Our Nicaragua travel guide aims to dispel any misconceptions about this fascinating diamond in the rough in Central America. Disembark in the capital Managua, which many avoid altogether but which has a certain charm. Stroll along the Paseo Xolotlan, rebuilt after the destruction of the great earthquake of 1972, to the eponymous Lake Xolotlan. At night, move to the dancefloors of the Zona Rosa, where the city’s nightlife is best. Alternatively, head straight for Granada, whose charms are more obvious. Make sure to look up (always a top tip) to admire the colonial buildings in what is one of the finest Spanish colonial era cities of them all, before going to León, another city to claim that accolade.
Visit León’s UNESCO World Heritage Site cathedral and wander past murals proclaiming revolutionary slogans in this most political of cities. Then switch to Nicaragua’s countryside, including fields of bright green tobacco in the Esteli Region, and the coffee plantations that surround the city of Ocotal. Hike on the rainforest-coated slopes of the volcano of Mombacho looking out for monkeys, birds, snakes and butterflies, then wallow in hot springs. Then explore the many lakes along Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. The largest of all is Lake Nicaragua, where you can take boat rides to the main islands of Ometepe and those of the Solentiname Archipelago to see tiny fishing communities and kayak along the shoreline. Finally, finish your holiday staying at one of the fine beach chic hotels by the sea, surfing and spotting turtles along the Pacific Coast, or on tiny Corn Island.