The 10 best things to do in León, Mexico

León is a beautiful Mexican city known for its production of leather goods, sold in the Zona Piel district. It is the most populous city in the state of Guanajuato. It has a wide variety of museums, beautiful churches, and parks, and a lot of things to do which makes it the perfect spot to spend a few days and learn about Mexican culture.

I put together a list of things to do in León for everybody that wants to get to know a different side of Mexico and not just Quintana Roo (nothing wrong with that, it´s beautiful).

Check out: The best things to do on Isla Mujeres

Here are the best things to do in León and 10 reasons why you should put this gem on your Travel bucket list.

1. Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Expiatory Temple)

This is a Temple dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus and the construction took over 91 years. Pope Benedict XVI officiated the closing ceremony in 2012 but it is said that the Temple is not even finished yet.

Finished or not, the building is stunning and makes a perfect picture backdrop with its neo-gothic style architecture.

Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús

The building is not just beautiful from the outside but has a lot of pretty glass windows, altars, and catacombs which makes it one of the best things to do in León.

Here are some curious facts about the Expiatory:

The glass windows show the birth of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit, and more. The floors are made of granite and got imported from Brazil and the main bell of the tower weighs more than two and a half tons.

2. Walk down Madero street

Calle Madero is one of the most famous streets in León. It starts at the Triumphal Arch of León and ends at the Martyrs Plaza and covers a little bit more than 1 kilometer.

Here you can find amazing cafés, bars, and restaurants as well as food stalls and shops. Stroll up and down the street, go shopping, or get a coffee or ice cream.

Madero street, León

I especially loved shopping at a vintage clothing shop called Punto Medi.

The best café I´ve visited was Douxe Café where you can get great coffee, sandwiches, and pancakes. They also have tasty smoothies and great Wifi.

The other café was Etéreo which is a small café with only a handful of tables. Their Wifi is not the best but they do have a ton of outlets and amazing Matcha Latte and coffee.

Douxe café
Etereo café

3. Martyrs Plaza

This Plaza was formerly known as Plaza de la Constitución and was renamed after an unfortunate event during which many people lost their lives against the troops of Gen. Bonifacio Salinas because they were not happy with the elections.

Martyrs plaza, León

Today the plaza is a peaceful garden and has beautifully carved trees, benches to relax, and lots of shops and restaurants around. It makes the perfect place to relax in the sun, read a book, people watch or grab something to eat or drink. It´s one of the best things to do in León.

Right next to the Martyrs plaza there is…

4. Plaza de los Fundadores

This is the Plaza right next to Martyrs Plaza with a beautiful fountain in the middle called Fuente de Los Leones. It has four lion heads and each stands for 100 years and was added in 1976 when the city of León celebrated its 400th anniversary.

Fundadores Plaza

You can relax on one of the benches, people watch and soak up the atmosphere or visit the attractions in the lively area around the square.

It´s a great place to come with kids and at night the fountain lights up.

5. Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de La Madre Santísima de la Luz (Basilic Cathedral)

The Basilic cathedral also called León cathedral is a church of catholic worship located in the historic center right next to the Plaza de Los Fundadores. It has a baroque and neoclassical style and the interior is beautiful. There is also a statue of the Pope in front.

Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de La Madre Santísima de la Luz
Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de La Madre Santísima de la Luz

When you walk around the area definitely check out this beautiful church.

6. Take a picture of the Leon city signs

A lot of cities in Mexico have these city signs and they are great to take pictures of. One of the signs is located in front of the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús (Expiatory Temple) and the other one is located right next to the Arco Triunfal de la Calzada de Los Héroes.

Snap a picture of these cool city signs and once you start, it gets kind of addicting and you want to collect them all like stamps. So whenever you travel to a different city in Mexico, look out for the city signs.

7. Arco Triunfal de la Calzada de Los Héroes (Triumphal Arch)

This Arch is the representative emblem of the city of León.

The original cement lion is now located in the León Zoo and they added a new one in 1958. The 3 m long bronze lion cost 45.000 pesos ($2218 USD) and the Arch represents the entrance of the city.

Arco Triunfal de la Calzada de Los Héroes

There is a little park behind the Arch where kids run around and you can get ice cream. There was a market going on when we were there on Saturdays and they sold jewelry, candles, honey, toys, and much more.

8. San Juan de Dios Temple

It´s located in the neighborhood of the same name. It is a small church and not as impressive as the rest of the churches in León but it is the only one that has a Churrigueresque style. It has two towers and the bell of the smaller one shows hits of bullets received during the Mexican Revolution.

San Juan de Dios Temple

The park around the church is really pretty and has a small fountain. It is a great area to relax on the benches or grab something to eat because there are many restaurants around the square.

9. Visit Zona Piel

León is world-renowned for the production of leather goods, particularly footwear. In this area, there are many shops, restaurants, and hotels.

There is a shopping mall which has more than 4500 stores to shop for shoes, accessories, bags, and jackets. It is the largest open shopping center for footwear and leather goods in Latin America.

If you´re in the mood for shopping this is the place to go.

10. Visit one of the many Museums

León has a wide variety of museums you can visit. The Museum of Art and History has Mexican sculptures & regional culture exhibits. The Science Center has interactive exhibits and great activities for kids. And the Museum of the city is the first museum of León and has a variety of paintings.

León truly is a hidden gem and it seems that not many tourists know about this beautiful city yet. If you find yourself exploring Mexico definitely consider adding León to your bucket list.

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Jessica Buck

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