Duration: at least four days
Stay: Isleta El Espino Ecolodge & Jicaro Island Ecolodge
G-R-A-N-A-D-A, we almost want to color every letter when we think about this stunning colonial city. But unfortunately, we arrived in the dark and only saw the town after sunset. While looking for our Airbnb, we passed grand churches and Calle la Calzada, a street lined with cafes, restaurants,and shops buzzing with locals and tourists. Granada was founded in 1524 by the Spanish. Due to its strategic location, the city quickly gained popularity and attracted explorers from all over the world.As a result, Granada is one of the most cosmopolitan and elegant colonial cities we have visited in Nicaragua.
- Sight Seeing 85% 85%
- Food 75% 75%
- Culture 80% 80%
- Activities 95% 95%
The vibrant, elegant, and lively city was screaming to be explored. We couldn’t resist Granda’s charm and ventured for a little walk after arriving. Granada, one of the oldest cities in the Americas, is frolicking with colorful buildings and delightful alleys. The lively city is surrounded by lakes and volcanos and offers plenty of things to do.
Calle Calzada extends from the central Parque Colón to the nightlife area. At night all types of restaurants and bars set up their tables outside, and the street comes to life. There are restaurants and bars to fit any taste and budget. Admittedly this is a very touristy spot, but the atmosphere makes a visit well worth it. We decided to get some Tonoas (Nicaraguan beer) and Pupusas to go. We sat at the end of Calle Calzada, in front of Iglesia Merced, where the younger Nicaraguan crowd seemed to hang out.
Explore downtown Granada
A short walk away from the touristy streets, you can enjoy a more relaxed vibe as you wander through the pastel-colored alleys. Our jaws dropped at every other corner, and we could help but be mesmerized by the view. Like any other Central American city, you can also find a busy central market, the town’s commercial hub. Surprisingly, the majority of goods sold here are produced right there
Stroll the picturesque streets
It can get boiling, but Granada is best explored on foot. As soon as we left our hotel, we were always “awwing.” Granada was founded in 1524 and is the second-oldest city in Central America and the oldest in Nicaragua. Most of its original buildings and structures have been kept alive. So, take the chance to soak in all the colors. Don’t stick to the touristy area; venture out! There are delicious food stands and corners to be discovered. We ate some of our trip’s most delicious ceviches there. Ask the locals about Conny’s ceviche!
Marvel magnificent churches
As you are bopping along cobblestone streets, you will discover impressive churches. The canary yellow Catedral de Granada is probably the most striking one. It overlooks Parque Colón. The landmark building, constructed in 1583, has been destroyed and rebuilt several times.Iglesia La Merced is one of the oldest churches in Central America. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful churches and offers a spectacular view from the bell tower. Iglesia Guadalupe is situated right at the end of Calle Calzada. It looks most impressive with its lighting by night. On the weekends, young Nicas meet to hang out at the church’s stairs. We met Dayton and Hector, a passionate bull rider there. If you want to get to know them better, click here.
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.
Volcano de Masaya's glowing spectacle
Yay Nicaragua! We could 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 caught a glimpse of this natural wonder. We arrived at sunset and saw 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!
Get ready to travel Granada
How to get to Granada
Granada is just one hour away from Managua. So if you are looking for a comfortable and charming start to your Nicaragua journey, consider this gem. A taxi costs around 15$ but Granada is also easily reached by bus. Granada does not have a bus terminal; buses and microbuses leave from different areas of town. Therefore, make sure to ask your host before.
Best time to visit Granada
The climate in Granada is hot all year round. Therefore, avoiding the summer months is advisable as it gets too hot to enjoy the city properly.
Safety in Granada
Visitors are generally safe in Granada. Don’t stray too far from Calle Calzada at night or take a cab.
Nightlife and entertainment
Each Friday, Nicaraguan bands perform close to Iglesia Guadalupe. It’s not allowed to drink alcohol at Parque Colón!
After a personal experience with some parasites: Tap water in Nicaragua is not good to drink! Bring a Lifestraw Pro to get clean and cool drinking water.
Biggest challenge for the responsible traveler
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 Lifestraw Pro to avoid having to buy bottled water.
Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!
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 NICARAGUA
Often overlooked, Nicaragua is home to friendly people, dramatic landscapes and rich culture!
Packing for Central America?
What to pack for trip to Central AmericaAre you ready to explore Central America? Whether you plan on visiting for one...
Copan – a pleasant if not surprising stop in Honduras
We traveled to Central America a couple of times and had the chance to see several Maya sites along the way. Each impressive in its own way. Contrary to other Maya ruins across Central America. You’ll often have Copan to yourself. The mysterious archaeological site boasts remarkable hieroglyphics and sculptures. On top of that, the town of Copan itself is drop-dead charming.
Golfo de Fonseca – our most unique border crossing
Golfo de Fonseca, an archipelago shared by Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, a former playground for pirates, afforded us with the most stunning and relaxing border crossing experience in our backpacking history.