After spending two weeks in Panama, it was time to say good-bye. Our next stop was Granada, Nicaragua. It’s one of the most popular spots in Nicaragua and is often compared to Antigua, Guatemala. We loved Antigua, so we were really looking forward to exploring Granada.
Wandering around Granada
We didn’t have a lot planned, but wandering is often just as much fun as organized activities. Granada has lots of churches, including this beautiful one on the main square.
Later we came across this one, which doesn’t look so impressive, but it had a not-so-tall tower to climb for views of the city.
After climbing the tower, we kept walking in search of a fort Andy had read about. It turns out the fort wasn’t so impressive, but we did see a few more random churches.
Eventually we walked down to the shores of Lake Nicaragua. It’s the largest lake in Central America. It’s also the scene of a potential canal that would cut through the country, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and most likely doing irreversible damage to the environment in the area and displacing tens of thousands of people. Hopefully the project never gets going.
We decided not to do a boat trip on the lake, but several are available to see nearby islands.
One of the popular tours to take from Granada goes to some nearby villages and an active volcano. Our day started by learning about local pottery making traditions.
Next up, we made a quick stop at Mirador Catarina. The viewpoint here looks out over a lake called Laguna de Apoyo in a volcano, as well as another volcano and even a faint glimpse of Lake Nicaragua way off in the distance.
Then our guide took us to the famous Masaya Market. I’m sure at one point in the past this used to be a central place for locals to shop, but now it’s mostly a big souvenir market aimed at tourists. That said, it was still an interesting place to wander through, and we had a tasty traditional lunch.
This region of Nicaragua is very volcanic, so it makes sense that our tour would include a visit to see one of the volcanoes. Our guide took us to the Masaya Volcano, which is an active volcano. The fumes from the volcano are so strong, visitors are only allowed to hang around for a few minutes.
To finish up the tour, we returned to Laguna de Apoyo, this time to a resort right at the water’s edge. We had the option to go swimming or rent a boat, but we wanted to relax, so we decided to enjoy the view with a drink.
Where to eat in Granada, Nicaragua
Granada has plenty of cheap eats. Calle La Calzada, which starts just east of the main square, is lined with restaurants and bars.
We also had some good food and seriously interesting drinks at Spanglish Craft Cocktail Bar. It’s a little more pricey for Granada, but still reasonable.
I tried their Dulce y Picara cocktail, and wow! It’s made with Flor de Caña (a Nicaraguan rum), Thai chili syrup, watermelon, and lime, and garnished with chili flakes, jalepeños, and watermelon pieces. It might sound like a strange combination, but it was so good! We even went back a second night because I wanted that drink again. Andy had a dark craft beer called Lado Escuro. To eat we shared patacone sandwiches with pork and beef tacos. I definitely recommend having a dinner and some drinks at Spanglish.
We also ate at a burger place called Lava Rock Grille which had tasty burgers and fries, flavored liquors, and live music.
If you’re looking for breakfast, Kathy’s Waffle House serves Nicaraguan and American style food. We enjoyed fruit, bacon, and waffles, but they had a lot more on the menu to choose from. Go early or make a reservation because they fill up fast.
Where to stay in Granada, Nicaragua
Andy and I stayed at Hotel Estrada which was just minutes from the main square and all the restaurants I mentioned above. The bed was comfortable and the room was pretty. I didn’t like that the toilet was separate from the main bathroom, which meant I had to go from one to the other to wash my hands, but this was a minor detail. Breakfast was included with our booking, and it was good. The staff were friendly and helpful. I’d recommend this hotel if you’re visiting Granada.
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- How Much We Spent Traveling in Central America (Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua)