Leon has sun all year round but never becomes unbearably hot. The coldest months are from October to May making June to September the most comfortable for exploring Leon by foot. Not being a seaside resort prices tend to be fairly stable throughout the year. Leon Cathedral International Organ Festival is in September and has a programme of orchestral concerts, chamber groups and soloists. The beginning of summer is celebrated in June with the festival of San Juan. Leon comes alive with al fresco eating and street markets. 25th June, the night of San Juan itself, is marked with fireworks and bonfires. And, as everywhere in Spain, Easter Holy Week in Leon will be celebrated with large street processions.
Leon, in northern Spain, is an important resting place on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim’s route. This ancient city combines an interesting mixture of architecture from the Romanesque Basilica to the Renaissance San Marcos Church, from Gaudi’s Casa Botines to the colourful glass and steel Museum of Contemporary Art. The building that will remain in your mind, though, is the Gothic Cathedral, often considered the most beautiful in Spain. The soaring towers and flying buttresses of this 13th century building welcome the traveller to Leon from a distance. The picturesque old quarter, Barrio Humedo, is a maze of narrow streets which open onto sunny plazas, a perfect place to sample some of the local wine and delicacies. The Romanesque Real Basilica de San Isidoro and its attached Pantheon, burial place of Leon’s monarchs, both predate the Cathedral. The interior of the Pantheon has some wonderful frescoes. Whilst many depict religious scenes, look out for the farming calendar which tells month by month what the medieval farmer of Leon had to undertake to scrape a living from the land. The large student population of Leon makes for a vibrant nightlife which centres mainly in the old quarter, restaurants start early, though, to cater for the weary pilgrims. If you get chance leave the city and visit the legendary Roman open air gold mines of Las Medulas, which have world heritage status, and the magnificent Picos de Europa National Park.
The historic centre of Leon is compact enough to enjoy comfortably on foot, but there is also an extensive bus service. The tourist office will have information about walking tours of Leon or be able to organise private guides if you wish. Whilst the Cathedral’s interior is being restored, it is possible to take a tour high up on the platforms being used, an experience not to be missed.
Leon Airport (LEN) is 3.7 miles (6 km) from the city and is connected to Leon by a cheap bus link which runs irregularly throughout the day. Cars can be hired from desks in the arrivals terminal and taxis are available. It is always best to get an estimate of price before taking a taxi and to make sure that the meter is set to zero.