Granada Nicaragua

From Leon I rode to Granada, Nicaragua. The two cities are historic rivals. Leon has been leftist and prides itself as the home of the revolution. Granda is conservative and sees itself as the more beautiful city. I was really interested to compare the two for myself.

Masaya Volcano

On my ride to Granada I stopped at the Masaya Volcano. It is one of the few active volcanos that you can ride to the top of and look down the mouth of the beast :-).

Volcano Me

Volcano 12 Good

Wikipedia says:

Although the recent activity of Masaya has largely been dominated by continuous degassing from an occasionally lava-filled pit crater, a number of discrete explosive events have occurred in the last 50 years. One such event occurred on November 22, 1999, which was recognised from satellite data. A hot spot appeared on satellite imagery, and there was a possible explosion. On April 23, 2001 the crater exploded and formed a new vent in the bottom of the crater. The explosion sent rocks with diameters up to 60 cm which travelled up to 500 m from the crater. Vehicles in the visitors area were damaged and one person was injured. On October 4, 2003 an eruption cloud was reported at Masaya. The plume rose to a height of ~4.6 km. In 2008, the mountain erupted spewing ash and steam.

Nothing happened while I was there 🙁

Granada Stay #1

I actually stayed in Granada twice. In between I went overnight to Ometepe. I’ll blog about that in a separate post.

On my first stay I stayed at Charly’s Guesthouse. It was a ways out of town but still walkable. I didn’t feel comfortable walking it at night though. So my exploring was limited to daytime walking around.

Granada 1

Granada 2

Granada 5

Granada 4

Granada 7

Granada 15

Granada 19

The art on the ceiling of this church was spectacular.

Granada 22

Granada 24

Granada 26

Granada 29

Granada 30

My go to cafe in Granada. Really good salads!

Granada 17

I also went to the Garden Cafe a couple of times.

Garden Cafe

And the Cafe de Arte.

cafe de arte

But I liked the Pan de Vida best. The owners were from Austin, Texas and really friendly. And the prices were cheaper.

Of course every town has a main plaza.

Granada 33

Granada 35

Granada 37

I watched them paint the curbs. Obviously they don’t suffer from perfectionism here!

Granada 40

As I walked around I just felt like something was missing from the city. It was beautiful, but sooooo quiet and subdued, especially in the tourist areas. There was more action in the markets outside of the main streets.

Granada Stay #2

On my second stay in Granada I picked a place downtown, Hospedaje Valeria. An interesting place to stay ha ha. The staff were very friendly and great promoters of the services offered by the hotel. I didn’t eat there though because I would have been the only one. As a single I need a place where I can people watch. Although they did offer to get me some company ha ha ha.

The good thing about staying downtown was that I could explore at night.

Granada night 2

Granada night 3

Definitely more action at night than during the day.

Leon versus Granada

Granada for sure is more beautiful than Leon. But there is just more action and personality in Leon. A Lonely Planet post says it best.

[Leon is] intensely political, buzzing with energy and, at times, drop-dead gorgeous (in a crumbling, colonial kind of way), León is what Managua should be – a city of awe-inspiring churches, fabulous art collections, stunning streetscapes, cosmopolitan eateries, fiery intellectualism, and all-week, walk-everywhere, happening nightlife. Many people fall in love with Granada, but most of them leave their heart in León”

My Route on July 26, 2017

Leon Granada

My Location from July 27 to 30, and August 2 to 5, 2017


Vibrant Leon Nicaragua

After a short stay in Managua I rode to Leon, Nicaragua.

City of Leon

Leon has a unique historical place within Nicaragua. Wikipedia says this about the city:

León has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation and its National Autonomous University of Nicaragua (UNAN) was founded in 1813, making it the second oldest university in Central America. . . . León had been the capital of Nicaragua since colonial times, so naturally when Nicaragua withdrew from the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, León became the capital of the new nation. For some years the capital shifted back and forth between León and Granada, Nicaragua, with Liberal regimes preferring León and Conservative ones Granada, until as a compromise Managua was agreed upon to be the permanent capital in 1858.

Leon sees itself as the first capital of the revolution, which is proudly displayed on the city hall.

city hall

Revolution Museum and Graffiti

Reminders of the revolution can been seen throughout the town.


graffiti university

graffiti university 3

There is even a museum of the revolution in a building that hasn’t been restored since then.

revolution building

revolution building 2

When I was there they were still celebrating the revolution with flowers laid at memorials, speeches and re-enactments.

revolution memorial

revolutin memorial 2


people speech

revolution play


Like pretty much every latin american town, the churches are the one of the highlights. Leon is no different. The largest church is Our Lady of Grace Cathedral, León. According to wikipedia:

The Cathedral was awarded World Heritage Site status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). . . . The Cathedral’s construction lasted between 1747 and 1814 and was consecrated by Pope Pius IX in 1860. Cathedral has maintained the status of being the largest cathedral in Central America and one of the best known in the Americas due to its distinct architecture and special cultural importance. . . . Seven tunnels start under the church and lead to the other churches in the city.

[1] The church has seven cellars; they provide stability in the event of earthquakes. One of these cellars leads to the tunnels that make their way to the other churches in the city. Above ground, the church has 34 domes which help provide both ventilation and light; “the building is one of the best naturally illuminated cathedrals in America”. People were offered the possibility to be buried below the cathedral, helping to fund the construction and maintenance of the building.

church from seste

church night

church top

inside church 3

I also visited the La Recolección Church.

another church

another church inside

The one church that the art outside was magnificent was Iglesia El Calvario.

painting church

painting church 2

I would have loved to take pictures inside as well. But it was closed all but one time when a service was taking place. I didn’t want to be disrespectful.

Leon Routine

I didn’t stay in Leon that long, but I got into a bit of a routine.

I stayed at Hotel Austria a block away from the main plaza. Yes, it was a bit strange staying at a place called Austria. However, it was clean, the staff friendly, relatively inexpensive (still over my budget) close to the center and they had secure parking for my motorcycle.

hotel austria 4

In the morning I walked to Pan Y Paz, a nice coffee shop a few blocks away.

pan y paz 3

It was a awesome place to work on blogs and answer email. And there were always lots of people coming and going. The food was great too.

By the afternoon it would get really hot and humid. Like many of the locals I retreated to where it was cool. That meant going back to my air conditioned room.

Hotel Austria

In the late afternoon/evening I re-emerged along with everyone else 🙂

I would go for a walk and explore the city.


market church

plaza night 2

Some were still sleeping 🙂


As it got to dusk I settled in at my favorite and only restaurant at the main plaza.


Of course I had my newly discovered favorite beer in Nicaragua, Victoria Frost.

victoria frost

And would spend the next couple of hours just watching people on the plaza.


One evening I was treated to a wedding for entertainment 🙂


wedding inside church 3

plaza night 4

plaza night 2

My Impressions of Leon

At first I thought it wasn’t going to be that nice here. There isn’t the big pedestrian mall and lots of restaurants with patios that you find in other places like Antigua, Guatemala, or San Cristobal, Mexico. But eventually Leon grew on me. Perhaps because of the university, it is a vibrant town with lots going on. The streets are full of people selling things and they are busy. There is just a vibrancy about it. So I was sad when it was time to leave.

My Route to Leon on July 21, 2017

managua leon

My Location from July 22 to 25, 2017


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