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Everyone gets mugged in Managua. Or so the story goes! Follow this simple step by step guide on how to take the bus from Managua to Leon and Las Peñitas and be safe in the knowledge that the next part of our adventure is a fun one!
1. Managua to UCA Bus Terminal
2. Managua Centre to UCA Bus Terminal
Alternatively, if you braved the capital city, Managua, take a taxi to the UCA bus terminal to save sweat and time. This should cost 120 -140 cordobas / £3 – £3.50.
3. Microbus from Managua to Leon
3. Picking a Seat on the Microbus
4. Welcome to Leon
Nicaragua’s most liberal city awaits you. Don’t miss the sights of the city from the rooftop of the Cathedral or boarding down an active volcano at 55 MPH!
5. Leon to Las Peñitas
Be prepared, it’s pretty manic when you get off the microbus in Leon. Tuk and taxi drivers will shout for your custom and try to help you with your bags. Just say ‘no gracias’ and walk away from the hustle! Once composed, barter with a taxi driver until you agree on a price. We were advised $10 USD but ended up paying $15 after some confusion, mainly down to us being out of practice speaking Spanish. One driver rejected our offer and wanted $20. It’s OK to walk away, there are plenty of taxis! The journey will take approximately 20 minutes.
For the confident backpacker, take a taxi/walk to Mercadito, then the chicken bus to Las Peñitas (14 cordobas / 34p). Although the distance is short, the journey takes 30 – 40 minutes depending on how many people (and parrots!) are on the bus. The bus will drive through Poneloya beach first of all and then Las Peñitas.
»»» Find out where to stay + what to do in Las Peñitas
6. Las Peñitas
Read next: our fave things to do in León
32 thoughts on “Bus from Managua to Leon and Las Peñitas”
Hi Gemma and Craig,
Awesome! We wrapped up 2 months in Granada a while back. Wanted to do the beach but a house sit in Costa Rica called. Taxied from Managua to Granada but did the chicken bus from Mombacho to Granada which was a freaking blast. More iconic Catholic pictures inside and outside of the bus than in the Vatican LOL.
Fun recap guys!
That is worth it’s weight in gold! Too many chicken buses for us now! Took the expresso bus Managua to Granada – stopped at every stop. Not very rapido!
I am sure this would be useful for people traveling down there. Is the local bus the only way to get around?
I’m not aware of any tour companies that run bus / stay programmes but I’m sure there are!
Most hostels/hotels will be able to sort out a shuttle, plus there are tourist focused minivans that focus run people around, especially up and down the coast.
But the local services are the way to go.
Cheap, fun, and with the amount of people that come aboard trying to sell things, you’ll never need to leave your seat 😉
Exactly – and everyone needs that chicha sugary break and foot scrub lotion! I wasn’t aware that hotels do runs to Las Peñitas, I suppose we were looking at it from a ‘local’ point of view living in the hotel.
Hey, you guys! I can’t believe, we missed each other! I just read your post and realized that we ran past each other opposite direction, we just got to Managua today coming from Las Peñitas!! Very helpful tips, wish I had read it before our trip 😀 Enjoy the rest of your time in Nicaragua, catch you next time x
Aw man!! I hope you enjoyed Las Peñitas though. Typing from Granada!
Yeah, that’s one thing that shocks me, how cheap things are down there. The dollar is super powerful when you travel to the global South, it’s incredible.
We can’t ever complain with the UK pound!
Chicken buses! Who would have thought. It sounds both fun and a little nerve wracking knowing you have so many things to watch out for, but thanks to you now we know how it should go! The destination looks incredibly worth it though, and a litre of beer for 1.50? Amazing!
Cheaper than the water!
Have not yet had the pleasure of exploring Nicaragua, but would definitely like to go, as they are growing some good cocoa there, and that means good chocolate! Central America is filled with so many wonders. Love it!
They are! Head to the north – Esteli in particular, lots of fincas. Ometepe too.
Wow, Nicaragua! Never been to that part of the world, and your travelogue is what I shall look upto when we plan our trip there! Nice write up with all relevant details 🙂
Thank you Ashwini, it’s been a fun 8 weeks!
Great information! You are certainly brave. Although I did take my kids to Croatia by myself… so that is pretty brave. Ha! The beach LOOKS AMAZING!!!
Croatia! Was it kid friendly? Hoping to at least touch base somewhere there this Spring!
I need to bookmark this post for when I get the chance to visit Nicaragua – which I’m very interested to explore. I can feel the serenity of the beach.
You’ve hit the nail on the head!
Me and my boyfriend want to go to Managua airport from Leon directly (so the steps you explained backwards). However, our flight leaves at 12.25 pm and we want to be at the airport around 9.25 am. Therefore, we are wondering at what time the shuttles start running from Leon to the UCA bus terminal. Will we be able to make it in time?
Thank you in advance for replying!!
Hi Stephanie. I have emailed the owner of La Gordita who we stayed with in Leon many times. I’ll let you know when I get a reply on bus times as I don’t know for sure. If this was my situation, I would stay in an airport hotel the night before and take the hotel shuttle to Managua airport. We stayed with Molly and Calvin, lovely couple, at Hostal Monte Cristi. Speak soon!
Monica from La Gordita replied and says she *thinks* buses fun from 5am. She has had customers arrive from Managua (to Leon) around 7am before. See previous comment for my advice! Don’t miss Las Peñitas during your travels in Leon, paradise!
Back for a final time! Matt from Simple Beach Lodge (who we stayed with on Las Peñitas) called around – buses start at 6am but (as always) don’t leave until full. I’d still stand by my first recommendation of staying at a Managua airport hotel the night before and taking a shuttle. Hope this helps, let me know how you get one please!
Thank you so much for all the information! I will let you know how we managed it when we return!
Appreciate it Stephanie. Safe travels!
Hi! Does anyone know how often the microbus leaves from the UCA bus terminal? and what the process is like to get a ticket and find the bus?
There’s signs at each area for destinations (it’s not big), or just ask a local, it’s always busy. You get the ticket on the bus, there’s a local who sorts all of that out. They fill up and leave, you just have to wait in line for the next one. We never had to wait. Good luck! And make sure you visit Las Peñitas
Awesome advice. I will have a 30L day pack and a carry on roller suitcase…you think I could still attempt the chicken bus…as a solo traveller, this sounds fun!
Also, currently booked 3 nights in Leon and 2 in Las Pentas… because I’m contemplating doing 2 volcano hikes out of Leon (one overnight)…should I cancel one and add a night in Las Pentas?? I love the beach, worried I won’t get enough.
That is exciting Ben! The overnight hike sounds amazing and definitely something we wished we did. Will you be getting more beach action on your travels? If so, I’d say 2 days in Las Peñitas will suffice. You’ll get on the chicken bus, you might just have to squeeze the case between your knees and sit with the backpack on your lap. There’s railing above for you to put your bag but just be careful of things going walkies. We never ran into any trouble but always have your wits about you. What else are you planning? We have a quick guide to backpacking in Nicaragua here and also our full travel guide here.
We would like to see if you offer private transfers from Barcelo Montelimar to Leon for a group of 21 people including 4 seniors, 8 adults, 7 youth and 2 child.
Thanks for writing. I run a travel website, not a bus company. Best of luck.