San Fernando Cathedral

#3 in Best Things To Do in San Antonio
San Fernando Cathedral picture1 of 3
San Fernando Cathedral2 of 3
Derek Slagle/Getty Images

Key Info

115 Main Plaza

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Churches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

If you're touring San Antonio, the San Fernando Cathedral is hard to miss. Still an active house of worship, the cathedral is one of the oldest in the country, constructed in 1738 by colonists from the Canary Islands. It was here that Wild West legend James Bowie was married and that General Antonio López de Santa Anna indicated his plans for the Alamo. Some believe that many heroes from the Alamo (including Davy Crockett) are buried here in an unmarked tomb. And despite enduring damage from a fire in the late 19th century, the San Fernando Cathedral maintains its antique appearance, beckoning you to tour its breathtaking interior.

While the interior is open during the day, recent travelers insist that you visit the church at night to take advantage of the free light show. Every Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9, 9:30 and 10 p.m., entrancing images are projected onto the building facade, delighting past visitors to San Antonio. You'll want to double-check the Main Plaza website to make sure the show is occurring.

The San Fernando Cathedral dominates downtown San Antonio, standing proudly across the street from the Spanish Governor's Palace. Several bus lines serve the nearby plaza; visitors with cars can park in a garage or lot nearby. The cathedral is open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Entry is free, but it's a good idea to check the San Fernando Cathedral website to avoid interrupting Mass.

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More Best Things To Do in San Antonio

Brackenridge Park1 of 15
The Alamo2 of 15
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Brackenridge Park

When the River Walk seems too busy, seek refuge from the heat and the swarms of tourists in Brackenridge Park. Its 343 acres offer much in the way of relaxation: rustic stone bridges and shaded walkways are perfect for strolling, and the Japanese Tea Garden and San Antonio Botanical Garden beckon to botanists. Dress casual so you can take advantage of Brackenridge's jogging trails, golf course and athletic fields. The park also hosts outdoor concerts in the natural Sunken Garden Theater. In and around the park, you'll also find popular attractions like the San Antonio Zoo and the Witte Museum.

Past visitors appreciated the park's train, which runs through the zoo and offers an excellent opportunity to get around the large area. They also recommend bringing some bird seed to feed the ducks that float down the San Antonio River.

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