What are the best things to do in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is not called the land of lakes and volcanoes for nothing. While the historic cities of Granada and Leon are sure to delight, as will the handicrafts market in Masaya, the real highlight is exploring the country’s vast natural landscape.

Besides hiking volcanoes and gazing down crater lakes, notable activities include surfing along the Pacific coastline and diving on the Caribbean. Here are our picks for the five best things to do:

Zip-lining at Mombacho Volcano

Easily accessible from Granada and Managua, the country’s capital, the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve offers some of the country’s best hiking and zip-lining opportunities.

After hiking through a lush forest, venture down the zip-lines while enjoying the views of volcanic craters and coffee plantations enveloped in the dreamy ambience of low-level clouds. As a bonus, howler monkeys and other native species can be spotted while hiking through the forest.

Watching the lava lake at night at Masaya Volcano

Masaya Volcano National Park, one of Nicaragua’s most important protected areas, is home to the only active volcano in the country that allows visitors to drive directly up to the crater.

During certain times of the year, rare lava lakes form in the crater, causing an otherworldly spectacle that is best appreciated against the night sky.

Given that there are only a few volcanoes on Earth that have the right conditions for this phenomenon, it might be worth planning a trip around it.

Diving in the Corn Islands

The pair of islands on the Caribbean coast known as Great Corn and Little Corn are famous for their shallow bays and crystalline waters. Little Corn has more unique diving sites with incredible biodiversity.

Lobster fishing is the main industry on both islands, and you can even attempt to catch a crustacean yourself by the Blowing Rock coral formation.

And as if the diving and snorkeling weren’t enough reasons to visit, Little Corn also has the benefit of being car-free.

Sand boarding down Cerro Negro

Surfing down the black volcanic ash of Cerro Negro, outside the historic city of Leon, is not to be missed.

After hiking to the top of Cerro Negro and taking in the views of the San Cristobal and Telica volcanoes, sand board down the gravel-type volcanic debris of one of the youngest volcanoes in Central America.

This unique adventure can also be experienced as a day trip from Managua, about an hour and a half away.

Hiking on Ometepe Island

Located in Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is the largest lake island in the world. It’s visited by very few tourists and offers hiking opportunities only for the most physically fit.

And while the sight of its two volcanic peaks, active Concepción and dormant Maderas, alone is worth the trip, there are plenty of other reasons to travel to the island. Waterfalls, crystalline beaches and archeological sites make Ometepe Island a destination in its own right.

  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Nicaragua food experiences?

    Make sure you spend some time sampling some of Nicaragua’s local snacks. Typical Nicaraguan cuisine is not as famous as, say, Mexican street food, and you’re not likely to come across a Nicaraguan restaurant in most countries, which gives you all the more reason to try it while you’re visiting.

    Venture outside the restaurants in Managua to discover food like you’ve never tasted before.

    Nacatamales
    Not to be confused with Mexican tamales, nacatamales pack quite a punch: pork, rice, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, prunes, olives and cornmeal dough all wrapped up in a plantain leaf. The packets are steamed for hours and are more readily available as street food than as sit-down restaurant meals.

    Nicaraguans often eat them for breakfast, often with a side of gallo pinto, the country’s staple beans and rice dish.

    Vigorón
    Born in Granada, this lunchtime specialty features deep-fried pork rind topped with yucca (boiled cassava) and a vinegary cabbage and tomato salad similar to coleslaw. Its tangy, spicy flavor will likely have you asking for more (and that’s okay, considering it’s mostly salad).

    The best place to try it is still Granada, but it can be found throughout the country.

    Fried fish with plantains
    Eating seafood in Nicaragua is easy, considering the amount of coastline the country has, but you don’t need to go catch a lobster by yourself at Little Corn to enjoy it. (Which you most certainly can do.)

    Visit a local fritanga to sample crispy fried snapper accompanied by tostones, crunchy plantain fritters that remind you that you’re in the tropics.

    Quesillo
    Fresh, thick, handmade tortillas are stuffed with salty local cheese and topped with pickled onions, vinegar and sour cream.

    While an acquired taste to some foreigners, these tangy treats reminiscent of Mexican quesadillas are a popular snack among Nicaraguans. They’re often sold in street stalls.

    Rosquillas
    Don’t leave the country without trying the rosquillas, which are basically local cookies made of corn dough, cheese, butter, lard and eggs.

    They’re normally shaped as tiny doughnuts and are savory, unless brown sugar is added to make little, flat empanadas or viejitas (which translates into “old ladies”).
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Nicaragua food experiences?

    Make sure you spend some time sampling some of Nicaragua’s local snacks. Typical Nicaraguan cuisine is not as famous as, say, Mexican street food, and you’re not likely to come across a Nicaraguan restaurant in most countries, which gives you all the more reason to try it while you’re visiting.

    Venture outside the restaurants in Managua to discover food like you’ve never tasted before.

    Nacatamales
    Not to be confused with Mexican tamales, nacatamales pack quite a punch: pork, rice, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, prunes, olives and cornmeal dough all wrapped up in a plantain leaf. The packets are steamed for hours and are more readily available as street food than as sit-down restaurant meals.

    Nicaraguans often eat them for breakfast, often with a side of gallo pinto, the country’s staple beans and rice dish.

    Vigorón
    Born in Granada, this lunchtime specialty features deep-fried pork rind topped with yucca (boiled cassava) and a vinegary cabbage and tomato salad similar to coleslaw. Its tangy, spicy flavor will likely have you asking for more (and that’s okay, considering it’s mostly salad).

    The best place to try it is still Granada, but it can be found throughout the country.

    Fried fish with plantains
    Eating seafood in Nicaragua is easy, considering the amount of coastline the country has, but you don’t need to go catch a lobster by yourself at Little Corn to enjoy it. (Which you most certainly can do.)

    Visit a local fritanga to sample crispy fried snapper accompanied by tostones, crunchy plantain fritters that remind you that you’re in the tropics.

    Quesillo
    Fresh, thick, handmade tortillas are stuffed with salty local cheese and topped with pickled onions, vinegar and sour cream.

    While an acquired taste to some foreigners, these tangy treats reminiscent of Mexican quesadillas are a popular snack among Nicaraguans. They’re often sold in street stalls.

    Rosquillas
    Don’t leave the country without trying the rosquillas, which are basically local cookies made of corn dough, cheese, butter, lard and eggs.

    They’re normally shaped as tiny doughnuts and are savory, unless brown sugar is added to make little, flat empanadas or viejitas (which translates into “old ladies”).
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best restaurants in Nicaragua?

    Nicaragua’s capital still boasts the highest concentration of restaurants. While delicious local food can be found in markets, street stalls and beachside eateries, Managua is definitely the best bet for international cuisine and fine-dining options.

    The area around Los Robles seems to be favored by Nicaraguans when it comes to dining out, as is Zona Viva around the Galerias Santo Domingo shopping center.

    Los Ranchos
    This famous steakhouse has been around for more than a half a century and has been known as a gathering place for the political classes throughout the decades.

    Its esteemed steaks have made it all the way to the United States, with four branches of the restaurant opening in Miami since 1981. Besides the churrasco steak, staples on the menu include gallo pinto, a traditional dish that combines rice and beans, and the signature tres leches (a moist cake made with three types of milk).

    La Casa de los Nogueras
    This upscale Mediterranean restaurant is located in the heart of the capital, close to some of the best hotels and shopping areas. Run directly by its owners, the Noguerases, the restaurant is known for its cozy atmosphere and a garden that offers a noteworthy alfresco dining experience.

    The house specialties are fish and seafood, as well as paella and housemade desserts.

    Mesón Real
    Formerly in the city of Leon, this Spanish restaurant reopened its doors in Managua in 2013. If you’re thinking that it’s probably not worth trying out international restaurants on your trip, think again: more than Spanish cuisine, Mesón Real offers a fusion of Spanish-style recipes with distinctly local flavors.

    The black rice paella and garlic shrimp with yucca (cassava root) are among the chef’s specialties.

    Achocolatado
    Achocolatado is proof of the bourgeoning diversity among restaurants in the capital. Peruvian cuisine has gained a strong foothold in the dining scene the world over, and Nicaragua is no exception.

    We’re raving about seafood tiraditos (similar to sashimi), Peruvian-style tagliatelle, mixed ceviches and passion fruit pisco sours.

    La Marsellaise
    This old-school French restaurant is considered the gold standard in Managua’s fine-dining scene. Authentic French cuisine, an inviting terrace and superior wine pairings are what set this restaurant apart.

    Besides offering great food in an agreeable setting, the Nicaragua restaurant aims to promote local culture by holding regular art exhibitions onsite.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best restaurants in Nicaragua?

    Nicaragua’s capital still boasts the highest concentration of restaurants. While delicious local food can be found in markets, street stalls and beachside eateries, Managua is definitely the best bet for international cuisine and fine-dining options.

    The area around Los Robles seems to be favored by Nicaraguans when it comes to dining out, as is Zona Viva around the Galerias Santo Domingo shopping center.

    Los Ranchos
    This famous steakhouse has been around for more than a half a century and has been known as a gathering place for the political classes throughout the decades.

    Its esteemed steaks have made it all the way to the United States, with four branches of the restaurant opening in Miami since 1981. Besides the churrasco steak, staples on the menu include gallo pinto, a traditional dish that combines rice and beans, and the signature tres leches (a moist cake made with three types of milk).

    La Casa de los Nogueras
    This upscale Mediterranean restaurant is located in the heart of the capital, close to some of the best hotels and shopping areas. Run directly by its owners, the Noguerases, the restaurant is known for its cozy atmosphere and a garden that offers a noteworthy alfresco dining experience.

    The house specialties are fish and seafood, as well as paella and housemade desserts.

    Mesón Real
    Formerly in the city of Leon, this Spanish restaurant reopened its doors in Managua in 2013. If you’re thinking that it’s probably not worth trying out international restaurants on your trip, think again: more than Spanish cuisine, Mesón Real offers a fusion of Spanish-style recipes with distinctly local flavors.

    The black rice paella and garlic shrimp with yucca (cassava root) are among the chef’s specialties.

    Achocolatado
    Achocolatado is proof of the bourgeoning diversity among restaurants in the capital. Peruvian cuisine has gained a strong foothold in the dining scene the world over, and Nicaragua is no exception.

    We’re raving about seafood tiraditos (similar to sashimi), Peruvian-style tagliatelle, mixed ceviches and passion fruit pisco sours.

    La Marsellaise
    This old-school French restaurant is considered the gold standard in Managua’s fine-dining scene. Authentic French cuisine, an inviting terrace and superior wine pairings are what set this restaurant apart.

    Besides offering great food in an agreeable setting, the Nicaragua restaurant aims to promote local culture by holding regular art exhibitions onsite.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best hotels in Nicaragua?

    Over the past decade, Nicaragua has rapidly begun to position itself as an ecotourism destination. As such, its hotel offerings have quickly increased.

    Whereas before, tourists only had a choice between a handful of average hotels in the capital, these days the whole country boasts unique accommodations equipped with modern conveniences. From colonial-style buildings in Granada to upscale properties on the Pacific Coast, there’s bound to be an option for you.

    Nekupe
    Explore Nicaragua’s Pacific countryside at this 1,300-acre nature reserve, which sits a half hour from Granada.

    Home to more than 700 animal and 158 plant species, Nekupe’s vast grounds make it an ideal place for horseback riding, ATV adventures, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, mountaintop yoga and target and clay shooting, all of which are available at the resort.

    After a full day of activity, retire to your luxurious villa, which boasts sleek, chic and sustainable design with feng shui inspiration. A team of four rangers assigned to your villa awaits to cater to your every need.

    Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa Resort, San Juan del Sur Region
    Mukul is one of the most luxurious hotels in Nicaragua. Stretching along 31 miles of coastline, the resort offers dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.

    Its 37 beach villas and suites are nestled in the lush rainforest canopy and are furnished with pieces in native teak and sugarcane crafted by local artisans. Villas have private pools and outdoor showers; suites have their own treatment rooms, terraces and plunge pools.

    Plus, the resort attracts visitors with world-class surfing, golfing and a commitment to sustainability.

    Pacaya Lodge & Spa, Apoyo Lagoon
    Located in the village of Catarina, in central Nicaragua, Pacaya Lodge & Spa makes an excellent alternative to staying in the nation’s capital. Halfway between Granada and Masaya, the village can be used as a jumping off point to see many of the country’s top sights.

    Perched above a volcanic crater, all 26 rooms in the hotel come with sweeping views of the Apoyo Lagoon and are equipped with modern conveniences. The infinity pool overlooking the crater is one of the highlights, as are the hotel’s sustainability efforts to help alleviate poverty in the country.

    Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Lake Nicaragua
    This luxury ecolodge sits on a private isle in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Perhaps the lushest of the Granada islets, Jicaro is a 15-minute boat ride away from the marina near the historic city.

    The ecolodge has been designed using local materials with a strong focus on sustainable practices. Its rough-luxe style is present throughout the nine two-story villas that make up the Nicaragua hotel.

    All rooms have views to the lake and some even allow you to gaze on Mombacho Volcano.

    InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, Managua
    InterContinental Managua delivers the classic luxury that is synonymous with the worldwide hotel brand. Its colonial-style dome and elegant chandeliers greet business travelers and well-heeled locals as they enter the spacious lobby.

    Located in a prime spot in the capital, InterContinental Managua is a convenient base to explore the city’s best restaurants, nightlife and shopping centers. The hotel also provides everything seasoned international travelers are accustomed to: an outdoor pool, refined in-house restaurants, a business center and event spaces.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best hotels in Nicaragua?

    Over the past decade, Nicaragua has rapidly begun to position itself as an ecotourism destination. As such, its hotel offerings have quickly increased.

    Whereas before, tourists only had a choice between a handful of average hotels in the capital, these days the whole country boasts unique accommodations equipped with modern conveniences. From colonial-style buildings in Granada to upscale properties on the Pacific Coast, there’s bound to be an option for you.

    Nekupe
    Explore Nicaragua’s Pacific countryside at this 1,300-acre nature reserve, which sits a half hour from Granada.

    Home to more than 700 animal and 158 plant species, Nekupe’s vast grounds make it an ideal place for horseback riding, ATV adventures, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, mountaintop yoga and target and clay shooting, all of which are available at the resort.

    After a full day of activity, retire to your luxurious villa, which boasts sleek, chic and sustainable design with feng shui inspiration. A team of four rangers assigned to your villa awaits to cater to your every need.

    Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa Resort, San Juan del Sur Region
    Mukul is one of the most luxurious hotels in Nicaragua. Stretching along 31 miles of coastline, the resort offers dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.

    Its 37 beach villas and suites are nestled in the lush rainforest canopy and are furnished with pieces in native teak and sugarcane crafted by local artisans. Villas have private pools and outdoor showers; suites have their own treatment rooms, terraces and plunge pools.

    Plus, the resort attracts visitors with world-class surfing, golfing and a commitment to sustainability.

    Pacaya Lodge & Spa, Apoyo Lagoon
    Located in the village of Catarina, in central Nicaragua, Pacaya Lodge & Spa makes an excellent alternative to staying in the nation’s capital. Halfway between Granada and Masaya, the village can be used as a jumping off point to see many of the country’s top sights.

    Perched above a volcanic crater, all 26 rooms in the hotel come with sweeping views of the Apoyo Lagoon and are equipped with modern conveniences. The infinity pool overlooking the crater is one of the highlights, as are the hotel’s sustainability efforts to help alleviate poverty in the country.

    Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Lake Nicaragua
    This luxury ecolodge sits on a private isle in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Perhaps the lushest of the Granada islets, Jicaro is a 15-minute boat ride away from the marina near the historic city.

    The ecolodge has been designed using local materials with a strong focus on sustainable practices. Its rough-luxe style is present throughout the nine two-story villas that make up the Nicaragua hotel.

    All rooms have views to the lake and some even allow you to gaze on Mombacho Volcano.

    InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, Managua
    InterContinental Managua delivers the classic luxury that is synonymous with the worldwide hotel brand. Its colonial-style dome and elegant chandeliers greet business travelers and well-heeled locals as they enter the spacious lobby.

    Located in a prime spot in the capital, InterContinental Managua is a convenient base to explore the city’s best restaurants, nightlife and shopping centers. The hotel also provides everything seasoned international travelers are accustomed to: an outdoor pool, refined in-house restaurants, a business center and event spaces.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best hotels in Nicaragua?

    Over the past decade, Nicaragua has rapidly begun to position itself as an ecotourism destination. As such, its hotel offerings have quickly increased.

    Whereas before, tourists only had a choice between a handful of average hotels in the capital, these days the whole country boasts unique accommodations equipped with modern conveniences. From colonial-style buildings in Granada to upscale properties on the Pacific Coast, there’s bound to be an option for you.

    Nekupe
    Explore Nicaragua’s Pacific countryside at this 1,300-acre nature reserve, which sits a half hour from Granada.

    Home to more than 700 animal and 158 plant species, Nekupe’s vast grounds make it an ideal place for horseback riding, ATV adventures, mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, mountaintop yoga and target and clay shooting, all of which are available at the resort.

    After a full day of activity, retire to your luxurious villa, which boasts sleek, chic and sustainable design with feng shui inspiration. A team of four rangers assigned to your villa awaits to cater to your every need.

    Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa Resort, San Juan del Sur Region
    Mukul is one of the most luxurious hotels in Nicaragua. Stretching along 31 miles of coastline, the resort offers dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean.

    Its 37 beach villas and suites are nestled in the lush rainforest canopy and are furnished with pieces in native teak and sugarcane crafted by local artisans. Villas have private pools and outdoor showers; suites have their own treatment rooms, terraces and plunge pools.

    Plus, the resort attracts visitors with world-class surfing, golfing and a commitment to sustainability.

    Pacaya Lodge & Spa, Apoyo Lagoon
    Located in the village of Catarina, in central Nicaragua, Pacaya Lodge & Spa makes an excellent alternative to staying in the nation’s capital. Halfway between Granada and Masaya, the village can be used as a jumping off point to see many of the country’s top sights.

    Perched above a volcanic crater, all 26 rooms in the hotel come with sweeping views of the Apoyo Lagoon and are equipped with modern conveniences. The infinity pool overlooking the crater is one of the highlights, as are the hotel’s sustainability efforts to help alleviate poverty in the country.

    Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Lake Nicaragua
    This luxury ecolodge sits on a private isle in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. Perhaps the lushest of the Granada islets, Jicaro is a 15-minute boat ride away from the marina near the historic city.

    The ecolodge has been designed using local materials with a strong focus on sustainable practices. Its rough-luxe style is present throughout the nine two-story villas that make up the Nicaragua hotel.

    All rooms have views to the lake and some even allow you to gaze on Mombacho Volcano.

    InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, Managua
    InterContinental Managua delivers the classic luxury that is synonymous with the worldwide hotel brand. Its colonial-style dome and elegant chandeliers greet business travelers and well-heeled locals as they enter the spacious lobby.

    Located in a prime spot in the capital, InterContinental Managua is a convenient base to explore the city’s best restaurants, nightlife and shopping centers. The hotel also provides everything seasoned international travelers are accustomed to: an outdoor pool, refined in-house restaurants, a business center and event spaces.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in Nicaragua?

    Nicaragua is a welcoming destination for young families with kids. Not only is it safe to travel through, but it also offers lots of family-friendly places and activities.

    From visiting colonial towns in a horse carriage to experiencing nature at its best on a volcanic island, Nicaragua provides activities that are fun for the whole family and are sure to create lifelong memories.

    Fishing in San Juan del Sur

    San Juan del Sur isn’t just a paradise for grown-up surfers; it also provides ample entertainment for the youngest visitors. Located on the Pacific Coast, this formerly sleepy seaside town now offers private charters and fishing tours. Nearby beaches and boat rides can also provide endless fun in the sun. Regardless of age or travelling style, this laid-back resort town has options for everyone, from adventurous fishing and snorkeling excursions to relaxing outdoor pools.

    Spending the day at Rancho Santana

    This residential and resort community is located on a privileged spot in between the Pacific Ocean and the vast Lake Nicaragua.

    Sprawling across five beaches, the resort offers plenty of activities for families with young kids, from tennis and horseback riding to surf lessons and trekking close to the beach. Foot-trails meander through the nearby forest, where iguanas and howler monkeys can be easily spotted.

    Taking the ferry to Ometepe Island

    A ferry ride to Ometepe Island makes an exciting day trip with children. Once at the island, kids can go kayaking, fishing, paragliding or cycling. Other activities include swimming at a waterfall, horseback riding and hiking.

    The natural beauty of the island itself is worth the trip, and it’ll be a day to remember simply for the views of the lagoon and the volcanoes, not to mention the local wildlife.

    Flying to the Corn Islands on a small aircraft

    The trip to the Corn Islands aboard a 14-seater plane is sure to delight both adults and children. The views of Granada and Lake Nicaragua will be breathtaking from any seat on the plane, as there are 360-degree panoramas for most of the flight.

    And while the flight itself will be an experience to remember, this is also the most convenient option to get to the Corn Islands.

    Visiting a colonial town by horse carriage

    Taking a city tour of Granada in a horse carriage is a fun and convenient way of exploring the historic city with small children.

    Not only is it a good way to take a breather from walking around in the heat, but the driver can also act as a tour guide and point out important buildings and landmarks. Be sure to stop and climb the bell tower for a charming view of the city.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do with kids in Nicaragua?

    Nicaragua is a welcoming destination for young families with kids. Not only is it safe to travel through, but it also offers lots of family-friendly places and activities.

    From visiting colonial towns in a horse carriage to experiencing nature at its best on a volcanic island, Nicaragua provides activities that are fun for the whole family and are sure to create lifelong memories.

    Fishing in San Juan del Sur

    San Juan del Sur isn’t just a paradise for grown-up surfers; it also provides ample entertainment for the youngest visitors. Located on the Pacific Coast, this formerly sleepy seaside town now offers private charters and fishing tours. Nearby beaches and boat rides can also provide endless fun in the sun. Regardless of age or travelling style, this laid-back resort town has options for everyone, from adventurous fishing and snorkeling excursions to relaxing outdoor pools.

    Spending the day at Rancho Santana

    This residential and resort community is located on a privileged spot in between the Pacific Ocean and the vast Lake Nicaragua.

    Sprawling across five beaches, the resort offers plenty of activities for families with young kids, from tennis and horseback riding to surf lessons and trekking close to the beach. Foot-trails meander through the nearby forest, where iguanas and howler monkeys can be easily spotted.

    Taking the ferry to Ometepe Island

    A ferry ride to Ometepe Island makes an exciting day trip with children. Once at the island, kids can go kayaking, fishing, paragliding or cycling. Other activities include swimming at a waterfall, horseback riding and hiking.

    The natural beauty of the island itself is worth the trip, and it’ll be a day to remember simply for the views of the lagoon and the volcanoes, not to mention the local wildlife.

    Flying to the Corn Islands on a small aircraft

    The trip to the Corn Islands aboard a 14-seater plane is sure to delight both adults and children. The views of Granada and Lake Nicaragua will be breathtaking from any seat on the plane, as there are 360-degree panoramas for most of the flight.

    And while the flight itself will be an experience to remember, this is also the most convenient option to get to the Corn Islands.

    Visiting a colonial town by horse carriage

    Taking a city tour of Granada in a horse carriage is a fun and convenient way of exploring the historic city with small children.

    Not only is it a good way to take a breather from walking around in the heat, but the driver can also act as a tour guide and point out important buildings and landmarks. Be sure to stop and climb the bell tower for a charming view of the city.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best things to do in Nicaragua?

    Nicaragua is not called the land of lakes and volcanoes for nothing. While the historic cities of Granada and Leon are sure to delight, as will the handicrafts market in Masaya, the real highlight is exploring the country’s vast natural landscape.

    Besides hiking volcanoes and gazing down crater lakes, notable activities include surfing along the Pacific coastline and diving on the Caribbean. Here are our picks for the five best things to do:

    Zip-lining at Mombacho Volcano

    Easily accessible from Granada and Managua, the country’s capital, the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve offers some of the country’s best hiking and zip-lining opportunities.

    After hiking through a lush forest, venture down the zip-lines while enjoying the views of volcanic craters and coffee plantations enveloped in the dreamy ambience of low-level clouds. As a bonus, howler monkeys and other native species can be spotted while hiking through the forest.

    Watching the lava lake at night at Masaya Volcano

    Masaya Volcano National Park, one of Nicaragua’s most important protected areas, is home to the only active volcano in the country that allows visitors to drive directly up to the crater.

    During certain times of the year, rare lava lakes form in the crater, causing an otherworldly spectacle that is best appreciated against the night sky.

    Given that there are only a few volcanoes on Earth that have the right conditions for this phenomenon, it might be worth planning a trip around it.

    Diving in the Corn Islands

    The pair of islands on the Caribbean coast known as Great Corn and Little Corn are famous for their shallow bays and crystalline waters. Little Corn has more unique diving sites with incredible biodiversity.

    Lobster fishing is the main industry on both islands, and you can even attempt to catch a crustacean yourself by the Blowing Rock coral formation.

    And as if the diving and snorkeling weren’t enough reasons to visit, Little Corn also has the benefit of being car-free.

    Sand boarding down Cerro Negro

    Surfing down the black volcanic ash of Cerro Negro, outside the historic city of Leon, is not to be missed.

    After hiking to the top of Cerro Negro and taking in the views of the San Cristobal and Telica volcanoes, sand board down the gravel-type volcanic debris of one of the youngest volcanoes in Central America.

    This unique adventure can also be experienced as a day trip from Managua, about an hour and a half away.

    Hiking on Ometepe Island

    Located in Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is the largest lake island in the world. It’s visited by very few tourists and offers hiking opportunities only for the most physically fit.

    And while the sight of its two volcanic peaks, active Concepción and dormant Maderas, alone is worth the trip, there are plenty of other reasons to travel to the island. Waterfalls, crystalline beaches and archeological sites make Ometepe Island a destination in its own right.
  • On April 18
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the best Nicaragua food experiences?

    Make sure you spend some time sampling some of Nicaragua’s local snacks. Typical Nicaraguan cuisine is not as famous as, say, Mexican street food, and you’re not likely to come across a Nicaraguan restaurant in most countries, which gives you all the more reason to try it while you’re visiting.

    Venture outside the restaurants in Managua to discover food like you’ve never tasted before.

    Nacatamales
    Not to be confused with Mexican tamales, nacatamales pack quite a punch: pork, rice, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, prunes, olives and cornmeal dough all wrapped up in a plantain leaf. The packets are steamed for hours and are more readily available as street food than as sit-down restaurant meals.

    Nicaraguans often eat them for breakfast, often with a side of gallo pinto, the country’s staple beans and rice dish.

    Vigorón
    Born in Granada, this lunchtime specialty features deep-fried pork rind topped with yucca (boiled cassava) and a vinegary cabbage and tomato salad similar to coleslaw. Its tangy, spicy flavor will likely have you asking for more (and that’s okay, considering it’s mostly salad).

    The best place to try it is still Granada, but it can be found throughout the country.

    Fried fish with plantains
    Eating seafood in Nicaragua is easy, considering the amount of coastline the country has, but you don’t need to go catch a lobster by yourself at Little Corn to enjoy it. (Which you most certainly can do.)

    Visit a local fritanga to sample crispy fried snapper accompanied by tostones, crunchy plantain fritters that remind you that you’re in the tropics.

    Quesillo
    Fresh, thick, handmade tortillas are stuffed with salty local cheese and topped with pickled onions, vinegar and sour cream.

    While an acquired taste to some foreigners, these tangy treats reminiscent of Mexican quesadillas are a popular snack among Nicaraguans. They’re often sold in street stalls.

    Rosquillas
    Don’t leave the country without trying the rosquillas, which are basically local cookies made of corn dough, cheese, butter, lard and eggs.

    They’re normally shaped as tiny doughnuts and are savory, unless brown sugar is added to make little, flat empanadas or viejitas (which translates into “old ladies”).
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