Bus from Managua to Leon and Las Peñitas

Managua to Leon and Las Penitas Bus

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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

If you flew the red-eye Spirit Airlines flight to MGA it is likely that you stayed at one of the airport guesthouses such as Hostal Monte Cristi. From here, take a taxi to the UCA Bus Terminal (pronounced Ooka) (130 cordobas / £3.25). It should take approximately 25 minutes. Tell the driver you are going to Leon. There are signs on the buses and at the slots, the microbuses park up in. There’s always someone to ask on-site too if you need to know which bus to get.

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

Those brightly coloured buses are called chicken buses and to travel to Leon via chicken bus would take about four hours with four different stops! For less hassle, opt for the microbus to Leon. This is a small white van and costs 54 cordobas / £1.35 per person. It takes around an hour and a half (up to two and half if you travel late afternoon) to reach Leon. The journey is pleasant!
Managua to Leon and Las Penitas in Nicaragua Microbus

3. Picking a Seat on the Microbus

We prefer the front seats as it means you can have your luggage upfront with you. This may involve allowing people in front of you as the driver fills up the microbus but don’t worry, the buses work in a conveyor belt fashion! One leaves and another appears. Failing the front seats, go for the back or a position that you can see your luggage from.

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

Bus Managua to Leon and Las Penitas Nicaragua_

6. Las Peñitas

Welcome to paradise! Rolling waves, sandy beaches, bars that sell smoothies and litre sized bottles of the local beer, Toña for £1.50!
Bus Managua to Leon and Las Penitas in Nicaragua
Not to forget those sunsets…
Managua to Leon and Las Penitas in Nicaragua Sunset

Read next: our fave things to do in León

Over to you – was this helpful? Any questions?

32 thoughts on “Bus from Managua to Leon and Las Peñitas

  1. Ryan Biddulph says:

    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!


      • Chris says:

        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 😉

        • TwoScotsAbroad says:

          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.

  2. Jey Jetter says:

    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

  3. Milosz Zak says:

    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.

  4. Mar Pages says:

    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!

  5. Doreen Pendgracs says:

    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!

  6. Ashwini says:

    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 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:


    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!!

  8. Jess says:

    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?

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      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

  9. ben says:

    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.
    Thanks again!

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      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.

  10. Dimple says:

    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.

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