Discover León’s unique local culture
León has a wonderful mix of beautiful historic architecture and a young, vibrant energy thanks to its large student population. Studying at the Universidad de León, you can get to know the local culture by exploring this Spanish city’s many treasures, enjoying Spain’s food culture, and joining in with the popular fiestas that bring a party atmosphere to the streets.
León has more than its fair share of beautiful buildings. From the striking 13th-century León Cathedral to Gaudi’s playful Casa Botines, and even a rainbow-colored contemporary art museum. Start at the Plaza Mayor, where you’re surrounded by 17th-century buildings with arches, balconies, and spires. Make sure you go inside León Cathedral to see why the incredible stained-glass windows give this cathedral its House of Light nickname. Gaudi’s Casa Botines has the Museo Gaudi, which is well worth a visit, too. León is a wonderful city if history and architecture are your thing.
Tapas Bar Hopping
A love of eating and drinking with friends and family is deeply connected to Spanish culture, and León has thriving tapas bars that encapsulate this. Tapas are small plates served typically in bars and restaurants with drinks, and you’re encouraged to share. León has some of the best tapas in Spain, with many serving you free tapas when you buy local wine, vermouth, or beer – great for your student budget! One of the most popular tapas spots is La Bicha, where the notoriously grumpy owner, Paco, serves a delicious morcilla (black pudding) tapas.
San Juan and San Pedro Fiestas
At the end of June, these festivals offer a magical celebration you won’t want to miss. In the daytime, the streets fill with circus shows, street performers, and flamenco dances, and in the evenings, music fills the plazas. Visitors pack into the narrow streets for a full week rich in food, wine, and celebration. Head to the Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Toros where on the Night of San Juan put on spectacular fireworks.
Holy Week, Semana Santa in Spanish, is a major event in León, when locals take part in processions, parades, and religious ceremonies. One of the more unusual processions is secular – really a bar hop – called the Entierro de San Genarín (the Burial of Saint Genarín). On Holy Thursday 1929, a local character called Genaro Blanco, who loved his alcohol, was run over by one of the city’s first garbage trucks. To mark the anniversary, people join this bar hop procession and leave a bottle of orujo and two oranges in commemoration at the spot where he died. This unusual and celebratory procession is in stark contrast to the somber events of Holy Week and sums up Leon’s unique mix of cultural traditions and sense of fun.