In the very heart of Léon sits the Cathedral. With it’s white colour, it really stands out from all the other colourful churches in the city. During daytime, it’s possible to walk on the roof and see Léon from another perspective than usual. Since all the other houses are lower than the Cathedral you’ll get a great view, as well as a sight of the volcanoes and mountains surrounding the city. It’s quite a touristy place, and there were many people there when I visited in an afternoon. Nonetheless it’s a great spot to understand the street system of Léon a bit better and appreciate the magnificent view from the beautiful cathedral.
I would recommend a visit to the Museo de las leyendas, which is located in an old building used as a prison during the Somoza regime. The history of this place is very gruesome, but as well important to have some knowledge about. Here, political prisoners were being tortured and murdered between 1921 and 1979. Some rooms tells you about the life of the prisoners, whilst the others let you encounter the legends of Nicaragua. Statues of 14 myths and legends exist in the museum, each accompanied by a paper telling the history about them. An example is La Carreta Nagua, a wooden cart driven by skeleton horses which embody the Spanish colonizers who plundered and enslaved the indigenous people of Nicaragua. Another is La Mocuana, who betrayed her father, the chief of the tribe, when leading a Spanish boy, she thought loved her, to their treasures. Because of her sadness after the betrayal, she soon died of grief. The legend says that she still appears at night in the countryside, looking for men to kill for revenge the boy who took the treasure and betrayed her. When talking to one of the Nicaraguan students about the legends he recognized them all, which tells us that the legends and myths are still very well alive still today.
Best place to dance
Here in Nicaragua, it seems like everyone can dance. It’s like they were born to do it, that they have a sense of natural rhythm in their bodies. Especially at La Olla Quemada on salsa night every Thursday, is the dance floor crowded with a mixture of locals, tourists and often many of us from Kulturstudier. Here you can sip on a drink or a cheap Toña, or maybe learn a few Bachata or Salsa steps. When it closes at 12, there’s always the possibility to follow the stream of people heading to the most popular night club; Oxygène. I’m not really a fan of the latter, but I’ve always had a good time at Olla Quemada. Although the dance floor is one of the hottest places in Léon (empirically speaking), the music is very good and it’s a great atmosphere.
I haven’t tried that many comedores, but I think that’s San Benito’s fault. Every time I’ve gone to a different one, I always conclude afterwards that San Benito is better. They have very good vegetarian options, as well as a great gallo pinto and pico de gallo. At the hostel I always mash avocado with the gallo pinto and pico de gallo, which truly is one of my favorite meals at the moment. At San Benitos you can also buy different kinds of meat-based options, but since I don’t eat meat, I can’t say much about them. For us vegetarians, on the other hand, there are wrapped pancakes with cheese in them, different types of cheese, vegetable stews, tortillas with eggs and tomato sauce (delicious!), fried zucchini, potato cakes and much more. The price is between 40 – 70 córdobas, depending on how much you choose to eat. This place I would recommend to everyone coming to Léon and wants to eat cheap Nicaraguan food.
Of the restaurants I’ve visited so far, El Padrino has been the best. There I’ve tasted their fish tacos as well as vegetarian nachos, which both have been delicious. It’s also a good place if you’re many people going out, since they have a great patio where you can hang out long into the night. On the weekends they also make room for a dance floor, with music and dancing.
I’ve only visited this café twice, but I’m sure that I will manage to visit many more time before I leave Léon. La Rosita is only one block away from the Cathedral and it’s one of few places with a second floor. This means that you get a view of the city and the sky whilst you sip on a coffee or a juice. I can’t really say that they have a superb interior or magnificent food, but rather a great location. It doesn’t get that hot either, since there’s always a bit of wind blowing in through the big open windows.
Otherwise Paz de Luna, a café around the corner from the hostel, is one of the most frequently visited by us students. Mostly because of their great wi-fi, which enables you to Skype with friends and family, but as well as functioning as a place to have a bit of time for yourself. Living together with around 25 other people is usually great, but sometimes you just need an hour for yourself. And, Paz de Luna have amazing frappuccinos as well, served in huge jars with lots of whipped cream on top.
El Mirador is what it says; a bar with a great view. Going up some stairs and sitting on the balcony you have a great view of Léon. They also have the best Piña Colada that I’ve tasted so far, where you can see them chopping up and mixing a fresh pineapple after ordering. It’s a very popular spot, which I can totally understand! The bar I’ve visited the most, on the other hand, is a place called Lion bar. Other than drinking ridiculously cheap drinks and beers, you can choose music by simply asking the very kind bartenders. You can also sing karaoke. I don’t really know why, but almost everytime we go out, we begin, end or just are there for some time during the evening.
This is my list of best places in Léon so far. Hope you get the chance to experience them someday!