Take the chance to visit this nearby village, often described as one of the most picturesque in Spain. Sitting in a hilly region to the south, the streets here are free of cars and lined with timber-framed houses decorated with colourful window boxes. All of which gives you the feeling that you’ve stepped back a few centuries in time. The pace of life is slower here, making it the perfect place to sit at a pavement café simply people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere. The one-hour drive takes you along scenic country roads in an area bordering the area’s mountainous UNESCO biosphere reserve, before arriving in La Alberca.
This small city to the north is packed for of Gothic architecture and medieval history. It’s famous for medieval religious sites like the San Pablo Church, built in the Spanish Gothic style and dating from the 1400s. There’s also the Royal Palace, home to royalty in the 1600s. The city also has some excellent museums and galleries including the National Sculpture Museum, and the Christopher Columbus Museum, telling the story of the explorer, who died here in Valladolid. It’s an easy one-hour drive from Salamanca through green countryside.
Love it or hate it, Salamanca is in the heart of bullfighting country, and the sport is a proud tradition in the region. If you’re visiting in early August, visit this small town to experience the crazy Carnaval de Toros, when the town’s Plaza Mayor is transformed into a bullfighting ring and locals party nonstop at the many open-air cafés, creating a very lively atmosphere. It’s just an hour’s drive from Salamanca, and if you want to join the party instead of driving back, it’s possible to find overnight accommodation in the town.
Wine lovers can’t get enough of this region, and it’s easy to see why. If you want to taste the incredible wines in the Castilla y Leon region surrounding Salamanca, hop in the car and head for the Ribero del Duero region. This is the home of some of the most renowned wine in Spain, rivalling even Rioja. Start near Valladolid and explore the country roads near the river as it winds southwest towards Portugal. You’ll find yourself surrounded by vineyards devoted to tempranillo, and there are no end of small wineries to visit. For more details, check out our guide to the wine regions of Castilla y Leon.
Another must-visit for wine connoisseurs is La Milla de Oro, or The Golden Mile, found to the west of the Ribera del Duero region. The prestigious route is made up of wineries dotted along the Duero river. Thought to have a special micro-climate, the Golden Mile is home to some of Spain’s most renowned wineries, locally known as Vino de la Tierra. The area has an ancient wine-making tradition dating back to Roman times. Start your exploration at the villages of Sardón del Duero and nearby Retuerta, both of which are surrounded by vineyards included in the Golden Mile.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ávila is a treasure trove for history lovers. Walking the cobbled streets will take you back to the times of old Spain, as you discover the town is packed with stunning museums and churches enclosed by impressive medieval walls. The entire wall is lit up spectacularly at night, making it a great place for a romantic walk.
If you prefer to immerse yourself in nature, it’s worth the one hour drive north to visit Lagunas de Villafáfila, a popular nature reserve famous for sightings of rare birds in and around the peaceful lagoons. Numerous hiking trails start from here, and the Park House is staffed by knowledgeable volunteers who can give you all the information you need to explore the area. Find more information on the official website.