25 Top-Rated Things to do in Granada, Nicaragua

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A yellow cathedral with red roofs next to trees and the tops of buildings
Granada is a unique city with many attractions to visit, like Granada Cathedral

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, Nicaragua, making it an ideal city break destination.

Granada also serves as the perfect destination to visit for those looking for a break from the beaches of Nicaragua. Just a few of the activities to enjoy when visiting include going to a coffee farm, hiking around Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve, and shopping at Masaya Crafts Market. Keep reading to discover all the top things to do in and around Granada!

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  • 25 Granada things to do

25 Best Things to Do in Granada, Nicaragua

Granada Things to Do Map

A map of Granada. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

Places to Visit in Granada, Nicaragua

A yellow and white colonial-style church with two towers next to trees
Catedral de Granada is an iconic landmark in the city

Marvel at Catedral de Granada

Catedral de Granada, also known as the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral Church or just Granada Cathedral, is an eye-catching landmark within Parque Central. This bright yellow Roman Catholic cathedral stands out with its three stunning towers and hand-painted ceilings.

The church was first constructed in 1525; however, fires caused significant damage throughout the 1500s, and it has been rebuilt multiple times. The structure seen today was completed in 1972. For a small fee per person, you can climb to the top of the bell tower and be rewarded with the ultimate view of Granada and its flourishing scenery.

Accommodations nearby the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral Church

Wander around Parque Central de 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 and is lined with brightly-coloured colonial buildings and the majestic Catedral de Granada, making it an excellent photo-op location.

As you wander around, you will also see tropical palm trees, fountains, and statues. In addition, you will find lots of local street vendors selling things like blankets, paintings, hammocks, jewellery, bags, and many other trinkets and hand-crafted items.

Accommodation near the Parque Central de Granada

Shop like a local at Mercado Municipal de Granada

If you want to immerse yourself in the local way of life, visiting Mercado Municipal de Granada is one of the best ways to do so. The market is filled with vendors selling native fruits and vegetables, flowers, clothes, meat and fish, and much more. You can also discover great hidden treasures, like unique handmade clothing and jewellery, which make ideal souvenirs or gifts to take home.

This attraction can be a little bit overwhelming with all its sights, sounds, and smells. However, as long as you give yourself a good chunk of time to walk around the whole place, you will have an enjoyable time exploring.

As the market is open all day, you can visit whenever you like. But, visiting in the morning is recommended to have the best choice of food products and other items.

A green field with some small buildings next to a volcano crater with smoke
You can see an active volcano crater when exploring Masaya Volcano National Park

Explore Masaya Volcano National Park

Volcanoes are a fascinating natural wonder, and Masaya Volcano National Park gives you a breathtaking view of a very active volcano! The park lies about 40 minutes outside the city, and visiting is a thrilling experience no one should miss.

You can visit the park during the day from 9 AM to 4:45 PM, with a mall entrance fee required. Alternatively, you could take a magical night tour of Masaya Volcano National Park. The view of the volcano at this time is unforgettable, making it a highly recommended activity in Granada.

During the two-hour excursion, your guide will take you to the lava-filled crater, where you can peer into the volcano as the sun goes down and the stars begin to come out. Your guide will also offer more information on the volcano and the area's geology. No matter when you visit, exploring Masaya Volcano National Park is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Granada, Nicaragua!

Make delicious chocolates at the Choco Museum

The Choco Museum, or Choco Museo, in Granada is a small museum and gift shop dedicated to chocolate production. It is located around a ten-minute walk from Parque Central de Granada, making it very easily accessible for those staying in the city centre.

The Bean to Bar Workshop is the museum's most popular offering. It is a workshop that will guide you through the chocolate creation process. You will start with cacao beans and walk away with your own handmade chocolates!

The workshops run multiple times throughout the day, and you can book a spot in a Choco Museum workshop in advance. You can also view museum exhibits, and there's even a chocolate cocktail workshop to try.

Roll cigars at Doña Elba Cigars

Doña Elba Cigars is located right in the city centre and is a fascinating place to visit for cigar aficionados and anyone looking to explore a unique shop. This cigar shop specialises in "custom blended premium cigars" that make a great gift to bring home, even if you don't smoke them yourself.

The company produces nearly 20,000 cigars monthly and is one of the country's top-rated producers. You can also tour the factory to learn how cigars are made and try rolling your own. For those really into cigars, there is even the possibility of creating your own blend!

One of many things to do in Granada, Nicaragua, is. going to Iglesia de La Merced
Visiting Iglesia de La Merced is one of the best things to do in Granada, Nicaragua

Admire the rooftop view from Iglesia de La Merced

Iglesia de La Merced, or Church of the Mercy, is another stunning church in Granada. It is located just five minutes from Parque Central de Granada when walking, meaning you can't miss stopping by when in the area!

This church dates to the 1500s, and while it looks quite old on the outside, the inside is beautiful. After admiring the interior architecture, you can go to a small lookout balcony within the bell tower. From this viewpoint, you can look out across the city. You will also be able to spot some landmarks, like Granada Cathedral.

Grab a meal at The Garden Cafe

The Garden Cafe is one of the most popular eateries in Granada and is well worth stopping by. The beautiful bohemian cafe is surrounded by gardens and features a light and airy dining area.

You can visit the cafe for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and all dishes feature healthy and often local ingredients. Just a few of the menu items to enjoy include avocado toast, chicken pesto sandwiches, and green curry.

After your main course, you can also indulge in dessert, with dishes like churros and passionfruit cheesecake on offer. You can additionally order beverages such as smoothies, cocktails like mimosas, and various coffee drinks. No matter what you get, you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable meal at The Garden Cafe!

Stroll along Calle La Calzada

If you are looking to discover a range of attractions, one of the best places to visit in Granada, Nicaragua, is Calle La Calzada. This bustling main street features an array of unique shops, plus numerous restaurants and bars with outdoor seating. You can also see lots of colourful colonial buildings along this street.

While you can visit at any point during the day, Calle La Calzada becomes most exciting during the evening, when locals and tourists flock to the street's bars and eateries. You could hang out at one spot or spend the evening bar hopping while also enjoying the hustle and bustle of the area.

A cobblestone street lined with trees and colourful buildings under a cloudy sky
Going on a Granada guided tour allows you to see the best of the city

Easily see the best attractions on a private Granada tour

When exploring Granada, there's a lot to see, and it can get a little overwhelming. If you want to make visiting all the top tourist attractions easy, booking a full-day tour of Granada is a must.

The day will begin by exploring the scenic Islets of Granada. Your guide will tell you more about the islands as you look around, and you will get to see lots of adorable monkeys!

Next, you will go back to Granada to visit all the best landmarks on a sightseeing tour. You will also get to visit the bustling Masaya Crafts Market before moving on to Masaya Volcano National Park, where you can hike and view the volcano's main crater.

This day tour is guaranteed to be memorable and is an excellent option if you are not in Granada for long.

Unwind at a yoga class

After a busy time exploring the city, you may be looking to unwind and relax a little. If so, going to a yoga class is an excellent idea, and you can do so at Pure.

You can book a private yoga session, or there are public classes almost every day; just check the online calendar to see what's on. Visitors to Pure can also opt for other workout classes, like Zumba sessions or cross-training.

Additionally, those looking to really unwind can book a massage at the Pure spa after their classes. There is also an on-site cafe serving things like kombucha, smoothies, and salad bowls. Pure also hosts retreats, including a yoga and surf retreat and a wellness retreat!

Learn to cook local dishes at Spanish School Xpress

While dining out in Granada, you will try an array of delicious local dishes. If you are interested in learning to cook some of those dishes, go to a cooking class at Spanish School Xpress.

This location is a language school; however, they frequently host cooking classes that are open to all levels. In the class, you will use fresh ingredients to cook classic dishes from Nicaragua. The fun thing about this activity is that you learn a new skill, and you can return home and cook unique dishes for your friends and family!

Climb to the top of Fortaleza de la Pólvora

Fortaleza de la Pólvora, or La Polvora Fortress, is an 18th-century fort within the city. It is thought to have been constructed in the 1740s as a way to deter pirates and is now a military museum.

After wandering around the small but interesting museum, you can climb the fortress' towers. Once at the top, you can take in the stunning city views and spot landmarks like Mombacho Volcano. As the view from here is one of the best in the city, climbing the towers of La Polvora Fortress is a must.

A lake next to a small island with green trees and moored boats
You can enjoy beautiful views while kayaking on Lake Nicaragua

Kayak on Lake Nicaragua

Kayaking on Lake Nicaragua is definitely one of the top things to do in Granada, Nicaragua, for outdoor activity enthusiasts. During this scenic three-hour kayak tour, you will sail along the river with your guide, spotting wildlife and marveling at the view.

Notably, you will get to enjoy a stunning view of Mombacho Volcano. In addition, you can kayak around some islands and see areas that can only be reached on the water. Conveniently, this tour includes hotel pick up and drop off, and all kayaking equipment is provided.

Relax surrounded by nature at El Respiro Ecolodge

El Respiro Ecolodge sits on the edge of the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve. It is the ideal place to stay for those looking for a retreat surrounded by nature.

The beautiful lodge features stylish and airy rooms with breathtaking views over the forest. Amenities here include a tranquil pool and a lounge area. There is even a farm here growing fresh produce, including starfruit, guanabana, and tamarind, as well as more well-known items like tomatoes and lettuce.

Along with simply relaxing by the pool, guests have easy access to Lake Nicaragua and can hike within Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve. Horseback riding is also offered, and you can stargaze after dark.

Dine at Bistro Estrada

When in Granada, you will find no shortage of excellent places to eat. If you cannot decide where to go, booking a table at Bistro Estrada is highly recommended. The eatery is located in the Estrada Hotel and serves high-quality local and international dishes.

Menu options include appetizers like tostones or ceviche and a variety of fish and meat main dishes. You can also order vegetarian dishes, like a salad with mixed roasted vegetables. There's an extensive cocktail menu as well, with drinks such as margaritas and mojitos available.

Get tapas and drinks at Boca Baco

Another great spot to check out for dinner and drinks is Boca Baco. This trendy bar serves tapas and sushi, making it the perfect place to order multiple dishes to share. You can also enjoy desserts, like chocolate brownies or cheesecake, and Boca Baco has extensive cocktail, wine, and beer lists.

Top Day Trips From Granada, Nicaragua

A large lagoon with greenery surrounding it under a blue sky with clouds
Apoyo Natural Reserve features a beautiful lagoon where you can kayak or swim

Plan a day trip to Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve

Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve, or Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve, is a much-loved place to visit for both locals and tourists. Heading to this destination is also one of the most popular day trips from Granada. You can reach the area in around 40 minutes to an hour from Granada, so adding a trip here to your Nicaragua itinerary is a must.

The area features 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 be nearly 700 feet below the surface, making it one of the deepest in the country.

Do note that there are no stores or ATMs close to the lagoon, so you should bring small bills in cash, plenty of sunblock, and a reusable water bottle. However, there are several restaurants along the beaches, serving fresh fish and cold beer - the perfect meal for a beach day!

While you could drive to Apoyo Lagoon yourself, joining a Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve tour is an excellent idea. On this excursion, you also get to visit Masaya Volcano National Park.

Stay near the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve

Have a Las Flores Coffee Plantation and zip lining experience

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 eco-tours to see how the coffee is grown and made. This is one of the tourist attractions that coffee fanatics cannot miss!

Interestingly, you can also go zip-lining here. The zip-lining course features numerous platforms, a swing, and a freefall. The equipment is all safe, and the guides are knowledgeable, helpful, and professional.

Before you leave, don't forget to pick up some coffee beans to take home. You can also stop at the cafe for freshly made coffee and light snacks.

A lake next to trees on the shore with a volcano in the background on a clear day
You can hike around lake Nicaragua at Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve

Hike within the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve

A little over an hour from the city is the lush Mombacho Volcano that sits within the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve. The area 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 one kilometre long, or just under a mile. This hike takes about one and a half hours and goes through the scenic 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 another option. This guided hike covers about four kilometres (about two and a half miles) and typically takes four hours to complete. This walk is best for 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 the third trail to try. This is a moderate guided walk and covers about two kilometres (just over one mile). Hikers will get to enjoy views of the Islets of Granada and Lake Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua), as well as Mombacho's highest peak.

Alternatively, you could book a full guided tour of Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve that takes you along trails and includes transport to and from Granada.

See pretty butterflies at the Nicaragua Butterfly Reserve

Those willing to drive around 20 minutes outside central Granada may be interested in checking out the Nicaragua Butterfly Reserve. The scenic attraction is home to numerous species of butterfly, including those native to the area and those being conserved due to risk of extinction.

In total, 20 species of butterflies live among 30 types of plants and 50 species of flowers. In addition, you will get to see caterpillars and birds as you wander around the pretty gardens and butterfly houses. You can also take a fascinating guided tour with a butterfly expert!

Green trees on an island surrounded by water under a blue sky
Islets de Granada comprise 300 stunning islands

Venture to Islets de Granada

Around 20,000 years ago, Mombacho Volcano erupted. Left behind were 365 beautiful tiny islands that you can now visit today called the Islets of Granada or Las Isletas. You can choose from various tours to reach these islands, like a Las Isletas and Granada city tour, which also includes a guided tour around central Granada before heading to the islands.

While some islands are privately owned, others have restaurants, shops, and hotels. You can also visit more secluded islands and will see an array of plant life and wildlife, especially lots of monkeys. There are additionally several swimming spots to enjoy. While all areas are stunning, some of the most popular places to visit are Monkey Island, Zopango Island, and El Castillo.

Experience a sunset tour around Islets de Granada

Another way to see Islets de Granada is by taking a sunset tour. During this memorable hour-and-a-half excursion, you will go to Monkey Island and El Castillo before sailing around other islands and along Lake Nicaragua.

During your tour, you can also marvel at the beautiful sunset and begin to see night set in around the islands. Don't forget to look out for monkeys and other wildlife as you explore, and you will likely see many animals that only come out at night. Of course, snapping fantastic photos of the pink sky above the lush islands is also a must.

A beach with a large tree on the sand and a volcano in the background
Ometepe Island is a top destination for a day or overnight trip from Granada

Enjoy an Ometepe Island day tour

Another excellent day trip destination from Granada is Ometepe Island. You can reach the island in around three hours, with the option to arrange your own travel there or book an Ometepe Island day trip from Granada.

Some notable features on the island include a vast lake and two volcanoes, the Concepción Volcano and Maderas Volcano. There are also waterfalls, hiking trails, a small town, and a fascinating museum, Ometepe Museum.

In addition, the island is a UNESCO Biosphere Preserve, and you will be able to see an array of wildlife and plant life during your visit. Creatures to spot include howler and capuchin monkeys and numerous species of birds.

If you opt for the organized day tour, activities to enjoy include hiking in Charco Verde Private Reserve and looking around the town of Altagracia. You can also relax on the beautiful Santo Domingo Beach.

Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock.com
A market with colourful clothing and handicrafts on display
Masaya Crafts Market features an array of vendors selling unique handmade items

Discover unique pieces at Masaya Crafts Market

Masaya Crafts Market is located about 30 minutes from central Granada and is a must-visit for those looking for unique products and souvenirs to take home. You can reach the market by driving or taking the bus.

At the market, you will find numerous stalls selling all types of products, from clothing and jewellery to home decor items and art pieces.

In Conclusion

Granada is a city that should be on your must-visit list when in Nicaragua. Within the city, you can find many landmarks and bustling markets to explore. Granda is also a perfect starting point for adventures like zip-lining and hiking around volcanoes. No matter what you do and how long you spend in Granada, you will have a fantastic time!

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Written by Alli Sewell

allisewell WRITER Currently based in Canada, Alli has also lived and worked in the UK and Brazil and traveled in North and South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. She loves finding the best photo-ops and food and drink locations wherever she goes.

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