I’m not going to lie—when I flew over to explore Spain and Portugal, I simply viewed Salamanca as a city to break up the journey between other, more well-known cities that had been on my bucket list for years. I embarked on this trip looking forward to finally seeing the sights of Barcelona, San Sebastian and Lisbon. And despite these cities being equally as incredible, upon my arrival in Salamanca, I immediately wished I had more time to spend exploring the city.
Here are five reasons the beautiful university town of Salamanca must feature on your Spain hit list.
1. The atmosphere in Salamanca is incredible
Home to Spain’s oldest university, the student culture is evident around Salamanca. The atmosphere is electric, with the friendly locals creating a safe small-town vibe, makes it the perfect Spanish destination for young travellers. Party-lovers will find themselves in heaven with crazy-cheap drinks and a range of clubs pumping until the early hours of the morning, whereas those looking to relax will find plenty of cute coffee shops to kick back and people watch too.
2. The food, glorious food
Just like the rest of Spain, the food options in Salamanca are endless and delicious. Mouth-watering tapas, paella, sangria and all the delectable desserts you could dream of are guaranteed here.
Perhaps the dish most famous in the area, though, is the Horanzo pie. More similar to a dense sandwich, the meal consists of layers upon layers of meat (think bacon, chorizo, ham, pork and an egg) sandwiches between two dough halves. This artery-clogger is a must-try when visiting Salamanca and is available at most bakeries and cafés. If you are not a meat eater, rest assured that vegan and vegetarian options are not hard to find—Salamanca is a destination where you definitely won’t go hungry.
3. The beautiful architecture
While on holidays, a reminder of studying is probably the last thing you want, but I promise, the university in Salamanca is a must-see. Founded in 1218 (yes, you read that right), I looked up at the incredible main building and my jaw dropped. Other honourable architectural mentions are the bustling Plaza Mayor central square and the beautiful Salamanca Cathedral.
The architecture in Salamanca is also like one real-life game of “Where’s Wally?” and I dare you to try and find the frog carved into the intricate design of the university, a symbol of good luck for local students. Once you’ve done that, track down the astronaut carved into the Cathedral built in the 16th Century—a cheeky addition to the building that confuses many tourists.
4. The Value
Although Spain is generally not an overly expensive country to travel in, Salamanca is an especially affordable city to visit. From €1 alcoholic drinks to cheap street eats, you can still have an incredible time in this city without breaking the bank. My best advice to save some pennies while still being able to sample some incredible cuisine? Live like a local by venturing off into the side streets to uncover some hidden gems. Specifically, look for markets, smaller supermarkets, delis, and bakeries. Despite being so beautiful, the central square Plaza Mayor is targeted at tourists, and is therefore a pricier spot to wine and dine.
5. The perfect stopover city
Salamanca should certainly not be brushed off as just another overnight stopover destination but, that said, the great location of Salamanca is undeniable. Positioned perfectly between Madrid and Porto, there is no better spot to visit when travelling between the Iberian nations. Whether you choose to eat your weight in paella, wander the streets until sunrise or marvel at the mesmerising buildings, Salamanca is the perfect choice to break up the long journey from central Spain to Portugal.