While most of the touristic focus in Nicaragua is aimed at Granada, the city of León is a cultural-historical attraction that really deserves a visit as well. Moreover, the direct surroundings offer plenty of opportunities for interesting day tours which makes Leon a great base.
The fact that León is not so well-known to the general public has its advantages: it is in a way more authentic than Granada giving visitors an opportunity to more easily connect with locals. A city tour is a good way to get to know the city and its (political) history, and also to taste the local atmosphere.
The Leonese ambiance is quiet and gentle, and with some of the country’s main universities, there is always something to do at night: parties, live music, folkloristic performances, and etcetera.
The nearby beaches of Poneloya and Las Peñitas offer plenty of opportunities to relax, surf, swim or just enjoy the view from a hammock. The long Pacific coastline of the region offers white- and black-sand beaches, mangrove habitat, and kilometers of bird-filled estuaries.
Another great attraction of the area is the massive chain of active and dormant volcanoes that stretches northwest from the Lake Xolotlán to the Gulf of Fonseca (border Honduras/El Salvador).
A tour to one of the youngest and most active volcanoes of Nicaragua, the Cerro Negro, is a must-do. The volcano, covered with black volcanic debris, is quite easy to climb, and it is a marvelous experience: in a ski-like manner you descend the steep slope. For even a bit more adventure, you can try volcano boarding down the Cerro Negro as well. Other touring options are:
- Visit the volcanic fields of San Jacinto.
- Take a boat trip to the Island of Juan Venado for bird watching, alligators and sea turtles.
- Visit León Viejo, UNESCO heritage site where the Spaniards originally founded the city.
Moreover, León is a good starting place for more adventurous trips to other volcanoes in the north and to discover the city of Chinandega, the agribusiness capital of the country.