Filled with centuries-old churches and cathedrals, Leon combines history, culture and contemporary charm. The city is set on the Bernesga River and boasts some of the most beautiful heritage buildings in Spain. Visit world-class art museums during the day and hop between tapas bars in the characterful old quarter after dark.
Things to do in León
Leon’s magnificent 13th-century cathedral towers over the city and is one of the most beautiful in Europe. It’s the epitome of Gothic grandeur and is topped with flying buttresses and enormous towers. Light streams into the nave through rainbow-coloured stained-glass windows.
Narrow alleys crisscross Barrio Húmedo, Leon’s captivating old quarter. Many of the historic townhouses have been reimagined as trendy cafes, restaurants and tapas bars. This makes Barrio Húmedo one of the city’s top nightlife districts. Sun-drenched Plaza de San Martín is lined with shops, boutiques and independent galleries.
Museo Gaudi occupies a Modernist building designed by the iconic Spanish artist in the late 1800s. Inside are interactive exhibits on the life and legacy of Antoni Gaudi, as well as original artworks. Museo de Arte Contemporáneo is another big-ticket cultural attraction and welcomes you with an eye-popping façade made from multi-coloured glass panels.
Across the city, you’ll find restaurants serving Leonese dishes like “cecina” smoked beef, “botillo” pork sausage and “el cocido leones” chickpea stew. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Plaza Mayor hosts a fantastic produce market where you can pick up fruit, vegetables, baked goods and artisan products. The 17th-century Old Town Hall overlooks the plaza and is one of the city’s most beautiful Baroque buildings.
Getting around León
Leon is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot, while bikes are a fun and eco-friendly way to explore the city. Buses run between Leon and Madrid in 3.5 hours and high-speed trains take around two hours. Leon Airport is a 15-minute drive from the city centre.