Granada is a beautiful, colonial city located between the shimmering shores of Lake Nicaragua and the stunning Mombacho Volcano in Central America. There are many amazing and fun things to do in Granada and the country as a whole. Situated above Costa Rica, Nicaragua is a lovely place to travel to.
If you plan to visit Nicaragua, spending time in Granada is a must. This historically significant city is vibrant and full of life.
Splashed with colour and dotted with visitors from all over the world, Granada is filled with cute cafes, tasty restaurants, bars, local markets, live music, beautiful old churches and museums.
As with all cities, there are touristy and unique attractions in Granada that you don't want to miss out on.
Granada also serves as the perfect city break from the beaches of Nicaragua. It's proximity to several volcanoes and lagoons allows you to explore a completely different side of the country.
Granada is a city that has a lot to offer and see, so read on to learn about my 11 favourite activities and things to do in Granada.
Parque Central, or the main plaza in Granada, is overflowing with life and energy.
It is one of the top-visited attractions in Granada; the park is lined with brightly-coloured colonial buildings and the majestic Catedral de Granada. Cobblestone streets lead into and out of the city, and horse-and-carriage rides transport you back to colonial times.
The park is filled with palm trees, fountains and statues as well as local vendors selling things like blankets, paintings, hammocks, jewellery, bags and other little trinkets.
The main attraction within the park is Catedral de Granada, which is the next recommended activity.
Catedral de Granada, also known as the Cathedral of the Incarnation, is eye-catching and the number one reason to visit Parque Central. This bright yellow cathedral stands out with its three stunning towers and hand-painted ceilings.
For a small fee per person, usually around 1 USD, you can climb to the top of the bell tower and be rewarded with the ultimate view of Granada and its flourishing backdrop.
I recommend taking the time out of your schedule and paying the small fee to head to the top of the tower. The view is worth it!
Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is popular among locals and tourists as an activity to do because of its stunning scenery and warm thermal water. You can swim, kayak, paddleboard or simply relax on its sandy shores.
This massive lagoon was thought to have formed over 20,000 years ago when Apoyo Volcano imploded in on itself. The deepest part of the lagoon has been measured to nearly 700 feet below the surface, making it one of the deepest spots in the country.
The nature reserve is about 30 minutes outside of the city, and you can easily make a half-day trip of it.
There are no stores or ATMs close to the lagoon, so I would suggest bringing small bills in cash, plenty of sunblock and a reusable water bottle. There are several restaurants along the beaches serving fresh fish and cold beer - the perfect meal for a beach day!
Volcanoes are a fascinating natural wonder, and Masaya Volcano National Park gives you a breathtaking view into a very active volcano. The park lies about 40 minutes outside of the city and is a thrilling experience no one should miss.
Masaya Volcano is one of the seven active volcanoes where you can drive to the crater. You can visit the park during the day from 9 am to 4:45 pm with an entrance fee of fewer than 3 USD.
The park also offers magical nighttime hours from 5 pm to 8 pm. The entrance fee for the night time show is 10 USD. The view at this time is unforgettable - it is highly recommended as an activity to do in Granada!
As the sun sets and the stars start to come out, you have the opportunity to view the lake of fire in the crater. The sunset is a popular event to see and park rangers usually usher you along after 15 to 20 minutes so that everyone gets a chance to look at the inside of the volcano.
A little over an hour from the city is the lush Mombacho Volcano. Mombacho is ideal for those who love to hike. There are three trails you can choose from, depending on your fitness ability.
There is a self-guided trail called The Crater Trail that is 1 km long, or just under a mile. This hike requires about 1.5 hours to complete and takes you up through the Cloud Forest and Dwarf Forest. When you reach the top, you will see incredible views of Granada, the Isles, Laguna de Apoyo and Masaya Volcano.
The Puma Trail is a guided hike for about 6 USD. The trail is 4 km (about 2.5 miles) and typically takes 4 hours. This walk is best left to those who are physically fit as it can be a strenuous trail. It goes through the Virgin Forest as well as the Cloud Forest and runs along the main crater of the volcano.
The Tigrillo Trail is a moderate walk and is about 2 km (less than 1.5 miles). It is also a guided hike for about 4 USD. This trail provides views of the Islets of Granada and Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), as well as Mombacho's highest peak.
If you want to immerse yourself in the local way of Nicaraguan life, then visiting Mercado Municipal is one of the best ways to do so. The market is filled with native fruits and vegetables, flowers, clothes, meat and fish and almost anything else you might need.
The market can be a little bit overwhelming with all its sights, sounds and smells, and it is a bit disorganised, but it is safe. Give yourself a good chunk of time to explore the whole place without feeling rushed so that you can fully enjoy the experience.
Markets are great places to stock up on food and get tips from the locals, but they are also great to find hidden treasures, like unique handmade clothing and jewellery.
Visiting this market is one of my favourite things to do in Granada.
The Choco Spa is located right in Granada, and they offer different massage therapies, beauty treatments and waxes. You can choose from chocolate, fruit or oil for your massage or facial, and if you spend at least 10 USD, you get free use of the pool as well.
You can select from 10 different massage specialities ranging in price from 12 to 40 USD. You can also pick from several different packages and combos, ranging in price from 30 to 80 USD.
The Choco Spa also offers manicures and pedicures. There is a hotel and pool on-site as well as a bar, cafe/restaurant and museum. Additionally, you can take a tour to learn all about how chocolate is made or relax around the pool with some locally-made chocolate.
Nicaragua is well known for its flavorful volcanic coffee. Las Flores Coffee is one of the best-known coffees grown in Nicaragua, and they offer several plantation tours that include zip-lining to see how the coffee is grown and made.
If you are a coffee fanatic, then this is a must thing to do for you!
The zip-lining course includes numerous platforms, a swing and a freefall. The equipment is all safe, and the guides are knowledgeable, helpful and professional. I am afraid of heights, and I've gone back to this attraction in Granada several times.
You can also go on other coffee tours and hikes as well as visit the cafe and gift shop where you can grab a bag of coffee grown right on site.
The company also offers transportation and group tour rates.
Doña Elba Cigars is also located right in the city and is a fascinating place to visit for cigar aficionados and anyone just walking in off the street. It is a trendy thing to do in Granada.
This cigar shop specialises in "custom blended premium cigars" and makes a great gift to bring home, even if you don't smoke them yourself.
The company produces nearly 20,000 cigars a month and is one of the top-rated producers in the country. You can take a tour of the factory to learn how cigars are made, and you can even get the chance to roll your own cigars.
For those really into cigars, there is even the possibility of creating your own blend.
Around 20,000 years ago, Mombacho Volcano erupted. What was left behind was 365 beautiful tiny islands that you can now visit today - the Islets of Granada.
You can choose from several boat tours or kayak rentals to cruise through the islands where you see native birds and plants. Monkey Island, Zopango Island and El Castillo are some of the more visited islands.
Guided tours are recommended but not required. However, guides come with the added benefit of local knowledge of the islands.
Some islands are privately owned with exquisite homes of some of Nicaragua's most influential families, and others have restaurants, shops and hotels. There are several swimming spots to enjoy the calming water. Oh, and keep an eye out for the monkeys!
The Choco Museum in Granada is a small museum and gift shop. It is located less than a 10-minute walk from Parque Central de Granada (Activity 1).
The Bean to Bar Workshop is their most popular offering. It is a workshop that will guide you through the chocolate creation process. You'll start with the cacao bean and walk away with your own handmade chocolate.
The workshops run multiple times throughout the day, and advanced reservation is not required but is possible through their website.
For anyone planning a trip to Nicaragua, Granada is a city that should be on your to-do list. There are so many unique activities in Granada to take part in!
Inside the city limits, there are several attractions, like churches to admire and museums to tour to learn about the interesting history of this lively colonial city. Make sure to go to the local market for a real taste of Nicaraguan culture and lifestyle.
Granda is also a perfect starting point for adventures outside of the city. Things like zip-lining, hiking and swimming in the lagoon can easily be set up for you through different tour companies, making your time in Granada the best it can be!
This article was first published on Jan 25, 2020 17:01 UTC.
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