Leon Department is one of fifteen (15) departments and two (2) autonomous regions in Nicaragua. It is located northwest of Managua Department and encompasses the northwestern third of Lake Managua. The beaches along the coast of the Pacific Ocean are extensive and very abundant with wildlife. The beaches of Poneloya and Las Penitas are only about 12 miles from the major city of Leon. However, the surf in this region is much stronger and more dangerous than the more southern beaches, such as the San Juan del Sur area.
Leon Department contains several Nicaragua Natural Reserves including the Momotombo Natural Reserve, the Pilas El Hoyo Natural Reserve, the Telica Rota Natural Reserve, the Juan Venado Island Natural Reserve, and portions of the Cerro Tisey Estanzuela Natural Reserve.
The capital of Leon Department is the city of Leon, which is the second largest city in Nicaragua. The city is named after the city of Leon in Spain. The city has a lot of sights to explore including churches, ruins, and a wide variety of museums sure to please a wide variety of travelers.
The Leon Cathedral is a focal point of the city located in the central plaza and is the biggest cathedral in Central America. Several lion statues are located in and around the cathedral, including a large stone lion that marks the location of the tomb of Ruben Dario, a famous nicaraguan poet.