The chilled out vibe and the colonial architecture make León a great place to spend a week. You can explore the pastel coloured churches and eat your heart out at the numerous food markets, you can enjoy the view from the top of the Cathedral, take a day trip to the beach or to one of the many volcanoes that surround the city.
We chose to stay in the cheap but very basic Hostel Los Cheles, which is right next door to the more expensive but much more popular Bigfoot Hostel, a great place to meet people and get involved with daily activities. They are both in a great location, near to a diverse mix of restaurants and shops, and a 5-minute walk to Parque Central.
Parque Central is a great place to start when exploring the city. It’s dominated by the largest cathedral in Central America and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Find the tiny door at the back of the building and you can pay $2 to climb the narrow stairs to the roof. You’ll be blinded by the fresh white paint and astounded by the sea of red roofs and volcanoes smoking in the distance.
There is a great evening food market behind the cathedral for cheap snacks, and the park comes alive at night with families, students and tourists alike enjoying the cooler evenings and an atmosphere that you would never find in England. Be sure to also take a stroll up the road to La Recolección, a beautiful colonial church.
Playa Las Peñitas
If you’ve dreamed of throwing yourself down the side of a volcano at high speed on a plank of wood then León is the place to be, but I’ll save that for another post. If you want something a little more relaxing why not take a day trip to the beautiful beach town of Las Peñitas.
You can learn to surf when the waves aren’t crashing down on the shore with enough force to break your neck, you can burn your feet on the lava sand and there a few great options for accommodation along the beach. To get here simply take a taxi across town to the coach station and hop on the chicken bus that takes 45 minutes and will only cost you C$12 (50¢).
How to get from Utila, Honduras to León, Nicaragua with public transport
If like me, you were allllll the way up in Utila it’s a long journey down south to Nicaragua but it’s easily done with local transport. The ferry from Utila to La Ceiba cost 518Lempira (US$23) and takes an hour. The taxi to the bus station will rip you off no matter what but pay no more than 100L. The bus to San Pedro Sula cost 115 ($5) and took 4 hours, the bus to the capital city of Tegucigalpa cost 178L ($8) and took 5 hours. We had to spend the night here, after fighting with a scary taxi driver we decided to stay in the hotel right next to the coach station.
You can walk or take a 60L taxi to a different coach station to catch the bus to Coluteca, it takes 3 hours and costs 103L. We got dropped off at a random gas station and got a ride in the back of a truck for 50L to the coach station where we caught a minibus half an hour to the border town of Guadaule for 35L. The border crossing is simple enough, as once you enter Nicaragua everything suddenly gets cheaper. The 3-hour chicken bus from the border to León only cost 50 Cordoba ($1.70), and we paid the same for a bike-taxi to take us to the city center.
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