León, along with Granada is also one of the oldest cities in Nicaragua and all of America. It was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba. In 1610 they moved to a new location because of the possibility of a volcanic eruption from the Momotombo volcano. It is located close to the Pacific Ocean and easy access to most of the beaches along the northern pacific coast. It was Nicaragua’s capital city for over 200 years and only changed because the conservatives from Granada wanted the capital to be Granada. As a compromise they chose Managua to be the capital. Here is a short overview of things to do, where to eat and where to spend the night. Here is a list of a few of the highlights
1) Museums, Central Plaza & Cathedral
2) Cerro Negro (Sandboarding)
3) Poneloya Beach
4) Night at El Convento hotel
5) Quesillos in Nagarote
In the central plaza of León there is the main cathedral. It towers over everything. For the longest time it was one of the largest cathedrals in Latin America. Walk in and you can a tour of building and history lesson on the cathedral. You will also be able to go on the roof where you have a great view of the city. It is an impressive site and anyone who makes the trip to León must take the tour.
In the backdrop of the cathedral there is a view of several volcanoes in the area. There is the cone shaped Momotombo as well as Cerro Negro which was prominently featured in an episode of Survivor Nicaragua. In the episode the tribe that won a challenge was rewarded with a helicopter ride to the volcano where they had a nice meal. They also had the opportunity to go sand boarding down the side of the volcano.
After taking a fun thrill ride down the side of the volcano, you can drive a few miles from León and cool off at the beach. Poneloya is a popular beach in the area lined with many private homes and little hotels to spend the night. It is not a surfing beach but there are beaches that have great waves. They are further away than Poneloya but definitely shorter than if you were coming from Managua. Stay tuned for future articles on beaches on the northern pacific coast.
If you are looking for a place to spend the night and have a good meal, look no further than the hotel El Convento. It is a colonial style building with an upscale dining experience. They have a wide variety of fancy seafood dishes as well as other options for the non seafood lovers. They can also host banquet events, wedding receptions or business meetings.
Maybe you are looking for something simpler. You can walk along the streets near the central plaza. There are many restaurants to choose from close by. Another option is eat somewhere on the road between León and Managua. The small town of Nagarote located between León and Managua is famous for their quesillos. A quesillo is the local Nicaraguan dish that has a warm tortilla wrapped around string cheese, onions, sour cream and salt.
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