Enjoying the best of what Nicaragua has to offer; that’s exactly what you will do during this three-week journey. You’ll start your travels in historic León, where you will discover the rich culture and history of the country. Afterwards, you’ll travel to the mountains in the north. This region is known for its vibrant nature and you can make beautiful hikes here and visit waterfalls. Later on, you’ll relax on tropical beaches, enjoy the charm of Granada and take a refreshing dive in a secluded crater lake. During this trip, you’ll enjoy the diversity of Nicaragua to the fullest and we’re sure that what the country has to offer, will continue to surprise you.
Nicaragua is an undiscovered gem in Central America. Mass tourism is nowhere to be found and Nicaraguans are very friendly people who will warmly welcome you to their hotels, homestays and homes. Travelling around this beautiful country is a unique and authentic experience that for sure you will remember for the rest of your life!
León is the largest city in Nicaragua after Managua and has long been the political and intellectual centre of the country. The second oldest university in Central America, UNAN, was founded here in 1813.
The colonial past is still clearly visible in the city centre. A city tour, possibly with a guide, is therefore recommended. From León, you can make various fun day tours. Visit for example San Jacinto, a village located in the so-called Ring of Fire and climb the Telica volcano at sunset, or go sand boarding from the Cerro Negro volcano!
The city of Estelí is located in the north-west of Nicaragua in the mountains. The climate is excellent for tobacco production and after the Cuban revolution, many Cuban cigar makers were able to continue their work here.
In the meantime, Estelí has become one of the most important cigar production centres in the world. A visit to a cigar factory (where they are made by hand) is, therefore, a must. Estelí certainly also has an artistic side, note the beautiful murals as you walk through the centre!
In the area, you can go hiking, for example in the Miraflor reserve or to the Estanzuela waterfall, or take a day tour to the Somoto Canyon for an exciting canyoning tour.
Granada has been one of the most important cities in Nicaragua for centuries. Because the colorful, colonial architecture has been well preserved, the city has become a major attraction. However, tourism is still in its infancy in Nicaragua, so there are no crowds of tourists there.
You get to know the centre best on foot or by bike and possibly with a guide. At the Parque Central, you can drink a delicious iced coffee at hotel Plaza Colon and don’t forget to climb the tower of the Iglesia de Merced.
If you want to escape from the city for a while, a boat tour to Las Isletas, the often uninhabited islands off the coast of Granada in the immense Lake Nicaragua, is recommended. Along the way, you spot monkeys, all sorts of birds and on some islands, you will find petroglyphs, once abandoned by pre-Colombian tribes.
San Juan del Sur is a laid-back beach village on the south coast of Nicaragua. Are you a surfing enthusiast? Then this is the place to be! You can find good waves to the north at Playa Maderas or for the real pros even more to the north at hotspot Popoyo.
Not a fan of the waves? Then go hiking in the hilly surroundings and climb to the great Christ statue from where you have a spectacular view of the bay. Or book a canopy tour and enjoy the beautiful views. Between July and February, you still have a chance to spot sea turtles nesting at Playa el Coco. A unique experience!
San Juan is a charming beach town, so spending an afternoon there and having a drink on the boulevard is nice too!
The island of Ometepe is a special travel destination in Nicaragua. The island consists of two volcanoes (ome means “two” and tepe means “volcano”) and played an important role in the mythological history of the indigenous tribes Chorotega, Nahuatl and Maya. You can find all sorts of visible evidence of this in the form of petroglyphs.
There is plenty to do on the island itself. You can climb the volcanoes Concepción and Maderas (be prepared for an intense hike!), go kayaking on the Rio Istian and in the rainy season a visit to the waterfall of San Ramon is a must. It is also nice to explore (part of) the island by bicycle or by moped.
Close to Granada, you will find Laguna de Apoyo, a beautiful crater lake that originated some 23,000 years ago. The area around the lake is a nature reserve and you can hike beautifully here.
You can go kayaking on the lake, but also go diving or even paragliding! From the Laguna, you can make day trips to the active volcanoes Masaya and Mombacho. It is also recommended to visit the “pueblos blancos” or so-called “white villages”.
Although more and more tourists find their way to Nicaragua, there is no mass tourism here. Enjoy the beautiful places, handmade souvenirs, a delicious fresh fruit juice and a chat with the friendly locals.
Your holiday in Nicaragua is slowly coming to an end. But it’s not over yet! Before flying home you’ll visit the Corn Islands. They lie some fifty miles off the coast of Nicaragua and are the ultimate tropical paradise. Waving palms, white sandy beaches, exotic fruit trees, on the two islands of Big Corn and Little Corn, you’ll find it all!
The islanders descend from the Buccaneers or freed slaves and make a living from (lobster) fishing and tourism. Recently, many Miskito Indians have moved from the nearby “Miskito Coast” to the islands, resulting in a mix of people and languages.
You will stay in a beautiful hotel on Big Corn Island in comfortable cottages some 100 meters from the beach. On ‘Shipwreck Beach’ you will find a restaurant and bar The Buccaneer where you can have lunch or dinner and enjoy a nice cocktail. Furthermore, the island invites you to explore the overwhelming nature and at the same time enjoy the serene tranquillity.
We really enjoyed our hotel in Granada and the city itself as well. Our volcano trip to Masaya was great and we can recommend it to everyone. We also saw lava there and at sunset, this was very impressive. This self-drive itinerary to Panama was the best way to explore the country!
We booked a surf lesson at Playa Maderas (near San Juan del Sur). It became clear soon, we were not very talented unfortunately, but we had great fun! The class was very affordable too and our teacher spoke English well and tried to teach us some Spanish. Following all our efforts, the local Toña beer tasted extra delicious.
Would you like to experience life in the Nicaraguan countryside and learn more about the production of coffee and other crops? There’s a beautiful day trip that takes you from Estelí to the Miraflor nature reserve, where a cooperative of 40 small organic farmers lives and works together. You hike around the area with a guide and you’ll enjoy a tasty lunch prepared by a friendly Nicaraguan farmer’s family.
P.S. This photo of me was made in Miraflor by the Perez family.Want to know more or book this itinerary?