The best things to see and do in Salamanca

The ancient city of Salamanca is recognised around the world for its famous university and historic UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City.

The ancient city of Salamanca is recognised around the world for its famous university and historic UNESCO World Heritage Site Old City. Retaining a wonderful village vibe thanks to the relaxed pace of the locals and the careful infrastructure; Salamanca is growing increasingly popular with Spanish and overseas visitors looking to experience the city’s unique way of life.
Known as La Dorada (the golden city), the sandstone buildings of Salamanca seem to glow in the sunlight, creating a welcoming and mesmerising spectacle.
Must-see sights
Salamanca is a city whose significance and influence is far greater than its city limits, and the beautiful, ancient architecture creates apostcard-worthy setting. In a country full of memorable cities, Salamanca isregarded as one of the most appealing in all of Spain, thanks to the unspoiledcharm of its old palaces, churches, alleys and squares.

Known as La Dorada (the Golden City), the sandstone buildings of Salamanca seem to glow in the sunlight, creating a welcoming and mesmerising spectacle that perfectly complements any Douro River cruise. Acquaint yourself with the highlights of this momentous Spanish city, as we take a look at the must-see sights, hidden gems and culinary delights of Salamanca. 

Cathedral of Salamanca

Cathedral of Salamanca
The Cathedral of Salamanca refers to both the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral. The beautiful charm of the Old Cathedral is evident and we would recommend visiting the elder of the two first. Built in the 12th-century and possessing a Romanesque charm, the cathedral is a site of exquisite beauty, inside and out. The New Cathedral is considered to be a national monument, with an ornate façade featuring depictions of an astronaut and a faun eating ice cream.

Plaza Mayor

Plaza Mayor
The beautiful old public square is the heart of Salamanca. Surrounded by beautiful Baroque buildings and a series of charming restaurants, ice cream parlours and jewellery stores, locals and visitors love to congregate in this relaxed area. Completed in the middle of the 18th-century, the Plaza Mayor has witnessed much of the city’s rich history and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old City.

The University of Salamanca

University of Salamanca
With such a high percentage of the city’s population engaged in academia, the University of Salamanca is central to the spirit and personality of the city. A visit to the ancient university buildings will unveil a history that can be traced back to 1130. Head to the Old University Library to see if you can spot the hidden frog in the ornate façade.

Casa de las Conchas

Casa de las Conchas

With a name that can be translated to mean House of the Shells, you shouldn’t be surprised to find the façade of this late Gothic and Plateresque building covered in more than 300 shells. A knight of the Order of Santiago de Compostela built this impressive structure more than five centuries ago and it now houses a public library.

Casa Lis

The Casa Lis is a museum dedicated to Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Housing some of the finest sculptures, jewellery and glasswork exhibitions in the country, this museum showcases work from the late 19th-century to the onset of WWII. A short walk around the inner ancient city wall museum should be completed with a visit to the café, which pairs a charming wine selection with exquisite views over Salamanca’s ancient Roman bridge.

Casa Lis
Food and Drink


Hornazo is a traditional Spanish meat pie that’s customarily eaten to mark the end of Easter in Salamanca and other parts of Castile and León. The pie itself is made from layers of meat, traditionally chorizo or loin pork, wrapped in shortcrust pastry and finished with a trademark diagonal pattern.

Where to try it: You’ll find hornazo in most bakeries throughout Salamanca, but La Tahona de la Abuela’s take on this classic street food is perhaps the best in town.



Often enjoyed as part of classic Spanish tapas in Salamanca; paloma is an authentic local hors d’oeuvre, comprising of Russian salad partially sealed in a deep-fried wheat crumb. Delicious when served cold with a refreshing local cerveza, this small dish is a firm local favourite and we’d definitely recommend adding it to your tapas list.

Where to try it: For some of the best tapas in Salamanca, we’d recommend Vindodiario on the Plaza Basilios. This charming and intimate restaurant has a huge tapas menu and reasonable prices, so you can try everything you fancy.


Fried sausage with eggs and toast

For the ultimate indulgent brunch option try farinato, a spicy sausage that is local to the region. This delicious dish is customarily cooked with scrambled eggs and served at breakfast time. Like chorizo, farinato sausages are dry cured with salt, pepper and paprika, adding a subtle orange colour to the eggs.

Where to try it: If brunch is on the cards, try Cafe Bar Mandala. This authentic Spanish café is revered for its hearty breakfast options, as well as its fresh juices and Moorish-influenced Arabic coffee.

Fast facts

Salamanca provides interest and intrigue around every corner; here are just a few of our favourite facts about this unique city.

The people of Salamanca are called Salmantinos
Salamanca’s 16th-century cathedral features a stone cosmonaut amongst its gargoyles
20% of the city’s population either study or work at the university
The university is the third oldest in Europe
Salamanca was the 2002 European Capital of Culture
The frog is a symbol of Salamanca and is said to bring good luck
Salamanca is one of Spain’s major centres for the teaching of the Spanish language

If you’re interested in experiencing the historic splendour of Salamanca as part of an Emerald Cruises river cruise, take a look at our Secrets of the Douro itinerary or call our friendly sales team on 0808 301 4705.