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- 07 Apr 2020, 3 nights
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On the banks of the Bernesga River, the city of León in north west Spain has lots of historical architecture. From the stained-glass windows of the famous Santa María de León Cathedral to the ornate frescoes of the 10th-century Basílica de San Isidoro, there's plenty to admire. Wander the narrow streets of the atmospheric old town or join the locals with a beer in one of the many plazas.
Lots of hostels in León are conveniently placed in the heart of town, near major attractions. Stay in a hostel that's steps from the Episcopal Palace, which was designed by famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. Some places have private rooms with balconies, while others have sociable dorms. Choose a León hostel with self-catering facilities to cook your own meals, or one with an on-site restaurant where you can sample local specialities. Free Wi-Fi is standard in most hostels.
Barrio Húmedo in the old town is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in León. Its name roughly translates as "wet district", thanks to the multitude of pubs and bars in the area. It's also home to numerous restaurants where you can try local specialities. For a taste of local life, check out Barrio de San Mamés, a modern residential district with a handful of cosy cafés. In La Palomera, you'll find the University of León and with it, a young and vibrant crowd.
With its array of religious artefacts, Basílica de San Isidoro deserves a spot on any León itinerary. Casa Botines may look like a medieval fortress at first glance, but it's actually a Modernist building designed by Gaudí. At the Museo de León, you can learn about the region's history, which dates back to the Bronze Age. In the evenings, follow local tradition and go from bar to bar sampling the tapas. Head for the area around San Martín square, where there are plenty of clubs – you'll find all sorts of options from salsa to pop and rock.
Domestic flights land at León Airport, which is around 8km from the centre. From here, hop on the A1 bus to Plaza Santo Domingo – the journey takes about 50 minutes. León railway station has connections to other major cities in Spain, such as Madrid and Bilbao. The Estación De Autobuses De León is the main hub for coach travel. Within León, it's easy to get around on foot.