With it’s gorgeous architecture, great food options, and prime location, you will have plenty of things to do in Granada, Nicaragua.
Granada was the first city we visited in Central America, and we fell in love with it immediately. Though we have heard other travelers write it off as being too touristy compared to other Nicaraguan cities, we believe Granada deserves a spot on your Nicaragua itinerary.
If, like us, you have never been to Latin America before and your Spanish vocabulary consists of “hello,” “thank you,” and “the pencil is red” (thanks a lot college Spanish…), then Granada is a great gateway city. We had no trouble getting around using English, but we still felt like we got a great taste of Nicaraguan culture. We also felt completely safe wandering around Granada’s lovely streets.
Because we volunteered our seats on our flight down, we ended up only having two full days in the city. But we still managed to cover a lot of ground.
These are the best things to do in Granada, Nicaragua:
Climb a bell tower
The most iconic building in Granada is the bright-yellow Granada Cathedral. And though the church itself is beautiful, it’s mostly popular for its bell tower. For $1USD you can climb to the top and take in sweeping city views.
We also enjoyed the cooler, breezy air up there after several hours of walking through Granada’s scorching streets. Seriously, I’m pretty sure I bake cookies at cooler temperatures.
Stroll along Lake Nicaragua
Granada is located on the banks of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.
Though I admit I’m not usually a lake person, Lake Nicaragua fascinated me for a few reasons. First, it’s MASSIVE. From the banks, I would have believed we were looking out over the ocean. Second, it contains bull sharks. How cool is that? Third, it used to be frequented by pirates who used the lake to access and plunder Granada. So it’s basically real life Pirates of the Caribbean.
A well-maintained path runs along the banks of the lake and is perfect for a morning stroll or bike ride.
People Watch in Parque Central
Located directly in front of the Granada Cathedral, Parque Central is a small, tree-filled urban park. It’s a popular local hangout, and the park benches in the shade are prime locations for people watching.
Eat lunch at The Garden Café
The Garden Café is a trendy eatery in the heart of Granada. We loved sitting outside in the garden courtyard. Other merits? The Garden Café has an adorable shop, wifi, and a small library.
I recommend the hummus tabbouleh wrap!
Experience the bustle of Calle la Calzada
During the day, Calle la Calzada looks a bit like a ghost town. But at night, this pedestrian-friendly street comes alive. If you’re feeling extroverted, eat a late dinner at one of the numerous restaurants lining the street and enjoy the action.
Photograph the colorful buildings
The primary reason I wanted to visit Granada was because of the picturesque buildings. One of the best ways to pass a morning in Granada is to grab a camera and spend a few hours aimlessly wandering the streets.
With all its bright buildings, Granada reminded me of a slightly grittier version of Burano, Italy.
Relax by a pool
After spending a few hours roaming the scorching hot streets, nothing feels better than cooling off in a pool. Many hotels and hostels in Granada have private pools, and we recommend booking a room/bed at one that does. Even if you don’t, many hotels offer day passes that include pool access.
Take a day trip
Though Granada is a worthy destination in its own right, it is also a great base for exploring Nicaragua’s natural wonders.
We took day trips to Mombacho Volcano and Laguna de Apoyo. If we had more time we would have visited Masaya Volcano and Las Isletas as well.
Where to stay
We stayed at Hotel Jardin de Granada and can’t recommend it highly enough. The rooms were spotless and the hotel staff helped us arrange everything from airport pick-up in Managua to our day trips to Mombacho and Laguna de Apoyo. A nice pool, air conditioning, and complimentary Nicaraguan breakfasts were added bonuses.
We made our reservation through booking.com and paid around $50USD per night.
What are your must-dos in Granada?
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