Nicaragua Activities

Things to Do in Nicaragua—Caribbean Coast

The coastline of Nicaragua is filled with beautiful scenery, lush vegetation and a wide variety of things to see and do. The Corn Islands offer excellent snorkeling and amazing views while the coastal town of Bluefields has an exciting nightlife.

Things to Do In Nicaragua—Northern Highlands

The verdant area of the Nicaraguan Northern Highlands provides plenty of things to do for the wandering travelers. From viewing historical art to touring coffee plantations, visitors will find this area has a diverse and exciting variety of activities.

Things to Do In Nicaragua—Granada

The oldest in the Americas, Granada has plenty to offer travelers in the way of activities. Hikers can make their way up the active Volcan Masaya. If you are looking to relax, take a dip in one of the many swimming holes and tranquil lakes that surround the city. If you’re interested in staying in town, you can spend a day taking in the lovely colonial architecture, volunteering for local organizations, or leaning Spanish. Don’t for get to visit Parque Nacional Archipiéago Zapatera, a national park near Granada that is made up of a serious of islands in Lake Nicaragua. Although there are very few tourists, there is lots of hiking, fishing and ancient ruins to be explored.

  • Volcán Cerro Negro
    At a mere 150 years old, Cerro Negro is the youngest volcano in Central America. It's also one of the most popular climbs - travelers never forget their first sight of it's cinder-black cone against the rich green of the surrounding hillsides. The Cerro Negro is one of the region's most active volca
  • Cathedral
    This magnificent neoclassical cathedral is the jewel in the crown of Granada's architectural beauty. Although, like most of Granada's great buildings, it had to be rebuilt after William Walker torched the city in 1856, this does not diminish the magic of the site. The well-kept interior and beautifu
  • Catedral de Leon

    This massive edifice is Central America's biggest cathedral, and one of the highlights of a visit to Leon. From the outside it appears as just another large church, but the towering marble columns of the interior are enough to leave a visitor breathless. A stunning display of gra

  • Iglesia de Guadalupe
    The crumbling facade on this ancient building gives way to a beautifully maintained interior. Decked out in Granada's traditional yellow and white with Corinthian columns, the church features an exquisite stained-glass portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe behind the altar. One of Granada's most beaut
  • San Ramón Waterfall
    The San Ramón Waterfall is a spectacular natural wonder, and one of the highlights of a trip to Ometepe. In June 2008 the path to the waterfall had been blocked by a recent landslide and was too dangerous to traverse. It was expected that the earth would be cleared within the next few months. The w
  • Finca Esperanza Verde
    In 2004, this 220 acre farm was named the world's best eco-lodge by the Smithsonian Magazine. Finca Esperanza Verde was founded in 1998 by Sister Communities of San Ramón Nicaragua (SCSRN), a South Carolina based non-profit working to improve San Ramon. The lodge uses renewable solar energy and off
  • Petroglyphs
    These ancient stone carvings are one of Ometepe's most famous attractions. The earliest date back over 4,000 years - some of the oldest art you can find in the Americas. They're scattered all over the island, but some of the best concentrations are found on Magdalena Farms and El Porvenir, both of
  • Volcanoes
    Nicaragua is famous for its volcanoes, and León is an excellent base from which to explore some of the best. Of course, Nicaragua's small size means the same volcanoes are accessible from just about anywhere, and tour operators in Granada (among o
  • Iglesia la Merced
    Described by some as the prettiest church in Granada, Iglesia la Merced is best visited at sunset. For 20 C you can ascend to the top of the belltower and watch the sun go down over Granada's spectacular beauty. The view of this magnificent city in unforgettable.
  • Volcán Maderas Hike
    Volcán Maderas is Ometepe's junior volcano, rising up just 1394 meters, but can offer climbs that are just as challenging as Volcán Concepción. Since Maderas is dormant, most visitors head for the summit. Like Volcán Concepción, a guide is absolutely essential to scale Madera. The climb is stee
  • Kayak Las Isletas
    This is a truly fantastic experience. Las Isletas is an archipelago of 365 (so they say!) tree-covered islands, some inhabited and some natural, all in close proximity on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. A good kayak tour takes you to El Castillo, an old fort with good views of the islands, then throug
  • Iglesia San Juan Bautista de Subtiava
    In many ways, this is a typical Central American cathedral. It's spacious, elegant, beautifully designed, and badly in need of restoration. The wooden altar-piece is probably the church's most impressive aspect aesthetically, though at time of review the rich carvings were rather tackily decorated w
  • Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor
    El Refugio de Vida Silvestre, located 21 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur, is one of few in the world where you can witness massive congregations of endangered Olive Ridley turtles (called tortuga golfina in Spanish). Starting each July, female turtle begin arriving at the local beaches in the t
  • La Fortaleza de San Carlos
    The main tourist attraction in San Carlos is the ancient fortress that was constructed in the 1666 by the Spanish to defend their trade route from pirates. The position was also used to support and defend nearby El Castillo, which was frequently assaulted by British and Dutch pirates. In 1670, Engli
  • Diving
    Many people come to Little Corn to get their Open Water certification ($305). It's hard to think of a more pleasant environment to do this. The waters around also have a spectacular array of fish life. You'll almost certainly see nurse sharks and barracudas, and Caribbean reef sharks and eagle rays
  • Plaza de la Independencia and Parque Central
    These adjoining parks are a pleasant place to hangout, and the center of Granada's cultural and social scene. Parque Central is host to souvenir vendors, food and ice-cream stands, and artists by day, while groups of canoodling lovers move in at night. Both are relaxing spots to people-watch, though
  • Kayaking
    One of Ometepe's most popular activities is kayaking, particularly around the area of Charco Verde. Isla el Quiste, located just offshore, is one excellent destination. It'll take you about 30 minutes to kayak there, where you can enjoy beautiful beaches and look for birds and monkeys. Another great
  • Iglesia Calvario
    With its colorful, sculptured facade and immaculately painted interior, this church is second only to Leon's cathedral in terms of beauty and should not be missed. Unfortunately, like many of Leon's churches, it seems to be closed more than it's open (it generally shuts after 10 a.m.). However, if
  • Dolphin Dive
    With over 20 unique dive sites including outstanding coral reef, caves, tunnels, overhangs and swim-throughs, scuba-diving near Little Corn Island offers something for everyone from first-timers to the experienced divers. There is an abundance of tropical marine life with regular sightings of eagle
  • Diving
    Scuba diving is one of the most popular activities on Big Corn Island. Divers exploring the sea around Big Corn will have plenty of eye candy, especially the famous â??Blowing Rock.â? This volcanic rock formation is about a 30-minute boat ride east of the island
  • Turtle Watching
    From the months of July to January or February, it is possible to see thousands of turtles laying and hatching eggs along local beaches and at the Turtle Nesting Sanctuary. If you walk around, you will see signs posted advertising â??Turtle Watching.â? Most hotels and h
  • Hiking Mombacho
    For an easier day hike outside of Camoapa, consider heading to Mombacho, a forested peak offering beautiful views of the surrounding lowlands. With ideal soil for growing coffee, this mountain is the site of several plantations which can be seen along the hike. The point of entry is located a long t
  • Ruinas Veracruz
    Another casualty of the 1979 bombardment, these are probably the most impressive, intact ruins in Leon. The most likely reason for this is that they have been fenced-off, preventing people from committing the kind of sacrilegious acts that apparently take place in the Ruinas de San Sebastien. Howeve
  • León Viejo
    A visit to the ruins of Nicaragua's first capital, León Viejo, is a trip in time—back to the early years of the Spanish conquest when beheadings, slavery and native uprisings were common. Located right outside Puerto Momotombo, Sitio Histórico Colonial Ruinas de León Viejo is an easily acc
  • Reserva Silvestre Privada Domitila
    This is a popular ecotourism destination bordering the southwest corner of Lake Cocibalca. They offer horseback riding and trekking, specializing in all-inclusive trips.
  • Northward Nicaragua Tours
    This tour through the Nicaraguan mountains is ideal for those who like to hike. The tout take place in the country's largest natural reserve, Bosawás, an area of 730,000 square kilometers. The tour takes 11 days and is designed to teach visitors about the history, biodiversity and culture of Nicara
  • Parque Historical Nacional “Loma de Tiscapa”
    Set high upon a hill and crowned with the famous silhouette of Augusto C. Sandino, Parque Historical Nacional “Loma de Tiscapa” (C$20) is a spot known for its panoramic views, impressive historical artifacts and canopy tour. Access to the park is by way of a road that runs
  • Reserva Natural Miraflor
    Located 35 kilometers (22 mi) northeast of Esteli, this campesino-owned nature reserve became protected in 1990, and is a haven for exotic flora and fauna including hundreds of species of birds and orchids. The best time to go is in June, as this is when the birds migrate south and the orchids bloom
  • Iglesia de la Merced
    The beautiful, traditional wood paneling of this sweeping church almost suggests a European style, but the massive icons betray its Latinness. Worth checking out for its intricately carved altar, as well as statues depicting the stations of the cross.
  • El Ostional
    If you're in the mood for a tranquil experience away from all the tourists, take a trip to El Ostional. Staying at this quiet and indigenous fishing village is like taking a peek into the San Juan del Sur's undiscovered era. For surfers, the break here is fairly inconsistent, but the swell is best i
  • Santuario de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe
    A charming bright blue church that is one of Chinadega's prettiest sights, the Santuario de Nuestra Señora Guadalupe was originally built in 1855 as an offering to its namesake during a cholera epidemic. Since then, the church has been rebuilt and restored due to natural disasters and age. The fir
  • Church Tour
    Starting at the central park view the biggest Cathedral in Central America then climb its roof for good views of the city. From the northern corner head five blocks east to the Iglesia de El Calvario, which is brightly painted, then three blocks west and two blocks north to the Iglesia de la Recolec
  • Kayaking Islands of Granada
    Kayaking is one of the many things offered by the Velago Sailing School. This Sailing School is at the southern end of Granada's beach. Modern Sit-on-top Kayaks are comfortable and easy to handle, they will never flip over! The place is run by Ferdinand a young Austrian who is putting a lot of pass
  • Iglesia Catedral San Pedro
    This blindingly white church is easy to spot in the distance, so makes a great reference point for navigating Matagalpa. After those in Granada and Leon, this is the largest cathedral in the country. Given the fact that the city is nestled in the mountains and is far from any ports Matagalpa was an
  • Churches
    Masaya has several attractive churches. Probably the nicest is the Iglesia de la Asuncion, a towering baroque building located in Parque Central. The Iglesia de San Jeronimo and Iglesia de San Sebastien are also worth a look. Iglesia San Miguel is also well-known, but the least impressive of the fou
  • Forteleza la Pólvora
    This 250-year-old fort was built by the Spanish. It was later used as a torture and interrogation center during the Somoza dictatorship. The fort was rebuilt in the 1990's, and now houses a small museum and art gallery. You can also climb up the fort's turrets for a nice view over the city. Admissio
  • Tomb of Ruben Dario
    Inside the Catedral de Leon and just to the right of the altar, look for a life-sized statue of a depressed-looking lion. Here, at the base of a massive column, lies Ruben Dario, Leon's favorite son. The monument bears his name, as well as a collection of beautiful neo-classical sculptures. Other to
  • Playa el Yanke
    This beach is a bit farther from the other beaches, but definitely worth the trip. The water is clear and the sand is white. For surfers, this is one of the best beaches in the area. Depending on the conditions, the waves usually have heavy, difficult breaks. This makes it more challenging, even for
  • Hiking
    Besides wandering through the uninhabited northwest of the island, a popular hike is to head up to the lighthouse that offers a spectacular view of the entire island. The trail up is located off of the inland north-south path, a little south of the baseball field. It's not a particularly long or str
  • Volcán Concepción
    At a towering 1,610 meters, Volcan Concepcion is the taller of Ometepe's twin volcanoes. It's also highly active, making it the more dangerous of the two. In fact, going all the way to the top is impossible, due to the plumes of poisonous gas that emanate from its cone. But since the peak is nearly
  • Centro Nicaragüense de Escritores
    The Centro Nicaragüense de Escritores has one of the most extensive collections of modern Nicaraguan literature in the country. The center has over 140 titles (in Spanish), including cookbooks and children's literature. Once a month, the center holds cultural events such as author readings
  • Biking
    Ometepe is quite a big island, and it's unreasonable to expect to conquer the whole thing by bike. It's also important to remember that many of Ometepe's roads are brutally rough. The trip between Moyogalpa and Charco Verde is paved, and only around 15 kilometers long. This area can be easily explor
  • Circumnavigate Maderas
    One fun day trip is to circumnavigate Volcan Maderas. The path around is rough, but it can be traveled easily by motorcycle, bicycle or even a low-clearance vehicle. If you've got a lot of energy you can try and hike it, but expect to be gone all day (it's about 4 - 5 hours by bike). Along the way
  • La Parroquia de Santiago Apostol
    This cheerful, yellow church sits atop the upper part of the city and is the focal point of the town square, where people congregate at all hours to sit at the open air café and shoot the breeze. Inside the church is decorated with paintings depicting the stations of the cross, and bright statues o
  • Volcán Momotombo
    Leon is one of several cities from which tours can be booked to Volcan Momotombo (Managua is closer to the actual volcano). Tierra Tours in one of a few operators in the city that books day-trips there. Departure is at 5:30 a.m. for the two-hour drive to base camp. You should reach the top just befo
  • Volcán el Hoyo
    Volcán el Hoyo offers a much easier climb than others in the area, and is popular chiefly for the outstanding view from the 1000 m summit. Tours depart around 6 a.m. and should have you back in Leon by 3 p.m. The trip should cost between $30 and $60 per person, depending on the size of your group a
  • La Catedral Vieja
    La Catedral Vieja is arguably the most vivid and poignant reminder of the devastation wrecked on Nicaragua's capital in 1972. The church, once known as La Iglesia Catedral Santiago de Los Caballeros, survived a massive 6.8 earthquake in 1931, only to succumb 41 years later to a quake t
  • Diving in San Juan del Sur
    The surrounding beaches in the municipality of San Juan del Sur offer greet coral reefs and a variety of interesting and colorful tropical fish. From July to February, Olive Ridley turtles can be seen, and even dolphins, primarily during dry season. The best time for diving in San Juan del Sur, is f
  • Altragracia Beaches
    The most popular beach near Altagracia is called Punta Taguizapa, and it's located just to the east of the city. If you head north towards the ferry about 2 kilometers out of town you'll pass a billboard with a large and conspicuous Canadian flag. After saluting proudly, follow the little path down
  • Iglesia Xalteva
    This elegant old church follows the usual Granada pattern: a decaying original exterior hiding a gleaming renovated interior. The frescoes and beautifully carved altar are worth checking out, and are well combined with a trip to Iglesia la Merced and the forteleza. This church, along with the adjoin
  • Bosawas Biosphere Reserve
    Declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1997, Bosawas is the largest protected reserve in all of Central America. At 20,000 square kilometers, it's bigger than Lago Cocibolca and comprises almost 7% of all Nicaragua. The reserve gets its name from Rio BOcay to the west, Cerro SAslaya to the south
  • Plaza de la Fé Juan Pablo II
    At Plaza de la Fé Juan Pablo II, the pope gives his blessing from a white obelisk in the middle of an empty concrete lot. In 1996, on his second trip to the country (he had also visited in 1983), Pope John Paul II stood in the same plaza and addressed the Nicaraguan people. You can find more monume
  • Hiking in San Juan del Sur
    The main hiking option in San Juan del Sur is the trail on La Questa Hill. Either rent a car, or take a taxi to the northeast side of town, past the Texaco and about 6 km up the road, until it ends. From there, the hiking trail begins. It takes about three and a half hours total. Some people choose
  • Reserva Natural Cerro El Arenal
    Twelve kilometers from Matagalpa on the way to Jinotega, this small, fertile reserve is home to organic coffee plantations, farms cultivating produce and flowers, artisan workshops producing crafts made of pine, and the oldest Oak trees in Central America. It is rich in animal and plant life, includ
  • Reserva Natural Volcán Cosigüina
    At Nicaragua's northwestern tip is a reserve full of tropic dry forest with spider monkey's and scarlet macaws. The crown of the natural reserve is the massive Cosigüina crater, once Nicaragua's tallest volcano. Cosigüina's height was spectacularly reduced during a series of eruptions in Janua
  • Santiago Crater
    From the park entrance at the side of the main road, transport (50 Cordobas/US$3 one-way) can take you up the hilly road to the edge of the active Santiago crater. It last erupted in 2000, toppling one of the previous viewpoints into the crater, but the park is otherwise well organized and safe. Vi
  • Iglesia de la Recolección
    Yet another beautiful church, Iglesia de la Recolección is worth a look if you're still hungry for more religious imagery after seeing the Cathedral and Iglesia Calvario. The church was subject to an expensive restoration courtesy of the Italian and Spanish governments, and it shows. An impressive
  • Cigar Factory
    Upon entering Nick's Cigar Company in Esteli, visitors are immediately accosted by the overpowering scent of tobacco. The entrance room is covered in large portraits of owners Nick Perdomo Sr. and Jr. as they happily pose in the factory, surrounded by employees working intently on producing cigars.
  • Cycle to Petroglyphs
    The ride begins hilly but becomes flat and takes around 45 minutes to reach an isolated house, where there is a sign to the petroglyphs. There are two sites with ancient carvings on boulders, but the real treat is the unique statue Gator figure on the beach. Unfortunately this is only visible in Apr
  • Cemetery
    This cemetery holds the remains of Granada's rich and powerful. Six presidents are among those interred here. Students of Nicaraguan history will also recognize the recurring names of Chamorro and Sandino among the large, stately tombs. The eerie mausoleums of this necropolis are definitely worth s
  • Hiking Cerro Apante
    This short, easily accessed hike is a good way to stretch your legs and get your heart rate up during your stay in Matagalpa. A guide is not necessary as the hike is a well marked loop. Starting at the traffic light on the southwest corner of Parque Dario, continue south straight up the hill for abo
  • Parque Ruben Dario
    Providing leafy respite from the heat, Parque Ruben Dario, named for the premier Modernist poet in Latin America, is one of two small parks in Matagalpa. Grab a coffee at the snack shack, kick back and watch the abuelitos playing poker. If you're feeling spendy, step into the La Perla (772-2464, 772
  • Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela
    Less frequented than Reserva Miraflor is Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela, also located outside of Esteli. Trails within the expansive forest offer views of Honduras and El Salvador, as well Leon and Chinandega's volcanoes. On a clear day, the lookout point, Mirador Segoviano, affords a pano
  • Coyotepe
    Although the historical ambience of this old fortress is largely ruined by the prodigious graffiti covering its walls, it's still an interesting place to visit. For one thing, it offers a beautiful view of the region. The dark, labyrinthine corridors are also fun to explore. Coyotepe was the sight o
  • Pueblos Blanco
    While probably not the highlight of a trip to Granada, Pueblos Blancos can be a nice side trip for a few hours. The bus takes around one hour to reach Catarina, where it is difficult to spot the famed white houses but it is interesting to see the childhood home of revolutionary hero
  • El Castillo del Cacao
    Chocophiles unite! A tour through El Castillo del Cacao takes the visitor through the process of chocolate production, from the roasting of beans to the packaging of bars. The small factory, shaped like an oversized mini-golf castle at the whim of the Dutch owner, even provides fresh juice and brown
  • Grand Canyon of Somoto
    Formed by volcanic rock, this geological marvel is between five and 13 million years old, dating back to the Miocene epoch. Eighty to 100 meter cliffs rise sharply into the sky, walling in three kilometers of cool, clear water, perfect for swimming. Although locals always knew about the canyon, it d
  • Canopy Tour
    For more adventurous types eager to explore the nature and wildlife of San Juan del Sur, a canopy tour is a great option. The main canopy tour of the area is called Da Flying Frog and is located about 5 minutes from town. It is one of the longest canopy tours in the country, with a zip line of 2.5 k
  • Centro Turistico
    A long park that stretches along the lakeside featuring swings, picnic areas and shady paths. There are also some nice beaches, but we were advised that the water was too dirty for swimming. A nice place to hangout, particularly if you're traveling with youngsters. Just make sure you clear out befor
  • Park of Heroes and Martyrs
    Located across the street and to the north of the main cathedral, the small, modest mausoleum honors some of Leon's revolutionary fighters. Several high-ranking soldiers as well as non-military figures are buried here. While the monument is not particularly impressive, the mural surrounding it is on
  • Surfing in San Juan del Sur
    There are three main Surf Shops in San Juan del Sur, all of which are located within a four-block radius of each other in the center of town. All of them offer surf lessons for different levels, board rentals and bicycle rentals. Arena Caliente is the oldest surf shop in SJDS. It is owned and opera
  • El Salto de Santa Emilia
    Fifteen kilometers from Matagalpa this waterfall is easily accessible by car and is a popular destination for locals during the summer months. Take the road to El Tuma-La Dalia towards the town of Santa Emilia for which the falls are named. After passing the town there are two bridges; make a right
  • Pine crafts
    Jalapa is known for its handicrafts made of pine -- bundles of needles are fashioned into sculptures, baskets and vases among other things. One of the originators of the craft is Dona Gloria, whose workshop can be visited in Jalapa. Another place to pick up samples and see the artisans at work is La
  • La Plaza de la Revolucción
    La Plaza de la Revolucción was once Managua's central square - before the devastating earthquakes of 1972 destroyed the heart of the city - and is now the hub of the historical district. The plaza was named in honor of the Sandinista-led revolution against Anastasio Somoza Debayle, son of Ni
  • Volcán El Viejo
    This grueling four hour climb is said to be the hardest in Nicaragua, as well as the most dangerous. The volcano is extremely active, but the chief difficulty is the cone's massive size, a towering 1745 m. Expect to leave at 5:30 a.m. and be back by 4:30 p.m. Bring your own lunch, as well as long sl
  • El Tesoro del Pirata
    El Tesoro del Pirata is a pirate-themed guesthouse, restaurant and tour operator that's a good place to rent kayaks and canoes. Cost is $3 per hour, or $10 for the day. Guides can be provided for those who want to try their luck at sailing. Fishing trips are also offered. They're located just before
  • Ecological Fincas
    With its fertile soil, the rolling mountains of the Jinotega province are prime territory for farming. Agro-tourism is in its infancy, but the truly determined will enjoy getting a glimpse of these active sites which supply the country with much of its produce. Energetic Yvonne Castellon and her h
  • Fishing
    San Carlos is a small town located at both the mouth of the San Juan River and on the edge of Lake Cocibolca. Due to the town's location, fishing is not only an enjoyable recreational activity for tourists, but helps sustain the economy, through trade and tourism. The Silver King Tarpon is available
  • Cerro La Cruz
    Even if you can't make it to Jinotega on May 3rd when the entire town makes a pilgrimage up to the cross on the summit, Cerro La Cruz is still worth a hike any other day of the year. The cross was planted in 1705 by Fray Antonio Margel de Jesus to ward off spells allegedly cast by the sorcerers of t
  • Parque Maritimo
    Parque Maritimo is a small tourist center at Playa El Coco that organizes nature trips such as daily boat rides to the Costa Rican boarder to see nesting sea birds or jaunts to a nearby wildlife refuge, where turtles lay their eggs. The center offers horseback rides and bicycle rentals as well as Fr
  • Punto Jesus María
    This lookout extends to the island's west and is known as the best place on Ometepe to watch the sunset. The beach isn't spectacular, but it's the most convenient place to swim if you're staying in Moyogalpa. It's located less than ten minutes by bus from Moyogalpa, or about 20 minutes by bicycle. T
  • Casa de Cultura
    With its highly political murals and bohemian layout, the Casa de Cultura represents part of Leon's rich cultural legacy. The place offers dance, guitar and sculpture classes, as well as hosting a range of performances and special events. Drop in to see what's playing, or if you're interested in br
  • Iglesia de San Pedro
    Across the street from Rivas' Central Square, the Iglesia de San Pedro is a beautiful, pale blue building, decorated with small statues of religious figures. When you are mapping out your exploration, it is important to note, the church is only open early in the morning, from 6a.m. - 8a.m., and in
  • Petroglyph hike
    A long time ago, ancient residents of the Masaya region carved swirling figures of birds, snakes and suns into the limestone around Laguna Masaya. You can find what remains of their largely neglected artwork just above Cascadas Cailagua, a pretty name for a place where the city sewer empties into th
  • El Centro Cultural Managua
    El Centro Cultural Managua (505-2-222-5291), located between Dupla Norte and the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, is home to the national art and music schools, as well as scattered galleries and shops. The building was once Managua's Grand Hotel and, in early 2009, the center closed down for some mu
  • La Catedral Nueva
    Pass by La Catedral Nueva (or, more officially, La Catedral Metropolitana de la Purísima Concepción de María) and you might be forgiven for thinking that the huge Catholic monument is either a mosque or modern art museum. Completed in 1993, the cathedral was designed by architect Ricardo Legorret
  • Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío
    It's hard to think of a better way to celebrate the life of Nicaragua's most famous and beloved poet than with a national theater. For the past 40 years, Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío has been the place to see the créme of Nicaragua's cultural events, such as readings of El Gúegúense o Mucho Rat
  • Rodeo at Plaza Taurina Alberto Homberto e Isabel Mongrio
    Cowboy town that it is, it's no surprise that Juigalpa hosts a popular rodeo every month. Thanks in part to a generous donation by the government of Taiwan, the town boasts an impressive rodeo ring where a variety of contests are held amid the shouts and cheers of passionate fans. Although the festi
  • Jardin Zoologico Thomas Belt
    One of two zoos in Nicaragua, and the largest, Thomas Belt will come as a shock to most western travelers. Lions, Jaguars and other large animals dwell lethargically in spare, cement-floored, iron-barred enclosures. The sign which warns that the zoo is not responsible for accidents that may happen t
  • Iglesia de San Marcos Agradece
    When you enter Iglesia de San Marcos Agradece, look up. Above the baby blue walls are colorful murals of religious symbols. San Marcos stands on an arch before the altar, amid waterfalls, volcanoes and fields of flowers. Several years ago, the church expanded, adding two warehouse-like wings with
  • Iglesia de Nuestra de la Asuncion
    As is the case elsewhere in Latin America, Ocotal's main church, Iglesia de Nuestra de la Anuncion (or El Templo Parroquial de Ocotal) serves as the town's focal point and main hub. Blending baroque and neoclassical architecture, this church was founded two centuries ago. However, the addition of t
  • Parque De La Paz
    Like the Egyptian pharaohs, who once abandoned their predecessors' monuments in favor of building their own, Nicaraguan presidents have a tendency create new parks (see Puerto Salvador Allende) while the old ones crumble. Such is the case with Parque de la Paz, an expansive stretch of concrete monum
  • Caribbean Coast Dance
    Nicaraguans are a people of dance. The Pacific Coast is salsa territory; in the center of the country and to the north you'll find cowboy-style quebraditas. But it's along the Caribbean coast where reggae is king and where residents shake their hips to calypso, punta and soca. As with much of Centra
  • Iglesia San Juan de Dios
    The façade of Iglesia San Juan de Dios, which overlooks a park of the same name, is a mottled grey and not exactly what you would call pretty. The exterior, reconstructed by Mons. Santiago Abarca in the 1850s, conceals a lovely white interior with glass cases of saints and delicate ceiling murals
  • Malécon
    The Malécon is a pleasant walkway, overlooking the lush green slopes of the Laguna de Masaya. It's a nice place to hang out, and a beautiful view. There are playgrounds and basketball courts in the area, as well as several lively discos. In the streets behind this lookout you'll find a clutch of ha
  • Catedral de Nuestra Senora del Rosario
    Simply constructed in 1823, Catedral de Nuestra Senora del Rosario was remodeled in 1889 and then again in 1929, when it acquired its modern neo-classical façade. Designated a cathedral with the creation of the diocese of Esteli in 1962, the cathedral's austere, towering exterior belies the tradi
  • Cerro El Faro
    For a panoramic view of Boaco and the Rio Mayales valley, climb the Cerro El Faro. This tower was constructed as part of Boaco's efforts to revamp the city following the destruction of the 1980's. Protruding above the city, causing the observer to raise his eyes, the Cerro El Faro is meant to be a s
  • Cementerio Guadalupe de León
    To visit the final resting place of many Nicaragua dignitaries, poets, musicians, Presidents and military figures, head to Cementerio Guadalupe de León, a sprawling site of almost 25 city blocks that was constructed in 1831 (it opened in 1834). The Nicaraguan government declared Cementerio de Guad
  • Cemeteries
    Matagalpa is home to two cemeteries. Historically, one was sanctioned for Catholics whereas the other was for foreigners. However, today they are integrated and the foreigner's cemetery is largely neglected. While the national cemetery is colorful and well tended (as Latin cemeteries tend to be), th
  • El Tamarindon
    This ancient tamarind tree, located in the winding sidestreets of Barrio Subtiava, is said to be over 600 years old. Its most famous moment came in the late 18th century, when Chief Adiact, leader of the Subtiava tribe, was hanged by the Spanish from its branches. The tree is difficult to find and i
  • Motorcycling
    Motorbikes can be rented from most hotels, and they are an excellent way to explore the island. Early risers can cover nearly all of Ometepe's top attractions in a day. Be warned though that some of Ometepe's roads are ghastly, and pavement can turn into a muddy quagmire very quickly. The roads betw
  • La Canavalia
    Located 19 kilometers from Matagalpa within the community of La Corona is La Canavalia, a coffee farm owned by ADDAC, a New Zealand-based catholic agency that facilitates sustainable agriculture. Visitors to La Canavalia sleep in simple cabins, and there is hiking to nearby waterfalls and lagoons. I
  • Cooperative Coffee Tours
    Founded in Jinotega in 1997, Soppexcca, a union made up of 15 small farms, supports various community initiatives including those having to do with education, poverty, health and sustainable living. Two of the farms are open to tourism, although they have not hammered out all the kinks in their pack
  • Parroquia Santa Ana
    Parroquia Santa Ana is the church which Chinandega was built around and currently can be found in the middle of town, surrounded by the local park. First constructed in the 17th century, the church was damaged by an earthquake in 1885, but was later restored to its present condition. The interior fe
  • Iglesia El Calvario
    Rebuilt by Bishop Monsignor Manual Ulloa y Calvo in 1874, this church was also destroyed in the earthquake of 1885 due to its weak structure of adobe. The church's patron saint is celebrated on the last Sunday in January, in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus.
  • Finca La Reforma
    A forty-five minute walk from the community El Limon is the pine tree farm, Finca La Reforma. Owner Fidel Gonzalez is currently planning to build cabins where tourists can relax and hang out on the farm. Prices will likely average at around $20 USD a night and will include use of a pool. Elec
  • Casa Presidential
    On the north side of La Plaza de la Revolucción is the Casa Presidential. Once a social club for the Nicaraguan elite, the building was destroyed (along with the rest of the city center) in 1972. Rebuilt by Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Alemán during his tenure in the late 1990s, the brightly-paint
  • Rama Key
    Rama Key is a small island about two hours from Bluefields that's populated by small fishing villages of the indigenous Rama tribe. Some visitors are charmed by the simple lifestyle and traditions of the fisherman, while others find the place cramped and depressing. Either way the place lacks the ch
  • Central Park
    Flanked on its east side by Cathedral San Juan, the central park is the spot for a lazy morning or afternoon. Stroll around the park and see if you can spot the mango, lemon, eucalyptus and pine trees, among many others labeled according to species and use. Set your inner child free at the colorful
  • Hiking Quizaltepe
    At 300 meters high, this monolith (whose name in Nahautl means “place of the grinding stone”) is visible from all over the Boaco province. The volcanic material from which the peak is comprised was used by indigenous peoples for manufacturing tools to grind corn. Hikers will want to be in
  • Parque los Poetas (AKA Parque Reuben Dario)
    Dominated by a statue of Leon's favorite son, the park honors other local poets as well. It's a popular spot to sit, chat, and people-watch, but doesn't offer too much else to the visitor.
  • Plaza de la República
    Directly across from the Catedral Vieja is the Plaza de la República, also known as José Dolores Estrada Park. The shady square has a massive gazebo (the dragon head fountains are impressive even if the water has dried up), but the greatest emphasis is reserved for a memorial to Sandinista comman
  • Hiking around Jinotega
    Another hike to try after mastering Cerro La Cruz is Cerro Los Papales on the mountain flanking the east side of town. This trek is a bit more challenging than La Cruz and also offers views of the whole city. From the market, head south along the highway until reaching a turquoise building on the le
  • Estatua al Soldado
    As you head into the Zona Monumental, look for huge Estatua al Soldado (Nameless Guerilla Soldier), a bare-chested figure (the better to show off his six pack). The soldier, who looks like he's in the middle of a war cry, holds a pickax and a flag-draped rifle. At his feet is the politically inspire
  • Ruins of Saint Sebastien
    This once-beautiful church was destroyed by the government's bombing of the city in 1979. A new building was hastily constructed next-door to house the church's icons, but it remains half-finished and open to the elements. The ruins themselves are rather unimpressive and derelict, only a few arches
  • Other Hiking Around Matagalpa
    There are several day hikes that can be taken advantage of by a visitor to Matagalpa. Centro Girasol prints maps so intrepid travelers can take on the outdoors solo. A five to seven hour hike to Cerro El Torro, a rock formation resembling a bull, offers picturesque views of the surrounding mountains
  • Iglesia de San Fernando
    The more frequented of the two churches, the Iglesia de San Francisco, is an elevated, beige, well-worn building. Built in 1776, there is also a large statue of a cross, erected on August 30, 1997 in front of the cathedral. Several steps lead up to the large archway, which is the entrance. Unlike th
  • Reserva Natural Macizos de Peñas Blancas
    As it is 73 km from Matagalpa, visits to Peñas Blancas usually last for about three days. Given the lack of infrastructure, the only real way to visit is to go through Matagalpa Tours. A two person, two day, one night tour to Peñas Blancas, La Sombra Eco-lodge and Finca La Canavalia costs $195. A
  • Santa Emelia
    For a refreshing day trip out of Matagalpa, head to this small community, which is in proximity to many waterfalls and is a popular destination for locals during the summer months. You might not want to swim there, however, as the water passes through many other villages and might be contaminated. T
  • Greytown
    The few remains of the once thriving port of Greytown, now buried in the jungle, lie just a 15-minute boat ride from town. All that is left standing are a couple of concrete foundations of colonial houses and the four cemeteries, one for the English, one for the Americans, one for the Catholics and
  • Parque Palo Solo
    This clean and airy park is a great place to catch a view of Juigalpa's stunning surroundings. Around the central monument (an oversized corn-on-the-cob) groups of teenagers and couples, and the occasional guitar-playing cowboy can be seen. There is also an on-site restaurant and bar serving standar
  • Antigua Estación de Ferrocaril
    Granada's historic train station has now been restored and converted into a carpentry and metalworking school. Although this station is not generally a major tourist draw, as trains no longer run, it is housed in an attractive neoclassical late 19th century building. However unless you are particul
  • Parque Las Palmas de Altimiras Este
    In a small, hopeful turn, what was once a â??parque perdidaâ? or park gone to ruin, has been reclaimed by the Managuan government. Parque Las Palmas de Altimiras Este (a name almost larger than the place) is now a cheerful park with newly painted benches, swings and a gazebo. You can let the kid
  • Laguna Azul
    Just across the river from San Juan is a small and very pleasant freshwater lake surrounded by low vegetation. If you get someone to take you there for a few dollars, you can spend a couple of hours taking a refreshing swim and even have a picnic in the shade.
  • Oldest buildings in San Marcos
    Follow the street from southwest corner of the park, two blocks down and you'll come across what are known as the oldest houses in San Marcos. Although not markedly different from their neighbors, with sunken foundations, tile roofs and unadorned facades, the residents claim that these buildings are
  • La Concha Acustica
    Just four years old, La Concha Acustica Taiwan has started to succumb to the same lack of maintenance that seems to plague all of the Managua monuments. Doubtless artist Glen Howard would be dismayed to see the cracks and stains that have started to appear on his work, erected in 2004. The Acoustic
  • Rosquilla Factory Tours
    Despite its unassuming appearance, with roughly three dozen bakeries, Somoto is the main producer of this most quintessential of Nicaraguan snack foods. Rosquillas are small, corn flour biscuits flavored with traditional cheese known as cuajada and molasses. Typically they are accompanied by a cup o
  • La Capilla María Romero Meneses
    This tiny chapel honors a Granada-born nun, María Romero Meneses, who dedicated her life to helping the poor of Costa Rica. For her work, she was beatified in April 2002. The chapel is nothing special - small and newly constructed. But those who are interested in spirituality or catholicism might f
  • Casa Natal Sor Maria Romero Meneses

    Maria Romero Meneses (1902-1977) is known as Central America's first official saint for her humanitarian work and miracles. At the age of 12, she suffered from a form of rheumatic fever which left her paralyzed for six months. She attributed her full recovery to the intercession

  • Maverick's
    Maverick's is a cool little shop that sells Nicaraguan and other Central American handicrafts, English and Spanish magazines, English books and maps of the region. Established in 2003, this expat and tourist hangout has become the place to go and seek advice about your trip and check the pulse of w
  • Hiking to La Cebadilla
    If you're itching to strap on those hiking boots while in Boaco, head to La Cebadilla, from which there is a nice view of Boaco's hills. Religion buffs will appreciate the fact that at Cebadilla's peak a local farmer is said to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary. Ruins of a shrine built by locals
  • Pico Mogoton
    Twenty kilometers (12 mi) from San Fernando and directly bordering Honduras is Pico Mogoton. At 2,107 meters (6,913 ft) above sea level, it is the highest peak in Nicaragua and is rarely traversed by tourists. This is likely due to the fact that the volcano is dotted with active landmines, the vesti
  • Moravian Church
    This handsome, stately church was rebuilt in 1992 after Hurricane Juana flattened the original, 19th century building. It seems to be closed more than it's open, and despite several visits Viva's reviewer was unable to gain access. This is a shame, since the interior looked quite nice based on what
  • Hiking and Trekking in Nicaragua
    Nicaragua's abundance of volcanoes and natural reserves makes for numerous hiking opportunities. Trek through cloud and rainforest, enjoy city and ocean panoramas from the slopes, peer into craters, visit coffee plantations, and spot ocelots, macaws and butterflies. The Pacific lowlands and Central
  • Cycling and Mountain Biking in Nicaragua
    Crisscrossed by thousands of miles of unpaved roads, tracks and trails, Nicaragua is a wonderful destination for mountain biking. The dearth of paved roads which makes mountain biking so easy, however, presents problems for road cyclists, and visitors who would like to experience the country on two
  • Surfing in Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is blessed with two coastlines, beautiful weather and arguably the best surf breaks in Central America. Without question, the most surf-friendly beaches are located on the Pacific side of the country, not far from Managua, the capital city. Some of the biggest surf spots include
  • Birdwatching in Nicaragua
    Nicaragua boasts an impressive 703 identified species of birds, including: pelicans, quetzals, vultures, trogons, finches, hummingbirds, kingfishers and gulls. Scientists expect the list to grow to over 800 species in the next few years. As part of the recent development in eco-tourism, bird watchin
  • Wildlife Watching in Nicaragua
    With over 78 wildlife refuges and natural reserves (making up 20% of the country's land mass), Nicaragua does not lack for protected flora and fauna. Such an incredible amount of wild animal species, along with lush rainforests, mountains, volcanoes and lakes, Nicaragua is a beautiful and extremely
  • Biking in San Juan del Sur
    Whether you are interested in just biking around or going on an expedition, several hostels, hotels, and surf shops offer bike rentals for about $5-6 a day. Visible signs are posted all around town. For those interested in a guiding tour, Outer Reef offers one for $20. This involves mountain biking,
  • El Fortín de Acosasco

    El Fortin, a striking symbol of the Sandinista's triumph over Somoza and his national guard, sits on a hill by the city's former garbage dump, where the city's poorest used to scrabble for anything salvageable. This is definitely not a safe place to walk, but taxis will take you

  • Kayaking and Rafting in Nicaragua
    Nicaragua should be a natural destination for kayakers and rafters, as its mountains and rivers combine to create some truly world-class rapids. The whitewater is difficult to access in Nicaragua, and most paddling opportunities involve calm waters. The most popular kayaking trip involves setting o
  • Plaza de la Cultura de Guatemala
    Plaza de la Cultura de Guatemala might have once been a nice little park as it's located right across from Managua's historic center, but the intervening years have not been kind; the plaza has long since been abandoned to vandals and the homeless. The grounds are filled with broken bottles and tras
  • Lago de Apanas
    The creation of Lago de Apanas is a feat of engineering which can be attributed to bright minds from Italy, Nicaragua and the rest of the Americas. The Apanas Valley was flooded with waters from the Tuma River, allowing for the creation of the Centroamerica Powerplant which provides 35% of Nicaragua
  • Old Train Station
    León's Old Train Station is still intact, but is difficult to locate since all but the roofline has been obscured by the ever expanding Mercado Santo Barsesna (open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily). The train station has crumbling adobe walls, a rickety wooden roof and swooping iron girders. To find the bui
  • Fishing in Nicaragua
    As sport fishing has only recently caught on in Nicaragua, the waters are known as “virgin territory”. They are exotic and plentiful, a wonderful place to find a variety of fish and other wildlife, good for sport and scenery. Travelers looking to fish in Nicaragua will be pleasantly surpri
  • Fortaleza de la Inmaculada Concepción

    The Fort at El Castillo

    The squat fortress which stands on the highest point of El Castillo was completed in 1675 as part of the Spaniards' defenses again

  • Horseback Riding in Nicaragua
    One of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Nicaragua is by riding a horse along some of the country's numerous beaches, islands, volcanoes and jungles. Horseback riding solo, or with a group, will allow you get closer to the flora and fauna of Nicaragua than you would in a vehicle (which me
  • Parque Reyes
    Bluefields' main park is called Parque Reyes, three blocks west of the sea. This is the center of the action during Palo Mayo celebrations, but it doesn't have a whole lot to offer at other times. It is quite a peaceful and pleasant spot though, a gathering place where children play and locals come
  • Arboretum Nacional
    The Arboretum Nacional (505-2-222-2558), may have a caring staff, but the tiny, fenced-in park along Av. Bolivar is a poor representative of Nicaragua's diversity. The 250 species, labeled with wooden signs, are supposedly divided according to the regions they represent, but it's hard to tell. The h
  • Piedra Luna
    Ten kilometers southwest of La Dalia is Piedra Luna, a deep, refreshing natural pool within which is a large rock and which features ample cliffs for diving. Undeveloped and far off the tourist radar, plans for tourism infrastructure are currently in the works. To get there, take a bus from Matagal
  • Centro de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian
    A small art gallery that features paintings and sculptures by local and international artists, the private collection of the foundation. Entrance is 12 C (60 cents), plus 20 C more (about $1 USD) if you want a guided tour.
  • Introduction to Adventure Travel
    If swimming inside a smoking volcano, sailing into a hidden coastal bay once inhabited by pirates or hiking through the rainforest sound like your kind of activities then look no further than Nicaragua. The a wide array of beaches, volcanoes, rainforests and tropical climate make Nicaragua an ideal
  • Things to See and Do Summary
    Travelers who come to Boaco are mainly looking for a friendly, safe and quiet place in which to relax. Other than its two churches and viewing tower, there are no tourist attractions to speak of. However, travelers with appreciate the friendly, open nature of the locals, as well as the stunning land
  • COSEMUCRIM Cacao Cooperative
    For those who are curious to know where their sweet goodies come from, the cacao producers' cooperative in town, which provides beans for the German chocolate brand Ritter, will happily give short free tours of the installations. They will explain the different grades of cacao beans, and the extrac
  • Aguas Termales Escalera
    Way out in the middle of the forest is a stream with seven bubbly sources of scalding hot water. You can take a dip in the hot springs, but they are as rustic as can be, with no showers, changing rooms or steps leading into the water. Just reaching the place is a challenge, since they are a 30-minut
  • Río Indio

    If you take a river trip up the Río Indio, you can get a glimpse of wildlife in the eastern reaches of the Reserva Indio Maiz. A tour can take you through lagunas up the river to basaltic rock carvings. From there, you can take a hike where you may spot monkeys, iguanas,

  • Puerto Salvador Allende
    Lago de Managua, or Xolotlán, may be one of the most polluted lakes in Central America, but that didn't stop Empresa Portuaria Nacional de Nicaragua (the country's port authority), from opening a new port on the lake shore. Puerto Salvador Allende (named for the Chilean president deposed during a m
  • Highlights
  • Casa Museo Judith Kain
    The former home of Naïve painter Judith Kain Cunningham is a bright and spacious house. It showcases her colorful paintings, which depict Miskito life, some slightly grotesque puppets showing local traditions like the May Pole, as well as some personal photos and belongings. While not all the ob
  • Horseback Riding
    Farm Peace and Love offers horseback riding tours along trails in the uninhabited north of the island. This should be booked the day before in person, or via the radio in Casa Iguana. Otherwise you can email, but this must be done several days in advance since the proprietr
  • Visiting San Marcos
    It's recommended to skip this town - it's not worth the rough trip. Although it does have some petroglyphs and a decent beach, it's located along one of the island's worst roads and is difficult to access by bike or even motorcycle.
  • Day Spa
    • Day Spa at Hotel Spa Granada - open since January 2009
    The Day Spa at Hotel Spa Granada offers a selection of therapeutic and relaxing treatments. With several certified massage therapists on staff, the Day Spa offers a wide range of massages; and the Spa's beautician d
  • Horseback Riding In San Juan Del Sur
    The horseback ride to the beach with Rancho Chilamate is not to be missed. The guides are great, the horses fat and happy, the route interesting and the beach spectacular. They will pick you up in San Juan del Sur if you need a ride. The ranch is just 10km south of town near the beaches where they f
  • Diving and Snorkeling in Nicaragua
    Nicaragua is not usually considered a premier destination for divers, but it does have some good scuba and snorkeling opportunities. Diving in Nicaragua will particularly appeal to those who seek their adventures away from the usual Cozumel-Cayman Islands scuba circuit. The scuba industry is still i
  • Fuente Audiovisual
    The Fuente Audiovisual, which used to offer a spectacular nightly show with dancing fountains and music, was removed from the Plaza de la Revolucción shortly after President Daniel Ortega took power. The official reason for the fountain's disappearance was an attempt to restore the historically imp
  • Mombacho Beach Club
    Relax & Enjoy our 60 ft. pool in a wonderful atmosphere.Beer, cocktails, food & fun!
  • Ruinas de Santiago
    These are the least impressive of Leon's ruins. Only a single bell tower and a pockmarked wall remain of the original church. Enter through an unlocked gate about halfway between Calle Ruben Dario and Calle 1a.
  • Parroquia de Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro
    Although smaller and more run down than Santiago Apostol, Nuestra Senora still retains a lot of character. The Eastern Orthodox style exterior is completely incongruous with its surroundings and can be attributed to the city's Polish founder, Father Nieborowski. The robin's egg blue painted chapel (
  • Horseback Riding
    Horseback riding is a wonderful pastime on the island. You can rent horses for between $5 and $7 an hour, which should come with a guide. Where you go depends on the area you rent from. The beaches around Santo Domingo are one nice place to ride.
  • Snorkeling
    The barrier reef system surrounding Big Corn Island makes for an incredible view of intact coral reef and tropical marine life. Without any previous experience, snorkelers are able to swim among the vast array of beautiful coral, rays, sponges, nurse sharks and even
  • Snorkeling
    The clear, tranquil waters of Pearl Lagoon and the surrounding Pearl Keys are a great place to snorkel. See coral reef, sea grass, conches, hermit shells, sea cucumbers and more. Casa Blanca arranges whole day trips to the Pearl Keys with snorkel equipment and fishi
  • Snorkeling
    Snorkeling is excellent in the waters around Little Corn. Both dive centers and many hotels will rent out a mask and flippers, with the option of taking a boat out a little ways. On these trips you should expect to see nurse sharks, rays and barracudas. Sea turtles also sometimes make an appearance.