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Voyage of discovery: 48 hours in and around Le�n

This gem in Spain's north-west is off the map for many UK visitors - but it's at the heart of one of Spain's most fascinating provinces. Simon Calder works his way through the layers of the city's ancient heritage, then heads to Astorga - a town with 2,000 years of history of its own (as well as a tasty chocolate museum)


More voyage of discovery

Simon Calder sails to Le�n in north-west Spain

  • Ferry easy podcast

    Join Simon Calder in the Bay of Biscay, as he travels from the Spanish city of Bilbao to the UK port of Portsmouth on board P&O Ferries' 38,000 ton ship, 'The Pride of Bilbao'. En route, Simon catches up with his fellow passengers to discover just where they've been and what they've seen on their travels round Spain.

48 hours in...


Simon Calder spends two days in destinations across the globe

more 48 hours in...

  • Singapore

    The Independent Traveller spends two eventful days in dazzling Singapore, an extremely diverse and welcoming city with a fascinating history.

  • Fez

    Fez is a stunning medieval city, a mere three hours from London by plane. Simon Calder haggles for some beautiful pottery, gets a crash course in Moroccan cuisine and sheds all for a trip to a hammam.



Videos on Britain's most popular holiday destination

more Spain

  • Twin Track: a trail of Two Train Travellers

    Northern Spain boasts some of Europe's most beautiful railway lines - and one of the greatest luxury trains. The toss of a coin decides whether Ben Ross or Simon Calder will indulge aboard El Cantabrico, while the other takes the budget option. But whatever the outcome, both will get to enjoy the rich heritage, countryside and shorelines of "Green Spain".

  • Spain's hidden secret

    That sums up Zaragoza, the surprising capital of the beautiful region of Aragon. But this year the secret is out, because this northern Spanish gem is host to Expo 2008. Join Simon Calder as he compresses 48 Hours in Zaragoza into just 15 minutes - distilling the best from a rich past, a delicious present and an exciting future.

  • Simon Calder's Guide to Bilbao

    A trip around one of Simon Calder's favourite cities. From the Guggenheim to traditonal cod shops, Bilbao is a place with strong sense of the past and the future.



A look at travel destinations closer to home

more England

  • Simon Calder's Guide to the Lake District

    On a scenic journey through the stunning Lake District, Simon Calder enjoys the area's sights, history and culture, from Roman times to the 21st century.

  • Simon Calder's Enjoy England

    From Edwardian seaside destination and health resort to cool bohemia, Brighton has always been more than a city by the sea. As Simon Calder discovered when he went to look for some of its hidden gems sent in by users of the Enjoy England website.



Exclusive travel features exploring the issues facing the 21st-century traveller

more Features

  • The Future of Flying

    Simon Calder looks at the aviation industry's grand designs for dramatically improving the flying experience for passengers.

Traveller Audio


Transport yourself in an instant and discover what's new in travel. Available as free downloads from iTunes

more Traveller Audio

  • Innsbruck's Alpine Inspiration

    In the heart of the Alps, Innsbruck is a skiers' paradise in winter and a great location for hiking and biking in summer. Simon Calder discovers the ‘Golden Roof', used by the Roman emperor Maximilian I to watch events in the town square and takes a tram into the mountains to survey the stunning surroundings.

  • Huatulco: The Real Mexico

    Considered by locals as 'the real Mexico', Huatulco is an ecological paradise on the Pacific coast. Simon Calder samples the fresh papaya and refried beans of local cuisine, attends a ‘boarding’-school for aspiring surfers, and explores the area's magnificent bays and traditional chapels.

  • Jamaica: Beyond the Expected

    Jamaica has something for everyone; Independent traveller Simon Calder takes a terrifying wire-harness tour of the forest, tastes local cuisine at Faith's Pen, and visits 56 Hope Road, better known as Bob Marley's former abode.

  • Walking in Jersey

    From the rock formations of Bouley bay to the capital, St Helier, Simon Calder's walking tour takes in some of Jersey's most pleasant spots as well as the many remnants of the island's occupied past.

  • Lapland's Winter Wonderland

    Simon Calder checks out Santa's ice sculptures, secret grotto and post office. He also finds time to see the city's Arktikum Museum (‘Museum of the Arctic'), and wilderness of Kittil�, perfect for snowmobiles, huskies and reindeer-led sleigh-rides.

  • More to Madeira

    Madeira's striking capital, Funchal, is a whitewashed town built on dark volcanic rock, while the municipal market is an Art Deco masterpiece. Simon Calder enjoys all the beauty as well as the energetic nightlife and the fishing village Câmara de Lobos, meeting the self-proclaimed ‘Cocktail King' of the island along the way.

  • Malta's Marvels

    Go back in time with Simon Calder as he hops on Malta's 1960s buses in the island's capital Valletta, the first planned city in Europe.

  • Marrakech Overload

    Simon lets himself get lost in the winding streets of Morroco's Marrakech, exploring the traditional market places, and marvelling at the architectural wonder of the Koutoubia Mosque tower, before winding down in Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Marjorelles.

  • Nice: A Day in Provence

    Beginning in the Promenade des Anglais, Simon Calder explores the Matisse Museum and admires the beautiful views of the hills of Provence. He also samples the region's cuisine, trying traditional corn pancakes and dining at the luxurious Aphrodite restaurant, before tasting some locally produced wine.

  • Undiscovered Rotterdam

    Simon Calder finds the occupants of this dynamic city welcoming and friendly and the architecture staggering. Travelling to Delft, he visits the 'old church' where Johannes Vermeer, is buried, before journeying to the Hague to see some of the painter's most famous works in the Dutch Royal art collection.

  • Sharm El Sheikh: Egyptian Playground

    Sharm El-Sheikh's reputation for luxury is borne out by Simon Calder's experience of the Four Seasons resort. After a dazzling snorkelling trip, Simon heads into the desert on a quad-bike, and takes tea at a Bedouin campsite. Crossing the Gulf of Suez, he visits Hurghada, a bustling tourist city with a more authentically Egyptian identity.

  • Singapore: At the Crossroads of the World

    Beginning in the Buddhist 'Temple of the Tooth', Simon Calder experiences Singapore's diverse population. He visits the multi-ethnic Chinatown, before exploring the village of Kampong Glam, getting a fresh view of the city by riverboat, and filling up on worldwide cuisine at Glutton's Bay.

  • Exploring Tenerife

    There are many sides of this tourist hotspot for Simon Calder to discover, from the seventeenth-century building containing Tenerife's history museum, to the Augustan monastery in the quiet town of La Laguna. After walking on the summit of central mountain Teide, Simon visits the manmade beach of Las Teresitas, and the cultural capital, Santa Cruz.

  • Life on the Lonely Planet

    Simon Calder speaks to the founders of the Lonely Planet, Tony and Maureen Wheeler. In a wide-ranging interview they discuss the history of their now ubiquitous travel guides, the controversial Lonely Planet guidebook to Burma, and their thoughts on the future of the travel industry in the face of concerns about its impact on the environment.

  • Sleep on the Cheap

    In this interesting one-off podcast, Simon Calder finds out how the Youth Hostel Association is adapting to a changing travel industry, whilst continuing to offer cheap and cheerful accommodation to its 250,000 members and other budget travellers around the world.

  • Athens: Not As You Knew It

    From the ‘Hotel Periscope’ and the Acropolis, to sandal-buying and wine-shopping, Simon Calder explores the ancient and the modern sides of the spectacular Greek capital. Join our intrepid explorer as he learns to snoop out the hidden delights of the Athens retail experience, marvels at the late-night eating, samples traditional cuisine, and tries to keep up with the nocturnal partying habits of young Athenians.

  • Peru... Land of a thousand marvels

    "Prepare to recalibrate your sense of wonder" that's Simon Calder's advice for when first you experience the New World Wonder that is Machu Picchu. But on a journey of discovery through Peru, from the steamy, soupy Amazon to the austere beauty of the High Andes, Simon shows there is far more to Peru. Meet the locals along the world’s mightiest river; marvel at the mysteries of the Nazca Lines; and take the pulse of Lima, one of the most exciting capitals in the Americas. download here

  • Something to Declare (part 2)

    Something to Declare is the UK's only travel magazine radio programme, presented by Ben Ross and Frances Tuke. The aim is to translate to radio The Independent's long-held values of inspiring, informing and entertaining travellers - with production standards to match the best of the BBC. The programme mixes expert advice from studio guests with reports from travellers and the travel trade across the world.

  • Something to Declare (part 1)

    Ben Ross of The Independent's travel desk presents our new travel magazine programme.

  • Night and Day in Barcelona

    Simon Calder experiences the stunning modern design and Roman roots of the Catalan capital, Barcelona, taking in the art, architecture, food and fashion of a truly 21st century city.

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