The journey from Leon to Granada can easily be completed by jumping on a tourist shuttle, it will cost you around $15, take about 4 hours and there is a good chance your nerves could be shot by the end of it, due to the shuttle drivers all seeming to think they are in training to be the next F1 legend. If you want to save 75% £$£$ and put that to better use, read on.
Getting from Leon to Granada via public transport you have 2 options and both of these will mean a change in Managua. Part of the experience travelling through Nicaragua if not the whole of Central America is to jump aboard the public buses, so wake your adventurous side up and see how to do this easy journey below.
Chicken bus the whole way from Leon to Granada, Nicaragua
Both legs of this journey can be done via chicken bus, however, the bus from Leon arrives into a different terminal to the one the bus to Granada leaves from in Managua. The terminals are a couple of miles away from each other, If you chose to walk between the two, this option works out slightly cheaper than option two. However, in all likelihood, you won’t want to walk between the bus stations with your luggage and will grab a taxi instead. Adding in the cost of a taxi makes the option slightly more expensive than the second one (depending on your bartering skills for the taxi) and also takes longer.
The best way from Leon to Granada, Nicaragua - local non-tourist shuttle bus, via UCA in Managua
The best way, well at least the best budget way, between Leon and Granada is to take a local, non-tourist shuttle (like a collectivo) from Leon and a chicken bus from Managua to Granada. I will go into detail below on how you can manage this with ease, but be warned, it will get a little hot and sweaty!
Leon to Granada at a glance
Leon to Managua - C$78, 2 hours
Managua to Granada - C$74, 1 hour 20 minutes
Bus from Leon to Managua, Nicaragua
Step one on your journey from Leon to Granada is to get to the Terminal de Buses in Leon (sometimes referred to as the market terminal). The Terminal de Buses is on the outskirts of Leon. It is possible to walk there, however with your backpack in tow and in the heat of Leon, in all likelihood, you’ll grab a taxi - expect to pay C$50 per person (they do taxi prices per person in Nicaragua....don’t ask!!) from the Parque Central de Leon or close to.
The shuttles from Leon to Managua leave frequently throughout the day, around every 15 minutes. They depart when the bus is full though, rather than at a set time, so it’s a rough estimate. We left on quite a late bus from Leon as we had done the Flor de Cana distillery tour on our last morning in Leon, but we still had plenty of time for the journey. We arrived at the bus station just before 1 pm, our taxi literally dropped us at the back door of the shuttle, agreed to the fare of C$78 (this included 2 large backpacks as they charge extra for luggage) and we were on our way 5 minutes later.
The journey aboard the shuttle took 2 hours to get to Managua, very comfortable as everyone had their own seat. No air-con but all the windows were down, allowing you the pleasure of feeling like being sat in front of a fan-assisted oven when the door is open!!
Bus from Managua to Granada
This step really couldn’t have been much easier, you exit the shuttle car park, turn left and the next bus leaves from there, all in all about 50 steps.
The next bus is a small public bus, again you need to pay a little extra due to your backpack. Our bags got to sit shotgun on the bus's dashboard. As the bus was fairly full Becca was ushered to the front seat and me a seat on the back row (cool kids at the back!). I would make sure there is a spare seat before you board having seen how busy it gets. The buses leave every 15 minutes or so. You are better to wait than standing as it’s about a 2-hour journey and you are an easy target for pickpockets if the bus is full. We arrived at the UCA Managua bus terminal at 3 pm and our next bus left by 3:10 pm.
Our bus got gradually more and more full on the approach to Masaya. If it does feel a little cosy stay positive as it’s likely to get better at Masaya.
Cost C$74, duration 1 hour 20 minutes, small public bus.
The journey from Leon to Granada, Nicaragua is a really easy trip, yes, you can take a tourist shuttle, but if you are in any way budget-conscious, public transport for this route is the way to go.
If you take this trip we’d love to hear how you get on or if there are any updates on prices, please add a comment below.