Leon – one of my favourite destination in Nicaragua. This magnificent city is Nicaragua’s historical, cultural and religious capital. One of the most beautiful cathedral in Nicaragua – The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, also known as the “Royal and Renowned Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary” is located in the centre of the Leon city. This is the largest cathedral in Central America, built in 18th century.
The white cathedral is the most famous attraction and the most prominent building of Leon. You absolutely can’t miss visiting to the rooftop – which is by the way the best part of the whole building. However you need to check opening hours for the rooftop accessibility.
What to do in Leon in Nicaragua?
Leon is a must destination in Nicaragua for number of reasons. The cathedral heritage is indisputable but the city is very backpackers friendly. Try amazing street food and have a cold beer near the Central square & murals. Explore city by foot and admire the diversity of the colorful architecture.
Leon is known for their Spanish-Colonial architectural heritage. It has been the capital of Nicaragua since colonial times. Take a walk around the city and explore the rural areas where the poor part of the society lives.
Near the cathedral there’s a place to try best street food, also good for vegetarians like me. Next to the cathedral’s plaza there’s a tourist information. Don’t be surprised if nobody speaks English 🙂 but take a city map. We were specifically looking for information on hiking Telica Volcano without a tour guide… but it was impossible to find out.
How to get to Leon?
If you are traveling from Costa Rica – READ a full post on how to travel by a cheap bus and avoid expensive TICA buses. TICA buses are recommended on most websites, while on the same bus station you can find local alternative for only few dollars!
If you are flying – Managua airport would be the closest one to Leon.
Taxis – at any stage negotiate the price before you get in!
Top things to do around Leon.
If you are in Leon one of the most spectacular attractions would be volcano hiking. Masaya Volcano for lava watching (I recommend a night tour), one of the most epic hikking adventures – Telica Volcano and Cerro Chato – an amazing green crater lake hike in Costa Rica.
Masaya Volcano and lava watching
Masaya Volcano National Park lies between the cities of Managua and Granada and it is the largest national park in the country. You can explore the park on the day or chose the night tour to see the impressive Santiago crater and feel the sound of the lava flowing below the standing point.
Hiking Telica Volcano from Leon.
Hiking Telica Volcano from Leon is the best adventure you can experience! Take a bus from a local bus station in Leon to San Jacinto, a small village, which is the starting point of the trail. It’s doable to hike Telica without a tour guide but you may decide to go with an organized tour for an overnight hike and sunset watching.
Cerro Chato green lake crater in Costa Rica.
It was difficult to get information whether you can hike Cerro Chato without a tour guide, so we did hire one. Some people told us it’s dangerous to go alone, however the trail is well maintained and there’s no possibility to get lost. Which means it is very much doable alone 😉 Depending on a season, it might get a little difficult if you are hiking in wet conditions. It gets really muddy and the last section gets slightly steep. But if you are fit that should not be a problem, all the rest is easy. Cerro Chato is one of the world’s most amazing volcanoes because it’s filled with green crater lake where you can swim!