Granada, Nicaragua is perhaps one of the most charming cities in the country. With pastel buildings, well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, and a delightful location on the banks of Lake Nicaragua, the city certainly warrants a longer slot in your travel itinerary than one day alone. However, if 24 hours is all the time you’ve got, this guide to Granada will give you a good introduction to the town’s lovely attributes.
Breakfast: Start your day with a heaping breakfast at Kelly’s Waffle House. As the name suggests, this Granada institution is known for its large American breakfasts. If you prefer to sample some comida tipica then opt for the gallo pinto, a traditional Latin American breakfast of rice and beans.
Take in the architecture: The traditional Spanish architecture in Granada is often considered to be some of the best preserved in Latin America. Don’t miss the Convento San Francisco, the iconic butter-yellow Granada Cathedral and the wonderful collection of 16th century homes. End your architectural enlightenment by climbing the tower at the Iglesia de la Merced for great views over the town.
Lunch: After all that walking, it’s likely that you’ve worked up an appetite again. Head over to Parque Colon. While going for a stroll, keep an eye out for a street vendor serving vigaron, a simple dish consisting of fried and chopped pork, cabbage, and yucca smothered in dressing.
Visit the ChocoMuseo: So I know there’s already been a lot of eating on this tour, but the ChocoMuseo is one place you don’t want to miss. Go here to learn about the chocolate production, sample a traditional Maya hot chocolate, or indulge in a two-hour chocolate workshop. The informative experience will leave you with a much greater appreciation for all things cocoa.
Take a boat tour to the islets: Maybe you’ve done one too many chocolate tours. If so, then try taking a boat tour around some of the surrounding islets instead. You’ll have the opportunity to see monkeys, birds, and a few of the houses where the wealthier have built their homes. It’s a nice way to be on the water and enjoy nature. You can join a boat tour or rent a kayak to go exploring on your own.
Dinner: Once you find a bit of room in your stomach again, head to Las Colinas for a typical rustic Nicaraguan dinner of guapote, or rainbow bass, caught from the local Lake Nicaragua. The prices are moderate but the taste superb. It is a short distance out of town, so if you plan on pairing some cervezas with your meal, consider it best to take a taxi.
Nightlife: Granada has a surprisingly vibrant nightlife. Café Nuit is known for its live music and chilled out vibe. Alternatively, El Club is a stylish club with visiting DJs that attract a variety of A-list clients from capital city Manaus. Also consider walking along Calle La Calzada until you find something that suits your fancy. While Granada is considered to be a relatively safe Latin American city, always exercise caution when out on the town at night, especially if you’re traveling alone.
If you have longer than 24 hours to base yourself in Granada, there’s still plenty to do! Arts and crafts lovers might enjoy Masaya and a visit to its famous artisan markets, while adventure lovers can go hiking to volcano Mombacho. The options are endless!
Have you been to Granada? What tips would you recommend?
Great tips! Everyone keeps saying “Nicaragua is the new Costa Rica.” Do you think so? I’ve got to get out there!
Thanks Kelly! I keep hearing that too. To be honest, I love Costa Rica, but Nicaragua is certainly a less-touristy option. Maybe Nicaragua is the Costa Rica from ten years ago? Ultimately, I say visit both! 🙂