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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 Momotombo 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 among 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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Start planning your tailor-made trip to León & Northern Nicaragua by contacting one of our Nicaragua specialists

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

    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.

    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.

    • Volcano Cerro Negro Hike
      Volcan Cerro Negro, Nicaragua

      Volcano Cerro Negro Hike

      Volcano Cerro Negro Hike

      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.

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    • Juan Venado Island Excursion
      Great egrets, Juan Venado Island

      Juan Venado Island Excursion

      Juan Venado Island Excursion

      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.

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    • León City Tour
      Iglesia La Recoleccion, Leon

      León City Tour

      León City Tour

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

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