Leon is a vibrant city packed with beautiful colonial-era architecture, trendy eateries and fantastic galleries and museums. Founded in the 16th century, it’s one of the oldest and most captivating cities in Central America. Stroll along tree-lined streets, sip coffee in sunny plazas and enjoy the upbeat nightlife. Students at the local university keep the vibe youthful and forward-thinking.
Things to do in León
Leon Cathedral soars over the city and welcomes you with a magnificent Baroque and Neoclassical façade. It’s one of the biggest cathedrals in Central America and is decorated with marble statues and masterpieces by famous artists like Antonio Sarria. Climb the stairs to the rooftop for spectacular views over the city and surrounding mountains and volcanoes.
Admire a treasure trove of contemporary Latin American works at the Centro de Arte Fundación Ortiz-Gurdián. The collection is showcased in handsome colonial-era houses anchored by plant-filled courtyards. You’ll see works by European luminaries like Picasso and Miro alongside Latin American works.
Explore the ruins of León Viejo, a medieval city at the foot of Momotombo Volcano. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recall the country’s Spanish colonial roots. Walk around the sprawling 30-hectare site and admire ancient structures like the church and cathedral built from rammed earth.
Try “bajón extremo” at local restaurants in Leon. Also known as BX, the dish is a local specialty and features “gallo pinto” rice and beans served on glossy green leaves and topped with coleslaw, tortillas, grilled beef and omelette. Buy buttery croissants from French patisseries and enjoy Italian-style espresso from chic cafes.
Getting around León
Leon is pedestrian-friendly and easy to get around on foot. Pedal-powered bicycle taxis are a fast and affordable way to get around. Taxis operate across the city, or you can use local buses. Augusto C. Sandino International Airport in Managua is a two-hour drive away.