Surprisingly, León is not a very well-known city outside of Spain. León is now a vibrant university city. But its regal past remains strong, as León beautifully balances modern cultural interests and an epic old town. León’s history is rich with Roman olden time stories, spectacular convents, cathedrals and modern museums. This makes it a great place to visit for a few days.
To visit León when the weather is at its driest plan to visit in July, July or August. However, a great time to visit is the end of April, because the city celebrates Castilla and León day on April 23rd.
How to get to León
There is a domestic airport situated 4 miles (6km) from León city center, however direct flights are limited. Throughout the summer you can arrive from Barcelona, the Balearic Islands, and some Canary Islands. However, flights are limited in Winter, as the airport only serves Barcelona.
Many people visit León, from Madrid. If this is your plan, then the best way to travel is by train. From Madrid Chamartín railway station you can take a train to León in under 3 hours. Alternatively, you could driveand enjoy the Spanish scenery, and expect to be on the roads forat least 4 hours.
Where to stay in León
Hotels in the city center can be quite pricey. Hotel Quindós is a 3-star hotel that costs $100/night and is 1km from the city center. For more affordable hotels you’ll need to move further out of the city. But don’t panic because León has an excellent public bus service, with regular buses traveling in, out and around the city. For hotels outside of the city center check out:
Double rooms are available from $87/night at the Hotel Riosol. But they have been known to offer specials, with rooms at $52/night, and is located less than 1 km from the city center.
For another hotel for less than $100/night, check out the Hotel Paris. It is a 3-star hotel, that is ideally located 300 meters from the city centre. Prices vary depending on the night and length of your stay.
If you are looking for accommodation at $50 or less per night, then check out hostels and pensions.
Top Attractions to Visit
The unmissable attractions of León are:
- The 13th-century cathedral, ‘Catedral de León,’ which took 200 years to build
- ‘Casa de Botines,’ a gothic fairy-tale themed museum built by the famous architect AntoniGaudí
- The ‘Convento de San Marcos’ is a resting point for the pilgrims who are challenging themselves with the Camino de Santiago, which finishes in Santiago de Compostela.
- Situated less than 50 km outside of the city, try to visit ‘Cuevas de Valporquero.’ These are extraordinary caves with superb columns, spikes, and pillars. You’ll feel like you’re in a movie, like Lord of the Rings or Goonies.
Remember that the León pass includes discounts to some of these places.
Places to Eat in León
Meat stews and Empanada are traditional dishes in León, due to the cold and sometimes long winters in the north of Spain. However, in the last few decades, typical Spanish food has graced the menus of León restaurants.
For something fancy and affordable visit,Casa Mando. If you don’t make a reservation, arrive near the start of the service. At Casa Mondo, we suggest the rabbit ribs (Chuletillas de Conejo).If you find yourself craving a relaxed lunch or dinner, visit Cafe Bar Rua 11. This is a great place to order a bunch of tapas so that you can sample bits of everything. Both restaurants offer vegetarian options.
For a light bite or breakfast pastry, visit a panadería, which means bakery. There is probably one on every road.
Do invest in the León Pass. For €14, you can get lots of discounts for museum entry, shops, and restaurants. The card works for 72 hours, from the first time you use it.
Visit Plaza San Martin, Plaza Del Grano and/or Plaza Mayor de Leon.
Don’t waste your free time before visiting Spain. Take a few hours to learn some helpful phrases. Spaniards love it when foreigners show an interest and make an effort to try and speak the native language.