Leon, Nicaragua is not visited nearly as much as other parts of the country, like the pretty town of Granada. Maybe that’s why I wanted to go there. Andy and I had already vetoed the idea of going to Ometepe, a laid back island in Lake Nicaragua that sounded a bit too rustic for what we wanted. Leon, a gritty city that’s often overlooked, sounded like just what we needed. And San Juan del Sur is a surf town. Definitely NOT a place that we thought we’d end up in.
Leon city and Revolution tour
We booked a highly recommended Revolution Tour in Leon to get a feel for the city and hear some of the history. Our guide started by showing us around and told us some stories about some of the churches and the local market. We also got to go up on top of the cathedral and walk barefoot on the brilliant white roof.
He talked a little about the Revolution and Nicaragua’s history while showing us a mural and some monuments, but instead of taking us to the Revolution Museum as I had expected, he took us to an art museum. Not at all related to the Revolution. The church roof was pretty amazing, but I was let down by the art museum.
Where we ate in Leon
While looking for places to eat in Leon, we came across a restaurant that served both Polish and Sri Lankan food. Normally we would run the other direction from a place serving such vastly different cuisines. But Imbir Restaurant had such good reviews and we were itching for something different after 3 weeks in Central America.
Turns out it’s run by a man from Poland and a woman from Sri Lanka who are married, and the dishes aren’t any sort of weird combo of the two types of food. I ordered a spicy curry dish, and Andy had pierogi, and both were tasty enough we went back a second night.
We also found the best ice cream in Leon. I mean, we didn’t try any others, but this was soooo good we went every day, and I took my lactose pills enthusiastically to eat this wonderful treat. Be sure to check out Kiss Me.
Not surfing in San Juan del Sur
The coastal surf town of San Juan del Sur was never really on our radar. We’re not beach people, and we’re definitely not surfers. The original plan was to leave Leon and go to the Pacific coast of Costa Rica to see turtles.
But as I emailed turtle conservation places along the northern part of the coast, the responses were all the same. The season seemed to be winding down a bit earlier than normal, and they really weren’t seeing many turtles.
We did want a little time on the Pacific, but since the turtle plan was out, it didn’t really matter where. And since Nicaragua is cheaper than Costa Rica, we decided to spend 3 days in San Juan del Sur.
Instead of staying right on the beach, we found a place a little farther out that felt a little like a resort. It had apartment-style bungalows, which sounded like a nice chance to have more space. But this meant being too far from town to walk, so luckily the hotel had a shuttle service.
We had to call the hotel to get them to pick us up from town. Andy and I aren’t the type of travelers to buy SIM cards when we travel because it just doesn’t seem worth it to us. I mean, we’re old enough to remember traveling with no internet and traveling when you had to use internet cafes to get online. So a couple of calls from our German phone weren’t a big deal.
But when we had the travel agent who booked our transportation to Costa Rica call the hotel for us to get the shuttle, we waited for a really long time. The agent even called again, twice more, and they claimed they were on their way. More than an hour later, someone finally showed up to get us. Definitely frustrating.
The views from the hotel were amazing, but I’m not sure it was worth being so isolated and far from town.
Zip lining in San Juan del Sur
After hearing about how much fun I had zip lining in Bocas del Toro, Panama, Andy decided he wanted to give it a try. The place we booked was set at the top of a hill with gorgeous views of the coast and all kinds of animals to see in the trees. It was lots of fun, and I’m glad Andy got to experience it.
You might also enjoy:
- Exploring Granada, Nicaragua
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador)
- How We Spent 4 Days in Panama City
- Where to Stay in Central America