The Old City of Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. If you love history, culture, and architecture, visiting Salamanca is a must. I visited the city of Salamanca on my Camino de Santiago Via de La Plata hike. If you are thinking of visiting Salamanca Spain, I wholeheartedly recommend seeing this incredible city.
- TRAVEL GUIDE TO SALAMANCA SPAIN
- What is Salamanca famous for
- Where is Salamanca
- The 18 Best Things do in Salamanca Spain
- 1. Explore the Old City of Salamanca
- 2. Enjoy the Plaza Mayor
- 3. Visit Salamanca Cathedral(s)
- 4. Visit Salamanca University
- 5. Find Salmanca Frog
- 6. Search for Salamanca Astronaut
- 7. Look for Salamanca Dragon with ice cream
- 8. Visit Casa de las Conchas
- 9. See San Esteban Convento
- 10. Walk the Roman Bridge in Salamanca
- 11. Go to Casa Lis
- 12. Try Hornazo de Salamanca
- 13. Taste perrunillas
- 14. Get yourself a Paloma de Salamanca
- 15. Start walking CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
- 16. Celebrate the Holy Week in Salamanca
- 17. Take a day trip to Avila from Salamanca
- 18. Visit Zamora from Salamanca
- Where to stay in Salamanca Spain
- How to visit Salamanca from Madrid
- Best time to visit Salamanca Spain
TRAVEL GUIDE TO SALAMANCA SPAIN
Are you planning a trip to Salamanca last minute?
If you are traveling to Salamanca last minute, I prepared for you a short summary of the best tours in Salamanca, the best hotels in Salamanca, and more!
BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN SALAMANCA:
Madrid: Tour of Avila & Salamanca (the most popular day tour from Madrid)
Salamanca: Private Tour with a Local (the most popular guided tour)
BEST HOTELS IN SALAMANCA:
Hospes Palacio de San Esteban (luxury)
Soho Boutique Salamanca (mid-range)
Hotel Reyes Catolicos (budget)
Interested in a traveling accessories list? Read The Most Useful Things for Traveling
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Mesmerizing Salamanca is nicknamed La Dorada (the Golden City) for its sandstone buildings that spectacularly shine in the sunlight.
Salamanca is one of the most important historic cities in Spain. Celts founded Salamanca, while Carthaginians, Romans, and Moors ruled the city for some time. Historic Salamanca had a strategic position on Via de la Plata route from Merida to Astorga in Roman times.
Besides that, Salamanca is one of Europe’s most famous university cities. The University of Salamanca is the oldest university in Spain. It attracts students from all over the world.
Salamanca Spain is a vibrant university city of rich historical and cultural heritage.
Like nearby Avila, Salamanca is a gorgeous World Heritage City in the Castile and Leon region in Spain.
What is Salamanca famous for
Salamanca is famous for its rich cultural and historical heritage, the University of Salamanca (the second oldest university in Europe, after Bologna in Italy), and extraordinary Baroque and Churrigueresque (Ultra Baroque) architecture. The Old City of Salamanca, Spain is a World Heritage City.
Where is Salamanca
Salamanca is in the Castile and Leon (Castilla y León) region in western Spain.
Salamanca is close to Madrid. The City of Salamanca is 132 mi (214 km) northwest of Madrid.
Madrid-Barajas International Airport is the closest international airport to Salamanca. It takes about 2 hours and 50 min by train to reach Salamanca from Madrid. A bus ride from Madrid to Avila lasts about 2 hours and 30 min.
Salamanca makes a perfect day trip from Madrid. However, 2 days in Salamanca would be perfect to see all the main sites. Therefore, Salamanca is a perfect weekend gateway from Madrid too.
There’s also Salamanca Airport (SLM). But it is a domestic airport that connects only Salamanca and Palma de Mallorca. A flight between Salamanca and Palma de Mallorca takes an hour and a half.
The 18 Best Things do in Salamanca Spain
What to do in Salamanca and what to see in Salamanca Spain
Things to do in Salamanca
1. Explore the Old City of Salamanca
The Old City of Salamanca is a World Heritage Site.
Gold-shimmering Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. The historic center of Salamanca has some of the most outstanding Romanesque, Gothic, Moorish, Renaissance, Baroque, and Churrigueresque (Ultra Baroque) monuments in Spain.
The most important sites of the old city are the Old and the New Cathedrals, Plaza Mayor, San Marcos church, the Monterrey Palaces, buildings of the Salamanca University, and the San Esteban convent.
Strolling the streets of the Old City of Salamanca looks like traveling back in time.
2. Enjoy the Plaza Mayor
The Main Square (Plaza Mayor) is the heart of Salamanca.
Plaza Mayor is the main square in Salamanca. It is one of the most beautiful main squares in Spain, possibly only surpassed by the beauty of Plaza Espana in Seville.
The Plaza Mayor was built in the Baroque style in the 18th century. Actually, the Plaza Mayor belongs to the Churrigueresque (Ultra Baroque) architecture. An interesting fact is that the square served as a bullfighting arena until the mid-1900s.
Numerous bars, restaurants, galleries, stores, and small shops at the Plaza Mayor are the favorite meeting spot of Salamantinos (people from Salamanca).
3. Visit Salamanca Cathedral(s)
The Cathedral of Salamanca is a unique cathedral that actually consists of two cathedrals: the New Cathedral and the Old Cathedral.
The Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja de Salamanca) was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. And the New Cathedral (Cathedral Nueva de Salamanca) from the 16th -18th century. The New Cathedral adjoins the Old Cathedral.
The Salamanca Cathedral is a Romanesque-Gothic cathedral with Baroque and Plateresque (a mix of Mudejar, Flamboyant Gothic, Lombard, and Tuscan Renaissance) elements.
The Cathedral in Salamanca Spain is one o the most beautiful European cathedrals.
4. Visit Salamanca University
Salamanca is a famous university city in Spain.
Salamanca university was founded in 1130. It is the oldest university in Spain and the second oldest university in Europe.
The University of Salamanca was one of the first Catholic universities in Europe, along with Bologna and Oxford.
The School of Salamanca has been one of the most notable educational and intellectual European centers since Renessainnce. The motto of the university is ‘The principles of all sciences are thought in Salamanca’.
It is worth noting that Christoper Columbus defended his expeditions of discovering the ‘New World’ at the University of Salamanca in the 15th century. (Christopher Columbus departed from Seville with the mission of discovering the New World. Today visitors can visit his tomb in the Cathedral of Seville. READ Best things to do in Seville Spain)
Salamanca is arguably the best place in Spain to take Spanish language classes and learn Spanish.
5. Find Salmanca Frog
The frog is a symbol of Salamanca and a popular good luck talisman from Salamanca.
A figure of a small frog is a famous tourist attraction in Salamanca. The emblematic tiny frog that sits on a scull is a decorative element on the facade of Salamanca University.
There are many legends about the meaning and origin of the frog. There are all debatable.
However, there is a centuries-old tradition of searching for the enigmatic frog among Salamanca students. A legend says that those who find the frog will pass all the exams.
The tiny frog is carved into the stone facade of the main building of Salamanca University. It is above La Puerta de Salamanca, the main entrance of Salamanca University.
Spotting the frog figure is one of the most popular things to do in Salamanca. It is equally popular among students and tourists.
So, go frog hunting when in Salamanca. But keep in mind, it’s not an easy task!
6. Search for Salamanca Astronaut
Salamanca Cathedral is famous for its unique carvings, among which a figure of an astronaut is best known.
The 16th-century Cathedral got renovated in 1992.
Some new carvings on the Cathedral facade, including the famous figure of a floating astronaut in a spacesuit, were done.
According to Jeronimo Garcia, an artist who led the renovation, the funky astronaut is a symbol of the 20th century, the time when the first space flights and the first man landed on the Moon.
Salamanca astronaut is a modern addition to the old carvings of the Cathedral. Nevertheless, it already enjoys an iconic status.
The astronaut sculpture is on the Puerta de Ramos of the New Cathedral of Salamanca.
7. Look for Salamanca Dragon with ice cream
The Cathedral restaurateurs were extremely creative and added some humorous figures, like Darth Vader, a gremlin, dolphin.
But the most famous are the figures of an astronaut and a dragon with ice cream.
An ice cream-eating dragon is another iconic modern sculpture added during the renovation.
The funny dragon sculpture is also on the Puerta de Ramos of the New Cathedral of Salamanca.
8. Visit Casa de las Conchas
Casa de la las Conchas means House of the Shells.
Casa de las Conchas is the most famous house in Salamanca. More than 300 carved Camino de Santiago shells decorate its facade.
The house owner was a knight of the Order of Santiago de Compostela. The House of Shells was built in late Gothic and Plateresque style in the 16th century.
House of the Shells is a public library today,
9. See San Esteban Convento
The Convento de San Esteban (St Stephen’s monastery) is an exceptional Dominican monastery and a must-see in Salamanca.
The St Stephen’s monastery was founded among the first Dominican monasteries in Europe in the 13th century.
Sadly, the first monastery got destroyed. But fortunately, the new and more beautiful one was built. The new monastery was made in the fascinating Salmanca’s Ultra Baroque style in the 17th century.
The monastery was founded as a Center for teaching and studying Theology and the General Centre of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in Spain. The friars of this convent had a crucial missionary role in the Christianization of the Americas and the Philippines.
The monastery represents one of the finest examples of the eclectic and ornate Churrigueresque style.
Worth mentioning that Christopher Columbus stayed in the first convent on the occasion of defending his expeditions.
10. Walk the Roman Bridge in Salamanca
The Puente Mayor del Tormes, or the Roman Bridge over the Tormes River, is a famous bridge in Salamanca.
The ancient granite bridge is a symbol of Salamanca. The main historic road to Salamanca led across the bridge. Historic Via de la Plata led from Merida via the Roman Bridge of Salamanca to Astorga.
The bridge was on the main road to Salamanca until mid 20th century when it became solely pedestrian.
The Roman Bridge of Salamanca is one of the most famous historic sites n Salamanca, along with the Plaza Mayor, the Cathedral, and Casa de las Conchas.
It is in the southern part of Salamanca.
11. Go to Casa Lis
The Casa Lis is a musem of Art Deco and Art Nouveau in Salamanca.
The museum holds exceptional Art Deco and Art Nouveau sculptures, jewelry, and glasswork. It is one of the gems of Salamanca and a must-see place in Salamanca for art lovers.
Casa Lis was an urban mason owned by Don Miguel de Lis, an influential businessman from the tanning industry. The grandeur house-palace was built at the beginning of the 20th century. The Art Nouveau glass and iron exterior and the modernist interior adorn the house. It is one of the gems of Salamanca.
The Casa Lis of Salamanca is within the Old City of Salamanca.
12. Try Hornazo de Salamanca
Hornazo de Salamanca is a meat pie from Salamanca. The pie is typically made with layers of various types of meat: loin pork, chorizo, and sometimes with bacon, cured ham, and eggs.
Hornazo de Salamanca meat pie has a distinctive diagonal-grid pattern on the top of the dough.
Traditionally it was a family Easter dish, but today you can find it in bakeries, cake shops, and even supermarket chains in Salamanca.
Check out Cafe Bar Rua in Salamanca for delicious hornazo and traditional Salamanca gastronomy.
RELATED READ: Famous Spanish Food
13. Taste perrunillas
Perrunillas de Salamanca cookies are round with an almond in the middle.
Perrunillas are traditional Spanish Christmas cookies, but today they are eaten all year round. They go well with coffee or tea.
Perrunillas de Salamanca biscuits are sold in bakeries and cake shops in Salamanca.
14. Get yourself a Paloma de Salamanca
Paloma is a traditional tapa dish from Salamanca.
Paloma is made of wheat crust stuffed traditionally with Russian salad. But modern Paloma can be stuffed with various salads (not exclusively with Russian salad).
Crispy Paloma de Salamanca is a typical local hors d’oeuvre (appetizer or starter) served in tapas bars in Salamanca Spain.
15. Start walking CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Salamanca is on Camino de Santiago Via de La Plata route.
The section of Via de La Plata from Salamanca to Santiago is called Camino Fonseca. It was named after archbishop Archbishop Alonso de Fonseca III, an influential figure in the history of Salamanca and Santiago.
The Archbishop Fonseca College in Salamanca and the Fonseca College in Santiago de Compostela are called to honor him.
If you walk Camino de Santiago from Salamanca, you will need about 18 days to reach Santiago de Compostela.
If you want to start walking Camino de Santiago from Salamanca, go to Pilgrim hostel Casa la Calera (address: C. Archdeacon, 14) to get your Pilgrim’s Passport (Credential).
RELATED READ: Guide to Camino de Santiago
16. Celebrate the Holy Week in Salamanca
Semana Santa is the most significant religious celebration in Salamanca and a must-see event in Salamanca.
Salamanca holds one of the oldest Holy Week processions in Spain. It dates back to the 13th century.
10.000 penitents from the 18 Salamanca fraternities make 24 processions carrying wooden floats with artistic sculptures of the scenes of the Passion of Jesus Christ and the Grieving Virgin Mary from Palm Sunday Eve to Easter Sunday. Some of the procession sculptures belong to the masterpiece artworks of the best historic Spanish artists.
17. Take a day trip to Avila from Salamanca
Avila is a World Heritage City, like Salamanca.
Stunning Avila is one of the best-preserved walled medieval cities in Spain.
Avila is only 100 km southeast of Salamanca. Avila is a 1-hour drive from Salamanca. A bus ride from Salamanca to Avila lasts 1 h and 30 min. A train ride from Salamanca to Avila lasts 1 h and 15 min.
Visiting Avila makes a beautiful half-day trip from Salamanca.
18. Visit Zamora from Salamanca
The breathtaking Zamora is a hidden gem in Spain.
The cliff-standing medieval town of Zamora is called ‘The Romanesque City’. The old city of Zamora holds the highest number of Romanesque churches in Europe.
Zamora is on the historic Via de la Plata route. It is also on the Transromanica route (a major cultural route in Europe).
Zamora is about 60 km north of Salamanca. A drive from Salamanca to Zamora lasts only 40 min. It takes only 60 min by bus from Salamanca to Zamora. Zamora is also reachable from Salamanca by train within 2 hours.
Where to stay in Salamanca Spain
LUXURY: Hospes Palacio de San Esteban – is a 5-star hotel with a superb location within the Old City of Salamanca. The hotel is renovated convent with luxurious rooms, an amazing swimming pool, a garden, and a matchless setting. Couples who seek romance amid the historic setting of Salamanca prefer it.
MID-RANGE: Soho Boutique Salamanca – is a 4-star hotel in the heart of Salamanca and in proximity to all must-see sites in Salamanca. The hotel offers great value for money.
BUDGET: Hotel Reyes Catolicos – is a 1-star hotel with parking and is close to the main train station and within walking distance of the city center.
How to visit Salamanca from Madrid
Madrid-Barajas International Airport is the closest airport to Salamanca.
Salamanca is 132 mi (214 km) northwest of Madrid. Salamanca makes a perfect day trip from Madrid. Salamanca is 2 hours and 50 min by train from Madrid. Salamanca is also about 2 hours and 30 min by bus away from Madrid.
Salamanca from Madrid by bus
The fastest way to reach Salamanca from Madrid is by bus. The bus from Madrid to Salamanca goes several times a day (every hour and a half). A bus ride from Madrid to Avila takes 2 hours and 30 min. A bus ride from Madrid to Salamanca costs 26 USD.
Salamanca from Madrid by train
The most comfortable way to reach Salamanca from Madrid is by train. Direct train to Salamanca goes from Madrid – Principe Pio train station. A train ride takes 2 hours and 50 min on average.
A train ticket from Madrid to Salamanca costs 26 USD.
Salamanca from Madrid by car
By renting a car in Madrid you get the freedom to see Salamanca and Castile at leisure without depending on public transport.
Rent a car in Madrid and head to Salamanca. Salamanca is within 2 hours and 15 min by car from Madrid.
Salamanca from Madrid is reachable by car via Autovia A-50 highway with tolls.
Salamanca from Madrid by car-pooling
But, Spanish people use European carpooling called BlaBlaCar a lot. If you are visiting Spain on a budget, you can find some affordable BlaBlaCar offers.
Salamanca from Madrid by tour
Visiting Salamanca on a day trip from Madrid is one of the most popular day trips from Madrid.
A visit to Salamanca is often combined with a visit to Segovia, Toledo, or Avila on the same trip from Madrid.
Madrid: Tour of Avila & Salamanca (GetYourGuide)
Avila and Salamanca Tour from Madrid (Viator)
Private tour: Private Full day Tour to Salamanca from Madrid with hotel pick-up and drop-off (Viator)
Private tour: From Madrid: Day Trip to Salamanca with Private Tour (GetYourGuide)
Best time to visit Salamanca Spain
Salamanca has a continental climate with cold winters (and air temperatures falling below 32°F/0°C) and hot summers (with air temperatures reaching 104°F/40°C).
The best time to visit Salamanca are spring and autumn. Spring and autumn are the ideal times for sightseeing in Salamanca. Temperatures go around 86°F /30°C in Salamanca from March to April and 68°F /20°C from October to November.