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Walk through centuries of Nicaragua's history in León, the country's second biggest city. Along with Granada, it’s also one of the oldest colonial cities in Latin America. As you wander along the eclectic streets, you'll see neoclassical architecture mingling with revolutionary graffiti and murals. Cast your eyes beyond the city skyline and you'll also spot natural wonders like the Momotombo Volcano, which is still active today. The city streets are alive with energy – from the bustling food markets to the local salsa bars.
A stay in a León hostel that was once a colonial house will get you up close to the history of the city. Choose a hostel with a garden and sway in a hammock when the temperature rises. Want to get active? Some León hostels run volcano boarding tours (think of it as sledging, only on volcanic dust). Places with live music and salsa nights have your evening entertainment sorted, while staying in a hostel with a bar means a cocktail is never far away. Look out for hostels in León with free Wi-Fi too.
In the central district of León, museums, monuments and restaurants are all within walking distance. At night, the so-called 'Backpacker Alley' (2nd Avenue NE) is the place to be thanks to its bars and live music scene. To see the city's more upscale side, head to Fátima, León's affluent, residential district. Just outside of the city in Puerto Momotombo, you can see the ruins of León Viejo, the city's original settlement.
Tours at León's Museo de la Revolución are given by former revolutionaries themselves, so you get a first-hand account of the city's past. If it’s not enough to look up and marvel at the architecture of the cathedral, climb to the top and take in the view of the surrounding volcanoes too. For souvenirs and food, drop by the Mercado Central. Looking for something a bit different? The Museum of Tradition and Legends is full of oddities such as huge papier-mâché mannequins.
The closest airport to León is Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Take a bus from the centre of Managua and you can be in León in around 90 minutes. Thinking about how to get around town? Take the bus, rent a bike or flag down a taxi.