Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes, is the largest Central American country and is located between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With a diverse landscape comprising lakes, volcanoes, islands, rainforests and beaches, Nicaragua offers some of the region’s best outdoor activities. The country also boasts of a rich fusion of indigenous and Spanish cultures and an interesting history with ruins from the pre-Colombian era. The people here are known for their hospitality and warmth and you can learn more about the native history and lifestyle from them.
The country’s capital Managua is located on the shores of the lake Managua. The city does not see many visitors because of its unorganised setting and chaotic environment. It is quite challenging to navigate around the city and if you succeed in doing so, make sure you visit the Plaza of the Revolution, the crumbling Santiago of Managua Cathedral and the National Museum.
Granada is the place of choice for the majority of Nicaragua’s visitors. Located about 40km from Managua, Granada is the country’s oldest city and is best known for its Spanish era architecture. The main plaza of the city, Central Park, surrounded by colourful Spanish buildings, the Cathedral of Granada and the Iglesia La Merced are popular landmarks. Apart from Granada’s well-preserved colonial architecture, the city is a great base to explore the Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya and Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo. Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo is a nature reserve set around the crater lake of Apoyo and is popular for activities like swimming, kayaking, birdwatching and hiking. The active Masaya volcano is the focal point of Parque Nacional Volcan Masaya which is the largest and oldest in the country.
Near Granada lies Lago de Nicaragua, the largest lake in the country and home to Isla de Ometepe, a lake island with twin volcanic peaks and numerous petroglyphs. The island is a popular destination for those who are looking for crowd-free beaches, interesting archaeological sites and a farm stay. The island’s twin volcanoes – Concepcion and Maderas, offer excellent hiking opportunities. About 20 km southwest from the lake lies San Juan Del Sur which is the best place in Nicaragua to relax on stunning Pacific Ocean beaches. Known as “Nicaragua’s beach party central”, San Juan Del Sur is all about beach hopping and discovering great surfing spots.
Corn Islands, located around 70 km off the mainland, is a group of two islands in the Caribbean Sea. The islands are named according to their sizes – Great Corn Island and Little Corn Island. The islands offer the perfect tropical paradise setting, with idyllic beaches, turquoise waters and a rich marine life.
The city of Leon is a thriving political and commercial hub of Nicaragua, best known for the massive Leon Cathedral. The city is home to impressive churches, Spanish era buildings, lovely streetscapes and a vibrant nightlife fueled by the city’s student population. To the northeast of Leon lies the lovely mountain-ringed city of Jinotega, a chilly retreat with a laid-back vibe where you can go hiking in the misty mountains or explore the local coffee industry.
Nicaragua’s ecotourism lures many visitors with its untouched natural wealth and exciting outdoor activities. With friendly locals and fascinating culture, this Spanish-speaking country provides some of the most authentic experiences in Central America.
Central America’s largest country Nicaragua is known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”.