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Located in northwest Spain, León is a jewel packed with history, impressive architecture and a vibrant food culture. Known for its well-preserved medieval Old Town, ancient Roman walls and remarkable museums, it's a fascinating city that enchants every visitor. But it's not just the city itself that warrants exploration – León's premium location along the Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela makes it an excellent base for those wishing to discover the wider region by car.
If you have a car, you could head straight to the León Cathedral, an architectural wonder of French-style Gothic architecture. Afterwards, drive further to the Basilica of San Isidoro, one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain. Not far from there, you'll find the 12th-century Casa Botines, designed by Antoni Gaudí. You might be pleasantly surprised to find a work by the famous architect outside his usual Catalonia region. León is also in proximity to Picos de Europa National Park - a two-hour drive away - offering a great chance to explore one of Spain's most incredible natural landscapes.
Driving for just about an hour north, you'll reach the town of Astorga. Not just known for its beautiful cathedral and the Episcopal Palace, Astorga is famous for its maragato stew, making it a must-visit for gastronomes. Another hour's drive west will take you to the UNESCO-listed Las Médulas, an ancient Roman gold-mining site. Here, you'll also find hiking trails with incredible views over bizarrely shaped mountains that were the result of Roman mining methods. Just outside León, the relatively short distances between these incredibly diverse destinations make exploring the region by car an exciting and feasible option.