When I first told people that we were starting our trip in Nicaragua, most people seemed surprised. Somehow, despite Nicaragua’s colonial architecture, colorful cities and incredible geology, the word just hasn’t gotten out about how great it is – yet. Not to mention how incredibly affordable it is.
Our Nicaragua leg began in Granada, a colonial city on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The city is small, so it’s extremely walkable, and every street is covered in brightly colored colonial houses. The heat is no joke, though, so it really comes alive in the evenings.
We stayed in the Oasis Hostel, located a few blocks from Parque Central. Location was great, price was good ($20 for private double with fan, shared bathroom), but vibe was a little too chilled out. Great courtyard, though, and free filtered water. They also organize trips from Granada, at reasonable rates.
Most of what there is to do in Granada is just walk around… check out the five beautiful colonial churches (great place to escape the heat!), admire the buildings, and try the local food and wonderful fruit juices. For us it was also the place where we roughly sketched out the rest of our stay in the country (which vastly changed a few days later, naturally).
Granada also makes an excellent base for day trips. We took a night tour to the active Masaya Volcano – where you can see a running lava flow and actually hear it rushing under the earth – and transferred from there to Laguna de Apoyo, our next stop.
There are a few ways to get to Granada from the airport in Managua, but since we got in very late at night we opted for a $40 taxi ride. After three or four nights, we were ready to move on. Next stop – Laguna de Apoyo, a volcanic crater lake and great place to escape the heat.