Leon is a small, quiet, colonial town in the north of Nicaragua, Central America. Things to do in Leon Nicaragua include;
- Leon Cathedral
- Volcano Boarding
- Spanish Language Schools (very cheap in Nicaragua)
- Trips to Leon Viejo
- Leon to Tegucigalpa Bus
Leon is a very cheap place to stay, in fact one of the cheapest I’ve been to in Latin America. More importantly, it’s a safe and peaceful town.
Leon Cathedral – UNESCO Site
In the central plaza of Leon is Leon Cathedral. An interesting fact about this cathedral is that it’s the largest in Central America. Along with Leon Viejo, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Did you know the largest cathedral in the world is located in Vatican City?
Lions of Leon
As you walk around the historic center, you’ll pass several lion statues in addition to the colorful buildings.
The city is adjacent to Cerro Negro volcano therefore volcano boarding is a popular activity. Additionally, the black ash of Cerro Negro makes for perfect Instagram photos. Finally, it’s easy to organise a volcano boarding day trip from Leon.
Cheap Spanish Lessons
I studied at the Leon Spanish school Nicaragua for a week. My reasons for choosing Leon to take a Spanish class were;
- Very cheap and well structured Spanish lessons, 4 hours a day
- All lessons are private, 1 to 1
- Mini Leon excursions included in the lesson price
- Very cheap accommodation and food
- A safe and relaxed environment
- Meet with other foreigners in the city
- The advertised price is negotiable
Leon Viejo UNESCO Site
Leon Viejo is a must see, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site and you can easily organize a day trip here from Leon. This was the original city of Leon but it’s now known as Leon Viejo in Puerto Momotombo. Due to much volcanic activity and 2 large earthquakes in 1594 and 1610, it was decided to move the city to its current day location. It’s interesting to see the ruins of the old city and as a bonus there are lots of Turquoise-browed motmot birds flying around which are the national bird of Nicaragua, a beautiful exotic looking bird.
How to get from Leon to Tegucigalpa – Tica Bus
A short walk from the historic center is the Tica bus office. From here you can buy a bus ticket and if required a share taxi to the bus station, which is not walkable from the center. I had an early morning bus so I took the share taxi option. Getting through the Nicaragua / Honduras border is very easy, the company goes over the border several times daily so organizes the crossing very well. The trip to Tegucigalpa takes around 8 hours with just over an hour for the border crossing.
I briefly lived and worked in Honduras a few years ago and had to spend a night in Tegucigalpa to catch an early flight. It’s one of the few times in all my travels I felt really unsafe… Léon on the other hand I really wish I visited! I ran out of time and skipped it but you make it look and sound great and all the other travelers I met who visited Léon were very positive about the city as well.
It sounds like a nice colonial city definitely a great place to spend a week. Thanks for sharing
Very informative and well set out thanks for sharing!
I am definitely going to use this post when i head to Leon. Informative guide, thanks for sharing James
I’ve been looking into Spanish classes before I travel through South America. Thanks for this tip!
The Leon lion looks incredible! Leon sounds like a great small city to visit. How were your Spanish lessons? Did you see a lot of improvement? I have always found learning another language to be very difficult :/
Seems like a wonderful place for budget travelers who are looking to experience culture and a thrill! Can’t believe that bus ride is only $25!
This place looks like an untouched wonder. I am learning Spanish through Rype. It is tough for me but I have shown some real progress.
Leon is indeed a revelation. The place seems really charming. A great place to pick up Spanish. The statues of the lions are really intriguing and the fact that the Motmot bird has its home here is a real attraction and allure to visitors. Hope to get to Leon some day.
These old colonial cities are filled with so much beauty. Love the colonial architecture! And it is great to know that it has cheap food and accommodation too!
It sure looks like a place I would enjoy, especially Leon viejo. I love the old world charm of the centre and the cathedral! Great place to stop and enjoy some big city life.
Leon looks like an interesting place to visit. And the fact that you can learn Spanish here, adds to the charm. Given that all the lessons are private and 1 to 1, it must be ensuring fast learning
I would love to get to Nicaragua as Central America is just so full of culture and amazing things to see. I would love to see St Mary’s Assumption – especially considering it is the largest church in all of Central America. I was supposed to do the whole continent last year but due to Zika we never got there. It is a great extra to try and learn the language too.
What a lovely city! The old world charm would be intoxicating – it would be easy to stay for more than a week (which is probably what I would need as a minimum if I wanted to learn Spanish!). The Cathedral looks like a beautiful building too – I can imagine just sitting inside for a while would be a peaceful experience.
This city looks just magical. Totally worth the 8hr bus ride. Though that’s half the fun of your travels I see. Taking amazing bus rides to unique cities. How’s your Spanish going? I’m desperately trying to learn it myself
I went to South America last month and didn’t know Spanish … I struggled a lot! Great idea to learn Spanish in Leon… you sure have good reasons for it! Loved the pic of the lion… so majestic!