Architecturally, Salamanca is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain with its Plaza Mayor serving as the main attraction for visitors and locals alike. Head there during the day and take a seat at one of its many cafés where you can ponder the hustle and bustle of daily life then return at night when the whole square is illuminated. You’ll find plenty tapas bars and Castilian restaurants around the square and can enjoy leisurely strolls around the historic streets of the city. Early evening is a particularly rewarding time to wander around as the setting sun seems to bring the ancient sandstone buildings to life.
A couple of novelties for you to look out for as you’re wandering around:
- As you enter the main university building can you spot a frog carved into the main facade above your head? If you find it without help it is said that you’ll enjoy good luck and will marry within a year!
- Look closely at the facade of the new Cathedral and try to spot the astronaut and the ice cream cone which appeared after a restoration in the early 1990s. Crazy but true!
Madrid is the gateway to Salamanca with bus & train services available.
Where to Stay
The city has some charming, historic hotels & comfortable hostels near the Plaza Mayor.
Things to Do
Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor & its two Cathedrals are the city’s main sights.
There is no international airport nearby so the main access is via Madrid from where there are plenty bus and train services taking around 2½ hours to get there. A number of companies offer day trips by coach or private vehicle but you’ll spend a good part of the day travelling so I’d strongly recommend that you plan on at least an overnight in the city if you have time and wish to do it justice. If you’re travelling on to Portugal or to Santiago de Compostela the city is a logical stopping off point. A couple of other places that are well worth a visit if you’re in this part of the world are Avila and Ciudad Rodrigo.
What to See
Whilst the Plaza Mayor and the various Salamanca University buildings are the best known attractions there are plenty more interesting sights to keep you busy. The city has not one but two Cathedrals with the entrance to the old one lying inside the new one. This serves the dual purpose of confusing tourists and amusing the local clergy who can have a laugh at them. By the way the “new” cathedral dates back to 1513 and took over 200 years to build, it is one of the great cathedrals of Spain. Other things to see include ‘La Casa de las Conchas’ which is a house decorated with 350 shells, a fine Roman bridge and a variety of ancient Renaissance buildings scattered around the historical central district.
When to Visit
From spring through to autumn the weather in Salamanca is generally conducive to tourism but in spite of many beautiful clear skies during the winter months the city can be freezing cold. The 12th June marks the feast day of Saint John of Sahagún who is the patron saint of Salamanca. As well as the religious festivities associated with this event there are many typical Spanish parties around this date. The Feria de Salamanca takes place during the 2nd week of September and is a great time to visit the city when returning students join the locals to celebrate ‘La Virgen de la Vega’ which is the city’s biggest annual party.