Off The Beaten Path in Spain: Salamanca

Salamanca Cathedral

Salamanca Cathedral

By Anna Fishman

170 miles west of Madrid (Spain) and 200 miles east of Porto (Portugal), lies a beautiful medieval Spanish town of Salamanca. It is rarely mentioned in any of the “must-see” places in Spain, and I still don’t understand why. Salamanca‘s old town is beautiful and can hold its own against many popular towns and cities in Spain.

Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, Universidad de Salamanca, and attracts international students from all over the world, especially during the summer. I was lucky enough to study abroad there for one summer and it was an unforgettable experience. Needless to say, this was more of a “party abroad” than “study abroad” experience, but I got to see a lot of Spain, made life long friends and even picked up some of conversational Spanish. In my book, this was a success!

Salamanca’s charm goes way beyond its Plaza de Mayor with its mouthwatering tapas and tiny cups of the strongest coffee you’ll ever drink. Narrow cobblestone streets start at the Plaza and circle it many times over. Little cafes, restaurants and shops are abundant. Slices of Spanish potato omelette (tortilla de patata) are as common as pizza in Italy. Nightlife buzzes till dawn with the bars nestled door-to-door inviting you with free shots of tequila (I don’t think we ever paid for drinks in Salamanca).  Keep in mind that Spaniards don’t go out to dinner until 9-10 pm and start partying much later than that, but a much welcome siesta during the day (a break that lasts a couple of hours, during which all businesses close) helps you get back in shape.

A fun fact about Salamanca: the town’s symbol is a frog, so you will see a lot of souvenirs and architectural details featuring the little guy.

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