This old, colonial city still bears scars of its revolutionary past and makes a great stop off if heading north or south.
Unlike Granada, Leon has a less primed touristy feel. The buildings are damaged and imperfect as a result of bombings from conservative led Granada during the 1960 and 1970 revolution. But that doesn’t stop this place being brought to life mostly by the backpacker and uni student crowd.
If you are interested in the revolution, Museo de la Revolución beside central park is a good place to start. Entrance is C50 per person and you will be guided around the building by an ex soldier. It is difficult to understand the museum in detail if you do not speak Spanish however there are photographs and displays that provide an insight either way. Ask your guide to take you to the roof top. There is a large chance the roof may collapse beneath you but the views over Leon are beautiful!
On a different note volcano boarding on Cerro Negro is famous in Leon and most backpackers find themselves hurtling down the side of this active volcano in an attempt to break the 67 km/ph speed record. There is no shortage of companies ready to take you on the adventure. We decided on Quetzaltrekkers ($30) who provide transport, water, snacks, boards, safety equipment and the entrance fee. It is worth noting that Quetzaltrekkers provide time for 2 runs down the mountain and all proceeds go to charity. Tips? Bring a scarf to tie around your mouth and pull hard and lean back for maximum speed.
In and around the square there is enough to keep you entertained for a day. Basilica Catedral de la Asunción stands central to the many other churches of Leon. Grab a map of the city and discover these beautiful buildings. Mercado Central is directly behind the main cathedral. While it is not an overly large market it does have a good selection of cheap eats.
Leon has an abundance of cafes and bars ready to serve the hungry backpacker and student crowd. San Benito (3 ½ C Norte de Catedral, opposite Tierra tours) has some of the more affordable meals at C40 per person. You won’t go hungry here, nor will you break the bank!
• La Tortuga Booluda (US$10 dormitory, US$26 private room). Breakfast included. Decent kitchen. Nice place, cheaper option available across the road.
• Cerro Verde (US$6 dormitory). Breakfast not included. There is a kitchen but it is a bit sketchy. Great place if you’re a longer term backpacker needing to pull that budget back into shape!
Getting there from Honduras/ El Salvador: See our El Salvador/ Honduras border crossing page.
Getting away to Managua/ Corn Islands:
• Catch a taxi back to the main bus station (C40 for 2 people).
• At the station board a collectivo van (C51 per person, 1 hour 30 mins).
• If like us you are heading to the Corn Islands depart at the final stop – UCA Station, Pista Juan Pablo II, Managua 14003
• Be prepared to be hounded the second you get off the collectivo.
• If heading to Managua Airport (Domestic and International are within 20 metres of each other) catch a taxi. We paid C250 for two people (25 minutes).
∼ La Union: 1ra Calle NE, León
∼ La Colonia: corner 1era de Noroeste and La Salle school
• Mercado: José de Marcoleta, León
• Laundry: Mi lavanderia – Iglesia San Francisco ½C Abajo.