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Salamanca is known as Spain's golden city, partly because of the colour of its sandstone buildings and partly because of its excellent university, which has been educating some of the country's best minds since the 13th century. With hundreds of Spanish and international students, it has a young vibe and a vibrant nightlife. As the setting sun hits the buildings and turns them gold, revellers take to the open air bars with their sangria and the party really begins.
Hostels in Salamanca have little touches to make you feel at home, whether it's a free homemade breakfast to start the day or a cosy living room where you can chat with new friends. There is a Salamanca hostel with a balcony overlooking the Plaza Mayor square, and some hostels have an elevator too. At other Salamanca hostels you'll find on-site cafés with free Wi-Fi or buzzing bars where you can grab a drink before heading out for tapas.
The Plaza Mayor is Salamanca's main square, fringed by shops and restaurants where you can sit outside. If you want to try tapas, head to Calle Van Dyck (Van Dyck Street), a student area that's known for its budget-friendly bars and tavernas. It also has good shopping, including a large department store. Just to the west of the historic centre, the Barrio del Oeste is packed with colourful street art, popular cafés and lively bars.
There's historic architecture around every corner in Salamanca, such as the 16th-century Casa de las Conchas (House of Shells), perhaps the city's most iconic building and now a public library. Some of the buildings also come with fun traditions: see if you can spot the frog on the university's ornate main entrance, which is said to bring students good luck. In the evening, a self-guided tapas tour along Calle Van Dyck will give you a taste for the Spanish style of eating: look for typical dishes like patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce), jamón ibérico (cured ham) and pintxos (little open sandwiches).
Salamanca's train station is in the Garrado district on the outskirts of the city centre, about 20 minutes' walk from the Plaza Mayor, and a bus runs between the station and Plaza del Poeta Iglesias, right next to Plaza Mayor. The city centre is small enough to explore on foot, but if you want to go further afield there's a good network of city buses, including a night bus that runs until 3am during the week and 4am at weekends.