Salamanca University: Known as the "golden city," Salamanca is a seat of learning. The first university was built in 1218, making it the oldest in Spain; Miguel de Cervantes, Spain's best-known writer and author of Don Quixote, was a student. A standout feature is the ornate 15th-century facade, covered in intricate carvings of religious figures, birds and animals. See if you can spot the tiny frog which is said to bring students good luck and has spawned all manner of souvenirs in the local shops.

Cathedrals: Salamanca is unusual as it has two cathedrals; the 12th-century "old cathedral" and the gothic "new cathedral" built in the 16th century. A short walking distance from the university, they are situated side by side and interconnected, making it easy to move from one to the other. Again, look closely at the stone carvings by the door of the newer building. When the masonry was repaired in 1992, the restorers added modern carvings that include an astronaut and a dragon eating an ice cream!

Casa de las Conchas: The "house of shells" gets its name from the 300 stone shells covering the exterior. The 15th-century house is now Salamanca's public library. A visit here is free; stops are often included on shore excursion tours.

Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo: Aside from Salamanca, the other top excursion from Vega de Terron is the hilltop village of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, which is surrounded by 16th-century defensive walls. Historically a way station for pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela; St. Francis of Assisi is said to have stopped in Castelo Rodrigo on his way to the holy site. Steep, narrow streets lead to the Chafariz dos Pretos fountain, decorated with the faces of four children, which is near the main square.