There are so many incredible things to do in Nicaragua
So when you visit, you need a bucket list! Nicaragua is famous for being the oldest city in Central America with the largest lake. Whether you choose to explore the Masaya Volcano National Park, roam the streets of Granada or relax on the beaches of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua has something for everyone. So here is what we consider to be the top things to do on a trip to Nicaragua, certainly worthy of a place on your Central America Bucket List that’s for sure.
Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur is a town on Nicaragua’s southwest coast. If you like a colorful beach town with a laid back vibe, beautiful beaches and sunsets then San Juan del Sur is the place for you. The beaches Maderas and Marsella, are no longer a well-kept secret. They are now a popular tourist destination for surfers, backpackers, yogis and honeymooners alike. While here head south along the coast to where olive ridley turtles breed at La Flor Nature Reserve.
Beguiling and highly photogenic, Granada is Nicaragua’s fourth largest city and a popular tourist spot. Travelers are drawn here by the colonial-era architecture and the freshwater Lake Nicaragua. The city’s main plaza, Central Park, is dominated by the neoclassical facade of the Cathedral of Granada. The Centro Cultural Convento San Francisco nearby is famed for its displays of pre-Columbian statues.
This is one of oldest rock formations in Central America and has become one of Northern Nicaragua’s main attractions. Somoto Canyon is the place to awaken your inner adventurer so jump from high cliffs and swim in the Coco river amidst this natural wonder. To get to Somoto Canyon go from the city of Leon to Estelí, change buses in Estelí and head to Somoto Canyon from there.
Masaya Volcano National Park
The Masaya Volcano National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Nicaragua as it happens to be one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes, one of only two in the world where you can drive up to the crater lip and look inside and see the bubbling lava pool. Only 23 kilometers from the capital, the Masaya Volcano National Park is the first, and largest national park in the country, consisting of a volcanic caldera with two volcanoes and five craters.
You can’t really say you have visited Nicaragua without going to Ometepe, the largest island in Lake Nicaragua. Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua and its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning “two mountains”.
Bosawás Biosphere Reserve
Visit the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve in the northern part of state Jinotega, Nicaragua. This is a hilly tropical forest designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997. The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is the third largest forest reserve in the world and is home to indigenous people and 21 ecosystem types. It’s also a meeting point between the fauna of North and South America. Hike the intense jungle for 3 days to see huge waterfalls and stay in an eco-hostel!
The Stone Man of Nicaragua
Meet the Michelangelo of Nicaragua (well this is what the locals call him) in Tisey Estanzuela Natural Park. Alberto Gutierrez Giron “the stone man of Nicaragua” has been living alone in the mountains of Nicaragua for nearly 40 years, sculpting a 300 foot long cliff into a giant piece of art. Other stone carvings are of jaguars, snakes, elephants, characters from the Bible and scenes from Nicaragua’s past. This is a very interesting character, rarely does a hermit quite unintentionally become a celebrity.
Go off the radar to the Corn Islands in Nicaragua; one of the Caribbeans last untouched paradises. This is a couple of very pretty islands that you can have all to yourself, complete with super low prices when it comes to places to stay and things to do such as scuba diving, snorkeling and fishing. The island has Little Corn and Big Corn; Little Corn is peaceful with cheaper accommodation. Big Corn has large resorts, lavish restaurants and is more expensive.
Miraflor’s Cloud Forest
Miraflor Natural Reserve is a nature reserve in Esteli, Northern Nicaragua. It is one of the 78 reserves that are under official protection in the country and was declared a nature reserve in 1990. Hike in this national park across small farms, crossing waterfalls, rivers and a dreamy cloud forest (clouds so low that you can practically reach out and touch them). You can hire a bilingual guide to see all of the best sights here.
Located between Masaya and Granada, the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve is one of Nicaragua’s most beautiful natural wonders. Lake Apoyo was declared a nature reserve in 1991 and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and comprises one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. Stay the night here in one of the beach-front hostels so you can watch the sunrise and set.
More cool things to do in Nicaragua
There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do in Nicaragua.
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