With both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, vast swathes of uninhabited jungle, colourful cities and welcoming people, Nicaragua is a country very much on the up and a great place to book a hotel. It’s becoming one of Central America’s must visit tourist destinations, with volcanic good looks, delicious food and beautiful handicrafts. The capital, Managua, is one of the region’s biggest cities and the twin jewels of Leon and Granada offer colonial charm and bags of personality. Add in some volcanic crater lakes, a twin caldera island and an improving ecological outlook and it’s quite a package.
Managua - The sprawling capital was decimated first by earthquake, then by civil war but its ramshackle and chaotic vibe is all part of its charm.
Granada - Brightly coloured, single story colonial facades give way to lush courtyards in this fun city situated right on the lake shore. This is an excellent place to book a hotel.
Leon - A stunning white cathedral dominates the city in this one-time Sandinista stronghold. A young crowd keeps the spirit fun and lively. Join the party in Leon from your Nicaragua hotel.
Ometepe Island - A twin volcano jutting out of a lake forms this totally unique destination. With a relaxed vibe that feels more like the Caribbean, it’s also said to be one of the safest places to book a hotel in Central America.
Pacific Coast - More accessible than the densely populated, English-speaking east coast. The waves here are big, which has made an internationally popular surfing destination, and its beachside hotels are absolutely lush.
The capital Managua is mostly just a stopping point, having been badly affected by earthquake and war. Many of the roads still lack names but amidst the chaos are some great markets. The beautiful cities of Leon and Granada are both brightly coloured and have a long history of opposition - liberal Leon against conservative Granada - but both are worth exploring. Spend a few days exploring and climbing the volcanoes of Ometepe, and take a swim in the stunning Laguna de Apoyo, a vast volcanic crater that has filled with mineral water. It’s also fascinating to visit the memorials and museums dedicated to explaining the country’s long and bloody civil war, that thankfully is long finished.
With numerous active and dormant volcanoes across the country, you can explore the national parks that surround them. Or have a go at one of the world’s newest extreme sports - volcano boarding. On the Pacific coast, the surf season is known to be one of the best in the world, with an increasing amount of surf schools. And wherever you go, try and ride the local brightly painted ‘chicken buses’ for a ride of a lifetime. Just don’t expect much leg room, or even a seat for that matter.