Santiago de Compostela has been a famous pilgrimage destination for more than seven centuries. For travelers who prefer to arrive by train rather than on foot, the city has fast rail connections with Madrid, thanks to the AVE high-speed rail line which has cut journey times from the capital to the Galician city. The station in Santiago also offers frequent connections from other cities in Galicia, A Coruna in the north and Vigo in the south, with some services operating from across the border in Portugal.
The rail station in Santiago de Compostela is about a mile south of the historic center, with regular C2 bus services operating from immediately outside offering connections around the city. Passenger facilities at the station include a cafe-restaurant, news vendor, and taxi stands, with a wide variety of shops and bars within a couple of minutes' walk from the station.
The Spanish national rail operator Renfe provides all the direct and indirect trains to Santiago de Compostela. The advent of the AVE high-speed line from the capital has made it possible to reach Santiago in just over five hours, with three direct and eight slower indirect services daily. Renfe also operates Avant express services to Santiago from A Coruna and Vigo and slower Regional services from Ourense and Lugo.
The scenic journey from Madrid is an attractive alternative to a flight, particularly with fast and comfortable high-speed AVE trains. In Galicia, train services to Santiago are a convenient way of seeing the major cities of the region, and some attractive coastal resorts such as Vilagarcia De Arousa. With routes south to Porto, it is even possible to plan a rail trip over the border to northern Portugal.
Although it's best-known as a religious pilgrimage destination, Santiago de Compostela is also a favorite city for gourmets. The regional dish is octopus with paprika and potato but other local delicacies include green Padron peppers and gooseneck barnacles. The city's compact size means it is easy to hop around Santiago's restaurants and tapas bars using buses that offer several routes around the historic center.