Leon, a nice colonial city with about one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants, was formerly the capital city of Nicaragua and its history is very respectable.
The city has a large number of beautiful cathedrals, but the one that stands out above all is the cathedral located in Parque Central, it is the largest cathedral in Central America.
The city is alive and vibrant, full of markets, there is a pleasant and safe feeling in the streets and you also see many tourists in addition to the local scenery.
Leon is surrounded by one of the largest volcano chains in Central America called Maribos and stretches for 18 km. San Cristóbal is the highest volcano in the country and Cerro Negro is undoubtedly the most unusual.
You can go climbing on San Cristóbal, Momotombo, Talica and sand skiing on Cerro Negro ( detailed below).
is an amazing project of Arnon, an Israeli guy who founded a hotel and a travel company here, according to Arnon all the profits are dedicated to their environmental project there. The hotel has a homely atmosphere, clean rooms, affordable prices and there is a pleasant garden, a quiet environment in a central location. You can go on trips through the agency here, they have a very professional team with whom you can go sand skiing on the slopes of a volcano, treks, various nature tours and city tours. The environmental project is the heart of the place's activity and the purpose of its existence in Nicaragua. The goal is to increase the local children's knowledge and love towards nature, for this they carry out environmental activities with thousands of local children, all for free!
Address: From the NE corner of the cathedral 3 blocks northward, 1/2 block eastward
Phone: 23114251 505
Hostel Big Foot
is an excellent hostel with very nice owners who will help with everything, undoubtedly one of the best hostels in Nicaragua.
The hostel has a well-kept and beautiful yard with swings, hammocks and places to sit and a small pool! There is also a bar and tourists from all over the world.
Accommodation in dorms costs around 5 dollars and accommodation in a private room costs around 11 dollars.
Address: av. santiago arguello between calle ne and 2a calle ne.
To get there take a taxi from the central station, if the driver doesn't know the hostel he will surely know Comedor Lucia next door.
is a new hostel with a cheap price per night. There is a pool and a nice staff.
is a good, well-kept and pleasant place to stay, in a beautiful courtyard and there is also a restaurant on site. This hostel is loved by many travelers from all over the world.
From a place in front of the Big Foot Hostel.
Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua, which still preserves a colonial architectural character. The attractions in Leon are divided into two: treks outside the city and attractions inside the city.
Trekking around Leon: Leon is the center of Nicaragua's terrain trekking and attractions, the variety is very wide, more than most travelers do. Around Leon there are treks ranging from half a day to three days. The two unique attractions of Leon are Cerro Negro and Volcán Telica.
Volcán Cerro Negro
is an active volcano, beautiful, unique and very easy to visit. This volcano first erupted in 1850, and since then has erupted 23 times, making it the most active volcano in Nicaragua. A visit to Cerro Negro seems like a visit to another planet: there is almost no vegetation on the mountain, the lava flows are visible around the mountain, and you can go down to the active crater.
The attraction that attracts many travelers here is climbing the mountain and descending from it by surfing on a board, an exciting and fun experience that is not to be missed. The climb takes about 40 minutes. They will dress you in orange suits and goggles and you will slide quickly down the mountain with a lovely view in front of you.
Sand skiing in Cerro Negro
is without a doubt a unique attraction for Leon, it is the only active volcano in the world whose slopes can be skied. This is definitely an unforgettable experience, no previous experience is required. The view from the top is spectacular, skiers down with special suits, they measure everyone's speed and have a competition. Several companies offer sand skiing in Cerro Negro: Sonati, Quetzal trekkers, Big foot, Va Pues and Tierra tours. This is a half-day tour, prices range from $29 to $31, the companies provide the equipment for surfing and private transportation. You can pay extra for carrying the surfboard.
Trek to Cerro Negro: Cerro Negro can also be visited on a half-day trip, which is 12 km long. It is a relatively easy trip, where black volcanic dunes are crossed before reaching Cerro Negro. Those who choose this option descend the mountain by running on a steep and sandy slope. SONATI Quetzal trekkers offer this option.
Volcano Momotombo Volcano Momotombo
is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the country and is considered a symbol of Nicaragua! There are trips that leave Leon with a van and go up half way, from there continue on foot to the mouth, a spectacular trip.
The price goes up around 40 dollars per person and only goes out when there are several travelers.
is an active volcano where you can see a trend inside the crater - today it is the best option to see a trend in Central America! The trek to the mountain is 20 km long in total (10 out and 10 back), and is considered a trek of medium difficulty. You can visit the mountain on a one-day trek (not recommended - the trend can usually only be seen at night) or on a two-day trek. On a two-day trek, you set up camp below the active crater and at night you go up to the crater to look inside - the trend is about 150 m below. It is possible Do the trek through Sonati, Quetzal trekkers, Tierra tours and Green pathways.
Trek Las Pilas El Hoyo (Las Pilas - El Hoyo)
This is a two-day trek that is considered physically difficult but with very beautiful views. This trek goes through several volcanoes: starting at Cerro Negro, going up to the saddle below the dormant Las Piles volcano and continuing to the El Hoyo volcano where we camp at the end of the first day. The next day we go down to a wonderful lagoon - Laguna Asososca where you can swim and freshen up before returning to Leon. The trek can be done through Sonati, Quetzal trekkers, Tierra tours and Green pathways.
Volcán San Cristobal
is an active volcano, the highest in Nicaragua (1780 m), it is a two-day trek that is considered difficult, but definitely worth the effort. From the top there is a beautiful view of northwestern Nicaragua. The trek can be done through Sonati, Quetzal trekkers, Tierra tours and Green pathways.
The mangrove swamps of Isla Juan Venado (Reserva Isla Juan Venado)
The mangrove swamps create a special habitat near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, near León. You can visit them in two ways:
1. Sailing with a boat among the mangroves. This can be done from Leon through Tierra Tours, Green Pathways, and Va Pues. Another option is to do this tour through the local inspectors of the reserve, you can contact them through Sonati.
2. Cross the swamp on foot or sail with life jackets among the mangroves. These options can be done through Sonati.
Laguna Asososca (Laguna Asososca)
a beautiful lagoon in a shallow and dormant volcanic crater (caldera). The lagoon can be visited easily, on a half-day trip from Leon. You can find all the information on how to get to the lagoon independently in Sonati.
The Poneloya, Las Penitas and Oasis beaches, which are only about 20 km from Leon, are beautiful and isolated (in the middle of the week) and it is very worthwhile to come here.
Surfers can rent surfboards and surf, the waves here are not bad at all and those who swim should be very, very careful! Those who want to sleep Can find a place in one of the small and cheap hotels here, in any case Leon is only about half an hour's drive away.
Getting here is done from Leon by bus that leaves very frequently, the last bus from the beaches to Leon leaves at 18:30!
Museo Ruben Dario Museo Ruben Dario
Ruben Dario was one of the greatest and most famous poets in Central and South America.
The museum was his home in the past and those who are interested can visit here and be impressed by his influence and his life's work.
free admission. Centrally located, ask any resident.
Treks outside the Leon region departing from Leon:
Las Brisas trek (Las Brisas)
A lovely trek of two days (stressful) or three (more relaxed), in the Estali area and of medium difficulty. The trek passes through different habitats: a unique cloud forest of pines and oaks and a dry tropical forest. Most of the trek is done in high parts, which makes it easier to walk - less hot and humid. In the last part of the trek there are waterfalls and pools of water where you can swim (there is water all year round - even in the dry season). The trek can be done through Sonati.
The mountain rain forest of Nicaragua
Trek / 2-day trip in the mountain rain forests of Matagalpa. You can do this as a trek or as a trip to see the beech in the forest, you can see howler monkeys, sloths and many birds, among them toucans and the highlight: the Resplendent Quetzal. The tour can be done through SONATI.
is a dormant volcano located in the northwestern tip of Nicaragua. This is a two-day trek, of medium difficulty. From the top there is a great view of the lagoon that fills the mouth (you cannot go down to the lagoon), the Gulf of Fonseca (Golfo de Fonseca) and towards Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. The trek can be done through Sonati, Quetzal trekkers, Tierra tours and Green pathways.
Rural tourism in the Leon region: Los Madroños Reserve (Reserva Los Madroños):
This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in getting to know the Nicaraguan rural lifestyle - as lived by the majority of the Nicaraguan population. The Los Madronios Reserve is an initiative of several families in a rural area outside Leon (who receive help from Sonati), which aims to protect the tropical dry forest that is disappearing in western Nicaragua. The families receive guests in the humble conditions in the village, where the guests can experience village life: manual milking of cows in the morning, cheese making, local pita-like bread (tortillas) and other traditional local foods. The prices are affordable: accommodation with the family + 3 meals + instruction in the reserve + possibility to participate in all farm activities costs only $15. Horses can be rented for an additional $5. You can also visit for several hours, at a lower price (varies depending on the actions you want to perform). The Sandoval family is the only family, as of now, that is already receiving guests. The family members are very friendly (although some are a little shy at times), staying with the family is definitely a highly recommended experience for anyone who wants to get to know the rural lifestyle of Nicaragua and get out of the tourist cities. The guidance in the reserve is done by family members or by school children trained for this purpose by Sonati.
How to get there: From Leon take a bus to El Sauce, ask to get off at Reserva Los Madroños, at the "San Blas" station Blas). The visit must be coordinated in advance with the Sandoval family by phone: Hazma Sandoval (Jasme Sandoval): +505-88500814 or Carolina Sandoval: +505-83620689. The family's house is about 2 km from the road (they will come to pick you up with van or motorcycle), so it is better not to arrive without an appointment in advance. Another option: all coordination with the family can be done through Sonati.
in Leon There are several options for learning Spanish - through local schools or through private teachers. In some hotels, you can get private lessons in the hotel itself, such as at SONATI and Via Via. Prices are around $6 per hour.
Escuela de Español Hijos del Maíz en Lagartillo: This is a great initiative of a local community in a small and relatively remote village. You can get Spanish lessons there and stay with local families. Suitable for those who have a lot of time and enjoy being in small villages far from civilization. The Spanish school has limited capacity, so arrival at the place must be coordinated in advance.
Transportation and Orientation
The central station of Leon is a very unsympathetic place and you should keep a close eye on your belongings.
From here there are buses to destinations:
Managua - an hour and a bit.
Astley - two and a half hours.
Chinandaga - an hour and a half.
In order to move to Honduras take a bus to Chinandaga and from there a two-hour bus to the border (guasaule) from the border there are buses to the city of Choluteca in Honduras from where there is transportation to other destinations in the country.
This place is located outside of Juan del Sur