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  • Address: Nicaragua
  • Admission: Varies


Ruins of León Viejo Tours

Visiting the UNESCO World Heritage–listed ruins of León Viejo makes it easy to imagine life for the first Spanish settlers in Nicaragua. Located on the slopes of Momotombo volcano and preserved by volcanic ash, the ruins are some of the most complete Spanish colonial ruins in Central America—even though they’re also some of the oldest, dating back to 1524.

The Basics
Exploring the León Viejo ruins makes a great day trip from León, as well as from Granada or Managua. Wander the old city’s 3-foot-high (1-meter) remains and see the layout of 16 of the city’s original structures, including the old plaza, convent, cathedral, and fort. Many of the structures have signs in English and Spanish that explain their significance, but you can also hire a guide at the entrance for a small fee. 

For the highest quality guided tours of León Viejo, book ahead with a vetted tour company. Many tours offer convenient hotel pickup and drop-off from León, so you don’t need to figure out transportation.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • León Viejo is a must for history and archaeology fans.
  • Wear good walking shoes and sun protection, and bring water plus a camera for good photos of the ruins.
  • Plan to spend roughly two hours walking around the site.
  • The ruins of León Viejo are not accessible to wheelchair users.

How to Get There
To get to León Viejo, take a bus to La Paz Centro, a town on the highway between Managua and León. Then from La Paz, local buses regularly head to the ruins. If you’re coming by public transportation, it’s best to visit in the morning as the last bus from La Paz to León is at 2pm. 

When to Get There
León Viejo is open from 8am to 5pm daily. Visit in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds.

Abandoned City to UNESCO World Heritage Site
León Viejo, surrounded by belching volcanoes, was abandoned in 1610 after a huge earthquake caused locals to reassess the town’s precarious location. Residents decided to resettle 20 miles west, in León’s current location, and León Viejo was left to crumble under the falling ash of Mount Momotombo. The gradually buried site was rediscovered nearly 350 years later and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its significance as the only 16th-century colonial city in the New World that never expanded beyond its original site plan.

Tours & Tickets

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Private Walking Tour of Leon Viejo Ruins, León, null

Private Walking Tour of Leon Viejo Ruins

On this 2-hour private walking tour, ramble through Leon Viejo, Nicaragua's first capital city and UNESCO World Heritage site. Enjoy a guided tour of the ruins ...  Read more

Location: León, Nicaragua
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $58.00
Leon Viejo and Colonial City Tour from Managua, Managua, Private Sightseeing Tours

Leon Viejo and Colonial City Tour from Managua

The ruins of Leon Viejo is an archaeological site and park of the original town of Leon founded by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. ...  Read more

Location: Managua, Nicaragua
Duration: Flexible

From USD $175.00
Leon Day Trip from Managua, Managua, Day Trips

Leon Day Trip from Managua

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 9 Reviews

Visit the colonial city of Leon on this day trip from Managua. Explore two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Leon Viejo and the Cathedral of Leon, and learn about ...  Read more

Location: Managua, Nicaragua
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $70.00

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