Lisa Rivera

An island rich in culture and with a great diversity of green lush landscapes, Nicaragua is one country that needs to be seen to be believed.

Nicaragua is in the region of Central America and borders Honduras to the north, and Costa Rica to the south. Main attractions in the country include the grand Lake Managua and stratovolcano Momotombo, which are both north of the capital city, Managua.

To get a taste of the Spanish colonial architecture and to see tropical bird life, there’s plenty of travel inspiration to be found in Grenada and Leon in the south.

Nicaragua: useful information

Depending on your nationality, you may require a visa of some sort to enter Nicaragua. To check whether you qualify, check the internet before buying your plane ticket!

For most nationalities, you must have at least 6 months remaining on your passport. There are other fees to be aware of when entering the country. These include $10 for the tourism card upon entry (via airport or land), and a fee of $2 when departing Nicaragua.

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The weather in Nicaragua is tropical, with typically a sunny and warm climate. That said, it’s best to pack light clothing, and comfortable shoes for all the walking and exploration you’ll be doing.

The country’s currency is the Cordoba, which you can change in most vendors in the country. However, US dollars are also commonly used and accepted in Nicaragua, so hold onto any dollars from your holidays that you may still have!

Nature inspiration in one country

Nicaragua is known for its active volcanoes, small islands and islets and long and winding rivers that lead to the largest rainforests in the region. Alongside this, you can expect to see plenty of waterfalls, golden sandy beaches, all the while meeting some of the friendliest and warmest people.

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With a total of 3 biosphere reserves, it’s hard not to get immersed in the nature of Nicaragua. Choose from Bosawas, Indio Maiz or the famous Ometepe Island, and see what makes each one so special in their own right. What’s more, there are around 80 protected areas in the country, all that embrace eco-tourism that’s authentic, and committed to human development.

Ometepe Island

Ometepe Island’s the only place in the world that’s home to 2 volcanoes — Concepcion (1610m) and Maderas (1394m) — in the middle of a fresh water lake.

Maderas beach

Unsurprisingly, it’s popular with visitors that come year after year to see this wondrous island. As marvellous a sight the volcanoes and lakes are, Ometepe also has remote beaches, museums and even archaeology to keep you on your active toes.

Rio San Juan

A water paradise surrounded by the great lake of Cocibolca, Rio San Juan’s an area rich in wildlife, with a biosphere reserve and surrounding places that'll be a true adventure on your travels. Discover the areas where the pirates and colonisers came to Nicaragua centuries ago to seize the land, and the treasures that came with it.

fort

Other great places of interest you won’t want to miss out on, include the fisherman’s port of San Carlos, the Wildlife Refuges and the Indio Maiz Biological Reserve.

The beaches

Given its coastline meeting the Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua’s blessed with a diversity of stunning beaches, inlets and cliffs, that's perfect for relaxation.

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However, if adventure is more up your street, you’re in for a treat, as the country’s home to 5 of the best beaches in the world for surfing.

Nicaragua’s Coffee Route

For those who enjoy a robust cup of coffee in the morning, you may be interested to visit the northern region of Nicaragua. Here, you can take a tour of the farms within the Coffee Route, which have an altitude between 800m and 1200m above sea level.

Coffee farm

It’s an important aspect to the country’s tourism as well as its economy, and visitors get to see first-hand how the coffee grain's grown and processed.

Time to head south

To see many examples of Nicaragua’s Spanish colonial past, you’ll need to visit the cities of Granada and Leon. Granada’s one of the oldest cities in the western hemisphere, sitting on a beautiful plain overlooking the banks of Cocibolca Lake.

Cathedral

Historians say Granada was founded in December 1524 by Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba. Some of the best sights to see in Granada include the town of Diriomo, that’s known for being home to healers, otherwise known as witch doctors!

To see some of the oldest churches in the country, head to Granada’s Sacred Corridor.

There are many churches that date back to the 17th century such as Guadalupe Church, Xalteva Church and La Merced. The majority of these buildings possess the class Spanish Renaissance architectural style, and some like La Merced, show Moorish influences too.

Colourful Leon

There’s nothing more enticing than visiting a local market, and Leon has 4 of them. These include the Central Market, Station Market, the Bus Terminal Market and the Sutiaba Market. Here, you can splash the cash on goods such as fruits, fish, hats, electronics and leather goods. Being a market, it’s only right that you try out your bargaining skills, so leave the western guilt trip mentality back home, and don’t be afraid to haggle!

Leon street

Step back into Leon’s ancient past with a visit to the Veracruz and San Andreas ruins. Situated not far from the Sutiaba neighbourhood, visitors can discover the ruins of colonial churches that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. A visit here isn’t only a reminder of Nicaragua’s colonial past, but also to the craftsmanship of the labourers who built the churches.

A diverse food culture

The food in Nicaragua ranges from the Pre-Colombian period to influences from the settlers on the Caribbean coast. Try out the popular local dishes like Guirila and Nacatamal (a corn filled parcel typically steamed), and get your teeth into something sweet, like Rosquillas (small fried doughnuts), for afters.

Rosquillas

Given its location on the Caribbean coast, you can expect your tastebuds to be treated to a party explosion in your mouth. Chill on the beach and take in the sounds of reggae and calypso music, while tasting local delicacies like crab soup, lobster in coconut sauce and probably the best shrimp cocktail you’ve ever tried.