Plaza Mayor at night, Salamanca, Spain

Salamanca, a secret in Spain

In En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Spain, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by JanisLeave a Comment

Go see for yourself

Convent of San Esteban, Salamanca, Spain

In 2014 when Gary & I ventured on our first Spanish road trip, we’d planned a circular route from Santander (where the ferry disembarked) down through Spain heading south and picking up the pleasures of Toledo, Granada, Ronda, Jerez & Seville en-route.


Iglesia de la Purísima, Salamanca, Spain

But our final destination before jumping back on the ferry was Salamanca in Castile and León.

Why there I hear you cry?

Well, we were searching for a town or city that not only was historic; but also one that we never really knew much about.

Palacio de Monterrey, Salamanca, Spain

And so pleased were we to find this delight. Looking back, we would’ve loved to have stayed longer, as Salamanca has given us some great lasting memories, one of which I will get to shortly.

Plaza Mayor

The first surprise for us was the Plaza Mayor, built in the Baroque style, this square is truly grand and so elegant, even just visiting Salamanca to see the Plaza Mayor was worth it.

While the plaza is bustling with families having fun during the day, it is in the evening when this square comes into its own. Surrounded by galleries and arcades the restaurants, cafes and bars come alive at sunset.

It was too good of an opportunity to pass on, so we grabbed ourselves a little table and enjoyed a glass of Cava.

A helpful guide

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Eyewitness books, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Jump onboard

One of favourites ways to kick off our trips is to let Brittany Ferries take the strain, sit back, relax and go with the flow. Enjoy a little bit of France onboard as you sail directly into Bilbao or Santander in northern Spain.

So Many

We also found the tapas here to be fantastic, row after row of tempting; bites and there was just too many to choose from.

Additionally, if you bought a drink, you were given a free tapa. We had experienced this before in Granada, but I don’t think it is so common in Spain anymore, perhaps it is regional.

Point to note

Although we visited Salamanca as part of a road trip it is only 120 miles (200km) northwest of Madrid. Stay overnight and experience Plaza Mayor coming alive in the evening.

Not one, but two

Gary and I had a full day to enjoy historical Salamanca, so we set off on a voyage of discovery. Firstly, finding the two Cathedrals that Salamanca is so proud of.

The Old Cathedral which originates from the 12th century was completed in Romanesque/Gothic style, and the south façade is so incredibly detailed.

Then came the New Cathedral much larger and was built between the 16th and 18th centuries and was constructed in the Gothic/Baroque styles.

Amazingly damage can still be seen on the New Cathedral, which was a result of the devastating earthquake in Lisbon in 1755, some 300 miles (470km) away.

What Frog?

This ancient city can also boast to have founded Spain’s first university in 1134, which is one of the oldest in Europe, in 1218, it was given the royal charter.

Keep an eye out for the infamous “frog” can you spot it?

Sitting perched on a skull the tiny frog can barely be seen within the intricate plateresque façade.

(Click on the picture for a larger version)


If that wasn’t enough, Salamanca’s history even goes back to the Romans, evidence of this is the Roman bridge crossing the Tormes river. Although restorations were made in the 16th century, 15 of the arches that remain are Roman.

Did you know?

Not only has the Old City of Salamanca been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, but it also became a European City of Culture in 2002.

Casa Lis

After deciding on Salamanca as a destination, we did a bit more digging and found out that it has an Art Nouveau & Art Déco museum at Casa Lis. If you enjoy this style of architecture, then you must visit while in Salamanca.

It is because of this museum that I am continually reminded of Salamanca, in our hotel was a beautiful Art Déco lamp, it’s gorgeous – can anyone see where this is heading?

Well, it turns out you can buy these lamps at Casa Lis….Gary didn’t take too much persuading, honestly!

It wouldn’t be the same otherwise

Oh yes, then it was Gary’s turn to indulge his passion, “Cars”, who would have thought there would be a car museum here, how’s my luck.

I was previously thinking I had got away lightly on this trip, with only seeing one motor racing circuit, and that was Jerez, but we topped it off with seeing Fernando Alonso’s F1 Renault at the Museum of Automotive History.

We will be back

We left Salamanca feeling we wanted more, which is always a good thing. I also think it was because we had felt, we discovered somewhere which had eluded a lot of tourists, it also made us try a bit more of our choppy Spanish vocab.


Our accommodation for the two nights we were in Salamanca, was at the luxury Grand Hotel Don Gregorio. It was a excellent hotel and in a central location to the town (also they had the lovely Art Déco lamp). The parking was valet only, as your car was kept offsite.

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Have You?

Enjoyed Salamanca? or are there any other little gems in Spain that you've discovered that they're keeping to themselves?

Inspired to visit Salamanca?

Does the thought of wandering around Plaza Mayor, enjoying tapas & the odd vinho tinto tempt you? We thought it might.

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The Old Cathedral, Salamanca, Spain

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