6 Cool Things To Do in León While Chasing the Shade

Motorbike driving past old building in Leon Nicaragua

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Nicaragua’s second-largest city is hot! Visitors can expect temperatures of 95 °F/35 °C in the dry season (December – April). Regardless, we liked this university town and the following things to do in León, some of which are in the shade and for which you will thank us!

What to Do in León

1. León Cathedral

Don’t miss a visit to the top of the Cathedral of Leon, aka Real Renowned Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This Cathedral was built in 1747 and took over a century to complete.

During the tour, you can walk on the rooftop, which displays the best views of the city and its surrounding volcanoes.

Leon Cathedral I Things To Do in Leon Nicaragua

2. Museum of Legends and Traditions

A bizarre way to spend fifteen minutes in the shade is visiting the Museo De Leyendas y Tradiciones (4a Calle SO, frente Ruinas San Sebastián).

The museum includes stories such as that of the young woman who forced men in the street to breastfeed.

Museo de Leyendas y Tradiciones I Things To Do in Leon

3. Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro

Most people to plan a trip to this city are visiting to hike up an active volcano called Cerro Negro and sled down it!

Volcano boarding is one of the biggest pulls for Nicaragua, with many tours leaving from hostels and tour companies.

Man volcano boards down gravel hill in Leon Nicaragua

3. Eat Tacos

Nicaraguan tacos are deep-fried shells stuffed with meat, cabbage, and delicious cream, perfectly paired with a Toña beer! 

Plate of Nicaraguan tacos in Leon, Nicaragua

4. Lunch on Baguettes 

You’ll smell Pan & Paz – French Bakery before you see it!

Take out freshly prepared bread or dine in at the cafe.

School girls walk by Pan y Paz bakery, Leon in Nicaragua

5. Tattoos in León

One of the top things to do in León for us was to get some ink done!

Quite the unusual day out, but the city does quality work at cheaper prices than back home.

Craig and I spent the afternoon with Andy at White Devil, treating ourselves to the most permanent souvenir.

White Dragon Tattoo I Things To Do in Leon Nicaragua

6. Las Peñitas

A great way to avoid the heat, check out the natural air con of Las Peñitas.

Take the 30-minute chicken bus from the Mercadito and spend the day surfing or sunbathing, then hop back on the bus before sunset or taxi back to León when it gets dark.

Stationed boat that says Las Penitas sits on beach

Getting To León

Microbuses run between Managua and León and take around 1-2 hours.

The small minivans are more comfortable than the chicken bus journeys, which can take around four hours!

Nicaragua Microbus at bus station in Managua

Getting Around León

León is not that big and can be discovered on foot.

Forget street names; locations are found via counting blocks.

If you are lost, ask a local.

If they don’t know, they’ll holler at the next person walking by and work it out together.

Things I’d Still Like To Do in León

  • Old town – Leon-Viejo: Leon before the volcano eruption
Chicken bus parked in Las Penitas Nicaragua

Final Words

The main reason I like León is not the architecture or the constant whiff of meat on the grill but because the city doesn’t give two hoots that you are a tourist.

Vendors sell chicha in plastic bags, kids skip to school in their pristine uniforms, and the estimated seventeen Catholic church buildings of colonial Leon continue to crack.

Have you been to León? Are you going?

25 thoughts on “6 Cool Things To Do in León While Chasing the Shade

  1. Caleya says:

    Hi Gemma!

    We have a 2 week trip planned to Granada/Leon/Matagalpa in 30 days. Just wondering if you have any contacts on the ground in those areas who can give a true perpective of how things are? Of course the hotels all say everything is “fine”, but all the tour companies I’ve tried to contact are closed “until further notice”. The news is saying some 80% of businesses have closed down, and one hotel told me there are enough restaurants open in Granada that I “should be able to eat a variety of food for 3 or 4 days” – not exactly reassuring!

    We so badly want to go to Nica, but not if everything is shut down, and everything we’re going to do & see is unavailable.

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      It’s horrible! Our friends left their hotel in Las Peñitas for the time being. UK Government still states ‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to Nicaragua’ – I would listen to their advice.

  2. eiliyah says:

    Yes! Leon is the city of art. I have already this Leon to my buck list. Thanks for the beautiful words on Leon. My next trip is to there.

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