I love Salamanca. As my semester is drawing to a close, I’m reflecting on some of the best memories I have here and why this city is so special. Since I’ve been here around four months, I think I am qualified to give native advice about visiting and living in the city. Here are the most important things to keep in mind before a visit to Salamanca:
Top five things to do in Salamanca:
- Go to the top of the tower of the new cathedral: the view of the city is incredible!
- Sit for a while in La Plaza Mayor: people watch, order a coffee, take in the beautiful plaza.
- Watch the sunset over by El Río Tormes and La Puente Romano
- Find the hidden frog on the facade of the University of Salamanca
- Go shopping. Calle Zamora and Calle Toro have the best shops, and I’m lucky enough to pass by the multiple times a day on my way to class!
Top three places to shop:
They’re my go-to’s. Clothes are reasonably priced and very stylish. One of the two Zara’s in Salamanca used to be a church, so it’s worth checking out.
Top three things to eat in Salamanca:
- Tortilla de patatas: egg, potatoes, and onion. In English, a potato omelette, the best ones are made by Spanish mothers.
- Chocolate con churros: you know it’s good chocolate if you set a spoon on top and it doesn’t sink. I recommend Valor or Las Torres for the best churros.
- Croissants: they’re good anywhere. My favorites have chocolate, I recommend a “Napolitana Blanco y Negro” from Croissantería París because it has white chocolate and dark chocolate and it tastes heavenly.
Honorable mention: Paella. A must-try, the classic is “Paella Valenciana” and is probably the most famous and most commonly served dish in Spain.
Top three things to drink in Salamanca:
- Café con leche: Coffee with milk. Coffee here comes in smaller serving sizes but it just tastes better.
- Zumo natural: Fresh squeezed orange juice. Delicious.
- Sangria: I recommend trying sangria from multiple places because some restaurants do it right and some just don’t. When sangria comes with fresh fruit, that usually means it’s good.
Top three things to learn a little bit about before coming to Salamanca:
- The Spanish Civil War and the Franco Regime: the most important part of Spain’s history from the past century. Modern culture relates to what happened during the dictatorship and it’s impossible to understand Spain without understanding that era.
- The Reconquest: very important to understand the history of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity in Spain. Nine hundred years of conflict, a general knowledge is a must.
- The current economy: not doing very well and unemployment is high.
Top three souvenirs to buy:
- Botón charro: the symbol of Salamanca! Check out any tourist shop and they come as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bookmarks, etc.
- Una rana: the hidden frog from the facade of the University
- Postcards: send them to everyone! Keep them for yourself!
I’m so glad that I chose Salamanca as the city where I studied abroad. It is full of history yet not too big, and I’m happy that I’ve gotten to be involved in the Spanish culture. This is my best advice for people who might want to visit Salamanca, and it also gives a snapshot of what my life has been like for the past four months!