Leon is energetic and opinionated; home to crumbling colonial architecture and some of the best nightlife to be found in Nicaragua. Historic churches and stunning cathedrals are dotted throughout whilst Leon’s university fills the streets with intellectual young minds. Overall, Leon attracts far fewer tourists compared to Managua, which suits the more seasoned travellers (like you) that are keen to uncover the city’s secrets without the crowds. It’s something that is likely to change in the near future, so don’t wait too long. Just be prepared to fall head over heels for what’s sure to be your new favourite city.
WHAT TO SEE
The most obvious place to start would have to be the Cathedral of Leon; the biggest Cathedral to be found in Central America. Wander through and admire the architecture before exploring the cellars beneath. When you’ve seen all there is to see of the interiors, climb the steps to the cathedral’s roof. The views from up there are truly spectacular, overlooking the rest of the city’s architecture and the volcanoes beyond.
For another dose of culture, Leon’s Museo de Arte Fundación Ortiz Gurdián has been coined Central America’s most impressive contemporary art museum. Home to an incredible collection of works ranging from the Renaissance period all the way up to modern day, you’ll find pieces by international artists as well as a strong collection of Latin American works to lay your eyes on. With works by Diego Rivera and Roberto Matta on display, you’ll quickly realise that, despite inclusion of international pieces, this is mainly a celebration of Latin American art, and rightly so.
As night falls, you’ll start to see where Leon gets its reputation for great nightlife from. You’ve got a good amount of choice when it comes to choosing where to eat and drink, yet the city still manages to feel authentic and underdeveloped. You’ll find plenty of live music nights that attract both locals and travellers, whilst the food scene is just as abundant. Antorchas bar y bocas and its Nicaraguan take on Tapas is a particular favourite of ours.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Leon genuinely presents itself as a city unaffected by tourism. No matter where you wander in the city, you never get the feeling that this is a destination going out of its way to please the travellers that come through here, be it through live music nights, themed restaurants or special events. In primarily catering for the locals, Leon simultaneously caters for the traveller looking to immerse themselves in the Latin American way of life. The sort of traveller we should all aspire to be.