City Visit: Day Tripping to Salamanca, Spain

Thanks to Madrid’s location in the middle of the country, there are quite a few day tripping opportunities available to travellers. During our trip, we decided to take in a day trip to Salamanca, Spain. The city of Salamanca is known for its large student population, but more importantly, its’ historic Playa Mayor.

This post is one chapter in our Around the World in Star Alliance First Class via China, Thailand and Spain. This trip was booked using Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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City Visit: Day Tripping to Salamanca, Spain

Reasons to go:

We had a little extra time in Madrid, Spain. We always aim to get the most out of a visit to any country so we picked an easy day side trip from the city of Madrid, Spain. The truth be told, I had seen the American 2008 film Vantage Point, the majority the film’s story which was set in Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain. Unfortunately, the Spanish Government did not allow the film makers to close the square for 3 months to fulfil filming so while the story was set in Salamanca, the film was actually filmed in Mexico. At least they used some aerial photography from Salamanca cut into the final version.

The city of Salamanca itself has quite a bit going for it and it’s well worth a day trip from Madrid. The Old Town of Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is particularly rich in old world sights. The town is also a major university town as home to the University of Salamanca and the Plaza Mayor is considered to be one of the most beautiful plazas in Spain.

Booking and Getting there:

We ended up taking the train to Salamanca from Madrid. It was a simple two hours and thirty minutes on the Cercanaís (Commuter) train from Madrid over to Salamanca each way. Although the map indicated a longer travel time, there are now express trains which started in the year 2015 which are able to make the journey in as little as one hour and forty five minutes.

Using the website at Renfe, we were able to purchase a round trip ticket for the same day for about 35 € per person, round trip. Our train departed Madrid from Principe Pio station. We used the Madrid Metro Cercanías combination to connect there from Madrid Atocha.

Renfe Train: Madrid Principe Pio to Salamanca

On arrival into Salamanca, it was a short twenty minute walk from the train station nto the city that was pretty uninspiring.

Arriving to the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca

It started off as a pretty grey day but it started to warm up as the day went on. Being the logical centre of town, we headed straight for the famous Plaza Mayor right in the heart of town.

The Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is in the centre of the old town. The construction of the plaza started in 1729 and was completed in 1755. The plaza was originally designed for bullfighting. It had been used for bullfighting up until the mid-19th century, one hundred years after being completed. The construction took place in two phases: the first was between 1729 and 1735 and the second was between 1750 and 1755. Needless to say, they did something right as the baroque era buildings are completely impressive and like nothing seen in other parts of the world.

Plaza Mayor Salamanca
Salamanca Plaza Cafe’s not yet open for trading
The front of the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca, Spain

Visiting the Catedral Veija / Old Cathedral:

Since we arrived in the morning, and most of the Plaza hadn’t fully come to light, we headed over to the Veija Catedral, Salamanca. It was a pleasant but short walk over under Salamanca’s old streets.

Old City Streets of Salamanca

The Catedral Veija / Old Cathedral of Salamanca was initially constructed in the year 1120. It is a bit of a dual experience as there is an old cathedral and a new cathedral located almost right next door to each other. It remains as one of the largest church complexes in Spain.

Old Catherdral, Salamanca, Spain
The Church Complex in Salamanca, Spain
The Church Complex in Salamanca, Spain

Among the more impressive features of the visit are the detailing on the walls of the complexes. The old church in particular had extensive detailing on the walls.

Inside the Old Cathedral:

On this trip to Salamanca, we visited the inside of the Old Cathedral. Despite the dozens of Old World Churches I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in Europe, it’s still so impressive to walk the halls of these giants and to spend time taking in the beauty of its walls.

Old Cathedral, Salamanca, Spain
Old Cathedral, Salamanca, Spain

Wandering through the Salamanca Old Town:

After the Old Cathedral, we wandered back through the streets of the Old Town. There was stacks of history through the town and it had a unique charm with its older heritage.

Old Town, Salamanca, Spain
Streets of Old Town Salamanca, Spain
Re-Approaching Plaza Mayor, Salamanca

We arrived back to the Plaza Mayor where the place was now in full operation. The Plaza Mayor is lined around it’s edges by restaurants, ice cream parlours, some jewelry stores and the occasional tourist shop.

It was the perfect place to touch down for a little Spanish Wine and relax after several hours of sightseeing. In addition to taking in the wonderful architecture, the square is an excellent place for people watching.

Plaza Mayor, Salamanca
Student Groups in Plaza Mayor
The Front Gate of Plaza Mayor
Stopping for a well needed glass

From the high of this beautiful visit, it was back home to Madrid on the late evening train. We arrived into Madrid into a deserted train station and found our way back to Plaza Santa Ana for some dinner.


There is so much to see in Salamanca, Spain. While it’s just a train ride away from Madrid, it feels much further than that thanks to being slightly off the regular tourist trail. Despite the old world feel to the town, the city has a vibrant feel to it thanks to the University Town. Salamanca is a great day visit from Madrid and I’d easily recommend a visit here on your travels through Spain.

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