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Things to do in Santiago de Compostela

All roads lead to Santiago de Compostela 

One of the world's most celebrated and trodden pilgrimages, Camino de Santiago concludes at the city's magnificent cathedral. Those who tackle the whole route take a month, but for walkers who wish to hike smaller sections, the final 100km (62-mile) walk from Lugo is a delightful stretch.

Give in to the allure of a scuba dive

For some divers, knowing they're within reach of the sea can mean they find the allure of the water too hard to resist. Luckily, Santiago de Compostela is a short drive from the shoreline and the Portosub Diving Centre (tel: +34 607 083 551; www.portosub.es) is an established dive school that offers training courses and excursions to some brilliant dive spots.

Kayak down the Ladra River

After all that walking, give your legs a rest and instead work those arms. An hour's drive east of the city, Non Estreses (tel: +34 607 649 651; www.nonestreses.com) gives those of an adventurous mind the chance to paddle down the Ladra River. There are three different routes on offer; the shortest is ideal for families.

Practice your swing under bright blue skies

Spain is one of Europe's premier golfing destinations and is surrounded by miles of green countryside; Santiago de Compostela is a great place to play 18 holes. Challenge yourself on its newest course, Real Aéro Club de Santiago (tel: +34 981 954 911; http://aerosantiago.es) and when you're done enjoy a drink in its modern, glass and concrete cube clubhouse.

Take the weight off at the beach

Take some time out and spend a day on the beach. Galicia's coastline features dramatic rock formations, long stretches of sandy beaches and plenty of refreshing dips. One of the most striking is Playa de Aguas Santas. Located just over one and a half hour's drive north, it features 32m (105ft) high wind-sculpted cliffs.

Featured Hotels

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Hostal Alfonso

Close to Santiago de Compostela's city centre, this small hostal makes a big impression. Run by a husband and wife team, Alfonso has a quaint family atmosphere, with cosy rooms and friendly service. The proprietors have even written their own fantastic guide to sights and anecdotes of the Old Town that the guidebooks have missed (sadly in Spanish only). There are only six rooms here (all en suite and with TV) so book well in advance. Ask for the top floor room with the cathedral view, it's remarkable, especially at night. Breakfast is included.

Hostal Suso

This popular old-town spot sees budget travellers delighted with its hospitable management and cheap, great-value en-suite rooms with plenty of space. Downstairs is a lively café where pilgrims rest their Camino-weary legs.

San Francisco Hotel Monumento

Located in the Franciscan convent of San Francisco, this is an excellent luxury parador-style alternative to Reis Católicos, with the added bonus of being set back from the main touristic thoroughfare. This UNESCO listed building has a heated pool and Jacuzzi, while the 82 rooms are air conditioned, decked out in plush bed linens and furnishings, and offer room service in addition to the a la carte restaurant on site.

Hotel Virxe da Cerca

Set in two buildings next to Plaza de Abastos Market and close to the Cathedral, this characterful hotel has an intimate, classy feel. Rooms in the modern building overlook a private courtyard garden, and upgraded rooms set in an 18th century building feature exposed stone walls and traditional furnishings. The restaurant serves traditional Galician cuisine.

Hotel Costa Vella

Located in a quiet street above the Convento de San Francisco, close to one of the seven doors leading into the old medieval city, this small, charming hotel in Santiago boasts comfy, cosy bedrooms and a peaceful garden. A real Galician home from home, you will feel warmly welcomed here. Costa Vella represents excellent value for money and is thoroughly recommended.

Hotel Parador dos Reis Católicos

This magnificent Santiago hotel, one of the best in the country, is located in the heart of the city, right on the Praza do Obradoiro, between Santiago's splendid cathedral and the Galician president's headquarters. Beautiful rooms (each individually decorated with period furniture and fine fabrics), great facilities and exquisite service will make you feel you're being treated like royalty.