Granada is one of the most charming colonial cities in Latin America. Located along the coast of Lake Nicaragua and in the shade of Mombacho volcano, it provides the great opportunities for various forms of activities, including the kayaking and zip lining we mention below. And if your favorite activity is no activity at all, you can spend the perfect useless moments of your life in one of the many lovely cafes and restaurants along the historic streets.
Although compared to its neighbor, Costa Rica, Nicaragua seems to attract far fewer visitors, the tourism industry has grown recently to become one of the largest branches of the economy in the nation. And it is still growing, so if you're repelled by the hordes of tourists, the best moment to plan your trip to Nicaragua is now.
The list of attractions to see and do in Nicaragua is long. Here are the top things we liked the most during our stay in this alluring country. What are yours?
And if you want to know how to see all these places in a week, see our detailed itinerary here: How to plan a trip to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Even if you think that the kayaking is not your thing, you will change your mind after a trip to Isletas de Granada. The best idea is to book a tour with one of the operators scattered around the town. Thus you will be accompanied by a professional guide and lead through the most picturesque "lake canals" full of the unique flora and fauna. For example, did you know that Lake Nicaragua is home to the sharks that have adapted to freshwater life? But don't worry, it is perfectly safe, no "Jaws" scenes have ever taken place here. What you'll encounter is mostly water lilies and countless species of birds.
One of the very few lake islands in the world you'll have a chance to visit. In addition, this one is formed by two active volcanos. And although small in size, Ometepe is full of things you might enjoy: from pre-Columbian stone figures and petroglyphs to sand beaches and horseback rides at sunset. We have to add that the sunsets are particularly beautiful here.
For sure this is not for everyone, but if you plan to visit Nicaragua and Costa Rica on one trip, and zip lining is on your itinerary, do it in Nicaragua. It is three times cheaper and five times funnier. We can especially recommend the zip line park in Managua, over Tiscapa Lagoon, and also the one near Granada, on the slope of Mombacho volcano.
Unfairly treated as merely a hub on the way north or south, the capital city does have its charm. And although nearly destroyed during 1972 earthquake, it is slowly returning to form. We especially liked the artificial ornamental trees "growing" (and glowing - by night) along the main streets. Another thing not to be missed is the view from Tiscapa Lagoon.
Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua, and, unfortunately, the size can be felt. It is filled with the beautiful colonial buildings, but it lacks the peaceful vibes and coziness of Granada. However, Leon has one thing Granada can be jealous of - Centro de Arte Fundación Ortíz-Gurdián. This excellent museum exhibits an impressive collection of Latin America modern art. Highly recommended.
This relatively new entertainment has gained equally as many opponents as fans. To slide down the volcano slope, you have to hike up first, carrying a heavy board. Keep in mind that the volcano (Cerro Negro) is active. And that a lot of accidents (injuries) have already happened to "surfers." That being said, the boarding is pure fun!
A town 140 kilometers from Managua, where Gregorio Aguilar Barea Archaeological Museum is located, being home to numerous pre-Columbian anthropomorphic stone stelae and other artifacts found in the Amerrisque Mountains. Besides the pre-Columbian collection, the museum also exhibits some extremely weird contemporary units, like a two-headed cow or a jarred human cyclops fetus.
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