Arriving Santiago de Compostela. What to do now?
There are some things to think when arriving Santiago:
- Where is the pilgrim’s reception center?
- Where to stay?
- Rites of the pilgrims
- What to visit?
- Where to eat?
Most of the people that arrive Santiago don’t stay longer than 24h-48h in the city. I’m no exception. I arrived Santiago near 1p.m and i left Santiago in the following day at 4p.m. The time to do something in the city has to be well organized. In 2014, i did the pilgrimage for the first time and in 2015 i did it for the second time. In 2016, i was doing the Camino Inglés in june and the Portuguese Path in october. I went Santiago 2 times in 2016. From my previous experience i had organized me better than in previous visits.
I recommend you find a place, then go to the pilgrim’s reception center, then the pilgrim’s mass, dinner and “night out” activities. The following day, souvenirs and other visits.
Where is the pilgrim’s reception center?
The pilgrim’s reception center has moved in the end of 2015 and it’s now located near the San Francisco church, at around 5min (or less) walking from the Santiago Cathedral. The Oficina de Acollida ao Peregrino is located in Rúa das Carretas, 33. Here you can buy your distance “diploma” for €3 or just receive your free “Compostela”, that is a document that certifies you have ended your Camino/ path/ way/ journey.
In this Camino i had to wait around 2 hours due to the large number of people doing the same thing. In 2014, i took around 1,5 hours also, but in 2015 i waited less than 30 minutes. So, it depends a lot of the season and also the hour of the day you are going there.
Some images of my 2014 and 2015 visit to the pilgrim’s center.
Where to stay?
You can stay wherever you like of course! I always stay in the Albergue Seminario Menor. It has good conditions and has a nice price. You also can book on internet, for example in Booking.com. It is around 1km from Santiago de Compostela Cathedral so you can walk there easily. In front of Seminario Menor you have a big and peaceful public garden where you can rest if you like.
Rites of the pilgrims
Some of the rites of the pilgrims include:
- Pilgrim’s mass
- Embrace the apostle
- Veneratin of the sepulchre of the apostle Saint James
- “The pilgrim’s shadow” (only seen at night) in the Praza da Quintana (just near the Platerías entrance)
Pilgrim’s mass is at 12p.m. and at 7.30p.m. Sometimes you can see the Botafumeiro.
What to visit?
You can visit the Cathedral. There are several tours you can do. Till now, i haven’t done any. In this year, i walked around the city to see the major monuments and gardens and some main streets.
Where to eat?
You have plenty of places to eat. The most well-known place is called “Casa Manolo” – located near the Cathedral. For €10 you can eat 2 dishes + 1 water + desert + coffee. It is nice. However, in the second time i went to Santiago in 2016 (in october) i couldn’t eat so much. Also, i discovered other places where you can eat at the same price, and also the same quantities. It is near the Porta do Camiño, in the Rúa de San Pedro. Also, i like the Agarimo bar, located just in front of Casa Manolo. Nice environment.
Ok. Now. Let’s talk about one thing that most people don’t know. But i have to alert you from some aspects.
You can eat freely in the 5 star Hotel – “Hostal dos Reis” that is located in the Praza do Obradoiro, just next to the Santiago Cathedral. They offer 10 meals for pilgrims at 9a.m, 12p.m (midday). and 7p.m. You just have to be in the first 10 persons to arrive 30minutes before this time. In this journey i had a breakfast in this Hostal. However, i must alert you that people mistreat pilgrims (they will not offend you directly, but they aren’t nice) which obliged me to complaint to the Spanish tourism authorities in october (when i went there for the second time). They simply don’t follow any of the regulations that are publicly exposed at the entrance. It’s a nice experience, but probably i won’t repeat it again.
Several other pictures of the visit to Santiago.
Location of the train and bus stations
The train station is closer to the Cathedral than the bus station. In general, you will take around 30minutes walking from the bus station to the Cathedral.