how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat, what to see, + what first-time visitors should know

Salamanca, Spain sits somewhere between Madrid and Portugal. It’s home to the oldest University in Spain and the third oldest University in Europe, which boosts a highly-ranked Spanish language program. In Salamanca, you’ll find gorgeous cobblestone streets in the Old Town {a UNESCO Heritage Site} set against a backdrop of gothic and baroque-style architecture.

As a slow travel enthusiast and advocate, it always kills me when I land in a destination and think, “I’ve only spent a day here and I’ve seen it all.” Obviously, I haven’t actually seen it all, but there are some small cities I’ve been to where I’d venture to say a 24-hour stint is enough to see most all of it. The consensus on Salamanca from travel blogs, internet travel sites, and amongst friends that either live in Spain or are from Spain, is that 24-48 hours in Salamanca is spot on. Think of it as a city break locale rather than a week-long holiday destination.

I’ve also included some of my travel mishaps that occurred in Salamanca with tips on how to avoid making the same mistakes!


HERE’S HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF A DAY IN SALAMANCA, SPAIN



GETTING TO SALAMANCA

INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

VIA BUS- Salamanca is a 4-hour bus ride from Porto, which makes it an easy stop for those in Portugal wanting a taste of Spain on their European travels. I used FlixBus due to its affordability and high-ratings from reviewers. You can download the FlixBus app here to coordinate bus routes all over the European continent.

DOMESTIC ARRIVALS

VIA BUS- Salamanca has a main bus terminal that isn’t far from the city center. It was just a 5-minute walk to my AirBnB accommodation, which was another 5-minute walk from the heart of the city. Buses come to Salamanca from just about everywhere in Spain: Zaragoza, Seville, Barcelona, Madrid, Caceres, etc. Prices vary according to your departure point.

VIS BLABLA CAR- Those of you who follow me on Instagram might know that I have become a BlaBla Car convert. BlaBla Car is a safe ride-sharing app that is very popular in Spain and France. It allows you to carpool with drivers already heading a certain direction. For instance, my driver to Seville from Salamanca, Antonio, was headed south for work. I was able to pay a fraction of the cost of a bus ticket and we managed to shave off 2 hours of drive time since we weren’t required to stop anywhere and weren’t responsible for a load of others passengers. I now highly recommend BlaBla Car as an alternative to buses if you’re looking for a speedy journey. Plus, ride-sharing saves on car emissions! You coordinate with your driver where you’ll be dropped off. Each driver has reviews from previous riders, and the app lets you know who is a smoker and who isn’t {always nice when you’re in a car for an elongated period with someone}. It also tells you how many rides they’ve done through BlaBla Car to give you an idea of their experience with the app.

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day

Where to eat

pastelrias (any)- breakfast

Breakfast was, admittedly, tricky in Salamanca. Whenever I’m in an AirBnB, I always like to hit up the local supermarket and make a few of my meals. Not only does this help save money, but it also insures I find something that’s vegetarian and makes use of the beautiful kitchen spaces I get as a part of my accommodation.

Salamanca Coffee is right near the main plaza in the city and came highly recommended by a few Instagram followers. However, the opening times were not accurate on Google, so I missed out eating here entirely. I can tell you I ate a little café/bakery called Granier nearby when Salamanca Coffee still hadn’t opened on my first day there by 9 AM. The second day, it wasn’t open at 10 AM either. The same with Café Novelty, which also came recommended by a friend— I didn’t see it open until much later in the afternoon. Fret not, there are many pastelerias {bakeries} in the area that sell pastries for a decent price and will get the job dome. Most places that I saw had a coffee/pastry combo deal!

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day
how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day
how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day

café magenta- lunch

This little lunch spot, which was found via TripAdvisor, had reviews that claimed it was a vegetarian haven in a city that caters more to the carnivorous. I had high hopes and I was not let down! The adorable interior, sunny outdoor seating, and kind gentleman who owned the place all culminated in Café Magenta being my favourite dining experience in Salamanca. There is no menu. Go into the café and select from a bevvy of cabinet food, all of which is either vegan or vegetarian. The owner will heat it up and serve it to you piping hot on cute mix-match plates. The 80s soundtrack put me into an even better mood than I was already in upon entering the eatery, and seeing the two staff dancing behind the counter made me feel like I could stay in that little veggie-friendly spot forever quite happily.

kebab- dinner

While I ate at my AirBnB for dinner all but one night, the evening I did go out, I had a delicious vegetarian kebab. Kebab shops are plentiful in Salamanca {real student food, I guess}. Make sure you that if you are getting takeaway that you bring a reusable bag to carry it away— opting not to use plastic bags makes takeaway a more sustainable option.

A NOTE ABOUT MEAL TIMES: It’s not uncommon for the Spanish to eat breakfast around 10 AM, lunch near 1:30 - 2 PM, and have dinner close to 9 PM. This means opening times for many restaurants and cafés are later than you might be used to, so plan accordingly.

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}

what to do

stroll for street art

The thing that surprised me the most about Salamanca was the abundance of colorful street art. It was everywhere! The area where my AirBnB flat was located was especially covered in murals, political art, and graffiti. Most of my photos from Salamanca are actually of the art from my temporary neighbourhood.

peep Torre del Clavero

While you’re out and about, strolling the streets of Salamanca, you might as well take a peek at Torre del Clavero. This tower was a part of the palace that belonged to Don Francesco de Sotomayor and, at one time, you were able to climb up to the top and grab a view. However, these days it serves as a government office and tourists aren’t allowed inside.

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}

grab stunning views from one of the city’s towers

The most popular tower view point is called Leronimus and is located inside the Salamanca Cathedral. It costs €8 to get inside the Cathedral, which includes the tower lookout. However, Torre de Clerecia costs only €3 to climb to the top and you’ll have a view of the cathedral in the backdrop of your photos! Whatever your budget, there is a viewpoint option for you in Salamanca.

ADMISSION FOR LERONIMUS: €8

ADMISSION FOR TORRE DE CLERECIA: €3

cross the roman bridge

The Roman Bridge crosses over the River Tormes. It’s very close to the city centre and a lovely park that has views of the towering cathedral and old town. I was lucky enough to be in Salamanca with a travel partner for a day, and we went for a walk across the bridge. I think we both agreed that Salamanca is stunning from the river. I even convinced him to take a photo of me {gasp}.

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}
how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}

learn about catholicism in spain at the salamanca cathedral

Spain is overwhelmingly Catholic, so there are an uncountable number of cathedrals and churches across the country all boasting Catholic history and religious art. The Salamanca Cathedral offers audio guides at an additional cost in English for those wanting to learn a bit about the history of Catholicism in Spain, particularly in Salamanca.

visit the library in casa de las conches

As a university town, it’s not surprising that the public library that ives in the Casa de las Conches makes for a pretty cool spot to study, read, or retreat from the heat. I loved the mix of modern architecture inside the historic building.

TIP: There are public toilets inside the library here that are clean and free!

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}

tour the local market

The local market is housed in a beautiful building with stained-glass windows. Vendors inside sell fresh produce, meat, and seafood all at affordable prices. This is a great pace to grab a fresh lunch for a picnic in one of the many public spaces that Salamanca offers visitors of the city.

people watch in plaza mayor

Like most Spanish cities, the main plaza in Salamanca is where residents gather and locals converge in the heart of the city, The entire perimeter of the plaza is filled with cafés and tapas bars where people spend hours of their day sipping on espresso and downing fresh churros. While I was in Salamanca, the city was celebrating Pride, which meant there were rainbow flags hung from the balconies of the city hall.

how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}

learn at the museum of Salamanca

The Museum of Salamanca houses some archaeological exhibits as well as some religious paintings and stone sculptures. Like most of the sites in Salamanca, the informational plaques were only in Spanish, so it was a bit tricky for me to understand anything I was looking at, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, especially since it was free.

ADMISSION: €1 , free on weekends

TIP: The museum has a pretty courtyard near its entrance through a gate on the lefthand side—don’t miss it!

visit the Palacio Monterrey

Admittedly, I didn’t get to go inside the Palace, since it was closed for renovations. However, the outside of the Palace was stunning and the gothic and baroque architecture had me nerding out. The palace was built in the 16th century for the Monterrey family {thus the name}, but is now owned by the Duke of Alba. Apparently, the interiors are amazing, but again I didn’t actually see them in person.


tips for first-time visitors

BRING EUROS WITH YOU- There are only a few places to exchange money in Salamanca, but all of them have terrible rates or take a large commission {up to 20 Euros. Exchange your money before you arrive in Salamanca or use an international credit card at larger shops {the supermarket, etc.} to save yourself a lot of money.

EVERYTHING WILL BE CLOSED ON SUNDAYS- Okay, but maybe not everything, but most everything. Spain is a very Catholic country, so Sundays are considered holy days. because of this, most attractions are closed or have restricted hours. Supermarkets {except Carrefour} and restaurants also observe the day of rest. Plan accordingly.

BRING GOOD SHOES + SUNSCREEN- There is no need to use a taxi service in Salamanca. The entire city is walkable, so bring good shoes. All that walking will also mean you’ll be exposed to some major sunlight, so please for the love of all that is sacred and holy PACK SUNSCREEN!!


NEED HELP NAVIGATING? No worries. I’ve created a city map for you with all the points of interest + eateries mentioned in this post marked!


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how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}
how to spend 24 hours in Salamanca, Spain: where to eat + what to see in one day {+ tips for first-time visitors}