What you need to know
Leon is the most populous city and municipality in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. In the 2015 Intercensal Survey INEGI reported 1,578,626 people living in the municipality of León, making it the fourth most populous municipality in Mexico. The metropolitan area of León recorded a population of 1,630,094 in the 2010 Census, making it the seventh most populous metropolitan area in Mexico. León is part of the macroregion of Bajío within the Central Mexican Plateau.
With nowhere near the beauty of neighbors Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, you probably won’t find Leon on any tourist recommendation list. Leon is a relatively unremarkable but great little authentic Mexican city. It has a really nice large pedestrian area in the center, which comes to life at night with street sellers, music, and Mexican families just enjoying their city. There are numerous shopping opportunities here all at pure Mexican small town prices. Leon is also a great place to escape if you’re a budget traveler and accidentally get caught in one of Guanajuato’s holidays or festivals when hostels will shamelessly triple their prices.
Population: 1,630,094 (2010)
Area: 1,220 km²
The Mexican peso (sign: $; code: MXN) is the currency of Mexico. Modern peso and dollar currencies have a common origin in the 15th–19th century Spanish dollar, most continuing to use its sign, “$”. The Mexican peso is the 8th most traded currency in the world, the third most traded currency originating from the Americas (after the United States dollar and Canadian dollar), and the most traded currency originating from Latin America.
Leon generally has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen: Cwa) with summer rainfall (according to Köppen climate classification, Cwa) that closely borders on a semi-arid climate. The average annual temperature is 19.9 °C (67.8 °F), the warmest month is May with a maximum average of 31.7 °C (89.1 °F), and the coolest month is January with a minimum average temperature of 7.7 °C (45.9 °F). Outside the city microclimate island, the ranges tend to be higher, with maximum averages reaching 2 °C (3.6 °F) higher than in the city, and minimum averages lowered by 3 °C (5.4 °F) or more. In the villages located in between the northern mountains the climate changes; it is considered highland subtropical oceanic climate (Cwb according to Köppen climate classification), the average annual temperature is around 16 °C (61 °F).
Spanish is the official language in Leon, Nahuatl is also widely spoken.
León has a strong leather industry, offering shoes, boots, belts, jackets, and other leather accessories to both national and international markets. Its first-class services and hotel industry make it one of the most important centers in Mexico with numerous opportunities for entertainment, gastronomy, leisure activities, arts, and recreation. It is also considered one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Mexico and has a high number of cyclists, in part because of integrating a network of bike lanes into the SIT system. In March 2012 it received an award as “City Water Champion”, mainly due to great progress in the areas of sanitation, wastewater reuse, and energy cogeneration from biogas.
The city’s bicycle paths are extensive. Leon is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in Latin America and has an extraordinary track record in active transport, keeping the biking and walking share above 39% of the total trips, one of the highest values in Latin American cities.
Integrated Transportation System (ITS) (Sistema Integrado de Transporte in Spanish) refers to the development and implementation of a Bus rapid transit system named “Optibus”. Since September 28, 2003 the Integrated Transport Optibús began to operate despite an existing need for a subway system “Metro”, which originally was planned construction with two lines.
The system was the first of its kind in Mexico. Leon being the first city in the country with a BRT system, before it was implemented in Mexico City as Metrobus and Guadalajara as Macrobus.
There are currently three permanent transfer stations (San Jeronimo, Delta de Jerez and San Juan Bosco), two micro-stations (Santa Rita – Parque Juarez), which are the endpoints for trunk routes, feeder routes and auxiliary routes. Passengers at these stations are allowed to transfer without cost from any of these lines.