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A Sensory Indulging Itinerary to Visiting Salamanca, Spain for History and Gastronomy

by Last updated Nov 14, 2022 | Published on Oct 26, 2022Castile and Leon, Europe, Gastronomy, Spain, Travel

When you imagine visiting Salamanca, Spain, what comes to mind? Maybe you can see yourself before the cathedral towers and the shells of the Casa de Conchas. Or perhaps you envision walking through the Gothic arches in its renowned university, one of the oldest in the world. Indulge your senses further by tasting the flaky, buttery pastry of the traditional “Hornazo”, a delicious meat pie sold at bakeries. Then feel the satisfaction of enhancing your taste buds with the fragrant, velvety tannins of a “vino de Arribes”, one of the nearby wines of the Duero Valley.

For a bespoke trip to Salamanca, we highly recommend taking more time than the typical Salamanca day trip. Crafted from our own experience, this 4-day itinerary for visiting Salamanca will delightly indulge your senses in the Spanish history and gastronomy so distinct to this part of Spain.

How to Arrive When Visiting Salamanca

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageA view of the cathedral from the hotel suite.

There are several ways to travel to Salamanca but just a few that we will focus on, each of which I can organize for you.

The most common way is by rental car, which averages 2.5 to 3 hours from the Madrid Barajas Airport or Madrid city center. Likewise, private transfers can be arranged.

There is also the option to take the train, which from the Principe Pio train station also takes 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the route. With an average of seven trains per day and at a price starting around 25€ each way, per person, it is an attractive option for many.

For either of these options, the journey is an enjoyable one through beautiful mountains and past other charming destinations, like the walled Medieval town of Avilés.

TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

When taking the train, make sure you’re departing from the correct station in Madrid, the Principe Pio train station. When arriving in Salamanca it is best to get off at the first stop, the Salamanca train station. Otherwise the next stop is the Alamedilla stop which is closer to the historical center but has no buildings or taxis.

Day 1 Visiting Salamanca

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageA view from our hotel suite of Salamanca and a secluded cloister.

Historical Accommodations in Salamanca

Arrive into Salamanca in the afternoon and check into your accommodations at this luxurious, 5-star hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban. Here, you’ll enjoy the past blended with the present in an enchanting setting of a refurbished convent from the 16th century. Certain rooms have exclusive views of the neighboring church’s cloister, which is off limits to the public, as well as views of the nearby Cathedral and other historical sights.

Complete with a scenic pool affording views of iconic sites and a gorgeous fine-dining restaurant, you will be tempted to not leave. But you won’t have to go far to explore since you’re right in the heart of the historical center with the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca Cathedral, and other sites, only a 10-minute walk away.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageViews from the outdoor pool and grounds of the hotel Hospes Palacio de San Esteban.

First Glimpses of Salamanca Architecture

Depending on when you arrive, we recommend a short stroll in the area to take in the romantic buildings and stretch your legs from traveling. Just steps from the hotel are the following buildings that are in close proximity to each other and wonderful to see even at night.

Or, if you choose to stay in, sip on a fresh drink or handmade cocktail in the hotel’s relaxing lounge area.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageGazing at the Convento de San Esteban from the Plaza del Concilio de Trento.

Dinner at El Monge

Enjoy a relaxing dinner in the hotel restaurant, El Monge. You can dine outside in the enchanting terrace or indoors amongst stone arches and exposed stone. When you turn in for the night, you can enjoy a wonderful night’s rest in your luxuriously cozy room and plush bed.

Above ImageThe Arribes red wine and food we had here were all delicious. The dessert was their homemade apple tart with fresh cream and vanilla ice cream.

TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

For local dishes when visiting Salamanca, the area is known for its meats, such as suckling lamb roasted in the Castilian style, and a native breed of Moorish beef. If you enjoy fish, make sure to enjoy fresh Trout from the River Tormes or the Bejar-style Cod.

Day 2 Visiting Salamanca

In the morning, start your day with a varied, fresh breakfast in the hotel. Or, if you prefer to venture out visiting Salamanca right away, get ready for the Plaza Mayor.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageSalamanca’s Plaza Mayor.

Local Breakfast in Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor

Take the Calle San Pablo on the way to the Plaza Mayor if you want to pass by the Plaza de Colón and its monument to Christopher Columbus. On the same street, and across from the park, are two admirable palaces:

  • The Palacio de Orellana is not open to the public, but its facade is well worth admiring.
  • The Palacio de la Salina is free entry but only its patio is open to the public, every day from 11am to 2pm and 4:40pm to 8pm.

Once you’ve admired the Plaza Mayor from its center, get a window seat upstairs at Meson Cervantes. Here you can gaze out at the Plaza Mayor from above and admire the old-world interior while savoring delicious coffee and your choice of homemade “tortillas Españolas” (the typical Spanish dish of egg, potato, and other varying ingredients). They specialize in tortillas that have an imaginative array of stuffings and toppings.

Fresh Pastries in the Plaza Mayor

While you’re in the Plaza Mayor, make sure to also save room for some local, fresh pastries from Confitería Santa Lucía. They’re especially known for their Hornazo and their “Rosquillas de Ledesma”, small shortbread-style cookies that melt in your mouth.

TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

The term “charra” is used by locals in Salamanca to refer to expressions and customs that come from Salamanca.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageThe historical Casa de las Conchas.

Stroll the Rua Mayor for Historical Sights

Energized with a great breakfast, take the Rua Mayor to head over to the Casa Lis Museum (Museo Casa Lis). Allow time for some sightseeing along the way. This pedestrian street is lined with shops and cafes in delightful buildings, as well as historical sights, and is key when visiting Salamanca. Here are some of the main ones to see along the way:

From the Plaza Anaya, gaze upon the splendor of the majestic Cathedral of Salamanca. While you can choose to walk through the interior of the new cathedral at this time, I do have it suggested further ahead in the itinerary.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageThe new Cathedral of Salamanca.

TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

The Plaza Anaya has a small ecological park that houses one of the only four remaining Giant American Sequoia trees in Europe, which grew from seeds brought from California over 150 years ago.

Experiencing Museo Casa Lis

Continuing around past the cathedral, you will find your next destination, Museo Casa Lis. This art nouveau and art deco museum is in a restored mansion with colorful stained glass, exquisite art, jewelry and more. It will have you ladies wishing you wore a flapper dress because it truly takes you back in time to those winsome eras.

Lunch at Cafe de Lis

To extend your time in the magic of the Museo Casa Lis, sit down to lunch in the Cafe de Lis. This is the only part of the museum where photography is allowed. Through the impressive stained glass windows, take in the splendid view of the River Tormes and Roman bridge of Salamanca.

Featuring homemade, local cuisine made with ingredients from the market, you can choose a la carte, or from a variety of tasting menus, including a vegan tasting menu.

TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

The tasting menus in Cafe de Lis are only available with reservation. You can also enjoy the cafe for drinks. They have the most amazing coffee and liquor drink called Cafe Lis Coffee, which is coffee with condensed milk, Disaronno amaretto liquor, cream, cinnamon, and lemon peel… heavenly and a great dessert! They even made it decaffeinated for me.

The New Cathedral of Salamanca

Walk off lunch at a leisurely pace by returning to the Salamanca Cathedral. It is actually two cathedrals combined, the new and the old cathedral. You start the tour at the new cathedral main entrance, which is facing the Plaza Anaya. To the back of the new cathedral, is the old one. The tall, single tower at the new cathedral’s right end is the Ieronimus Tower.

I suggest touring the ground level of the new and old cathedrals separately from touring the Ieronimus Tower, which is suggested for the next day in this itinerary. For information on fees and hours, click here. Or, have me arrange your tours for you as part of my custom travel planning services.

visiting Salamanca

Above ImageIn the Patio de Escuelas at the University of Salamanca.

The University of Salamanca Buildings

When visiting Salamanca, a must-see is of course the University of Salamanca, which is composed of several buildings throughout the historical center. Founded in 1218, the university is one of the oldest in the world and the oldest in the Hispanic world.

  • The University of Salamanca is the heart and main center of the neighboring faculty buildings.
  • Make sure to spot the “Rana de la Universidad”, the frog of the university, or Salamanca. It can be hard to spot amongst the intricate carvings on the building facade. Click here for an explanation of other carvings on this particular building. There are even more frog sculptures all throughout Salamanca, which you can read about here.
  • The Unamuno House Museum is part of the archives and library services of the university. For museum hours and rates, click here.

    TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

    There are quite a few buildings that are part of the University, each with their own hours subject to classes and primarily for the use of students. I suggest a professional private or group tour for these sights, which you can contact me to book for you. This part of the town is also beautiful to see at night.

    Dinner at ConSentido

    For a deliciously upscale gastronomical experience, head back near the Plaza Mayor to the locally renowned ConSentido. When visiting Salamanca, this is top of the list for dining experiences. The restaurant is listed in the Michelin Guide, and its young, innovative chef has received great praise. After eating there ourselves, we could see why. They pride themselves on featuring locally sourced cuisine that highlights traditional dishes.

    The servings are tapas size and meant for trying a variety of plates to taste more of the menu. Dishes are beautifully presented with a modern flair. The chic ambiance also features a bodega and sausage room.

    TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

    Prepare your appetite with a glass of their MUZ 100% certified organic vermouth that comes from Penedés, Spain.

    Day 3 Visiting Salamanca

    visiting Salamanca

    Above ImageThe Mercado Central of Salamanca.

    Local Breakfast Tastings at Mercado Central

    Hopefully you wake up hungry, even after all the delicious food the day before. Yet, if you have the wonderful, varied breakfast in the hotel, try to eat light so you can save some room for your next visits.

    Head to the Salamanca Central Market if you didn’t venture in the day before. It is right next to the Plaza Mayor. The building features brightly colored stained glass and is the oldest food market in Salamanca. Several vendors inside will give sample tastings, especially of the cheeses and cured meats.

    I encourage you to enjoy savory foods here and save sweets for later. There are also a couple of cafes where you can get a coffee like the locals do.

    Pastries at Confitería La Industrial

    Time for the sweets! Walk next to the start of the Rua Mayor and the alluring bakery of Confitería La Industrial. You should have passed it on your stroll the day before and, even if you were drawn in then, why not allow the enticing window display to draw you inside, perhaps for a second time.

    Complete your breakfast tastings with their wonderful hornazo, variety of “tartas” (cakes, which yes are allowed for breakfast), or any of the other delectable treats.

    Monterrey’s Palace for Spanish Renaissance Architecture

    Leaving the Rua Mayor, venture down old-world narrow streets to the nearby Monterrey’s Palace. This historic building from the 1500s is known as a major example of Renaissance architecture in Spain. The decadent interior showcases amazing furniture and art from over the centuries. It is encouraged to get tickets online to tour the palace. If you have me planning your trip, I can book tickets for you.

    While in this area, you may also want to see these other historical sights:

    Lunch Choices

    There are so many amazing places to eat in Salamanca, in all of Spain for that matter, how can one choose? Yet I love to give you great options. I recommend any of these three restaurants for a wonderful lunch, or keep them in mind for dinner later. When planning a trip, I can provide three options of activities/arrangements so that you can have curated choices based on what I learn about your preferences and desires.

    • Restaurante Origen features local cuisine with an emphasis on the environment. It has a modern, chic ambiance and winter terrace. For groups of eight or more, special menus can be provided.
    • El Mesón de Gonzalo is another Michelin Guide listed restaurant. Known for their rice and meat dishes, they have terrace seating and indoor seating with exposed stone walls.
    • Restaurante Río de la Plata has been around for over 50 years and is considered to be a local favorite. They pride themselves on home cooking in an elegantly cozy, old-world style ambiance.

    Tour the Cathedral’s Ieronimus Tower

    Depending on how tired you are after lunch, you may opt to tour the Ieronimus Tower before or after a siesta at the hotel. Or the tour may help you walk off that delicious meal.

    Touring the Ieronimus Tower provides great insight into the history of Salamanca. It features breathtaking views of the town’s historical center and the surrounding landscape. You also get magnificent views of the interior of the new and old cathedrals. Keep in mind that there are a lot of stairs to climb. If you are not a fan of heights, this is not a tour for you. For hours and ticket sales, visit their website. Or contact me for my travel booking services to arrange everything for you.

    Tapas Dinner

    After such a full day, eat like the Spaniards and share some tapas for a light dinner. Or maybe all the walking has you just as hungry as ever. Whatever your appetite, here are three wonderful choices for your last evening meal in Salamanca.

    • Bambú Tapas y Brasas will keep your Michelin Guide streak going. This gastrobar specializes in modern tapas and sharing platters, as well as grilled meat and seafood. The interior is classy-casual with stylish, modern seating, warm wood details, and exposed stone walls.
    • Restaurante la Hoja 21 provides Mediterranean cuisine in an elegant ambiance for enjoying ‘elevated’ tapas and mains. This is a great fine-dining choice, complete with a wine cellar.
    • Tapas 3.0 is another Michelin Guide listed choice for traditional tapas in a rustic, eatery setting. They also have an extensive wine list.

    TRAVEL EXPERT INSIGHT

    Wandering the historical center at night is gorgeous and romantic. With most streets being pedestrian-only, you can truly relax. Make sure to take your time and enjoy the warm lights reflecting off the majestic buildings.

    Day 4 Visiting Salamanca

    visiting Salamanca

    Above ImageInside the garden of Huerto de Calixto y Melibea.

    Depending on how you are leaving, it’s great to have some time on this last day to still enjoy Salamanca before you depart. The hotel will always do their best to accommodate a late check-out if you desire and will securely hold your luggage if you remain in town after checking out.

    Farewell Breakfast

    Since most likely your last day will be only the morning or a half day, take it easy by enjoying breakfast in the hotel. Or visit a cafe you may have learned about over the past days or return to a favorite.

    Visit a Secret Garden

    For enjoying a lovely short walk near the hotel, make sure to stop in at the tucked away, scenic garden of Huerto de Calixto y Melibea. The intimate space is filled with a diverse array of trees and flowers, as well as views of the cathedral and the River Tormes.

    visiting Salamanca

    Cross the Bridges of Salamanca On the River Tormes

    It’s time to finally get up close and personal with the famed River Tormes that flows through Salamanca. Head down to the river’s Roman bridge and cross over to admire the ancient stone work and natural beauty all around.

    From the other side, take in the picturesque view of the city and its cathedral. It’s an ideal place to say “hasta la proxima” (see you next time) to the beloved city of Salamanca.

    Cross back over by taking the modern-day Enrique Estevan Bridge, and you’re only steps away from the hotel. From here, visiting Salamanca comes to an end. That is, until you return on another trip.

    Custom Travel Planning Services

    As a certified Travel Consultant, I can plan this trip, and any others you dream of. Click here to learn more and get started. 

    Spanish Wine Getaway

    4-Day Itinerary in Salamanca

    Combine these itineraries for a fantastic Salamanca trip of Spanish gastronomy and history.

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    visiting Salamanca
    Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego

    Written by Amalia Maloney Del Riego

    Certified Travel Consultant & Writer

    I love living in Denia, Spain and traveling worldwide. My idea of a great time is ‘eating and drinking’ my way around a new place and meeting the people. As a certified Travel Consultant, I specialize in custom travel planning for trips throughout Spain and Europe, as well as scouting trips for moving to the Costa Blanca area of Spain.

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