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León was once the main political, cultural and religious center of Nicaragua and is one of the oldest colonial cities in Central America.

History

The original city, León Viejo, was set at the foot of the Mambotombo volcano, but was destroyed in 1609 by a violent earthquake and eruption; it was eventually rebuilt in its current location 90 kilometers north of Managua. The city is home not only to the National University and many striking buildings, such as the colonial cathedral, with its collection of statuettes tracing religious art since the 1700s, but also Nicaragua’s favorite rum distillery - Flor de Cana.

North of León

Heading further north from León is a spectacular drive through a maze of mountains and coffee plantations to reach the largest town in the north, Esteli, which has an interesting history of political battles. Rarely visited, the northern regions provide even deeper insights into rural Nicaragua’s culture and way of life.

The smaller towns of Jinotego and Matagalpa are set amongst beautiful scenery and although accommodation options are basic, this is an ideal option for a couple of days excellent walking and wildlife spotting in the surrounding forests. These areas are also easily accessible on day trips from León, for those that prefer to stay in a little more comfort.

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Map of León & Northern Nicaragua

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near León & Northern Nicaragua

    Accommodation choices for León & Northern Nicaragua

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit León & Northern Nicaragua. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Junior Suite, La Perla Hotel

      La Perla

      Medium

      A beautiful 15 bedroom boutique hotel located just two blocks from the main square in Leon.

    • El Convento, Leon

      El Convento

      Medium

      Hotel El Convento is a beautiful colonial-style property located in the heart of historic Leon.

    • Hotel los Balcones, León

      Hotel los Balcones

      Simple

      With friendly staff and a great location, Hotel Los Balcones is a simple but characterful property and a great value base for your time in Leon.

    Ideas for experiencing León & Northern Nicaragua

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting León & Northern Nicaragua, and which use the best local guides.

    • Iglesia La Recoleccion, Leon

      León City Tour

      León & Northern Nicaragua

      Enjoy a pleasant walking tour of the wonderfully-atmospheric city of Leon, including time exploring the delightful art galleries, museums and beautiful colonial architecture of the city's historic buildings.

    • Great Egrets, Juan Venado Island

      Juan Venado Island Excursion

      León & Northern Nicaragua

      Travel by boat to the important ecological sanctuary of Isla Juan Venado, where you will witness a huge variety of wildlife, including crocodiles, caiman, water birds and iguanas, among beautiful natural surroundings.

    • Volcan Cerro Negro, Nicaragua

      Volcano Cerro Negro Hike

      León & Northern Nicaragua

      Rising out of the green trees the black walls of Cerro Negro create a bizarre contrast with the surroundings. You hike first on trails and later on a kind of black dune created by former lava. As you reach the foot of the volcano you begin an easy climb up to the first of two active and colorful craters.