Located in Northwestern Spain, two hours west of Madrid, Salamanca is the capital of Salamanca province, which is part of the Castile and León region. Boasting a rich and colorful history dating back to the pre-Ancient Rome period and Celtic era, this ancient UNESCO World Heritage City is home to magnificent sandstone buildings, 15th and 16th-century palaces and churches, and Spain’s oldest university. Nicknamed ‘La Dorada’ – ‘the Golden City’ for the way these light beige-colored sandstone buildings turn golden when the sun sets, Salamanca is also packed with buzzing bars, bustling restaurants serving traditional Spanish fare and has a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere steeped in history.
1.Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca University)
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Nestled in the center of Salamanca, Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca University) is the oldest university in the country and considered to be one of the most beautiful universities in the world. Founded in 1134, the building boasts a beautifully crafted façade with Plateresque-style carvings, including the famous ‘frog on a skull’ which is meant to bring good luck. Other breathtaking structures in the university complex include the Patio de las Escuelas, the oldest buildings on the square, and a statue of Fray Luis de León, a famous writer during the Spanish renaissance and one of the many influential alumni of the university.
University of Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-29-46-48
© Horváth Botond/stock.adobe.com
Resting at the heart of the city, Plaza Mayor is one of the largest public squares in Spain and is fondly known as the ‘living room’ of Salamanca. Built in 1755, Plaza Mayor boasts some of the most impressive Baroque-style architecture in the country and is considered the emblem of the city. The bustling square is lined with an arcade featuring 88 arches that run around the perimeter of the square, the pillars of which represent a famous figure from Salamanca’s rich history. In between the arches are plenty of cafés, restaurants, and tourist shops, packed with both locals and visitors enjoying the hustle and bustle of the beating heart of the city.
Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Spain
3.Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells)
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The Casa da las Conchas (House of Shells) is a historical building in Salamanca that served as a palace in the 16th century and now houses a public library. Built in the early 1500s by Rodrigo Arias de Maldonado, a knight of the Order of Santiago de Compostela, the building boasts a combination of Gothic and Plateresque-style architecture with Mudejar elements and has an extraordinary façade decorated with more than 300 shells, the symbol of the order of Santiago. The façade also features the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs and four differently shaped Gothic-style windows, while other interesting elements of the building include the coat of arms of the Maldonado family, carvings of dolphins and vegetable elements.
2 Calle de la Compañía, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37002, Spain, Phone: +34-923-26-93-17
4.Museo Art Nouveau y Deco (Art Nouveau and Art Déco Museum)
The Museo Art Nouveau y Deco (Art Nouveau and Art Déco Museum) is a renowned art museum that focuses on decorative arts from the Nouveau and Déco periods, spanning from the 19th century to World War II. The museum boasts 19 impressive collections featuring paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and art deco pieces, including intricate stained-glass works, chryselephantine statuettes, and the largest collection of porcelain dolls in the world. Signature items in the collections include Art Nouveau jewelry by Rene Lalique, glassworks and furniture by Émile Gallé, and porcelain pieces by Rosenthal and Mariano Benlliure.
Calle Gibraltar 14, 37008 Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-12-14-25
5.The Old and the New Cathedral
Salamanca is famous for having two cathedrals attached to each other – aptly known as the Old and the New Cathedrals. The Old Cathedral was erected between 1100 and 1200 and boasts a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque-style architecture and design, while the impressive New Cathedral was constructed in the 15th century in the Gothic style, but also features Baroque and Renaissance elements. The Old Cathedral can be accessed via the New Cathedral, which are both in harmony with each other, and visitors can climb the cathedral towers and stroll along the battlements, soaking up the spectacular panoramic vistas over the city.
Calle Benedicto XVI, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37008, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-74-76
Formerly known as the Royal College of the Compthe university.Queen Margarita of Austria, the historic church has a three-part façade with ecclesiastical towers and a vast, three-floored Baroque cloister. Now the headquarters of Salamanca Pontificia University, the Clerecía Church, can be explored on guided tours of the university that has occupied the building since the 1940s. Visitors can climb to the transept between the building’s two towers (Scala Coeli) to enjoy spectacular views of the city.
Calle de la Compañía, 5, 37002 Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-27-71-00
7.The Roman Bridge
The Roman Bridge is a 1,181-foot pedestrian bridge that spans the River Tormes and is believed to have been built in the first century A.D. by the Roman Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus. The historically important bridge is a real example of the city’s ancient origins and cultural significance and features 26 semi-circular arches featuring Celtic elements and an ancient Iberian sculpture of a boar on the north side. The bridge boasts spectacular views of the Old and the New Cathedral, particularly at night, and has been declared a National Monument.
8.Convento de San Esteban
© PUNTOSTUDIOFOTO Lda/stock.adobe.com
The Convento de San Esteban is a Dominican monastery in the Plaza del Concilio de Trento, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Built as a convent for the Order of the Dominicans in the Plateresque style, the convent features decorative elements of Baroque and Renaissance design and an extraordinary altar-like façade with intricate carvings. The magnificent building has three cloisters with a splendid central Gothic-Renaissance cloister, the 17th-century altar by José Churriguera, and a fascinating museum dedicated to the Dominicans. The building has been hailed as one of the most breathtaking buildings in the city.
Plaza del Concilio de Trento, s/n, 37001 Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-50-00
9.Arribes del Duero Natural Park
The Arribes del Duero Natural Park is a protected region spanning 106 hectares that forms a natural border between Spain and Portugal. Set within the community of Castile and León, the park is home to a wide diversity of landscapes ranging from steep mountains covered in vineyards and fertile valleys to winding streams, rivers, and one of the largest inland lakes in Europe. The park is home to a variety of fauna and flora, such as the endangered black stork and several attractions like the cascading Pozo de Los Humos waterfall. The Arribes del Duero Natural Park offers excellent hiking, backpacking, bird and wildlife watching, and picnicking.
37246, Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-52-20-48
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10.Restaurant Rio de la Plata
© Restaurant Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata is one of Salamanca’s most famous and well-loved restaurants. Based in a cozy corner spot on the Plaza Peso next to the Gran Hotel, Río de la Plata features a warm and welcoming atmosphere with tiled floors, comfy wooden furniture, and crisply dressed tables with white tablecloths. The family-owned and operated restaurant has been serving traditional Spanish fare for more than 50 years, using recipes passed down from generation to generation and fresh, locally sourced ingredients from regional farmers and producers. The extensive menu features fresh seafood and fish, Spanish meat, and vegetarian dishes, and signature dishes like a stewed goat with almonds, and the full-service bar offers a wide range of libations including craft and draft beers, casual Spanish wines, homemade sangria, and handcrafted cocktails. Río de la Plata is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
Río de la Plata, Plaza Peso 1, Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-90-05
11.La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina
© La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina
La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina is a cozy eatery tucked away in a tiny street next to the buzzing bars and vibrant nightlife of Gran Vía. The intimate spot has eclectic décor with original artworks, vintage objects, and wooden furnishings and serves delectable homemade cuisine made with fresh ingredients and age-old recipes. Fondly called ‘La Fonda’ by locals, the restaurant offers a variety of traditional Spanish cuisine specializing in meat dishes, such as stewed pork jaws, and mouthwatering desserts like a yogurt and lemon cake, and rice pudding. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including craft and draft beers, casual Spanish wines, homemade sangria, and handcrafted cocktails. La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
10 Calle Reja, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37001, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-57-12
© Don Mauro
Overlooking the beautiful Plaza Mayor, Salamanca’s main square, Don Mauro, is an elegant restaurant with an outdoor terrace on the square that serves both regional dishes and contemporary cuisine. The spacious restaurant features crisply dressed tables with white tablecloths, blue and white tiles representing scenes of traditional Iberian daily life, and soft lighting, creating a serene and romantic ambiance. The menu features fresh seafood and fish, prime Spanish meats, organic salads and vegetarian dishes and decadent desserts, and signature dishes like foie gras toast with vanilla and mango cream. Spanish wines, craft beers, and creative cocktails made with high-end spirits are served from the full-service bar, and the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.
19 Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37001, Spain, Phone: +34-923-28-14-87
13.Casa de Comidas Montero
Casa de Comidas Montero is a quintessentially Spanish restaurant that specializes in traditional tapas and small plates of Mediterranean fare. Located at the entrance of the Montero, the tiny eatery is one of the city’s best tapas restaurants, offering a vibrant atmosphere in which to enjoy mouthwatering tapas plates of wagyu meat, bull tail, octopus, red tuna, and giant olives. Combining a combination of traditional and innovative foods, the restaurant serves made-to-order dishes made from scratch using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and handmade olive oil. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including craft and draft beers, casual Spanish wines, homemade sangria, and handcrafted cocktails. Casa de Comidas Montero is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
12 Plaza del Carrillo, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37002, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-38-48
© Víctor Gutiérrez
Víctor Gutiérrez is a chef-owned, Michelin-star restaurant in the heart of Salamanca with spectacular views of San Esteban’s convent. The award-winning restaurant offers an elegant dining experience with stylish, sophisticated décor, ambient lighting, and an intimate atmosphere, perfect for special celebrations. Diners can select one of the three thematic menus, the composition of which is kept secret until served and paired with world-class wines from Spain and further afield. The full-service bar also serves local craft beers, signature cocktails made with high-end spirits, and imported champagne. Víctor Gutiérrez is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
4 Calle Empedrada, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37007, Spain, Phone: +34-923-26-29-73
15.La Dehesa - El Oso y el Madrono
Situated in the Plaza del Ángel, La Dehesa – El Oso y el Madroño specializes in traditional Castilian cuisine such as roasted meat dishes cooked in an authentic holm oak wood stove. Founded in 1998, the friendly, welcoming restaurant is renowned for serving the best-roasted suckling pig and wood-fired lamb in the city. The extensive menu also features a wide range of other meats, fresh seafood and fish, and handmade Iberian sausages and is paired with an impressive selection of fine wines from around the world. La Dehesa – El Oso y el Madroño has a comfortable dining space, an indoor lounge and an outdoor terrace overlooking the plaza where diners can savor fine cuisine and wines while watching the world pass by.
La Dehesa – El Oso y el Madroño, Plaza del Ángel 1, Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-27-10-10
© El Pecado
Located in a beautifully preserved building in the historic center of the city, El Pecado combines the old and the new with bold, contemporary décor such as hot pink walls and zebra patterns, and period antiques. The restaurant serves a creative menu of modern and traditional cuisine prepared using fresh, locally sourced ingredients, such as fresh seafood and fish, prime Spanish meats, organic salads, and vegetarian dishes, and decadent desserts. The full-service bar offers a wide range of libations, including craft and draft beers, casual Spanish wines, homemade sangria, and handcrafted cocktails. El Pecado is open for lunch and dinner daily.
El Pecado, Plaza del Poeta Iglesias 12, Salamanca, Spain, Phone: +34-923-26-65-58
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© La Posada
La Posada is a casual restaurant in the center of Salamanca that specializes in serving seafood and traditional Castilian food. Founded in 1961, the restaurant is situated a few steps away from the Plaza Mayor and features two dining spaces with elegant décor, warm wood finishes, and large pieces of tree trunks on the ceiling. A cafeteria with a large bar can be found in the main dining area and serves a wide variety of local and imported wines, craft beers, freshly roasted and brewed coffee, and tapas. Signature dishes on the main menu include Iberian, roasted and Cantabrian fish, French beans with clams, and lentils of La Armuña, and the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, daily.
1 Calle Aire, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37001, Spain, Phone: +34-923-21-72-51
© Alameda Palace
The Alameda Palace is an upscale hotel set in a stately, beautifully preserved building with a grand, marble lobby just a short walk away from the Plaza Mayor. Exuding the ambiance of a royal palace, the five-star hotel features elegant, ornate guest rooms and suites with spacious living rooms, whirlpool baths, and marble bathrooms. The hotel has an award-winning restaurant with golden fabric-covered seats, plush curtains, romantic paintings, and crystal chandeliers that serves world-class Spanish cuisine, a seasonal rooftop pool, sun terrace, and hot tub, and a fully-equipped fitness room.
1 Paseo de la Estación, Salamanca, Castilla y León, 37004, Spain, Phone: +34-92-32-86-26
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18 Best Things to Do in Salamanca, Spain
- Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca University), Photo: JFL Photography/stock.adobe.com
- Plaza Mayor, Photo: Horváth Botond/stock.adobe.com
- Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), Photo: Lux Blue/stock.adobe.com
- Museo Art Nouveau y Deco (Art Nouveau and Art Déco Museum), Photo: demachy/stock.adobe.com
- The Old and the New Cathedral, Photo: javarman/stock.adobe.com
- Clerecia Church, Photo: Rick_79/stock.adobe.com
- The Roman Bridge, Photo: cineuno/stock.adobe.com
- Convento de San Esteban, Photo: PUNTOSTUDIOFOTO Lda/stock.adobe.com
- Arribes del Duero Natural Park, Photo: Daniel/stock.adobe.com
- Restaurant Rio de la Plata, Photo: Restaurant Río de la Plata
- La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina, Photo: La Fonda del Arcediano de Medina
- Don Mauro, Photo: Don Mauro
- Casa de Comidas Montero, Photo: dima_sidelnikov/stock.adobe.com
- Víctor Gutierrez, Photo: Víctor Gutiérrez
- La Dehesa - El Oso y el Madrono, Photo: Pixel-Shot/stock.adobe.com
- El Pecado, Photo: El Pecado
- La Posada, Photo: La Posada
- Alameda Palace, Photo: Alameda Palace
- Cover Photo: dudlajzov/stock.adobe.com