A Travel Price Comparison for Spain Santiago de Compostela vs. Madrid for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Santiago de Compostela or Madrid? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is a iconic, historic, and religious city. It's a gorgeous place to visit. Other reasons to visit include nightlife, food, and hiking.

Madrid

Madrid is a compact, friendly, and authentic city. With plenty of activities and things to do, it's a huge city that draws plenty of visitors. And you can't forget about the food, shopping, and museums.

Santiago de Compostela and Madrid: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Home to the Cathedral of Santiago
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for students
  • Public transit not as usable
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
  • Big city activities
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Santiago de Compostela than Madrid. While Madrid is larger than Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela has more sights and attractions for tourists. Santiago de Compostela is very popular for its museums, historical sights, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Madrid attracts visitors for its food, music, shopping, and big city activities. Santiago de Compostela is more touristy than Madrid and is popular for its classic old town, its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture, and its significance as the culmination point for the Camino de Santiago. It is also well known for the Cathedral of Santiago. Madrid is famous for its art and architecture, its tapas and culinary scene, and its lively flamenco dancing.

How is Santiago de Compostela different from Madrid?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Madrid and Santiago de Compostela. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Santiago de Compostela is renowned for its historical sights. Also, Madrid is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its sights and museums.

Travelers visit Santiago de Compostela from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. The iconic Cathedral of Santiago has long attracted pilgrims and travelers from around Europe and the world. The spectacular sight includes a museum and the crypt and tomb of Saint James. Another interesting sight in town is the former hostel for pilgrims, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. Also make sure you visit Plaza del Obradoiro and the Galician Center of Contemporary Art.

Madrid offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are a number of cultural sights in the city including Museo Nacional del Prado, the Royal Palace and Gardens, and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.


Is the Food Better in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for its restaurant scene. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for its local flavors and cuisine.

For foodies, Madrid is an obvious choice, as it is one of the food capitals of the world. The city has a mix of flavors that come from all of Spain. There are amazing markets where you can grab a meal or snack. There are also many high quality restaurants around town where you're guaranteed a good meal. Local favorites include roast suckling pig, Spanish omelette, and meat and chickpea stew.

Santiago de Compostela has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Galician food has plenty of fresh seafood, lots of local beef, and regional vegetables that are seasonal and locally grown. Make sure you try the polbo á feira (boiled octopus), pimientos de padrón (fried green peppers), and steamed mussels.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Nightlife?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Party-goers will find similar levels of energy in Santiago de Compostela and Madrid.

Santiago de Compostela is a popular destination for visitors looking to party into the night. As a university city, much of the nightlife is created by the student population. You'll find a lot of bars around Rúa de Santiago de Chile and Rúa de San Pedro de Mezonzo as well as along Rúa do Franco.

Many people head to Madrid for the nightlife scene. Many tourists and international students hang out in the Huertas area, while Malasaña has a bohemian, hipster vibe with small clubs that play indie music. Chueca is a fun area that's known for being gay-friendly with many good bars. Finally, you'll find that the area around Avenida de Brasil is where famous DJs often perform.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Music?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for its live music scene. However, Santiago de Compostela is not a live music destination.

Live music, and music in many other forms, is everyone in Madrid Rock, jazz, and flamenco are all popular in the city. Some of the most well known music venues include Sala Caracol, Sala Clamores, and Costello Club.

Santiago de Compostela is not a live music destination.


Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for its Old Town?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Santiago de Compostela is renowned for its historic old town. However, Madrid does not have a historic old town.

The old town of Santiago de Compostela is one of the most recognized in the world. The old town reflects the city's importance in the Christian religion. There are Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings that draw Christian pilgrims from around the world.

Madrid does not have a historic old town.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Hiking?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Santiago de Compostela is renowned for hiking. However, Madrid is not a hiking destination.

Around Santiago de Compostela visitors will find world-class hiking trails. This small city is the culmination point for the famed Camino de Santiago. The 780 kilometer route is followed by pilgrims and travelers who seek enlightenment or adventure. Hikers travel both independently or as part of organized tours.

Madrid is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for its shopping opportunities. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for its shopping areas.

The abundance of shops in Madrid make it a world-class shopping destination. Gran Vía is a main thoroughfare in Madrid that is also popular for shopping. Calle Fuencarral is where you'll find the fashion shops and Calle Preciados is a fun pedestrian area to explore.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Santiago de Compostela. There are local markets, souvenir shops, and boutiques where you can buy items to commemorate the completion of your hike or your visit to town.


Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Families?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is well known for its family-friendly activities. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Madrid is a very kid-friendly city. Kids love splashing around at Madrid Río, taking a ride on the cable car (Teleférico), and exploring the city's many parks and playgrounds. There's even a maze at Sabatini Gardens. Restaurants around the city are also very kid-friendly.

Santiago de Compostela offers lots of family activities. The city has a sightseeing train as well as parks and playgrounds that kids can enjoy. A visit to the Museum of the Galician People is also fascinating for the whole family. Visiting the colorful markets around town is fun as well.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Couples?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is well known for its romantic activities. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for couples.

Couples visit Madrid frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Fun and romantic activities around town include taking a boat ride at Casa de Campo, riding a bike in one of the many parks, and enjoy dinner and show in the evening.

Santiago de Compostela is a good city for couples to visit. The cobblestone streets and beautiful gardens make this a nice place for a couple's getaway. There are viewpoints that look out over the town as well as interesting buildings and great architecture.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Santiago de Compostela and Madrid are excellent places to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Santiago de Compostela is a great city to visit for backpackers. Backpackers hiking the Camino del Santiago will be rewarded with a beautiful city and many nice sights. There are plenty of hostels around town where backpackers can meet other travelers and swap stories.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Madrid. The many hostels around town make it easy for backpackers to find affordable accommodation while also meeting other travelers.


Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Students?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for students. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for its student-friendly activities.

Many students frequent Madrid. With several great universities, this city is popular with international and study abroad students. The city also has a diverse population and an active nightlife that appeals to students.

It's common for students to visit Santiago de Compostela. It's a small city with many students during the week, but on weekends it quiets down as many students leave town.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for its public transit. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for times when you don't have a car.

The thorough and effecient public transit system of Madrid can take you anywhere. The system includes the Madrid Metro, buses, and a light rail system.

While Santiago de Compostela offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are buses around town that are operated by Tralusa.

Is Santiago de Compostela or Madrid a more walkable city?

Santiago de Compostela
Madrid

Madrid is terrific for its high level of walkability. Also, Santiago de Compostela is still popular, but not quite as popular for its ease of walking around.

Getting around Madrid on foot is easy. Most tourists stay in the central part of Madrid where it's compact and relatively easy to walk to most tourist sights.

Santiago de Compostela is a very walkable destination. Many visitors reach the city on foot by doing the pilgrimage of the Camino del Santiago. The city itself and small and fairly walkable as well.


For even more information, also check out Is Santiago de Compostela Worth Visiting? and Is Madrid Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Madrid or Santiago de Compostela?

How long in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

In either Santiago de Compostela or Madrid, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Madrid than Santiago de Compostela because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Santiago de Compostela, and 2-5 days is enough time in Madrid.

Families should spend more time in Madrid than Santiago de Compostela. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Madrid, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Madrid than Santiago de Compostela. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Madrid that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Madrid than Santiago de Compostela if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Madrid.


  • How many days in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid? Ideal Length of Stay
    Santiago de Compostela 1-2 
    Madrid 2-5

One day in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Santiago de Compostela. Hikers are also drawn to this area. One day is often enough time to do most activities.

Madrid is a big city with plenty to do. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Santiago de Compostela is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Madrid is a big city with plenty to do. This city offers something for everyone. It is common to spend a weekend here. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Santiago de Compostela. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Madrid. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.


A week in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the religious destination of Santiago de Compostela. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Madrid is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the live music and food when visiting the big city destination of Madrid. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 3-Week Tours in Spain, The Best Bicycle Tours in Spain, The Best Adventure Tours to Spain, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in Spain.


Which place is cheaper, Madrid or Santiago de Compostela?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Santiago de Compostela is €91, while the average daily cost in Madrid is €136. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Santiago de Compostela and Madrid in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Santiago de Compostela 37
    Madrid 77
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Santiago de Compostela 74
    Madrid 154
Compare Hotels in Santiago de Compostela and Madrid

Looking for a hotel in Santiago de Compostela or Madrid? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Santiago de Compostela


Hotels in Madrid


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Santiago de Compostela Hotel Prices and Madrid Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Santiago de Compostela 38
    Madrid 19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santiago de Compostela

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Santiago de Compostela:

  • Private Transfer from Santiago de Compostela to Oporto: $191
  • Santiago de Compostela Private Transfer to SCQ Airport by Van: $91
  • Private Transfer from Santiago Airport (SCQ) to La Coruna Port: $73
  • Airport transfer Santiago de Compostela: $71
  • Santiago de Compostela Private Transfer from the city centre to SCQ Airport: $52
  • Santiago de Compostela Private Transfer from SCQ Airport to City centre: $52
  • Santiago de Compostela Private Transfer from the city centre to SCQ Airport: $52
  • Departure Private Transfer Santiago de Compostela to SCQ Airport by Business Car: $39

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Madrid

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Madrid are as follows:


  • Taxi Ride
    26

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Madrid

Also for Madrid, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Madrid Airport MAD Round-Trip Transfer in Private Van: $176
  • Alcobendas Private Transfer To Madrid Barajas Airport: $27
  • Arrival Transfer Madrid Airport MAD to Avila City by Sedan: $233
  • Arrival Transfer from Bologna Airport BLQ to Bologna City by Van: $78
  • Arrival Transfer from Madrid Airport MAD to Madrid in Private Car: $82
  • Departure Transfer from Madrid to Madrid Airport MAD in Private Car: $82
  • Departure Transfer from Madrid to Madrid Airport MAD in Private Van: $89
  • Departure Transfer: Madrid to Madrid Airport MAD in Business Car: $82
  • Departure Transfer: Madrid to Madrid Airport MAD in Luxury Van: $89
  • From Madrid Airport: 1-Way Private Hotel Transfer: $81
  • From Hot Air Balloon over Segovia with Transfer: $265
  • Madrid Airport (MAD) to Madrid - Arrival Private Transfer: $61

Is it cheaper to fly into Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Prices for flights to both Madrid and Santiago de Compostela change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Santiago de Compostela 19
    Madrid 34
Typical Food Prices in Santiago de Compostela

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Santiago de Compostela:


  • Raspberries
    3.50
  • Ice Cream
    2.00
  • Cookie
    1.00
  • Kebab
    7.25
  • Dinner & Tapas (for 2)
    28
  • Tuna Empanada
    3.50
  • Fruit Shake
    3.50
  • Crepe
    4.00

Typical Food Prices in Madrid

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Madrid:


  • Coffee
    2.00
  • Ice Cream
    3.00
  • Kebabs (for 2)
    16
  • Croissant
    1.50
  • Lunch at Airport (for 2)
    16

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Madrid

For Madrid, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Flamenco Show with dinner, drinks and optional class: $38
  • Drunken Tapas Food Tour with Dinner in Madrid: $57
  • Tapas Dinner Party Food Tour with Guide: $57
  • Tapas Crawl Food Tour with 6 Tapas and 4 Drinks: $57
  • Madrid Tipsy Tapas Guided Food Tour with Dinner: $57
  • Authentic Morning Food Tour: $59
  • Dinner-Show La Circa de Marta Cariño! en el centro de Madrid: $60
  • Tipsy Tapas Food Tour with Drinks and Food: $61
  • Opera and Zarzuela Show and Dinner: $62
  • Iberico Ham and Spanish Wine Small-Group Food Tour: $64
  • Tapas Crawl in Madrid Historical Quarter for Lunch or Dinner: $64
  • San Miguel Market and Street Food Tour: $64

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Santiago de Compostela 39
    Madrid 34

Tours and Activities in Santiago de Compostela

Here are a few actual costs in Santiago de Compostela for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 5-day Private Tour Northern Spain (from Bilbao or Santiago): $5,347
  • Christmas Enchantment: Walking Tour in Compostela: $463
  • Complete Santiago Tour with tickets- Full experience in 4H: $49
  • Essential Walking Tour through the Emblematic Places of Santiago: $32
  • Excursion to Finisterre, Muxia and Cabo Vilan With Boat Cruise : $60
  • Exploration of Compostela Walking Tour for Families: $355
  • Exploring Santiago de Compostela Walking Tour for Couples: $355
  • Exploring Santiago de Compostela Walking Tour for Couples : $182
  • Finisterre y Costa da Morte el tour más completo desde Santiago: $54
  • From Santiago: Finisterre Lighthouse Sunset Tour: $37
  • From Santiago: Fuciño do Porco Hiking Tour: $81
  • From Santiago: Rías Baixas Galicia Seafood & Wine Day Tour: $59

Tours and Activities in Madrid

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Madrid.

  • Old Town Guided Walking Tour: $1.08
  • Madrid Essential: Free Walking City Tour: $1.08
  • Tour Retiro Park - Madrid self-guided tour app: $2.16
  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.24
  • Self Guided Tours Madrid With 100 Captivating Audio Stories: $3.32
  • Guided tour of the Madrid of spies: $3.33
  • App self-guided: Tour Madrid Spain: $4.32
  • Escape Game and Tour: $4.32
  • History & Culture Guided Walking Tour: $5.40
  • Mapfre Foundation Entry Ticket: $5.40
  • Madrid Old Town & Hidden Gems Walking Tour: $5.40
  • Marvels of Madrid Walking Tour: $5.40

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Santiago de Compostela 23
    Madrid 20
Typical Alcohol Prices in Santiago de Compostela

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Santiago de Compostela from other travelers:


  • 1 Pint Beer
    2.00

Sample the Local Flavors in Santiago de Compostela

Also in Santiago de Compostela, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Albariño Wine Tasting with Winery Tour: $25
  • Cheese and Wine Tasting Experience: $31
  • Cheese and Wine Tasting Experience: $32

Typical Alcohol Prices in Madrid

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Madrid are as follows:


  • Beer
    5.00
  • Drinks and Tapas (for 2)
    13

Sample the Local Flavors in Madrid

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Madrid:

  • Pub Crawl Madrid Erasmus & International Meet and Party: $6.05
  • Erasmus Madrid Pub Crawl Madrid: $8.88
  • Original Pub Crawl With VIP Club Entry: $9.72
  • Visit to the Winery with Wine Tasting and Appetizers in Navarra: $12
  • Pub Crawl Madrid's Night time: $15
  • Guided Bar Crawl with Drinks and Nightclub Entry: $16
  • Pub Crawl Madrid Running since 2005 Bar Exploration: $16
  • Guided Pub Crawl Madrid Experience and Club Entry: $16
  • Pub Crawl Madrid & Party: $17
  • Pub Crawl Madrid: $19
  • Wine Tasting Experience with 4 Spanish Wines: $32
  • Wine Tour with tasting in the Natural Park of La Mata: $38


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Santiago de Compostela and Madrid, we can see that Madrid is more expensive. And not only is Santiago de Compostela much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santiago de Compostela would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santiago de Compostela and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Madrid would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Madrid than you might in Santiago de Compostela.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Santiago de Compostela Expensive? and Is Madrid Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Santiago de Compostela or Madrid?

Madrid has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Santiago de Compostela. When comparing the sizes of Santiago de Compostela and Madrid, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.