumeiro, one of the largest censers in the world , in action.

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

What to see in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Views of the back of the facade from the roofs of the cathedral.| ©Carlos de Paz
Views of the back of the facade from the roofs of the cathedral.| ©Carlos de Paz

If this is your first visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, you will probably be puzzled by the fact that you can enter for free even though there is a ticket office where you can buy tickets. This is because you don't have to pay to see the main nave, but you do have to pay to go up to the roof or to see the museums.

  • The main nave: free access. It is where the masses are celebrated and is the main altar of baroque style and also the famous botafumeiro, a symbol of the city. Behind the High Altar is the crypt where the remains of St. James the Apostle rest.
  • The cathedral museum: here you will find relics such as the original bells of the Berenguela tower or the original cloak of the apostle. You can also contemplate tapestries and fundamental works of art in the historical heritage of the city.
  • The Portico de la Gloria: a set of arches and sculptures in Romanesque style that is presided over by the image of Christ with the four evangelists.
  • The roofs of the Cathedral: there are a series of "passes" throughout the day to go up to the roofs of the Cathedral, so it is advisable to book tickets in advance. The views of the city that you will find from there will be one of the most beautiful images that you will take as a souvenir of Santiago de Compostela when you return from your trip.

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

If you are interested in seeing the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, you will also be interested in

Cathedrals Beach| ©Manuel Torres Gª
Cathedrals Beach| ©Manuel Torres Gª

The Cathedral is the most famous building in the whole city, but it is a mistake to think that it is the only thing the city has to offer to its visitors. Santiago de Compostela has hidden treasures in many of its streets and many times the grandeur of the Cathedral makes them go unnoticed. For this reason my recommendation is that, if you have already seen the Cathedral of Santiago, take this guided tour of the city.

With the help of a guide, you will visit the most famous places of the Galician capital while you delight in its stories. This walking tour is ideal for those who are interested not only in seeing the city but also in learning about it. If you want more information about the tour, I recommend you to read this post on Best Tours and Day Trips from Santiago de Compostela.

Book a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela