Although the highlights of Nicaragua are often considered to be the incredible climate, the stunning beaches, the world-famous surfing championships and the affordable cost of living, it is important not to dismiss the rich heritage and culture that this nation in Central America has to offer.
One of the most fascinating destinations in Nicaragua is Leon, which boasts breathtaking colonial architecture and served as the country's capital for more than 200 years.
If you're able to spend some time in LeÃ³n, this itinerary will provide you with the perfect day of culture, history and fun.
Soak in the Views from El Fortin
Start your epic day with a visit to the hugely significant El Fortin. Built in 1889 on what was home to the poorest residents of the area, the fort was used as a jail until 1979. If you are interested in the history of Nicaragua and how it became the nation it is today, visiting El Fortin is a must.
Plus, the fort boasts some of the best views over the city and even the volcanoes in the distance, making this a picture-perfect destination.
Grab a Quick Local Lunch While Sightseeing
After a morning spent touring El Fortin, fill up with a quick lunch from the local market found just behind the city's main cathedral. This is where many locals gather for a quick meal at lunch, making it the ideal place to see how everyday life is lived in LeÃ³n.
Typical inexpensive meals include platanos stuffed with cheese, a plate of beans, eggs and rice, or a freshly-made fruit juice bursting with flavor.
Visit the Centro de Arte FundaciÃ³n Ortiz GurdiÃ¡n
A cultural highlight of any visit to LeÃ³n is the Galeria Ortiz Gurdian, known officially as the Centro de Arte FundaciÃ³n Ortiz GurdiÃ¡n. This is widely regarded as the most impressive collection of art in Central America, and it showcases a combination of Nicaraguan artists and classic European masters.
You could easily spend the afternoon touring the halls and admiring the amazing works on display.
Admire the Metropolitan Cathedral at Sunset
Before the sun sets, head out from the art museum and over to the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is just a short walk away. This cathedral, built in 1747, is an enormous structure that serves as the final resting place of Ruben Dario, among other Nicaraguan notables.
Although it always looks stunning, there is something truly special about seeing the cathedral lit by the dipping sun in the horizon. If you are there on the hour, hear the gigantic bells ringing for an added delight.
End the Day With an Upscale Dinner in LeÃ³n
One of the best ways to finish a day of delight in LeÃ³n is with a wonderful dinner. Believe it or not, you can enjoy an excellent steak or even a large plate of hand-rolled sushi for less than $10 U.S., thanks to the city's affordable cost of daily living.
Try steak churrasco, a grilled specialty that is widely popular in Nicaragua, for a fantastic and hearty dish.
Even if you only have a day to spare, the city of LeÃ³n is a worthy destination brimming with culture and history.