Two beautiful coastlines, 20 volcanoes, several bustling cities and an unspoiled natural landscape make for an abundance of exciting things to do in Nicaragua. Even better, Nicaragua is among the cheapest places to visit in Central America, with just as many fantastic experiences for a much lower price than more popular tourist locales. Those are surely persuasive reasons to visit, so narrow down your itinerary with this list of our favourite things to do in Nicaragua.

Explore Granada City

The Spanish colonial architecture of Granada is extremely well-preserved, leading to a distinctive vibe, especially in the city centre, where most of the original buildings are located. Between adorable small cafes, restaurants and charming knick-knack stores, this is the ideal city to lose a few hours simply wandering the streets. The museums and historical monuments make a great way to familiarise yourself with local history, and the prime location is only a few hours from almost all of Nicaragua’s best locations.

Granada’s markets will also give you a taste of authentic Nicaraguan culture, though if that’s something you’re into, we would strongly recommend visiting the nearby city of Masaya. The Masaya Volcano is a truly exciting experience, with a night tour providing a glimpse of the red-hot interior of one of Nicaragua’s multiple active volcanoes. However, the handicraft markets of Masaya are also a major draw, offering handmade goods and delightful souvenirs; if shopping is your pleasure, put this on your list of things to do in Nicaragua.

Granada’s cathedral is not just a beautiful landmark, but also offers a brilliant view of the city from above, so do not miss the chance to climb it if you visit.

Visit Isla de Ometepe

The unique island of Isla de Ometepe is made up of two volcanoes, only one of which is active. Still, while the rush of being near active volcanoes is one of the draws of Nicaragua, you are really unlikely to experience an unexpected eruption. Located on Lake Nicaragua, the island has been home to a small community for thousands of years, and they are really friendly to visitors.

Renting a motorbike or scooter, you can explore the wonders of this island, from the San Ramon Waterfall with its beautiful tropical surroundings to the Ojo de Agua, a small natural spring believed to have healing powers. True or not, it will certainly refresh you from Nicaragua’s perennial heat!

Determined adventurers may also take a guided hike up Concepcion Volcano, taking eight hours but rewarding you with breath-taking views of the island and the lake.

Relax on San Juan del Sur

Visiting San Juan del Sur is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Nicaragua. The atmosphere is distinctly ‘chill’, testifying to the popularity of surfing on the beaches. The charming beach town is home to cafes, shops, restaurants and bars that may sometimes lean toward the ‘touristy’, but offer plenty to entertain a curious traveller.

Slightly more expensive than the rest of Nicaragua due to its popularity among the international community, it is still definitely cheap in comparison to many other places.

And who could miss the chance to learn to surf on some of the best introductory beaches in the world? If you’re at all interested, definitely take advantage of the many inexpensive but friendly surf schools and surfing instructors.

For the less adventurous types, grab a drink and settle down at one of the many fantastic sunset-viewing locations for a relaxing evening watching the sunset over the water.

Stay at an Eco Lodge

Due to many years of conflict, the infrastructure in Nicaragua is still recovering, and electricity, for example, can sometimes be quite pricey. For that reason, as well as the altruistic desire to be environmentally conscious, we recommend staying in an eco-lodge with off-the-grid amenities. Far from a money or carbon-footprint-saving sacrifice, this can often lead to a wonderfully unique experience; many eco-lodges are located within nature, so you could be treated to a comfortable and ethical stay in a treetop lodge on the canopy of a mango grove - just to give one example. Often sourced from local materials, employing local workforce, and supporting local business where possible, at the best eco-lodges, you can feel like your stay is a positive for both you and the local community.

A truly expansive example, that really goes far beyond the name ‘eco-lodge’, Morgan’s Rock is a beautiful hideaway, villa, and private nature reserve. Home to capuchin, howler and spider monkeys, deer, and a vast array of other flora and fauna, the sandy beaches are also frequented by nesting sea turtles. As a way to experience the bounty of nature in privacy and comfort, nothing compares.

Contact one of our Nicaragua specialists