A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Salamanca, Spain
Salamanca. It’s yet another one of those Madrid day trips that’s hard to find wheelchair accessible information about on the internet. We approached our trip to Salamanca with low expectations and came away amazed at how accessible this destination is. In this post, we’ll share our tips for wheelchair accessibility in Salamanca.
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General wheelchair accessibility in Salamanca
Salamanca is the antithesis of what makes wheelchair accessibility so difficult in many Spanish towns.
You’re not going to encounter endless amounts of cobblestone. For the cobblestone that you’ll come across, it’s typically a smoother version.
Even better, the city transformed some of its original cobblestone streets into smooth terrain with only squares of the original cobblestone scattered about.
Salamanca doesn’t have many steep inclines within the historical center. Especially when arriving from the bus or train station, you’ll be able to enjoy a flat journey into the heart of the city.
It’s not to say that Salamanca is incline free, for it does have its areas, particularly when traveling up from the river. But generally speaking, both manual and power wheelchair users alike will find most inclines manageable.
As happy as we were to see the streets of Salamanca offer good wheelchair accessibility, the buildings in Salamanca weren’t as accessible as we had hoped. We’ll get into more detail about the buildings that are and aren’t accessible shortly.
Getting to Salamanca
If you’re looking to take a day trip from Madrid using public transportation, Salamanca is the perfect option for wheelchair users.
Both the train and bus stations in Salamanca are near the historical center, about a 15 – 20 minute stroll away. There are sidewalks the entire way with drop curbs at all crossings.
Both the Renfe trains and the Avanza buses offer wheelchair support, which can be requested at the time of booking your ticket online or in person.
Wheelchair accessible parking in Salamanca
If you’ll be driving to Salamanca, we recommend finding a parking lot on the outskirts of the historical center and leaving your vehicle there for the day.
The historical center of Salamanca is very small.
This, in conjunction with the good street accessibility that we’ve already discussed, means that driving between sites and seeking out new parking spots would be an unnecessary hassle.
The one possible exception to this is the Roman Bridge, since it’s located down a short but rather steep hill from the center. We’ll talk more about visiting the bridge later in this post.
Wheelchair accessible things to do in Salamanca
For as small as it is, Salamanca is packed with interesting things to see and do. We’ve put together details on some must-do wheelchair accessible activities in Salamanca.
However, aside from these, we encourage you to spend time exploring the streets. You’re bound to come across plenty of your own gems!
Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is everything you’d expect from a main Spanish plaza. Lots of open space, beautiful old buildings, multiple arched entranceways, and tons of tourists gawking at it all.
In fact, at quick glance, it’s easy to mistake Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor for Madrid’s Plaza Mayor. Talk about impressive.
In terms of wheelchair accessibility, the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is superb. The ground is smooth and level. Plus, plenty of restaurants set up outdoor tables for lunch and dinner, making it a great (albeit expensive) accessible place to dine.
The Roman Bridge, formally called Puente Mayor del Tormes, is one of the most photographed places in Salamanca. It connects the old city with land on the opposite side of the Tormes River and has been there in one version or another for hundreds of years.
Getting to the Roman Bridge involves going down a steep hill when traveling from the historical center.
Therefore, it may be more comfortable to make your visit to the bridge either at the beginning or at the end of your Salamanca visit so you can drive there.
The bridge itself is cobblestone brick. It’ll be bumpy, but it’s not the kind of cobblestone that small wheels will get stuck in.
Casa de las Conchas
It’s hard to miss the Casa de las Conchas when you’re roaming about Salamanca. If it isn’t the seashell sculpture sticking out of the ground that stops you in your tracks, it’ll be all the seashells, called “conchas” in Spanish, plastered to the building.
Built in the late 1400s, there are over 300 shells on the walls. They represent the order of Santiago but nowadays could fool someone who hasn’t looked at a map into thinking that the ocean is nearby.
The Casa de las Conchas is currently a public library. Unfortunately, there are two large steps leading into the library, so it isn’t accessible for wheelchair users.
The Salamanca Cathedral is a beauty to look at as it is two cathedrals combined- the old and new cathedral.
It’s also a bit intimidating for wheelchair accessibility since at first glance, the Salamanca Cathedral appears to be surrounded by steps.
In order for wheelchair users to access the Cathedral, you’ll need to have someone go up the steps to notify the staff manning the ticket booth. They’ll then open the accessible door for you around the side of the Cathedral.
When facing the main entrance of the Cathedral, the accessible entrance is to the right side. Even so, you’ll still have to go up a small ledge to get to the sidewalk.
Once inside, the ground floor of the Salamanca Cathedral is wheelchair accessible. The entrance fee is waived for wheelchair users.
University of Salamanca
Salamanca is first and foremost a city created for academia. The University of Salamanca, founded in 1218, is the third oldest university in the western world.
The university is still active today, with the streets of Salamanca being filled with students and tourists alike.
You’ll encounter a number of university buildings when exploring Salamanca. However, none is as famous as the massive building with the red doors at the corner of the Salamanca Cathedral and Plaza de Anaya.
While impressive, the main University of Salamanca entrance has steep steps, so wheelchair users will need to admire the building from the outside.
Art Nouveau Museum
The Art Nouveau Museum offers around 2,500 decorative art pieces ranging from the last part of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century.
Even people who aren’t museum buffs will be able to appreciate many of the pieces, as this museum is a more visually engaging kind of experience rather than the kind where you read huge blocks of text.
The Art Nouveau Museum is wheelchair accessible, thanks to ramps and an elevator that serves the first and second floors.
Convento de San Esteban
Like so many cities in Spain, Salamanca has a convent. The Convento de San Esteban offers yet another beautiful piece of architecture to admire from the outside.
Once you’ve soaked in the beauty of the convent from the plaza in front of it, make sure to take a peek inside.
Salamanca’s Convento de San Esteban offers wheelchair accessibility on the first floor. Once you get inside the convent, you’ll be able to bypass the ticket booth since wheelchair users visit for free.
From there, you’ll pass through the courtyard. But first, you’ll need to put down the portable wooden ramp that’ll be resting against a nearby door.
Once out in the courtyard area, you can roll around the square which varies in terrain from uneven stone slabs to perfectly smooth, more modern flooring.
The courtyard is small, so it won’t take long to visit, but we recommend it.
If the thought of shopping on a trip to a historical city makes you cringe, we get it. Feel free to move to the next point.
However, for lovers of shopping or if you’re looking for something to do to fill your time, taking a stroll down Calle Torro is a great option.
For starters, it has a lovely smooth surface. Also, many of the restaurants and shops along it are wheelchair accessible.
Even if you’re not inclined to go on a shopping spree, Calle Torro is pretty to look at since there are a fair amount of old buildings scattered among the more modern shops.
One of our favorite parts about Salamanca was enjoying a three-course Spanish meal while people watching.
There’s no shortage of restaurants to choose from, many of which offer “menús”, which means that you’ll get an appetizer, main meal, and dessert for anywhere from 12 – 15+ Euros, depending on the location and how expensive your ingredients are (chicken versus cod, for example).
In addition to this, the “menús” all come with bread and a drink of your choice- wine, beer, or water. Some places even offer sangria.
In any case, we highly recommend choosing from the array of accessible outdoor seating you’ll find in Salamanca’s historical center so that you can enjoy this Spanish experience to the fullest.
Salamanca is by far one of our favorite wheelchair accessible day trips from Madrid. Well adapted streets, friendly locals, and delicious food make it an easy decision.
Have you been to Salamanca? Tell us about your experience, tips, and favorite accessible places in the comments section. If you have questions about wheelchair travel to Salamanca, let us know and we’ll try to help.
P.S.- Looking for other day trip options from Madrid? Head on over to our post on five accessible day trips from Madrid. Also, don’t forget to check out our guide on eleven accessible things to do in Madrid.
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.