Getting from Granada to Leon, Nicaragua is a breeze if you know what you’re doing. And we’ll show you exactly what to do.
Follow the instructions in reverse to get from Leon to Granada. We’ve travelled in both directions so we can compare your options.
Nutshell: There are three options to get from Granada to Leon: tourist shuttle ($12), local mini-bus ($2) and chicken bus ($1).
The journey takes around 4 – 6 hours depending on your mode of transport.
In our view, the local mini bus represents the best value for money and convenience.
Granada to Leon
We have tried both tourist shuttle (from Granada to Leon) and local mini-bus (from Leon to Granada).
We were reluctant to catch the minibus or chicken bus as we believed it required a taxi transfer between bus terminals in Managua.
After hearing many tales of dodgy taxis in Managua, we were keen to avoid that potential risk – especially when there are so many easier ways to save a buck.
We subsequently discovered that while the local chicken bus does require a taxi transfer in Managua, the local mini-bus does not. And it’s a great option.
Granada to Leon Tourist Shuttle
It is super easy to catch the tourist shuttle from Granada to Leon.
You can get the shuttle from Buena Tours (opens Google Maps) in the city centre of Granada, behind the main yellow cathedral at the beginning of Calle de Calzeda.
It costs $12 pp and takes you directly to Leon in around 4 hours. It’s the quickest and easiest option.
Tourist Shuttle Pros: Fastest option (4 hours), you’ll get dropped at your hotel, no transfer in Managua
Cons: You’re crammed in like a tin of sardines and the driver thinks he’s Lewis Hamilton with one lap to go (but he’s really Chanoch Nissany)
If you are doing it in the opposite direction from Leon to Granada, most hotels offer this same transfer service.
Leon to Granada Minibus / Collectivo
On the way back we decided to give the local mini bus transportation a go. The total journey takes around 4 – 5 hours including transferring in Managua and costs only $2.
You can catch the minibus from Granada to Leon just by following these directions in reverse This is the option we’d chose next time.
We opted against the chicken bus as it involved transferring bus terminals in Managua (which required a potentially dodgy cab ride).
In Leon make your way to this terminal where you can catch a minibus to Managua for 54 Cordobas.
The minibuses leave on a first come, first serve basis as they fill up leaving roughly every 30 minutes. No need to book in advance.
The journey from Leon to Managua is around 2 hours and you will arrive in Uca Managua terminal.
From Uca Managua bus terminal, catch a second minibus to Granada (It costs 21 cordoba per person).
The minibus from Managua to Granada takes around 1.5 hours.
Minibus Pros: More spacious than the tourist shuttle, cheap ($2)
Cons: Transfer in Managua – even though it’s perfectly safe as you walk about 50 metres from the Leon shuttle to the Granada shuttle, we disliked the hawkers who sell you on their shuttle as you walk. Ignore them and you’ll be fine.
Also, the collectivo stops to pick up locals. This wasn’t an issue for us and some opportunistic sellers climbed aboard to sell local food.
Granada to Leon Chicken Bus
Full disclosure: we erred against catching the chicken bus from Granada to Leon which involves taking a 10 minute taxi ride between Mercado Huembes for buses to/from Leon (click to open Google Maps) and UCA Bus Station for autobuses to/from Granada.
As mentioned above, we were concerned about fumbling around in Managua based on negative reports from Nicaraguans.
The overriding factor for us opting against the chicken bus to Leon from Granada wasn’t safety. Rather, the need to negotiate a reasonable fare with a local taxi driver didn’t appeal to us. The 5km walk between bus stations left us with no feasible backup.
Honestly, from what we saw of Managua it really didn’t seem all that bad.
That said, the saving of about $1 to take a chicken bus vs the mini van option just isn’t worth it, in our opinion.
If you have your heart set on catching a chicken bus in Nicaragua you’ll have plenty of other opportunities around the country. Just check out our posts below.
The Verdict: We recommend the local mini-bus option as it was super easy and way cheaper ($2 USD vs $12 USD).
Besides the money, we also like experiencing local transport over tourist shuttles whenever possible as it gives you a good appreciation of life in the city.
More Nicaragua Travel Blog Posts
Where to Stay in Leon: We loved eating our way around the colonial city of Leon. We share the best hotels, hostels and AirBnbs in safe areas of Leon near great restaurants and all the places you want to visit.
Granada to San Juan del Sur: Catching the chicken bus here is the most convenient and cheap option (only $2!). And the journey is truly enchanting.
Isla de Ometepe: The unmissable land-locked island paradise you can’t miss.
San Juan del Sur to San Jose, Costa Rica: We show you how to cross the Nicaragua – Costa Rica border cheaply, safely and quickly
If you have any questions about catching the bus from Granada to Leon please comment below!
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Monday 28th of November 2022
Hi - I can’t find the bus terminal you mention in Leon on google maps (terminal de sutiava) for the minibus/collectivo option. Are you sure it is called this? Thank you!!
Saturday 10th of December 2022
Hi Vanessa - hope you found your way OK. I've added a link to the terminal on Google Maps to hopefully get you there OK! Safe and happy travels
Sunday 10th of April 2022
Can you take the local minibus with big-ish backpacks?
Wednesday 13th of April 2022
Hi Tara, You should have no problem with this. The locals are great and extremely resourceful! Have a great trip :)