11- Try some free tapas
When you go to a bar in Santiago you can order regular tapas, as in almost everywhere in Spain, but here you normally expect your drink to come with some complimentary tapas. This tradition was born in the early 20th Century, when Santiago had an important market and fair and soon became a trademark of local bars, spreading all over Galicia. Nowadays free tapas are a big thing here and in Lugo (where they had their own fair too) but in the last decades it became popular also in other cities such as Pontevedra, A Coruña or Vigo.
Locals tend so select their favourite bars based on the free tapas they serve, because the assortment of small plates they offer may vary from some potato chips and a few olives to some Spanish tortilla, kidney stew, tripe and beans, croquettes, potato salad or stuffed squid. Some of our favourite places? Abastos 2.0, Casa Pepe, San Clemente, Café Venecia, A Moa…
12- Buy sweets and pastries at a convent wheel
In Santiago we still have many enclosed convents such as San Paio, Mercedarias, Santa Clara or El Carmen and some of them still sell pastries and artisan sweets made by the nuns, often following medieval recipes. At the San Paio wheel you can buy cookies, tarta de Santiago (an almond cake which tradition says was first baked in this convent) or order a traditional pie, such as brazo de gitano (jelly roll). At the Belvís wheel you can order almond cakes and pastries.
13- Discover the medieval aqueduct (or what’s left of it)
The Northern area of the city is surrounded by a belt of parks and green areas. Hidden in one of them, just behind some uninspiring 70’s apartment buildings, there is a section of an aqueduct, a treasure from the Middle Ages.
This monument, known as Ponte Mantible, was built by the archbishop Xelmirez in the 12th century to take fresh water from the springs on the hills at the North to the walled town and, in fact, what he did was to restore an even older aqueduct which was built probably in the Roman period or in the Early Middle Ages.
14- Follow Gigantes y Cabezudos around the old town
Gigantes y Cabezudos literally means Giants and Big Heads and they are popular characters in festivals all over Spain. In Santiago they appear on major festivities, such as Ascensión (in May) or Saint James (second half of July) and they make a burlesque parade through the streets of the old town marching and dancing amongst the crowd with their own band which is dressed in period costumes.
15- Buy a cone of roasted chestnuts
Street chestnuts roasters with their locomotive-shaped portable wood stoves are a typical Santiago scene from late October to Christmas. For a couple of euros they will give you a newspaper cone full of hot roasted chestnuts, the perfect snack for a walk around the old town or the Alameda park in a cold evening.