One of my favourites countries in the Central American trip turned out to be Nicaragua.
When I started the trip I wasn’t sure if Nicaragua was safe enough. But eventually after Guatemala with two travel friends we decided to give it a go. León Nicaragua turned out to be one of the highlights for my whole trip. And now it’s time to tell you about Leon.
Nicaragua is often over looked as a destination compared to Costa Rica and Panama that are much more popular. It’s a good idea to give it change since it has lots of hidden gems like Leon.
Best things to do in León
The city of Leon is the second biggest city in Nicaragua after Managua. It’s located in the North part of the country not too far from the capital Managua.
In Nicaragua the history often means the revolution and to truly understand the past here it’s important to learn from the locals. Leon was the very center of the revolution that shook the country. Today the city is like a living museum reminding of the past. Leon has endless amount of street art and statues to mark the history.
1. Explore on a city tour in León
The city has an incredible vibe to it, wherever you walk you will see street paintings and historical colourfull buildings. The streets are filled with local life, stalls and markets to adventure on. Leon is the oldest Spanish colonial town and home for the revolution which makes hard to beat as an interesting destination.
Exploring with a local guide will teach you much about the intense history and recent past in the city. The Leon center is easily covered by foot so you will see all the important sights while walking. Ask tours from your hostel or local agencys in the city.
2. Visit Cathedral of León and climb on the roof
If I had to choose one highlight to see and visit in Leon it would be the catedral. Built over the period of 84 ending on 1814 it has rightfully earned it’s place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
You can explore the cathedral on the inside to enjoy all the art and the architecture. Ticket office can be found at the back right corner on the outside of the cathedral. The admission ticket will only set you back around $3.
I had seen incredible looking pictures before from the roof of the cathedral so I was very excited to climb on the top! After the narrow stairs the roof opened infront of us shining white with the towers on all sides. It was burning hot but the unbelievable pretty.
3. Learn history at the Revolution Museum
History is so closely knitted together with the lifes of all the locals in Leon. You can learn more about the life in the city and the events of the revolutions in the special Musem of Revolution (Museo de la Revolucion). The museum wants to respect the people who took part in revolution and to educate visitors about the rough past of Leon and all Nicaragua.
The guides in the museums are locals who have been part of the revolution themselves. So there is no one better to tell you the stories.
Leon is surrounded by volcanos and they have a special activity here. Volcano boarding!
Literally you go on a sled and cruise down the side of a volcano. Souds crazy right? Taking a day tour will get you a transportation and all the gear needed so you’re set for an extreme activity on the Cerro Negro volcano.
You can book half a day trip for $25-30 with various hostels and tour companys like Bigfoot hostel.
5. Day trip to the coast and beach
The beautiful Pacific Coast lies only 18 kilometers away which means that a popular thing to do in Leon is to take a day trip to the playa. Specially when the temperatures soar beoynd hot in the city. Like they often do in one of the hottest cities on the continent.
You can do like locals and hop on a chicken bus which takes you to the beach in 30-40 minutes or 15 minutes driving on your own.
Enjoy a day on Las Peñitas on Poneloya beaches to cool off while enjoying the laid back vibe of the these fisher villages.
6. Enjoying the street art in León
Leon is a colourful city. Check out how the locals have added tons of street paintings around the city during the years. Leon is covered with revolution inspired murals together with some beautiful art works about the life in the city. No matter where you look the walls are filled details.
León Quick guide
Best time to go:
The dry season in Nicaragua is between November – April and it’s also the most popular travel season. In the middle of the dry season can get very dry and dusty.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at Poco a Poco hostel that is owned by a sweetest couple. Super cute place and plenty of activities
How to get to León:
Flying: The internation airport is located in Managua and from there you can get to León by taxi or shuttle. From Maganua city you can also hop on a bys
From Granada: We took a shuttle from Granada that brought us directly to the hostel in León. The prices are lower when you share the ride with more people.