Compostela (Nayarit) is a small colonial-era city about 40 km inland from the Pacific Ocean in the Mexican state of Nayarit. The city is one of Mexico's Pueblos Mágicos and its best feature is its large central town square (zocalo) next to its main church (Santiago Apostol).

Understand edit

Chinesco figure found in the Compostela area, ca. 100 BC - 250 AD

The western regions of Nayarit were dominated by the Aztec (Mexica) at the time of the conquest, but they weren't the first people to live here. Historians aren't sure who the original inhabitants were, but a number of relics have been found in inland Pacific coastal areas, including a large number of ceramic figures found near Compostela. The figures date from over 2,000 years ago and are noted for having Asian facial features, giving them the popular name Chinesco. Chinesco figures are found in regional museums in Tepic, in several museums in Mexico City, and in art museums around the world.

In 1532, the town was founded as a Spanish settlement called Isabel de Avis. Eight years later, someone thought the place reminded them of a city in Spain called Santiago de Compostela, so the town was renamed Compostela. Pompous blowhard politicians later decided that the town should have a ridiculously ostenatious name that nobody would remember, so they gave it one. Unfortunately, it's so ridiculous and never, ever used, so there's no point in really mentioning it, especially since such trivia has no importance to travelers.

The town had a population just under 16,000 in 2000.

Get in edit

Map of Compostela (Nayarit)

By bus edit

From Puerto Vallarta, take a local city bus to "WalMart" where all the local combis/colectivos pick up en route to the beach towns of Nayarit. Ask the guy with the clipboard which bus will take you to Rincon de Guayabitos and La Peñita de Jaltemba (two names for essentially the same place). In La Peñita de Jaltemba, you will change to a local bus operated by Autotransportes Compostela (white bus with the word "Compostela" on the side). The ride from Rincon de Guayabitos to Compostela takes just over an hour and tickets start at M$50.

From Tepic, the Autotransportes Compostela buses depart from the main bus station. Buses depart hourly for the 50-minute ride and tickets start at M$20.

  • 1 Central Camionera (Bus Station), Hidalgo 47 norte, Santa Ana, +52 327 277 0024. Run-down very basic terminal for Autotransportes Compostela buses going to Tepic, Puerto Vallarta and other destinations in Nayarit. Buses are second-class and often old and uncomfortable.

By car edit

Compostela is 28 km due south of Tepic on federal highway MEX-200. The road is twisty in places and the ride will take about 50 minutes.

Get around edit

See edit

  • 1 Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol (St James the Apostle Church), Calle Zaragoza. Daily 06:300 - 21:30 (closed for siesta 13:00 - 15:30). Beautiful pink cantera stone church built in the 16th century with an unusually wide belfry. The interior is tastefully sparse with a small number of iconic statues, polished marble walkways, and a high bright nave.
  • 2 Casa de la Cultura Gilberto Guillermo Flores, corner of Hidalgo and Pedro Moreno, +52 327 277 1609. Daily 08:00 - 17:00. Historic home of a state legislator and former governor, now serving as a cultural center for the city with a library and other facilities. Noted for its elaborate Huichol-style murals, mostly featuring natural scenes like a deer and other animals with fanciful colors and native patterns. Free.

Do edit

Festivals edit

  • Fiestas del Señor de la Misericordia - the town's patron saint is honored each year from November 22 through the first Friday in December. Events are held each day and include regional music, dancing, food, midway rides, carnival games and fireworks.

Buy edit

Locally made handcrafts include items (other than cigars) made from dried tobacco leaves. This is a great idea because after you sweep the floor with your tobacco broom you can smoke it.

Eat edit

Istete, a traditional sweet treat in Nayarit

Although emblematic of the state, istete is hard to find today, but you may find it in local markets or restaurants serving regional dishes. It is a sweet treat with a chewy texture and is made mostly of honey with flavors of chopped nuts, guava (guayaba), vanilla, strawberries and chocolate.

  • 1 Camahuer, Benito Juárez 22, Barrio de Chila, +52 327 277 0011. W-M 07:00 - 22:00, closed Tu. Cozy traditional restaurant serving northern style grilled meats, like arrachera, as well as regional seafood specialties. Big mixed drinks. Occasional live music.
  • 2 Castillo Rojo, Leal 139, Barrio de Chila, +52 311 139 8696. Th-Su 13:00 - 00:00, closed M-W. Friendly casual restaurant with an international menu that includes pastas, burgers, baby back ribs, and seafood. Local craft beers available. M$250.
  • 3 Tacos de Canasta, Jiménez 314, Santa Ana, +52 327 277 2324. M-Sa 07:00 - 14:00, closed Su. Basket tacos are a favorite in this part of Nayarit and Tacos de Canasta serves up cheap eats for the local community (typically 4 tacos for under M$20). M$20.

Drink edit

Sleep edit

  • 1 Hotel Plaza de Compostela, Calle Miguel Hidalgo Norte 9, Santa Ana, +52 327 277 0064. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Moderate hotel with clean, spacious rooms. Good location across the street from main plaza. Off-street parking.
  • 2 Hotel Nayar, Pedro Moreno 58, Guayabal, +52 327 277 4131. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Basic accomodations with no frills or extras. Rooms are small and not much more than a bed and a bathroom (without a door). Okay for budget travel. M$600.
  • 3 Hotel Akawe, Wenceslao Sandoval 261, Col del Bosque, +52 327 121 7099. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Upscale hotel with very large, clean, well furnished rooms and friendly service. On-site restaurant serves traditional Mexican breakfast. M$1400.
  • 4 Jardin de Estrellas, Calle Toluca 341, Librado Rivera, +52 327 688 1819. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Comfortable hotel on the outskirts of town. Rooms are set up like cabanas and have good privacy. Rooms are spacious and clean. Outdoor gardens with walkways and a large outdoor swimming pool.

Connect edit

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This city travel guide to Compostela is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.