Head North The City of León
When visiting Nicaragua, many people immediately head south from the capital city of Managua, bound for destinations such as Granada and San Juan del Sur. Opting to head north instead, however, will put you in a colonial gem of a city — the historic city of León.
Located about 100 kilometers northwest of Managua, the city is perhaps best known for its giant cathedral — the largest in Central America, in fact — with its signature lions guarding its entrance. Built between 1747 and 1814, in its crypts are buried bishops, leaders of the independence movement, and Nicaraguaʼs most famous poet, Rubén Darío. Touring the cathedral is a must-see, as is visiting the cityʼs Myths and Legends museum and its many other art and history museums.
With its famous citizens interred in the cathedral and the many colleges the city is home to, León is a political and artistic city, where youʼre likely to hear and see political discussions in the cityʼs many cafes or witness a gorgeous work of art being made right before your eyes. Like Granada, its buildings in the centro are of Spanish colonial origin, making for quaint doorways that hide gorgeous courtyards and covered patios perfect for lounging.
Accommodation in León, Nicaragua
León has no shortage of hotels at all price points, as well as hostels for the budget- minded. La Perla is Leónʼs high-end gem, featuring colonial architecture and lots of new Nicaraguan art. As always, homes for rent — for that homey feeling and a kitchen of your own — can be found on VRBO.com and Airbnb.com, though options may be more limited than youʼll find in the more popular tourist destinations.
On top of its many delicious restaurants, intriguing churches and art galleries, León boasts another distinct advantage: itʼs really close to the beach — closer than the other larger cities of the country.
Beaches Near León
About a 20 minute drive from the city is Poneloya — a less-visited, but equally worthwhile surfing and beachside locale. Book budget accommodations or mid-range hotels in either Poneloya proper, or try your luck in the nearby Las Peñitas Beach — both which offer you plenty of tranquility or adventure — take your pick. Las Peñitas tends to be safer for swimming or bodyboarding, while Poneloya can have a strong undertow. Since the area is somewhat more remote, pack along any medications or essentials you think youʼll need — and plan for delicious fresh fish dinners every night.
Travel Insurance for León, Nicaragua
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