Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids – Spain Road Trip – Salamanca with Kids

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Things to do in Salamanca Spain with kids…or without! Known as the “Golden City,” Salamanca Spain is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

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Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Things to Do in Salamanca Spain with Kids…or Without

Any family trip to Europe should include some time exploring things to do in Salamanca Spain. The first stop of our first big road trip in Spain was the medieval town of Toledo. After Toledo, we moved on to the equally fascinating Salamanca, a city built out of golden sandstone that shimmers in the twilight.

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Getting to Salamanca Spain

There are many ways to get to Salamanca Spain. The most common is via car or train. Flying in isn’t a realistic option for most people.

  • Madrid to Salamanca Spain: approx 2 hours by car, 3 hours by bus and 4-5 hours by train.
  • Barcelona to Salamanca Spain: approx 8 hours by car, 11 hours by bus and 6.5 hours by train.
  • Valencia to Salamanca Spain: approx 6 hours by car, 8 hours by bus and 6 hours by train.

Driving to Salamanca was easy enough, especially after dealing with the narrow medieval streets of Toledo. In fact, Keiko and I were shocked at just how wide-open this part of La Mancha really was.

What to Do in Salamanca with Kids or On Your Own

Now let’s talk about things to do in Salamanca Spain. The main Salamanca attractions for us were the city itself — fantastic sandstone structures that glowed in the twilight. The ambiance of the town was enough for one night, but after that, we found some fun things to do in Salamanca.

It was late evening by the time we checked in to our Airbnb. Keiko and our girl were ready to crash, so after dinner, the boy and I decided to go for a walk on our own. Any visit to Salamanca with kids should include an aimless meandering through the city’s old quarter. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Salamanca Spain, no what kind of traveler you are.

Plaza Mayor: Things to do in Salamanca Spain

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

This place is beautiful at any time of day or night, but it really comes alive when the sun goes down. In the summertime, that means around 10 pm. We usually try to have our kids in bed by then, but we make exceptions for places like this. Ringed by cafes and restaurants, Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor fills with locals, travelers, tour groups and roving bands of musicians called Las Tunas.

Las Tunas: Salamanca with Kids

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

No night in downtown Salamanca with kids is complete without watching these roving bands play a few tunes. Las Tunas are often comprised of college students, and these guys ham it up for the crowds that form around them. They sing and strum with passion, all the while joking around with the crowd the way only exceptional street performers can. They’re good and worth a second viewing. Keiko and the girl needed to see this, so the boy and I decided to make sure we went back once more before we left town.

Casa de las Conchas: Things to do in Salamanca Spain

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Once the home of a knight and a professor at Salamanca University, this house started construction 1493 and is covered with a design of over 300 scallop shells. If you spend any time in northern Spain with kids, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk about the shell and its meaning to catholic pilgrims and anyone else hiking the Camino de Santiago trails.

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Now the building houses a library, but there’s not much to engage kids here. I wanted to see it regardless, and family travel is about trying to find things for everyone. So this one was for me. Besides, it’s an excellent photo op — both inside and out — and it took Keiko and me about 20 minutes while the kids sat on the steps outside once they lost interest. There was an exceptional busker singing and playing guitar on the steps out front, so they sat and watched him while Keiko and I wandered around inside.

Salamanca University: Salamanca with Kids

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

This is one of the oldest universities in the world: people were studying here when Christopher Columbus believed that he had just landed in India. Here you will find La Puerta de Salamanca: a dizzyingly intricate facade on one of the University’s main buildings. Many come to marvel at the riot of symbolism and detail in the carvings. Others come to scan through the work to find…a frog.

Yes, I said frog.

You see, there is a single frog sculpted somewhere among the wall’s intricate filigree. And for reasons beyond me to question, finding this frog on your own is supposed to bring good luck to the one who discovers it on his/her own.

Of course, there is an enterprising Spaniard set up here selling little toy frogs: frogs that light up, frogs that make a noise, etc. If you want to find the frog on your own, don’t look at his stand. He has a picture of the frog’s location on the very front of his stall.

Museo de Art Nouveau y Art Decó: Things to Do in Salamanca Spain

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Also known as Museo Casa Lis, I have mixed feelings about recommending this place. I enjoyed it, and our kids liked it ok, but it’s not for everyone. Moreover, one of the main reasons I went was to get some pictures of our family inside its spectacular stained glass foyer. Only upon arrival did I realize that no photography is allowed.

If you look up “Salamanca with kids,” Google will spout out a handful of links that say this place is great for families. One of the main reasons given is that the museum has huge displays of antique porcelain dolls.

Take this recommendation with a grain of salt.

First of all, not all kids love looking at dolls behind glass. Secondly, some of these old dolls could be quite creepy to both child and parent alike.

I enjoyed the art deco furniture and other collections, but to be honest, I wouldn’t blame most kids for struggling to find interest here. My girl liked some of the decorative arts displays, but the boy could have skipped this place altogether.

We only needed an hour here. Adult tickets are 4 euros, while kids under 14 are free.

What to Do Around Salamanca with Kids

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids
Salamanca is rich with cultural, culinary, historical and architectural attractions, and our kids get a lot out of these things. That said, they can only do so much walking in and around old buildings before they start climbing the walls. Like typical teens and tweens, they often prefer thrills in the present over anything from the past, no matter how interesting.

There are lots of things to do in Salamanca with kids, but we decided to explore what fun we could find outside the city as well. We love hiking and other outdoor activities. We especially enjoy wild swimming, a term I have only recently learned but have done my entire life. As the name suggests, “wild swimming” is essentially swimming in the wild, away from lifeguards and other public institutions.

Our favorite is the river swim. A good stretch of cold clear river is our favorite way to take a dip. Keiko and I used to go all the time when we lived in Taiwan in the late 1990’s. The kids discovered wild swimming in the Sumatran jungle and fell in love with it instantly.

Camino de Agua: Salamanca with Kids

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids
My goal was to take this short, 4km hike to work up an appetite for lunch, but unfortunately, our timing was off. When we arrived at the information center, the staff told us that it was not advised to hike it at mid-day.

If I understood him correctly (and there’s a good chance that I didn’t), the trail was too hot at that time, and certain species of fly (mosquito?) took over parts of the trail during the afternoon. With both of our child interpreters back in the car asleep, I took the guy at his word and decided to do the hike another day. We’ve done some serious hiking and I knew we could handle it, but I knew that there was other fun in store for us.

La Alberca: Things to do Near Salamanca Spain

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Instead, we walked into the nearby town to get a taste of Spanish village life. Like much of Spain, La Alberca was old. Most houses had the year they were built carved above the door. Many of them were from the late 1700’s.

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids
Clean, clear mountain water gushed into stone basins along the road, and flowers hung from the balconies. In the charming town square, locals plied us with free samples of honey and almonds for sale, and the tourist office pointed out a few places nearby where we could take a dip in the river.

The roads are steep and winding in this area, so if your kids get carsick, make sure to bring meds or other remedies.

Wild Swimming in the Riomalo de Abajo

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

That’s right: we willingly drove to a place called “Bad River” to swim. And you know what? It wasn’t bad at all. If anything, it was a bit too nice and calm for our liking, and shockingly cold. After a quick dip and a sandwich, we moved on.

Wild Swimming in Castillo de Los Dávila

Once we rolled through this small town, we headed for its castle. Spain is full of castle ruins, but we drove to this one because once over the nearby castle bridge we could park and walk down to the river nearby.

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

We liked this spot so much that we returned for most of the following afternoon. There was one nice deep pool with several jumping points, as well as a few local swimmers hanging out to tell us where it was safest to jump.

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

That night, we wandered Salamanca’s Plaza and lively alleyways before heading back to our Airbnb apartment to pack and prep for the following day’s drive to Leon.

Where to Stay in Salamanca with Kids

Things to do in Salamanca Spain with Kids - Spain Road Trip - Salamanca with Kids

Another great Airbnb find, this apartment was not as luxurious as our Toledo place, but it perfectly suited our needs and our budget. Where the Toledo spot felt like a place designed to be rented out, the Salamanca apartment felt like staying in the home of a relative who was out of town. It was clean, spacious and an easy 15-minute walk to the Plaza Mayor. Parking was fairly easy on the block outside the apartment, and even in July, the air was cool and refreshing — no need for AC.

Have You Been to Salamanca Spain?

Do you know of other fun things to do in Salamanca Spain? Have you been to Salamanca with kids? Or dd you explore Salamanca Spain on your own? What would you recommend? What did we miss? We were there for such a short time and so we plan to return. And all advice and recommendations are welcome. Tell us what you think in the comments, or contact us directly.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a hotel room using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you find the best things to do in Salamanca Spain with kids or without. Do you know any fun things to do in Salamanca Spain? Have you been to Salamanca with kids? Let us know! We’ll keep this list of Salamanca attractions updated, so any tips are always appreciated. 

Comments

  1. Love this! Our family spent a month in Salamanca this past November and I only wish we’d found your guide beforehand. Thanks for sharing, it was nice to “revisit” Salamanca while reading this.

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