If you travel to Nicaragua, you can’t miss a visit to Granada, famous for being the oldest town in all Central America.
I love going back to Granada from time to time, with old cobble stoned street, old churches, colonial buildings and so much history around.
History of Granada
As I mentioned Granada claim to be the oldest town of Central America, founded back in 1524, just few decades after Colombo discovered the “new world”. During the history was vicitim of many pirate attacks and destroyed by the English filibuster William Walker, a very interesting history well written in the book War in Nicaragua
During the history, Granada always disputed with Leon for being the major city of Nicaragua.
What to do and see in Granada
Whenever I go to Granada I like just to wander around and enjoy the atmosphere of the city. A very helpful guide can be Moon Spotlight Granada & San Juan del Sur: Including La Isla de Ometepe
You cannot miss a visit to the famous cathedral and the Central Park surrounded by many colonial building and beautiful Hotels.
On my last trip (here you can look at some more pictures of the trip), I also discovered the Convento San Francisco, which is definitely worthy a visit, since it was the first convent built by Spanish back in 1529 and also host a nice little museum inside.
From the Park just stroll down the Calzada where are located the best restaurant of the city as also bars and pubs. If you keep walking, you eventually get to the shore of Lake Nicaragua and the beautiful Malecon de Granada.
Another good way to get around the center of Granada is by horse carriage that usually cost around 15 dollars for an hour ride, and you get to see all the best monuments of Granada.
There is so much to see around Granada:
Laguna de Apoyo
An hour away from Granada there is this beautiful volcanic lake that I highly recommend you as one of the best things to do in Nicaragua. For more info about the Lagoon read my last post.
Isletas de Granada
Is a group of 365 little Islands located right off the coast of Granada with many attractions: migratory birds, monkeys and lot more of flora and fauna. To visit the Isletas de Granada I suggest you to arrange a tour with a local guy that are always there at the pier.
Covered with tropical vegetation Volcan Mombacho is a perfect day trip from Granada. The hike up the Volcano is beautiful, you get to see lot of animals and strange tropical plants. Here you can also practice canopy between the huge tree.
How to Get to Granada
If you come from Costa Rica or San Juan del Sur, just get a local cheap chicken bus and ask the driver to leave you at the “empalme para Granada”. Here you can get another local bus or a fun 3 wheels red taxy that in 20 minutes gets you to the Central Park of Granada.
If you come from Managua just get a bus that goes through Masaya along the Carretera a Masaya.
Where to stay in Granada
There are hundreds of place to stay in Granada from cheap Hostel to luxury 5 star Colonial Hotels. I recommend you to choose a place that has an inner court and possibly a swimming pool, since it can get pretty hot and humid here.
Where to eat
A must for Breakfast is the famous Kathy’s Waffle House that serve great waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, home made bread and is located right in the heart of Granada’s historic center.
For Lunch or Dinner just choose one of the many restaurant along the Calzada or you can also eat in one of the luxury hotels inner courtyard like Hotel Dario.
I personally suggest you the famous Italian Pizzeria Monna Lisa, with amazing pizza Italian style.
Granada is also a great place if you are thinking to retire overseas, cheap and very safe. You can find more useful information in the book How to Retire Overseas: Everything You Need to Know to Live Well (for Less) Abroad