San José | Costa Rica’s less charming capital

San José | Costa Rica’s less charming capital

THINGS TO DO IN SAN JOSÉ

Costa Rica
San José Itinerary

Exploring Costa Rica's Capital City

Duration: at least one week

Stay: The Train Suites Barrio Escalante or Chillout Escalante Hostel or Casa Escalante Hostel

Many people who visit Costa Rica skip San José and head straight to places like La Fortuna, Monteverde, and other natural wonders. Those places are marvelous to see, and we highly recommend them. However, if you have a few more days to spend in Costa Rica, we suggest stopping in San José. This authentic city has numerous cultural sights, a robust food scene, and plenty to do. In addition, San José is Costa Rica’s largest city and offers an unspoiled glimpse into Costa Rica. San José, known as “Chepe” by locals, is Costa Rica’s cultural and economic hub. The expression “concrete jungle” describes the city perfectly. Costa Rica’s endless lush greenery balances out the large, concrete buildings. It has all the amenities any urban area would have without feeling too congested. Travelers can visit its many distinct neighborhoods and see beautiful modern and historical architecture. In addition, the city has some outstanding markets to explore, serving fresh food and selling all types of goods. At night, if you’re looking for exciting nightlife, there are many bars and clubs to enjoy.

  • Sight Seeing 65% 65%
  • Food 75% 75%
  • Culture 70% 70%
  • Activities 70% 70%

Even though San José is my least favorite capital in all of Central America, you should still make an effort to spend some time and get to know the locals. Whenever I stay in San José, I enjoy staying in one of the high buildings with a fantastic view over the city.

La Feria Verde de Aranjuez

La Feria Verde de Aranjuez is a fantastic farmer’s market every Saturday morning from nine until noon. It features locally and sustainably sourced products and ingredients. It’s a great place to have breakfast because there are many coffee and food vendors. You can find delicious omelets, arepas, French toast, and other tasty breakfast items here. Vendors also sell locally-made gifts, jewelry, coffee, and fresh produce. It’s a fun place to spend a Saturday morning and enjoy some tasty food.

Granada, Nicaragua: view of Calle Calzada
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Discover downtown San José

Street performers are a common sight on Central Avenue in downtown San José. They can be found on almost every block, and there is no set schedule for their performances. Most performers are amateur musicians or dancers, but there are also a few professional groups. The street performers add a lot of character to the area and are always worth a stop to watch for a while. My favorite spot to watch them is on the corner of Second Street and Central, where there is usually a breakdancing group putting on an impressive show. Even if you’re not into street performers, it’s worth taking a stroll down Central Avenue to check out all the different acts.

Avenida Central

The Avenida Central is a vibrant district within San José with live music and bustling shops that carry everything under the sun. It’s a great place to walk around and taste local life. One place on Avenida Central that many local Ticos (Costa Ricans) will tell you to visit is Mercado Central. This place is a giant grocery store with some tasty Costa Rican cuisine. Many restaurants here serve mouthwatering Costa Rican classics for a great price.

Granada, Nicaragua: colorful houses
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Parque Central

Parque Central is located in the middle of all the action in downtown San José. Many of the city’s architectural wonders, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Jose, surround the park. Within the park, there is plenty of public art and statues. Its center is the iconic “Vive San Jose” sign that makes for a good photo op. It’s a great place to relax that feels like an oasis within the city.

Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo

An easy day trip from San José is the Braulio Carrillo National Park. It’s hard to believe that so much biodiversity and pristine wildlife could be close to the capital. This 108,000-acre park has dense vegetation, breathtaking scenery, and a volcano. One of the world’s best field stations, the La Selva Biological Station, is here. If you’re lucky, you might encounter white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, and slots while riding through the aerial tram or hiking.

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
San Jose 17

Barrio Escalante - a foodie haven

Barrio Escalante has become San José’s go-to neighborhood for great food in the last ten years. The streets are lined with restaurants, bars, and cafes, and there’s something for everyone. So you can find it here if you’re looking for a delicious brunch, a burger, some ramen noodles, or even alcoholic ice cream. One of the highlights of Barrio Escalante is the variety of restaurants. You can find everything from Mexican food to Indian food to Italian food. There are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available. In addition to the great food, the atmosphere in Barrio Escalante is also really cool. Barrio Escalante is also my preferred neighborhood to stay in. It’s so lovely to be able to walk around and go home, even after dark.

Explore the National Museum of Costa Rica

San José has outstanding museums, and you should check out all of them if you have time. If you can only go to one, visit the National Museum of Costa Rica. It is easy to identify with its bright yellow façade and castle-like appearance. You can learn about Costa Rica’s long and fascinating history at this museum. It is a comprehensive museum that covers everything from prehistoric to modern times. There is so much to see here, so you should leave plenty of time to explore it all.

San Jose 6
San Jose 8

Ruta Naturbanas

How cool is that? The Ruta Naturbanas (Nature-Urban Route) is a new conservation project in San José, Costa Rica. The project’s goal is to create a single walkway that crosses the entire city and is entirely in nature. Only a small piece of the route has been completed so far, and the project depends on donations from individuals and organizations. The trail near the Central Bank of Costa Rica in Barrio Amon is open 24 hours a day. The Ruta Naturbanas is a great way to get outdoors and explore nature within the city. The route near the Central Bank of Costa Rica in Barrio Amon is well-maintained and easy to follow. There are several parks, gardens, and other green spaces along the route and plenty of wildlife to see. I saw several birds, including toucans and parrots, as well as lizards and frogs. The route is also a great way to exercise and enjoy the fresh air. I would definitely recommend checking out the Ruta Naturbanas if you’re visiting San José!

Street Art in Barrio California

Street art is one of the city’s most beautiful and exciting aspects, and Barrio California in San José is home to some impressive street art. The murals are incredibly well-done and add so much life and color to the area. Seeing how much effort and talent has gone into these street art pieces is wonderful. So many depict scenes from Costa Rican culture or nature, making them all the more special. I could spend hours just looking at them all!

streetart in san jose
San Jose 12

Take a break at one of the many parks

San José has many parks, each with its distinct personality.
La Sabana is the largest and most popular park in the city. Located in the heart of San José, it offers plenty of space to run, play sports, and relax. The National Park is a beautiful green space located in downtown San José. It’s an excellent place for a picnic or a leisurely walk. Parque Bellavista is a smaller park, but it’s one of our favorites for its charming atmosphere and great views. Escazú is home to Iskatzu Park, a lovely green space with a playground and plenty of shade trees.
And finally, we can’t forget about Coffee Park, which is perfect for nature lovers looking for a quiet spot to relax.
As mentioned before, it can get super hot in Granada. So it’s lovely to grab fresh fruit juice and relax in the shade at Parque Colón. The central plaza is seamed by the Catedral de Granada and numerous restaurants. Nicaraguans are said to be one of the happiest people in the world. So lean back and enjoy watching them as they go along with their day.

How to get to San José:

San José’s downtown area is easy to reach from the airport. There are numerous options available to transfer you from SJO to anywhere downtown, including buses, shared shuttles, private transfers, and rental cars.

The main bus is the Tuasa Bus San Jose, also known as the big red bus. Caribenos and MEPE buses are also downtown. I use Uber a lot when riding around the city.

Best time to visit San José:

The best time to visit San José is during its dry season, between December and April. However, December is a crowded month, and accommodations may cost more. On the other hand, January through Easter is a prime period where costs are low, and the weather is ideal.

Safety in San José:

People consider San José to be one of Latin America’s safest cities. However, like any large city, stay aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables hidden. The most common crimes are pickpocketing on public transportation and scams. San José is also generally safer than other parts
of Costa Rica regarding natural risks. Still, flooding and landslides are sometimes a concern.

Nightlife and entertainment:

Travelers looking for some nightlife during their visit won’t be disappointed by the options in San José. There are bars and nightclubs all over Chepe. One notable place is a craft cocktail bar called Mil 948, run by the world’s 13th-best mixologist.

Tap water

The tap water is by no means suitable to drink. Bring your Lifestraw Pro to avoid plastic pollution and keep your drinks cool.

Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler

Trash: bring your collapsable food container & Lifestraw Pro with you to avoid causing plastic pollution.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing Central America

Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Practical travel tips for San José, Costa Rica

How to get to San José?

P

San José's downtown area is easy to reach from the airport. There are numerous options available to transfer you from SJO to anywhere downtown, including buses, shared shuttles, private transfers, and rental cars.

The main bus is the Tuasa Bus San Jose, also known as the big red bus. Caribenos and MEPE buses are also downtown. I use Uber a lot when riding around the city.

What is the best time to visit the San José?

P

The best time to visit San José is during its dry season, between December and April.

However, December is a crowded month, and accommodations may cost more.

On the other hand, January through Easter is a prime period where costs are low, and the weather is ideal.

Is San José safe for travelers?

P

People consider San José to be one of Latin America's safest cities. However, like any large city, stay aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables hidden. The most common crimes are pickpocketing on public transportation and scams.

Nightlife in San José

P

There are bars and nightclubs all over Chepe. One notable place is a craft cocktail bar called Mil 948, run by the world's 13th-best mixologist.

Can I drink tap water in Costa Rica?

P

In Costa Rica, 92.5% of the population, has access to drinking water. The quality of tap water is safe to drink. If you still feel uneasy, bring your self-cleaning bottle. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: bring your collapsable food container & Lifestraw Pro with you to avoid causing plastic pollution.


Sunscreen: Protect Costa Rica's marine life and wear reef-save sunscreen.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing Central America

Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in Costa Rica

Follow us to our favorite places in Costa Rica

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Caye Caulker | Backpacking and diving haven

Caye Caulker | Backpacking and diving haven

THINGS TO DO IN CAYE CAULKER

Belize
Hopkins Itinerary

Backpacking and diving haven

Duration: at least 4 days

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay:  COLINDA CABANAS

Once you set foot on the island, it feels like you have entered a slightly cheesy Caribbean movie. The vibe is dominated by a mix of friendly, carefree Creole and Rastafarian culture.

Caye Caulker is an excellent place to start your trip to Belize, especially when coming from Mexico. The island seems to combine all ingredients for a fantastic time: Friendly locals, delicious seafood, water fun, and nightlife (which is hard to find elsewhere in Belize) Belize’s backpacking hub!

Even though it must be one of the most visited islands in the country, Caye Caulker maintains an authentic vibe. While it is far from representative, it shows you life’s fun, carefree side. Creole, Rastafarians, and travelers perfectly blend (for now). There are no cars and certainly no hassle. On top of that, Belize’s barrier reef and the incredible blue hole offer unlimited diving and snorkeling.

Since tourism is booming exponentially, Caye Caulker faces the evolving challenge of over-tourism. So, it’s even more important to travel sustainably.

Explore the underwater world

Dive Belize’s blue hole from Caye Caulker. The is the island closest to the world-famous blue hole. It takes about 2,5 hours from Caye Caulker by boat. Jaques Gasteaeu discovered the great blue hole in 1971. The about 400 feet deep hole measures about 1000 feet in diameter. On top of it, Belize’s great hole is surrounded by colorful corals. You’ll be able to find impressive stalactites and stalagmites under the overhangs. Since we didn’t dive (it’s one of the very few things both are afraid of), we didn’t go. However, fellow travelers told us the price is about 300 for three dives per day.

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Shark Alley

Many snorkeling tours include a trip to Shark Alley. We loved our snorkeling day trip and found the sharks impressive. So many sharks have never surrounded us!

Sadly, they rush to the boat because they have fed them for so long. Make sure to book a responsible company that does not provide food to attract the sharks.

Hol Chan Marine Reserve

A snorkeling trip on Caye Caulker is seldom complete without visiting the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. If you are lucky, you’ll be able to observe manatees there! At first sight, we mistook them for rocks until they started moving. Those gentle creatures are so amazing to watch. They almost seem surreal!

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Caye Caulker, Koko King

Enjoy the good life at Koko King

We were a little shocked when we discovered that there was no stretch of beach on our part of the islands. It sounded even worse that we had to visit a beach with a bar. But Koko King turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It’s not overcrowded nor loud, food and drinks are delicious! The water is beautiful to swim in, and the crowd consists of a chilled mix of foreign tourists, locals, and Belizean tourists. We have spent several carefree days hanging out, enjoying our time.

Dance the night away

Caye Caulker is quiet but still has a lot of energy and exciting nightlife. Dominated by reggae music, you’ll be able to find a fun place to spend the dance the night away. The crowd is a delightful mix of locals and tourists anywhere on the island.

Caye Caulker is quiet but still has a lot of energy and exciting nightlife. Dominated by reggae music, you’ll be able to find a fun place to spend the dance the night away. The crowd is a delightful mix of locals and tourists anywhere on the island.

Caye-Caulker-Belize

Practical travel tips for Caye Caulker

How to get to Caye Caulker?

P

You can get to Caye Caulker by boat from Belize City. It's a comfortable ride of about 40 min. Boats leave several times per day. You'll most likely reach Belize City by bus from Cancun (10 hours overnight) or Dangriga if you come from Hopkins.

You could also catch a flight from Belize City.

Are the beaches on Caye Caulker nice?

P

A hurricane split Caye Caulker in 1961. The South part of the island is inhabited and the center for tourists. However, there is no beach for swimming in this part of the island. To enjoy the crystal clear water, you must take a boat to the island's Northern part. The ride is free if you order some drinks or food at Coco King.

What is the best time to visit Caye Caulker?

P

Avoid hurricane season from June to October. The high season starts in December. As always, we urge you to go doing shoulder season.

Is Caye Caulker safe for travelers?

P

Caye Caulker lives from tourism, and locals take good care of their visitors. Just be aware that such a high concentration of visitors also always attracts ungenuine people who look for a quick buck.

How can I protect myself from sandflies?

P

Once you get to Hopkins, buy some handmade coconut oil to protect yourself from sandfly bites! They are especially active during morning and evening hours.

Can I drink tap water in Belize?

P

In the towns, the water is supposedly drinkable. But as you will spend a lot of time on the water and Cayes in Belize, bring a water filter or a self-cleaning bottle to be safe and avoid causing plastic pollution. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Eating fish: To protect marine life in Belize, fishing is regulated by seasons to guarantee the species' time to recover. Therefore, make a point of not eating lobster or conch when not in season! Conch season runs from October to June. Lobster season is from July to February.

Sunscreen: Protect the unique marine life in Belize, and always wear reef-friendly sunscreen. Check out our guide to coral-safe sunscreens here.

Plastic: Bring your self-cleaning bottle to avoid causing trash by consuming bottled water.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Belize

Check out our packing list to prepare for all Belize has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.

Places to visit in Belize

A small country with a big personality!

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Tobacco Caye | Caribbean paradise ?

Tobacco Caye | Caribbean paradise ?

TOBACCO CAYE

Belize
Tobacco Itinerary

The smallest island we have ever visited

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay: Gill’s Cove or Windward Lodge

Tobacco Caye – Our paradise in Belize! Dip into the most turquoise waters, snorkel, dive, and chill out. Get your authentic Caribbean experience! The tiny Caribbean island lays just 12 miles off the shores of Dangriga- a 40-minute boat ride. Without a doubt, the setting of Tobacco Caye is paradisical. The tiny island, which seems to sit on pink Conch shells, is surrounded by some of the most pristine water you’ll ever see. Tobacco Caye might have been the most unique place we visited while backpacking Belize. Dani visited Tobacco Caye the year before and felt a special connection to the island and its 15 permanent inhabitants.

Belize’s Central Cayes are much less visited than the Cayes up North. However, Tobacco’s prime location within the Great Barrier Reef offers incredible diving and snorkeling opportunities. The crystal clear water surrounding the island shimmers in blue and turquoise. The island is so tiny; it will take about 5 minutes to circle the whole island on foot.

Tobacco Caye is small but holds so much for those open to it! It’s a place not made for everyone, but to us, it’s extraordinary. We have learned a lot about ourselves, also. Tobacco will always be calling for us!

 

Tobacco Caye is an island destination like no other. Why? Compared to other island destinations dominated by resorts and luxury, Tobacco Caye has maintained its authentic charm. If you are up to it, you’ll be able to participate in the island’s life. Its inhabitants will welcome you with open arms, and over some community meals and activities, you’ll be able to understand how the island life shapes its people.P.S The Caye may be tiny, but check out our “good to know” to make your experience extra amazing!

Dive into the biggest Barrier Reef of the Northern hemisphere

Tobacco Caye sits within the South Water Caye Marine Reserve and offers countless diving opportunities. Dives and excursions can be arranged on the island. The guys are knowledgeable and proud of their home. Belize’s Barrier Reef is a UNESCO world heritage site with a striving turtle population. On top of that, the reserve is home to more than 500 species of fish!

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Home of the stingrays

Since none of us had a diving permit and fishing was not our thing, our water activities were limited to snorkeling. You can either borrow gear and venture out from Reef’s end by yourself or go on a tour. The marine life close by is super beautiful and diverse.

Tobacco Caye is also home to 7-8 giant stingrays. They follow the fisher boats when they come back and are marvelous to look at! Over at the western side of the island, fishers tend to clean their catches. Thereby they attract the local stingrays. It’s so cool to see them feast on fish leftovers. You can even carefully touch them. They feel like wet silk.

After exploring the nearby marine life (you should also go out at night!), you can explore nearby snorkeling sites with one of the island guys.

Day-trip to other nearby Cayes

One of our most fantastic day trips was to Southwater Caye. With Gustan, who has been living on a 100-year-old sailboat, we got to sail across the most beautiful water to visit the nearby Caye. It’s probably one of the most fantastic boat experiences ever!

If you ever feel like visiting nearby Cayes, you can always inquire about the local guys; they’ll do anything to show you around! Glover’s Reef, an even remoter island, is only a 45 min boat ride away.

My dear friend Captain Nolan is offering day tours to all nearby Cayes. He’s a soul of a person who knows the Cayes inside and out. Give him a call when around! His number is +501 615 6512.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Tobacco Caye, Belize

Get an understanding of island life

Often, when traveling to an island destination. You only get to see the paradisical side of it. While Tobacco is paradisical, it also offers you a unique chance to engage in island life. With Jerome being our provider, we shared countless community meals and got to hear the stories and the gossip. We felt at home, included.

Life on Tobacco Caye is pretty slow. It’s all about the sun, the sea, and the ganja. Most locals rise with the sun, take a smoke, and go out fishing. By the time the sun is fully up, everyone has taken another smoking break and busses them with either providing for their guests or cleaning the island. In the afternoon and evening, its time to enjoy life or take visitors out for a dive. Spending time together and letting time pass is essential.

Tobacco Caye – a seafood haven

Locals dine on the menu of the sea. Jerome and the sea provided for most delicious food during our journey. As you walk across the island, you might feel like Tobacco Caye is settled on pink conch shells. But, if you take a closer look, you can tell by the whole that they’d been on the menu once, too. Tobacco Caye is genuinely tiny. It’s a tight community where everyone watches out for one another. During the week, island kids attend school on the mainland and stay with their mothers or relative. On the weekends, though, they’ll come and visit. You’ll hear laughter and giggling.

Lately, the local guys have set up a small fruit and barbeque stall on the island. Not only will you get the super fesh seafood but it is also prepared with lots of love. Make sure to support them and stop by!

Tobacco Caye, Belize: stingray

Practical travel tips for Tobacco Caye

What is the best time to visit Tobacco Caye?

P

Hopkins experiences quite heavy rain from June to September as anywhere in the Caribbean. This time is also considered hurricane season. The high season starts in November till February. The best time to travel is, without a doubt, shoulder season in June so that you can visit Mango fest or November for Garifuna Day!

What shall I bring to Tobacco Caye?

P

There is only one small kiosk on the island. So bring everything you need. However, the booth only sells chips, sweets, cigarettes, and drinks.

How can I protect myself from sandflies?

P

Once you get to Hopkins, buy some handmade coconut oil to protect yourself from sandfly bites! They are especially active during morning and evening hours.

How to get to Tobacco Caye?

P

The cheapest way to get to Tobacco Cay is from Dangriga. Usually, there is one small boat per day, but make sure you check with the locals or arrange for transport with your hotel. Captain Doggy is our favorite person to take us to and from the island. He'll charge you around $40 one way. Unfortunately, there is no boat leaving or arriving after dark.

Where to eat on Tobacco Caye?

P

Usually, you'll have to book accommodation with meals included since there is no such thing as an independent restaurant. However, you might inquire about Lily from Reefs End or Jerome to join them for meals.

Can I drink tap water in Belize?

P

In the towns, the water is supposedly drinkable. But as you will spend a lot of time on the water and Cayes in Belize, bring a water filter or a self-cleaning bottle to be safe and avoid causing plastic pollution. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Eating fish: To protect marine life in Belize, fishing is regulated by seasons to guarantee the species' time to recover. Therefore, make a point of not eating lobster or conch when not in season! Conch season runs from October to June. Lobster season is from July to February.

Sunscreen: Protect the unique marine life in Belize, and always wear reef-friendly sunscreen. Check out our guide to coral-safe sunscreens here.

Plastic: Bring your self-cleaning bottle to avoid causing trash by consuming bottled water.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Belize

Check out our packing list to prepare for all Belize has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.

Tobacco Caye, Belize us at sunset

Places to stay on Tobacco Caye

Gill’s Cove

By far our favorite stay on Tobacco Caye! Why? Jerome is truly a wonderful host who will go beyond to make you feel happy. He’s well-beloved in the local community; everyone feels welcomed at Gill’s Cove! The food is absolutely amazing, too. By the way: Jerome is currenlty constructing a very cool over-the-water buganlow which should be ready in November 2023! Make sure to check it out!

Winward Lodge

A newcomer to the Caye! Winward Lodge is much more upscale than Gill’s Cove. The beachfront cabins offer a private hammock, hot rainwater showers, and 24/7 electricity, as well as a restaurant and a bar. 

Places to visit in Belize

A Small Country with a big personality!

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Masaya | Nicaragua’s folklore capital

Masaya | Nicaragua’s folklore capital

Things to do in Masaya

NICARAGUA
Masaya Itinerary

Nicaragua’s folklore capital & glimmering lava

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 35 per day

Stay: Hostal Casa Porta 

After admiring the stunning beauty of Granada, we decided to make our way to Masaya: Nicaragua’s cultural and folklore capital. Things we did? Well, for one, street strolling was a must! The vibrant streets of Masaya were alive with the sound of music, dance, and crafts. Everywhere we looked were colorful buildings and incredible local charm. We even joined in with some locals to try out some of their traditional dance moves – what an experience! Not only this but there’s plenty to see outside the town limits, too; witnessing the glorious red and orange lava flowing out of Volcano Masaya was breathtaking – something we would never forget. And finally, a peaceful few hours of hiking around Laguna Apoyo showed us just how rich nature is in Nicaragua – gorgeous views and crystal-clear waters all capped off perfectly by a sublime sunset.

 Granada’s passionate neighbor

Masaya will surprise you with its creative diversity and authentic charm. It is unique because it manages to be relaxed and vibrant simultaneously. It’s the perfect spot to stay longer to get to know the Nicas better. For some reason, Masaya is not as popular among tourists as neighboring Granada. However, we can only urge you to spend some time in this charming town. Masaya is a creative and artistic city with a history-affine population. You’ll be greeted with open arms and hearts. So dive in and listen to the stories of Masaya’s friendly locals.

Wander from Parque Central the Malecon

As in many Central American cities, Masaya’s Parque Central forms the heart of the small town. Lined with high trees, delicious food stands, rustic outside restaurants, and market stands, the park is ideal for pausing or meeting the friendly locals. We started by walking west to the colorful Malecon. On your way there, you’ll feel the city’s energetic vibe. If you are hungry, try the Assados (barbeque) on the side of the streets. They are the “muy Rico”! On weekends the recreation area at the Malecon fills with locals. The vibe is pretty unique. Many more secluded and quiet spots offer a stunning view of the Laguna de Masaya. At the same time, many visitors come for group sports activities and spread enthusiasm.

Masaya Nicaragua 6
Masaya Nicaragua 59 1000x630 1

Monimbo - Masaya's indigenous neighborhood

You’ll find this indigenous neighborhood south of Parque Central. Monimbo makes up for an excursion on your way to Laguna de Apoyo. Its ingenious tribes are alive and even noticeably in its cuisine. The food market at the beginning of the neighborhood seems to be the center of everything in Monimbo. Sitting together, people enjoy sharing their meals while exchanging stories of the day. It’s the perfect spot to indulge in the local cuisine and make new friends. Many of the colorful Hamacas you’ll find across the city are produced in Monimbo, the hammock production center. Oh, Hamacas! We love them!

Mirador de Caterina

Located close to the crater of Laguna de Apoyo, this viewpoint offers stunning views over Lage Nicaragua, Laguna de Apoyo, and distant Granada. 

Masaya Nicaragua 18 1
Masaya Nicaragua 37

Wander Mercardo de Artesanias

This is the most touristy spot in Massaya, so expect prices to be a little higher. However, it’s one of the country’s most prominent artisans’ markets and is often called “Mercardo Viejo.” Amidst colorful hammocks, you’ll be able to shop for souvenirs made of wood, leather, cane, or ceramic. Many of the little stands offer the same (across all of Nicaragua), but you will be able to find something for everyone. We were more impressed with the dramatic structure surrounding the”Mercardo Viejo.” It seems like the market is located in the courtyard of an ancient fort.

Hike to Laguna de Apoyo

After discovering Masaya’s colorful city center, we decided it was time to see the first volcanic crater lake in our life. The pristine waters of the Laguna are one of our journey’s highlights. To get to Laguna de Apoyo, just take the bus (9C$) to Caterina and walk from there. We tried some traditional Quesillo ( wrapped cheese with sweet milk) before strolling around the neighborhood. Leaving the village, it’s a comfortable and relaxing walk through lush nature. If you start your hike to the Laguna in charming Caterina, you’ll end up at a secluded spot where you can enjoy the lake by yourself. On the way to the Laguna, we passed ancient petroglyphs and spotted some monkeys. Take in the view before you cool down in the carter of the extinct volcano. The natural reserve is the perfect spot to just let go. The last bus to Masaya leaves at 4, be sure to catch it! Otherwise, you’ll have to choose the much more expensive alternative by cab. (200C$)

Masaya Nicaragua 61 1000x630 1
Masaya Nicaragua 26

Volcano de Masaya's glowing spectacle

Yay Nicaragua! We were able to see lava in an active volcano crater for the first time! It’s mesmerizing and a once-in-a-lifetime view! It’s an indescribable feeling to stand at the top of a blazing volcano. We feel lucky to have been able to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder. We arrived right at sunset and so were able to see the magnificent sulfur clouds as they were slowly disappearing into the dark, leaving only the bright red of the burning lava.
However, due to the toxic fumes, you can spend only 20 minutes taking in the volcano. It’s a short moment that lasts a lifetime. An absolute must-do!

Casa de Porta - a special place in Masaya

We arrived in the afternoon and met our host, Miguel. Once again, we learned quickly that looks are mischieving. We expected Miguel to be a professor in his advanced years who rented a room in his charming house for some company. However, the opposite was the case. The music professor, who also teaches kids to swim in his backyard, welcomes friends daily. The visitors were as illustrious as the host himself. They varied from young, revolutionary musicians to elegant men with sophisticated appearances. We often joined them on the wooden rockers and appreciated the positive and authentic vibe. They weren’t just singing and playing instruments. They exchanged stories about the country, its culture and revolution, daily life, and politics. We have spent countless unforgettable moments with the unconventional group. Miguel’s aura of inner peace and contentment was so enriching for us. We will be forever thankful for sharing his home and his life with us. Hostal Casa de Porta is truly the perfect spot to immerse in Masaya’s unique vibe.

Masaya Nicaragua 45

Practical travel tips for Masaya, Nicaragua

What is the best time to visit Masaya?

P

The best time to visit Masaya and its natural surroundings is from November to April.

Is Masaya safe for travelers?

P

During "normal" times, Masaya is very safe for travelers to visit and have a good time. Of course, you need to be careful after dark. In times of unrest, Masaya is often an epicenter.

How to get to the Masaya?

P

You can reach Hospital de Masaya by a 30-minute bus ride from Granada's bus terminal. Once you arrive at the hospital, take a taxi to the city center (40 C$).

Where to eat in Masaya?

P

First, try the "Pupusas Factory" at the beginning of Monimbo to get the first taste of El Salvadorian cuisine. Last, try the rather unusual-sounding "sweet tacos de Pollo" at one of the food stands surrounding the central park.

Can I drink tap water in Nicaragua?

P

After a personal experience with some parasites, Tap water in Nicaragua is not good to drink! Bring a self-cleaning water bottle or filter to get clean and cool drinking water.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water ourifier to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Going to Central America?

Let us inspire you!
More Central American destinations

PLACES TO VISIT IN NICARAGUA

Often overlooked, Nicaragua is home to friendly people, dramatic landscapes and rich culture!

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.

Suchitoto | History, weekend markets & history

Suchitoto | History, weekend markets & history

Things to do in Suchitoto

El Salvador
Suchitoto Itinerary

The place of flowers and birds

Duration: at least 5 days including a weekend

Stay: The Mayan Grouper or Casa 1800 Suchitoto Boutique

Suchitoto almost feels like a bit of a time and space journey after visiting busy San Salvador. The city’s name originates from the Nahutal language and translates into “place of flowers and birds.” As the cultural capital, Suchi’s colorful historic houses are home to art galleries, boutique hostels, and NGOs.

El Salvador’s finest city

The tiny town charms you with its tranquil vibe as you wander around the cobblestone streets. Suchitoto’s affectionately planted and decorated streets and laid-back inhabitants radiate an authentic appeal. Located just 50 km northeast of San Salvador, Suchitoto is often visited on the weekends when streets come alive for arts and food festivals.

  • Sight Seeing 85% 85%
  • Culture 95% 95%
  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Nightlife 70% 70%

From a turbulent past to a flourishing future

Guanaco pride is celebrated and lived in Suchitoto. Everyone we met told us affectionately how Suchi must be the best place to live in all of El Salvador. On top of that, little Suchitoto offers exciting surroundings for outdoor and history enthusiasts. El Salvador’s largest artificial lake, Lago Suchitlán, offers relaxing walks and excellent bird watching. The more active and history-interested shouldn’t miss a hike of volcán Guazapa, a former guerrilla stronghold.

Take in the view from a mirador

We arrived shortly before lunch with growling stomachs. We liked Suchitoto from the very first moment. It was challenging to stop for food before exploring the city. We were so eager to see more. After we asked some locals for recommendations, we ended up at a lovely and delicious Mexican restaurant called Suchimex. As the only visitors, we quickly befriended the staff and heard the first stories about Suchitoto. It seemed like everyone was fond and proud to live in such a beautiful, quiet town. After we feasted on some tasty burritos, the kind staff showed us a little mirrador from which we could look down on the red roofs of Suchitoto. We could even make up Lago Suchitlán in the distance.

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Enjoy the laid-back vibe and stroll around the colonial city

Revitalized from our delicious lunch, we wandered the cobblestone streets and started discovering the city. The roads are seamed with colorful colonial buildings, which automatically brighten your mood.

 

Iglesia Santa Lucia

Iglesia Santa Lucia shines so brightly that it can’t be missed. The church is one of El Salvador’s oldest religious sites and was built when Suchitoto was still a Mayan town. The city’s streets are picturesque, so it’s a lot of fun just strolling around. In addition, there are plenty of artistic boutiques.

 

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Casa de Museo

If you want a deeper understanding of Suchitoto’s role in the civil war and how it escaped destruction we recommend visiting Casa de Museo de Los Recuerdos Alejandro Cotto. Suchitoto’s most famous arts patron played a crucial role in saving the town. Today, the former house is home to a museum.

Go bird watching at Lago Suchitlán

El Salvador’s biggest artificial lake is a haven for bird-watching enthusiasts. Suchitoto’s spectacular backdrop was built in 1973 and now provides electricity to about 500 000 people in El Salvador. In addition, you can easily arrange boat tours at the port. Costs vary from $25 for a 45 minutes tour to the tranquil island of Isla de Ermitano and $30 for a one-hour bird-watching tour. It will take about 1 hour to visit Isla las Pájaros, the island of the waterbirds. ($30) A ferry across the lake also connects Suchitoto and San Francisco de Lempa.

 

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
Suchitoto 3

Explore Volcán Guazapa and learn about the guerilla history

The extinct volcano does not only offer beautiful hikes but also provides its visitors with profound insights into El Salvador’s past. During the 1980s, the guerrilla stronghold became a war zone. The national army undertook massive military operations to fight the “Rebel Army.” Due to its strategic location, the rebels referred to Volcáno Guazapa as “a dart in the ribs enemy.” As a result, many families and veterans of the civil war live in this area. Nowadays, ex-guerrillas give visitors an insight into the life of a rebel during the civil war. You’ll see underground tunnels, shelters, and even a hospital as you wander around. It’s profoundly moving to listen to the stories of those who fought and have been fought.

 

Hike Cascada Los Tercios

This hike is super easy to do on your own. You’ll find Cascada Los Treciosis just 1.5 km outside of town. The 10-meter high wall of the waterfall consists of Basalt, which can also be found on the moon. Basalt is packed with tiny quartz crystals which sparkle in the sun and give the waterfall a distinct from-another-world look. Unfortunately, the rushing waterfall is only active from June to November. Usually, there are no security concerns if you want to walk alone, but make sure to ask around beforehand as the situation might change quickly.

Leon, Nicaragua: Central Park

Practical travel tips for Suchitoto, El Salvador

What is the best time to visit Suchitoto?

P

Suchitoto is the perfect all year destination.

How to get to the Suchitoto, El Salvador by bus?

P

You can comfortably reach Suchitoto by bus from San Salvador's Terminal de Occidente for $1. Our hostel also offered tours costing around $35. Getting to Suchi is very straightforward. The bus from Suchitoto to San Salvador leaves at the same corner you got off. Once you are back in San Salvador, exit the bus as it circles and will take you right back. Don't laugh. It almost happened to us...

Is Suchitoto safe for travelers?

P

Yes, Suchitoto is maybe El Salvador's safest city.

Can I drink tap water in El Salvador?

P

Do not drink tap water in El Salvador; bring your water purifier instead! While water from the National Water Company (ANDA) is generally safe, you never know the water source the restaurant, hotels, and so on may use.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water filter or UV bottle to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in El Salvador

Don’t skip El Salvador – our favorite Central American country <3

No Results Found

The page you requested could not be found. Try refining your search, or use the navigation above to locate the post.