- Where to Go
- The Best of Nicaragua
- Nicaragua’s Best Surfing
- Hiking Nicaragua’s Ring of Fire
- Nicaraguan Arts & Crafts
- Nicaragua’s Great Green North
- Sportfishing in Nicaragua
- Down the Río San Juan
- Nicaragua’s Celebrations & Fiestas
- Volunteering in Nicaragua
- Diving & Snorkeling in Nicaragua
- Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour
Bars and Discos
It’s no surprise that a university town like León would have a thriving nightlife. And it’s not just poor students here—there is plenty of money in town to support a semi-upscale nightlife.
For student-centered beer gardens, roam the university area in the two blocks north of the main plaza. The nicest discotecas and bars are clustered on a single block called the zona rosa (a tongue-in-cheek swipe at Managua’s more impressive and similarly-named hot spot), located on Calle 1 SO between Avenida 1 and Avenida 2. Walk west from the southwest corner of the main plaza.
Start at Bar Baro (one block west of the southwest corner of main plaza, tel. 505/2315-2901 or 8820-4000, open 8 a.m. to midnight daily, till 2 a.m. on weekends), a lively, high-ceilinged tavern where you can choose between a romantic loungy area, a quiet coffee patio, or a convivial bar-restaurant. The drink menu is the longest we’ve seen in the country, the food is excellent, and you can actually have a conversation with your friends without shouting!
For dancing, the best disco with the most varied music selection is Oxigeno (the sign says O2, open from 8p.m.Wed.–Sat.), where things start picking up around 11p.m. Or there are several other options on the same block, including Liquid (usually with a $5 cover charge), which is also popular.
Dilectus (south of the city center on the highway, tel. 505/2311-5439) is the fanciest and most expensive discoteca in town, with a fun crowd and well-mixed music; it’s also an upscale and attractive restaurant with occasional live music and karaoke. Thursday is mariachi night and Friday is teen night; entrance fee is $2, but budget in a taxi ride home at the end of the night.
Across from Parque La Merced, the Don Señor complex—disco, restaurant, downstairs dive, and upstairs patio lounge with a view of the nightlife—attracts the college crowd and foreigners. The disco is open from 8:30 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, usually with a small cover charge ($2). The restaurant and the bars are open for lunch and dinner, and close late on Saturdays.
The latest of the late-night options is Salon Estrella (one block south of La Iglesia de la Recolección) which lasts until 3 a.m. on the weekends.
Check out the fancy new casino across from Hotel La Perla, built with detailed attention to local architecture and modern casino offerings.
Several bars and cafés host a weekly live music night. Friday nights at Vía Vía are a must; for current listings, can ask the folks at CocinArte (across from the north side of La Iglesia el Laborío).
On Wednesdays, go to La Olla Quemada (a block west of Rubén Darío’s House Museum) with a nice atmosphere and variety of performing artists.
Tequetzal (half a block west of the central park) hosts live music on Thursday nights.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition