Masaya Itinerary

Nicaragua’s folklore capital

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay:  Belleh23 or Raggamuffin

From the admittedly touristy but still gorgeous Granada, we set off to Nicaragua’s cultural and folklore capital, Masaya. The bubbly city is famous for its passion for music, dance, and traditional crafts. Stroll around and discover the colorful corners of this ingeniously influenced small town. Masaya is surrounded by stunning nature. Observing the glowing lava out of Volcano Masaya was breathtaking – definitely, one of the most impressive sights we have ever seen! Laguna Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake far from Masaya, offers interesting hikes and crystal-clear waters!

  • History 80% 80%
  • History 75% 75%
  • City Life 85% 85%
  • Activities 90% 90%

 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 a bit 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.

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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

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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$) to Caterina and walk from there. We tried some traditional Quesillo ( wrapped cheese with sweet milk) before strolling around the neighborhood.Leaving the village, it’s a comfortable and relaxing walk through lush nature. If you start your hike to the Laguna in charming Caterina, you’ll end up at a secluded spot where
you can enjoy the lake by yourself. On the way to the Laguna, we passed ancient petroglyphs and spotted some monkeys. Take in the view before you cool down in the carter of the extinct volcano. The natural reserve is the perfect spot to just let go. The last bus to Masaya leaves at 4, be sure to catch it! Otherwise, you’ll have to choose the much more expensive alternative by cab. (200C$)

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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 every day. 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 not just his home but also his life with us. Hostal Casa de Porta is truly the perfect spot to immerse in Masaya’s unique vibe

Masaya Nicaragua 45

Get ready to travel Nicaragua

How to get to Masaya

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$).

Best time to visit Masaya

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

Where to eat in Masaya

Before we left for Leon, we encountered different delicious restaurants, which we hope you will
enjoy, too. First, try the “Pupusas Factory” at the beginning of Monimbo to get the first taste of El
Salvadorian cuisine. Last but not least, try the rather unusual sounding “sweet tacos de Pollo” at
one of the food stands surrounding the central park.

Safety in Masaya

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 epi center.

Tap water

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

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Packing for Central America

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

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