Nicaragua is an authentic country. Its natural beauty and warmth of the locals capture the hearts of each traveler. I dare to say, the country is one of the most paradisiacal destinations in Central America.
If you are making your traveling list, Nicaragua should be on top.The country has it all, virgin nature, secluded beaches, colonial cities, volcanoes, and one of the best gastronomies in the region.
A 6-day short visit to the country is enough time to discover the cultural and natural highlights including Managua, Masaya, Granada, and León. If you want to extend your time in the country, you should take 14 days adding to your itinerary Ometepe Island and northern towns where cigars and coffee are produced. However, my recommendation is to find a local certified tour operator to tailor-make your itinerary and travel safely.
León is the second-largest city in Nicaragua. As a city, it has given to the country a historic legacy due to many reasons. Since its establishment, the city has been the political and intellectual center of the nation. Worldwide respected intellectuals come from León including Rubén Darío-Father of Modernism-, Alfonso Cortés – poet-, and Salomón de la Selva- writer of the National Anthem-. Additionally, the second oldest university in Central America was founded in León in 1813 and continues being of great importance for the Nicaraguan education. On the other hand, the production and processing of sugar cane, cattle, peanut, plantain, and sorghum make the city an industrial and economic force in the country.
Masaya is known as “City of Flowers”. Located only 30 km from the capital city of Managua, it represents the folklore of the country with its artisan towns, hand-made souvenirs, flower stores at each side of the main road, and home of Nicaraguan musicians and dancers. Masaya boasts a varied culinary tradition based on pre-Columbian recipes being “Nacatamal” and “Vaho” the most known.
Granada is called by many as “Paris of Las Americas”. It is one of Nicaragua's most important cities, due to its economic and political power. It has a rich colonial heritage that can be seen in its architecture and structures. Additionally, it is surrounded by natural wonders as Mombacho Volcano and Lake Cocibolca.
Ometepe Island was nominated to be among the new World Wonders.
The tourism industry indicates the highlights of Nicaragua are León, Granada, Masaya; however, if you want to experience the authenticity of the country, Ometepe is your destination.
It is the largest oceanic island in the second largest freshwater lake in Latin America. It is called an oceanic island due to the size of the island.
The island is eight-shaped and has two main municipalities: Moyogalpa and Altagracia. The island has rich and fertile soil due to volcanic minerals; therefore, it has abundant lush vegetation and crop production is abundant, as well, especially plantains, avocado, rice, and coffee.
San Juan del Sur is in the south area of Nicaragua, located 145 km (2.5 hours) from the capital city Managua. It is a small beach town where can walk its streets filled with bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops. San Juan del Sur has become a surfers paradise and THE destination for beach lovers. Additionally, there are many secluded beaches around the bay, 10 km approx. from the town.
Although many travelers rather not pass by Managua, we recommend all travelers to take half a day to learn about the center of the economic and political power of Nicaragua. Half-day is enough to tour the city passing by former presidential houses, the cathedral, and the port on the shores of Lake Xolotlán. Finish the tour trying Nicaraguan gastronomy in a famous restaurant where waiters dress folklore clothing and the atmosphere is filled with local traditional music
The most colorful and folkloric town in Nicaragua is Masaya. Hand-made wooden, leather, and cotton products as clothing, shoes, bags, decorations, and souvenirs fill the Masaya Market as well as traditional meals and beverages. Add an ounce of adventure by visiting an active volcano standing right in front of the lava lake at its crater.
Discover the history of the first European City mainland in Las Americas, named "Granada" in 1524 and today called "The Paris of Central America". Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically. It has a rich colonial heritage represented on its buildings and traditions.