Leon Travel Guide

Leon Summary

Pros

  • Cathedral of Leon, the largest cathedral in Central America
  • Historic city with plenty of Spanish Colonial Charm
  • Authentic -- locals ride horses and carts through the streets
  • Fruit stands selling unripe mangoes and jocotes -- tart treats that are popular with locals

Cons

  • Rough around the edges
  • Visible poverty
  • Not on the lake, unlike Granada

What It's Like

Leon has a long and storied rivalry with Granada, and for many years the capital of Nicaragua alternated between the two cities (making the capital Managua was the way the dispute was solved). Both cities were founded in 1524, and both claim to be the most historic in Nicaragua (Granada was founded slightly later in 1524, but the original city of Leon is now a ruin so the existing city of Leon was technically founded later).

Today, the rivalry continues on a different front: tourism. Travelers looking for a dose of Spanish Colonial charm can find it in either city, but many tourists only visit one of the two. Granada, as one of the departure points for ferries to Ometepe, is more popular and more developed. Leon, however, is home to the Cathedral of Leon, the largest cathedral in Central America. But that may not be enough to compensate for the fact that Leon is still rougher around the edges than Granada.

Where To Stay

Leon is a small city, but staying close to Central Park will put tourists in the heart of the action.  

View all Leon Hotels

Facts

Language:

Spanish

Airport:

Augusto C. Sandio International Airport

Peak:

December to April

Off-Peak:

May to November

Currency:

Nicaraguan Cordoba

Electricity:

120 V, 60 Hz

Tipping:

10% at restaurants (often included in bill); not required for taxis

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