Editor’s note: This article was updated April 4th, 2018
Follow these simple steps for safe and affordable travel from Managua to Leon
Cab rides and personal taxi rides from Managua to Leon can get very expensive. There is an easy and affordable way to get around most of the country and Leon. The Microbus is how middle-class Nicaraguans get to and from places every day. It is easy, safe, and affordable. Follow these easy steps to get from Managua to Leon where your International TEFL class will be held. A microbus is basically a minivan on steroids that holds 12 people.
If you are looking on how to get to our beach TEFL campus by bus from Leon, you can watch this short video.
Step 1: Arrange transportation from the airport or from where you are going, to the UCA (pronounced ‘OOKA’) bus terminal.
- From the airport, you will pay a flat fee of $20.00 US Dollars directly on the airport. Or if you walk out to the Pan-American Highway from the airport, taxis to the UCA terminal will cost between C$80 Cordoba’s a person ($3.25 US Dollars) to C$320 Cordobas ($13.00 USD) for a cab with 4 passengers. You may need to haggle because if you are not Nicaraguan they will try to charge you the “gringo” price of $20.00 US dollars. It is ok to haggle with taxi drivers.
- From Managua Backpackers Inn it should cost you between C$50-C$80 Cordobas. Having Cordobas, not American cash, on you will help the cab rides to go smoother. * There is an ATM at the airport and they accept most ATM cards. ATM’s give a better exchange rate, instead of changing money at a money changing storefront.
Step 2: When you arrive at the UCA microbus terminal, be sure to get on the microbus headed for Leon. Throughout the terminal, there will be people yelling out the names of the cities where you can take a bus to. There is only one microbus station for Leon at the UCA terminal. If you ask someone they will point you in the right direction. There is a large black sign with yellow writing that says Leon with a lion on it.
Step 3: Load yourself onto the microbus. Microbuses only leave when they are full. You may have to wait in line, so make sure you get on and sit in a seat. Sometimes people just hang out around the bus and save their seat with a bag. It may seem like there is no one on the bus when it is really almost full.
I prefer the first row of seats behind the driver. These are the best seats if you are traveling with luggage, so you can keep your bag close to you in the “isle.” It is best to keep your luggage within arm’s reach at all times. If you have to put your luggage in the back of the microbus keep an eye on it. Ask the driver to close the tailgate if your luggage is there. Also be prepared to wait a long time on Friday afternoons especially during rush hour. There are many people who make an exodus to Leon for the weekend.
The ride from Managua to Leon will cost you C$55 Cordobas($2.00 USD.) Sometimes they charge you before you leave, often they stop somewhere on the side of the road along the way.
Step 4: Enjoy the ride! The ride from Managua to Leon is beautiful. You will pass Lake Managua and be able to see the beginning of the Maribios Volcano chain. It will take you anywhere from 1.5-2.5 hours depending on traffic.
Step 5: Arrival in Leon. In Leon, you will arrive in the microbus area of the terminal market. There will be lots of taxi drivers waiting for you when you get off the bus. We recommend taking a taxi to the Sutiaba Market or the “mercadito” where you can take the bus to the beaches of Las Penitas/Poneloya. It is hot in Leon, and it could take well over 2 hours to walk to the Sutiaba bus market as it is on the other corner of the city. That is not recommended. This taxi should cost you around 30 Cordobas or $1.00 per person. (Always negotiate a price in advance of getting in the taxi.)
Step 6: Take the bus to the beaches of Leon – Las Penitas and Poneloya. Check out this video on how to get to the beach from the Leon bus terminal. The bus can take anywhere from 25 – 40 minutes to get all the way to the turnaround point in Las Penitas – Restaurant Barca de Oro – which is a two minute walk to our new beach TEFL/TESOL school.
Please see the map below.
ITA Nicaragua is number 80 on the map, and bus turn around is between 78 and 79. From the bus turn around, walk continue north, turn left, and then walk a block and a half west to number 80, our TEFL/TESOL Beach campus.
Step 7: Welcome to ITA Nicaragua. This will be your space for the next few weeks, so please feel at home.