Visit León & Northern Nicaragua, Nicaragua
León was once the main political, cultural and religious centre of Nicaragua and is one of the oldest colonial cities in Central America.
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 kilometres 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 favourite 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.
Suggested itineraries featuring León & Northern Nicaragua
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in León & Northern Nicaragua, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of León & Northern Nicaragua
Places & hotels on the map
Places near León & Northern Nicaragua
- Managua 74 kilometers away
- Masaya Volcano National Park 93 kilometers away
- Granada 116 kilometers away
- Matagalpa 118 kilometers away
- San Juan del Sur 171 kilometers away
- Ometepe Island 175 kilometers away
- Solentiname Islands 246 kilometers away
- Rio San Juan 307 kilometers away
- El Castillo 314 kilometers away
- The Corn Islands 418 kilometers away
Photos of 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.
A beautiful 15 bedroom boutique hotel located just two blocks from the main square in Leon.
Hotel El Convento is a beautiful colonial-style property located in the heart of historic Leon.
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.
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.
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.
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 colourful craters.