Santiago de Compostela
Good taste has never been in short supply in Spain, but as the capital of the food-rich region of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela is well regarded has having some of the best in the world. As the ultimate foodie paradise Santiago is the perfect place to settle down and un-wind off the beaten track while you sample some of Spain’s finest delicacies.
From simple, comfortable lodgings perfect for exhausted pilgrims fresh off St James’ Way to modern international brands, Santiago has a wide choice of places to bed down for the night. Hotel Altaïr (Rúa Loureiros 12), a classy three-star hotel in the historical core, combines old stone exteriors with modern décor. The vast San Francisco Hotel Monumento (Campillo de San Francisco 3) in the Old Town’s Val de Dios neighbourhood offers luxurious accommodation amongst expansive gardens, while Parador Hostal dos Reis Católicos (Praza do Obradoiro 1) boasts similar opulent furnishings a few steps from the cathedral.
The Old Town is home to small shops selling everything from religious souvenirs, lace and metalwork to the latest in fashion. These shops are spread around the areas surrounding the cathedral, in particular Rúa Nova and Rúa Villar. El Corte Inglés (Rúa do Restollal 50), within the Compostela shopping centre, is a wide-ranging department store offering big names in clothes and design. For unique items, head to the daily Hippy Market on Rúa Nova, or hunt down bargains at the antiques markets on Praza de Cervantes on Thursdays and Rúa do Franco on Saturdays. Foodies should wander around the imposing Mercado de Abastos (Rúa Améas), a stone edifice that’s filled with stalls stocked with tasty Galician eats.
As the capital of the food-rich region of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela’s cuisine is crammed with fresh local produce, from the moreish pimientos de Padrón (lightly fried small peppers) to zarzuela (fish stew) and pulpo a la Gallega (Galician-style octopus). These delicacies are usually washed down with Albariño wines from the coastal Rías Baixas area. Among the best purveyors of this cuisine in the city is O Dezaseis (Rúa de San Pedro 16), which serves tasty dishes in an atmospheric stone-clad room. Abastos 2.0 (Casetas 13-18 do Plaza de Abastos), just outside the Mercado de Abastos, conjures up small plates from market-fresh produce, while A Taberna Do Bispo (Rúa do Franco 37) is a good place for a friendly beer and a few plates of tapas.
This fun-filled festival, known as O Antroido, sees floats and flamboyantly dressed locals let their hair down during parades and events in the city. As with many local festivities, food also plays a key role.
Holy Week is characterised by processions, fireworks and feasts at various parts of the city during the build up to Easter Sunday. Different brotherhoods dress in traditional attire during the parades, creating a slightly eerie feel.
Feria del Ganado
This 10-day festival celebrates the region’s Celtic roots through an abundance of folk music and dance performances. There’s also a chance to try local Galician delicacies such as empanada (savoury filled pastry).
Santiago de Compostela International Short Film Festival
The city’s spotlight turns to the big screen for a week-long focus on regional, national and international short film. Highlights of the festival include open-air screenings, workshops and lectures.
St James’ Day
Pilgrims converge on Plaza del Obradoiro after a tiring walk along St James’ Way to pay homage to the saint, whose remains are thought to be buried in the city. Incense, Galician music and fireworks fill the air during the busy day.