The Ultimate Guide to Nicaragua
Unbound brings you the ultimate guide to Nicaragua. Explore this uniquely beautiful Central American country with us! In this guide, you’ll find important travel information and the top cities to visit. Let’s go!
Is English Widely Spoken?
Yes, English is widely known
Córdoba (C$), US dollar (US$)
In Nicaragua, USD is used instead of the local currency, Nicaraguan Córdoba (NIO).
No visa is required for US citizens. You can stay for a period of 90 days.
Managua International Airport (Managua)
Getting there and away:
You’ve got plenty of options when it comes to getting to Nicaragua. You can :
- Fly into Managua International Airport, where you’ll find plenty of taxis and public buses to take you to your final destination.
- Or you can take a bus from another part of Central America. There are plenty of options for traveling throughout Central America by bus. It’s fairly easy to travel by bus to Nicaragua.
- You can take a normal bus for around $1 per hour.
- Or for around 25% more you can take microbuses.
- With the normal bus, you can get on or off anywhere, you just have to flag the bus down and let the driver know where you want to hop off. With the microbuses, you’ll find them going to a specific destination with specific stops along the way.
When you are leaving the country you’ll have to pay a departure tax. Domestic departure tax is US$2, payable in Córdobas or US dollars. It is not included in the price of your ticket when you are flying domestically. You’ll have to pay for it separately.
Electricity and power:
Nicaragua typically uses 110-volt electricity, which is the same as the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat types so US travelers will not typically need a plug adapter (unless your device requires 3 prongs). Travelers coming from Europe, Australia or the UK will need to bring a plug converter. Hotels and hostels do not often have plugs that accommodate travelers.
Safety in Nicaragua can be a concern. When you’re traveling anywhere, especially alone, it’s important to always let someone back home know where you are and where you’re going. Keep your money and valuables with you at all times, I would recommend a hidden money bag that can’t be easily grabbed off your person.
However, with normal traveling precautions, you shouldn’t run into any trouble while traveling through Nicaragua. If you’re set on going but safety is a concern – consider one of Unbound’s small group trips to Nicaragua led by one of our favorite hosts, Damesly. You can book it right from our app, here.
Weather and the best time to go:
As with most tropical destinations, Nicaragua really has two seasons – the dry season and the wet season. The rainy season lasts from mid-May to mid-November, with October being the wettest month of all. It’s not uncommon to have torrential rain storms lasting several days in October. If you want to avoid the rain, travel during June – September, but those will often be the hottest months as well.
As for the tourist seasons:
- High Season (Dec–Apr)
- Shoulder (Nov)
- Low Season (May–Oct)
Top cities to visit:
We did call this the ultimate guide to Nicaragua for a reason! Let’s talk about the top cities to visit in Nicaragua and what you can do while you’re there. Managua is the capital of Nicaragua. It’s located in the Southwestern part of the country. Managua is a bustling Central American City full of the rich history of Nicaragua and still showing signs of the destruction of past earthquakes. It sits on the southern shores of the Managua Lake.
Top things to do in Managua
- Go shopping at the lively markets
- Visit Teatro Nacional Rubén Darío
- Explore the forbidden cathedral
- Party inside the Pyramid Club
- Watch baseball
For a unique city in Central America, travelers have to visit Granada. It’s like stepping into a suddenly hot, humid and extremely tropical city in Spain. Some would argue that Granada is one of the more regal and refined cities in Central America. Because of its strategic location, it’s always been home to pirates, world travelers, and trade. It has a rich history and is home to the majority of Nicaragua’s ex-pat community.
Top things to do in Granada
- Take a boat tour of Lake Nicaragua
- Stop inside the Convento y Museo San Francisco
- Visit the volcanic Isla Zapatera
- Drive 20 minutes northwest to the indigenous handicrafts market in Masaya
In the northwest of Nicaragua, you can find yourself in the artsy city of León, Nicaragua. León and Granada are two of the oldest colonial cities in the Americas. León is home to incredible architecture and the artists, poets, and creators of Nicaragua.
Top things to do in León
- Eat dinner behind the cathedral
- Explore the mix of art and history of the revolution in the streets
- Take a salsa class
- Explore the local markets
- People watch at the Parque Central
The last stop on your tour of Nicaragua should be the Corn Islands. The Corn Islands are 2 islands located about 70 kilometers off the eastern coast of Nicaragua. They are the perfect relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Nicaragua’s cities. The easiest and fastest way to get to the islands is by flying into the bigger island with Nicaragua’s regional airline, La Costena.
Top things to do on the Corn Islands
- Walk around the entire island
- Take in the views of the island from a sailboat
- Swim, swim and swim some more
- Enjoy fresh fruits and juices
- Relax on the beach
Get to know the local culture and make sure you know key phrases of Spanish to have a more authentic trip.
- Hello – Holá
- Thank you – Gracias
- Where’s the toilet? – Dónde está el baño?
- Can I get a beer? – Puedo tomar una cerveza?
Some unusual things to consider doing in Nicaragua:
- Travel by chicken bus! Always make sure you’re listening when they shout your stop, otherwise you’ll fly right by it, on your way to the next village or city.
- Kayak along the pirate routes in Nicaragua. Nicaragua has a rich history of pirates and there are plenty of places where you can explore the pirate routes by boat, foot or kayak.
Do you have any tips for our guide to Nicaragua? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to save this post to Pinterest (or pin from below) so you can find it later when you’re planning your trip. Finally, check out the fabulous trip to Nicaragua with Damesly, available to book NOW in the Unbound App!
Group trips not right for you? Check out our recommendations for Solo Travel Destinations here.