How to beat the heat and live in the sun in one of Nicaragua’s top tourist locations!
TRAVEL. Because money returns, but time doesn’t.
León is one of the last places I’ve ventured to Nicaragua, and I took my time getting here because I just wasn’t sure if it was worth the four hour drive by bus. I wish someone had told me what I am now telling you: IT’S HELLA WORTH IT! Yes, it is a little bit out of the way, but the experiences that I had in and around this hot, hot little city are hard to find in any other part of the country.
1. Basilica Catedral de la Asuncion and Plaza
The best part about this activity (apart from the thrilling views and great photos you will take) is that it is basically free! To enter the cathedral and walk around on the roof it costs about fifty Cordoba, which is basically a dollar and a half and you get an amazing view of the whole city! You will have to take off your shoes to walk around the roof which makes it all the more memorable. Pro tip: go in the late afternoon to get the best lighting for your shots. The sun can be brutal midday!
2. Watch the sunset at Las Peñitas
This is a can’t-miss, and again – points for budget activity! If you are traveling in car, just plug the beach name into your GPS and head out. Otherwise, there are plenty of buses running the 30 minutes from the city center out to Las Peñitas multiple times a day. There are several public entrances down to the water front, so you won’t have to pay an entrance fee. The beach itself is ridiculously vacant compared to other beaches on Nicaragua, but with plenty of affordable restaurants basically on the water’s edge. Even better, wander into a hostel bar and grab some Victoria Clásicas to enjoy as you watch the sun go down. The water is SUPER warm with great waves for swimming if you’re game. Most hostels offer surfing lessons for a low price if you plan to stay on the beach rather than in town (which I highly recommend).
3. Turtle hatching and releasing on the beach
Perhaps the only other place in Nicaragua to find this heartwarming activity is Granada, and it makes the list for its uniqueness and for God’s sake, who doesn’t want to hatch a baby turtle? Turtle hatching tours can be done through basically any hostel and generally take place as the sun is setting, making it all the more magical. You will have to pay a bit for the tour per person, but releasing baby turtles into the ocean is a very rewarding experience. Great for Econo tourists!
4. Flor de Caña rum factory tour
Who doesn’t love some Nicaraguan rum? Flor de Caña is not only the best and most popular rum in Nicaragua, but also ranks number two for finest rum in the world. Verdict? Do not miss this tour! The bilingual tour guide will not only teach you a shit ton about the history of the company and the making of rum, but also provide you with plenty of complimentary rum shots to keep you quenched! You will also get to venture into the founding family’s private rum cellar and test taste their finest as well as watch the barrel-making process in the warehouse. (On weekends, barrel-making does not take place, but the factory is much more tranquil for touring. We went on the weekend and loved the vibe.) This tour takes about a half day and costs about $20 per person.
5. Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro
There’s a reason that volcano boarding in León ranks #2 on CNN’s Thrill-Seeker Bucket List – because it’s a huge adrenaline rush! Not only do you get to hike to the top of a famous active volcano, you get to sled down it at incredible speeds. Volcano boarding is definitely an all-day activity and you will be TIRED afterward, so make sure it’s the only big item on your agenda for the day. Some hostels (like Big Foot Hostel) even have package deals for both volcano boarding and rum factory tours. We paid $41 each for both tours! I highly recommend Big Foot Hostel tours, especially for volcano boarding. Transportation, water, a free t-shirt, snacks, and a mojito afterward are all included as well as protective gear, the board, and free photos from the tour guide. Whatever you do in León, definitely do not fail to check this item off your bucket list.
And there you have it! Five can’t-miss activities to fill your León travel agenda. Make sure to check out the rest of my resources for traveling in Nicaragua as well as other locations! If you are a travel photography junkie like me, connect with me on Instagram!