The Spanish city you'd never thought to visit – with the country's finest square

There are historical sights, yes, but this Spanish city is no slave to the past: it has so much more. Here’s how to best explore Salamanca.

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The chatter of students on the café terraces lining the streets ensure that this elegant city never feels like a museum. The buzz is even louder now as Salamanca is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the foundation of its university until the end of 2018.

On Dec 13, the Plaza Mayor will be packed with revellers for an early New Year’s Eve party. Fly to Madrid (135 miles/220km from Salamanca) with Iberia Express (iberiaexpress.com) or British Airways (ba.com) to arrive in Terminal 4, which has a train link with Chamartín station for trains to Salamanca (fastest takes 96 minutes; renfe.com). There is also a direct bus from the airport to Salamanca (two-and-a-half-hour journey; avanzabus.com).

Stay here

From the modern Parador (1) (parador.es/en) there is a fabulous view of the city, as well as an outdoor pool and a good restaurant. Doubles from £103 including breakfast. Right by the Plaza Mayor, Room Mate Vega (2) (telegraph.co.uk/tt-room-mate-vega) is a smart option with doubles from £50 including breakfast.  

Walk here

From the splendid Plaza Mayor (3), considered to be the most beautiful square in Spain, walk down the Rúa Mayor and Calle Libreros to reach the Salamanca University (4) (museo.usal.es; admission €10/£8). Then walk on down the hill to the Roman bridge that crosses the Tormes river (5). 

Plaza Mayor: the most beautiful square in Spain?

Plaza Mayor: the most beautiful square in Spain?

Credit:
getty

See this

Salamanca has two magnificent cathedrals (6) alongside each other. The Romanesque original survived when the “new” structure was built in the 16th century (catedralsalamanca.org; admission €4.75). Don’t miss climbing the Ieronymus towers (ieronimus.es; admission €3.75). 

Try this

Get a taste of the local specialities and learn how to order on a tapas and wine tour around taverns (rutadetapas.com; from €35). 

Happy 800th Birthday to Salamanca University

Happy 800th Birthday to Salamanca University

Credit:
Getty

Shop here

Mercatus (7) (Cardenal Pla y Deniel; mercatus.usal.es), the official university shop, stocks bags, sweatshirts and stationery. Pick up vacuum-packed Ibérico ham at Mulas (8) (Rúa Mayor 3; carnicasmulas.com).

Drink here

Soak up the atmosphere in the Plaza Mayor from a strategic table at Café Novelty (9) (cafenovelty.com), which has been open since 1905, with a glass of Ribera del Duero wine (€3).  

Eat here

Tapas 2.0 (10) (Felipe Espino 10) is one of the best gastrobars in Spain. Expect to spend €15-€25 per person. Tapas 3.0 (11) on the parallel street (Sánchez Barbero 7; tapastrespuntocero.com), is more of a restaurant with a three-course lunch for €16. Both have terrace tables. 

Off the map

Five miles (8km) south, Arapiles was the scene of the Battle of Salamanca in 1812 in the Peninsular War, when the Duke of Wellington’s army defeated the French. A route marks the key sites. Take a taxi or rent a bike and ride down the cycle path (alquilerbicisalamanca.com; from €12 for three hours).

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