How do I get from Managua to Leon, Nicaragua by bus?

Editor’s note: This article was updated December 6th, 2016

Follow these simple steps for safe and affordable travel from Managua to Leon 

Cab rides and personal taxies 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.

Step 1: Arrange transportation from the airport oMap-of-Hostel-and-UCA-Terminalr from where you are staying, to the UCA (pronounced ‘OOKA’) microbus terminal.

  • From the airport, you will pay a flat fee of $20.00 US Dollars.  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.


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 Maribos 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. It is HIGHLY recommended that you take a taxi from the terminal market to our school location.  It is very hot in Leon, and with baggage it could take as long as an hour to walk.  It is as simple as  giving them the directions and confirming the price of the ride, 20 Cordobas (or .72 cents per person) and you will be on your way.  There are ‘busses’ (Covered trucks) at the southeast corner, outside of the market, that only charge 4 Cordobas (or .05 cents.) However, the market can be maze-like, and it can be extremely difficult to even get on one even without any type of baggage.

  1. Directions in Spanish for a taxi driver– Parque Central, cuatro cuadras y setenticinco metros oeste; Frente La Olla Quemada; Barrio Zaragoza.
  2. Directions in English-
  • From the Central Park– 4 blocks and 75 meters west, in front of La Olla Quemada, in the Zaragoza neighborhood.
  • From Guadalupe Cemetery– continue west for 1 kilometer.  Turn right at the “T” in the road, and continue on another 1.2k over Rio Chiquito.  When you get to the traffic light, which is Calle Ruben Dario.  Turn right (east).  We are just over two blocks away, on the north side of the street.
  • From Ponyloya/Las Penitas/ Sutiava- The local bus goes to the beach between 5am and 600pm and it costs 12 Cordobas (.50 cents) per person.  The bus terminates at the Sutiava Market.  From there, walk east towards the Cathedral just over 10 blocks.  You can also take a taxi or tricycle taxi for 20 Cordobas (.80 cents) per person.
  • From San Felipe Church-Take Avenida 2 North East south five blocks.  Turn right, or west for four blocks.  Turn left or south for one block.  Then turn left again or west for 15 feet.

Our building is highlighter orange on top, and oxide red along the bottom. When you arrive, please ring the bell.

Please see the map below.

Step 6: Welcome to ITA Nicaragua.  This will be your space for the next few weeks, so please feel at home.


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