Leon or Granada – What City to Visit in Nicaragua? (2023)

Author Carina Klein
Carina
· 8 min read · 0 comments

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TL;DR

Comprehensive city comparison: Should you visit Leon or Granada in Nicaragua?

You’re planning a trip to Nicaragua and wonder Leon vs. Granada – Where should I go? Don’t worry, our travel blog has got you covered!

From our own experience, we will tell you:

  • What to do in Leon Nicaragua and Granada Nicaragua.
  • About safety in Granada Nicaragua vs. Leon Nicaragua.
  • And of course, Leon or Granada – Which city is better suited for you?

Nicaragua Leon vs. Granada – Take your Pick!

Is Leon Worth Visiting?

Is Granada Worth Visiting?

Yes! Yes!

Why is Leon Nicaragua Popular?

Why is Granada Nicaragua Popular?

Leon was the epicentre of the Nicaraguan revolution. The finest colonial-era architecture in Nicaragua.

How to Get to Leon

How to Get to Granada

Airport near Leon: Managua International Airport (MGA)
Distance from Managua to Leon: 100 km / 60 mi
Airport near Granada: Managua International Airport (MGA)
Distance from Managua to Granada: 50 km / 30 mi

How Do I Get from Leon to Grenada?

How Do I Get from Grenada to Leon?

Bus Leon to Granada:
  1. Terminal de Buses Leon to UCA Managua (2 h).
  2. UCA Managua to Granada (1.5 h).
Super regular buses with very little wait time during the day.
Granada to Leon bus:
  1. Granada bus station to UCA Managua (1.5 h).
  2. UCA Managua to Leon (2 h).
Super regular buses with very little wait time during the day.

Is Leon Bigger?

Is Granada Bigger?

Yes.
Almost 200,000 inhabitants.
Area: 820 km2 (320 sq mi).
No.
Roughly 100,000 inhabitants.
Area: 592 km2 (229 sq mi).

Best Time to Visit Leon

Best Time to Visit Granada

Dry season: November - April. Dry season: November - April.

Typical Weather for Leon

Typical Weather for Granada

Around
  • 30°C during the day
  • 20°C at night
  • 0 days of rain (dry season)
  • 15 days of rain (rainy season)
Around
  • 30°C during the day
  • 20°C at night
  • 0 days of rain (dry season)
  • 15 days of rain (rainy season)

Leon Hotels

Granada Hotels

It’s hot! You want a swimming pool!
We stayed at Volcano Hostel and can 100% recommend.
It’s hot! You want a swimming pool!
We recommend Selina Granada.

How Many Days Should I Spend in Leon?

How Many Days Should I Spend in Granada?

As we loved Leon, we would suggest spending at least 2 days. This might be controversial but depending on your preferences, 1 day in Granada can be enough. You can explore the colonial city centre during the day and visit Masaya Volcano at night. Of course, you need 2 days in Granada or more if you want to go on day trips.

Leon Vibe

Granada Vibe

Beautiful colonial buildings.
A bit more rough.
University city.
Beautiful colonial buildings.
A bit more posh and touristy.

Leon Nicaragua Attractions

Granada Nicaragua Attractions

  • The white León Cathedral.
  • Street art.
  • Museo de la Revolucion.
  • Centro de Arte Fundación Ortiz-Gurdián.
  • Parque Central and Cathedral.
  • Calle La Calzada.
  • La Merced Inglesia bell tower.
  • Lake Nicaragua.

Things to Do in Leon

Things to Do in Granada

Day Trips from Leon Nicaragua

Day Trips from Granada Nicaragua

Beaches in Leon

Beaches in Granada

30 minutes bus ride from Las Peñitas Beach.
We stayed at Mano a Mano Eco Hostal
Walking distance from the city centre at Lake Nicaragua – wouldn’t swim there.
2 hours drive from San Juan del Sur (Sunday Funday!)

Is Leon Safe?

Is Granada Safe?

Leon felt a lot safer than Granada. We personally did not encounter any problems, also not walking around in the evening. Granada felt a lot safer than Managua. While there were never any safety issues, there was a lot of catcalling, in fact, the most I have ever experienced in my life. Other female travellers reported similar experiences to me.

Leon Solo Female Travel

Granada Solo Female Travel

Would recommend as I personally can not report any bad incidences. Would not fully recommend. There was not only a crazy amount of catcalling but also some very unprofessional behaviour from a tour guide.
Also, we did not feel 100% comfortable in our accommodation and hence do not recommend it here.

Food in Leon

Food in Granada

  • Amazing street food on Central Square!
  • French bakery Pan & Paz ❤️
Too many amazing backyard cafes and restaurants to count.
  • The Garden Cafe.
  • Café de Arte.
  • Pita Pia.

Leon Nicaragua Nightlife

Granada Nicaragua Nightlife

More low key.
  • Party hostels like BigFoot or ViaVia Leon.
  • Bar El Mirador for rooftop drinks.
Wilder!
  • Wednesday Booze Cruise on Lake Nicaragua (recommended).
  • Friday Tree House Party (also recommended).
  • Monday Beer Pong at Oasis Hostel.

Which place is cheaper Granada or Leon

Cost of Living in Granada

Our average daily budget: 35€ Our average daily budget: 45€
Mostly because the accommodations are a bit more expensive.

Leon History

Granada History

Established in 1524.
Liberal.
Used to be the capital of Nicaragua.
Rivalry → Managua new capital.
Established in 1523.
Conservative.
Used to be the capital of Nicaragua.
Rivalry → Managua new capital.

Who should pick Leon?

Who should pick Granada?

  • Backpackers.
  • Solo (female) travellers.
  • Adventure seekers.
  • People interested in the Nicaraguan Revolution.
  • Surfers and beach enthusiasts.
  • Backpackers.
  • Party people.
  • Tourists who enjoy more comfort.
Picture of Leon Picture of Granada

Our Personal Verdict: Is Leon or Granada Better?

Personally, like always, we say if you have the time, do both.

In Granada, we loved our excursion to Masaya Volcano. You just hop off the bus and see lava. Where else in the world is that possible!? Besides the amazing Masaya Volcano, we did not fully enjoy the vibe of Granada.

With Leon on the other hand, we fell in love. We stayed for 4 days (and another 3 days in Las Penitas) and could have stayed even longer. It was so much fun exploring in the morning, chilling the hot afternoons away in the hostel pool, going for a sunset drink at El Mirador and feasting on street food on Central Square for dinner.

Although we are not crazy adventure seekers, we loved Volcano boarding at Cerro Negro.

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