The dark horse of Central America, Nicaragua is the rough and ready younger sibling to Costa Rica’s backpacker-seasoned popularity, but is absolutely just as beautiful. It’s not a country on many people’s bucket lists, and for that reason benefits from the authenticity that many other tourist destinations have lost. There are so many fun things to do in Nicaragua and beautiful places to visit in Nicaragua, and plenty of reasons for you to visit. If you consider yourself an excited explorer looking for your next wild and welcoming adventure, you’re in the right place; I am about to explain why Nicaragua should be item number one on that all-important bucket list.
From north to south and east to west, the landscape, culture and general vibe of Nicaragua goes through immense changes, giving you loads of places to visit in Nicaragua and making it one of the most interesting countries in Central America to travel through. On the Pacific side, dramatic landscapes give the country its infamous title of “the land of lakes and volcanoes”, but travelling east to the Caribbean side, the terrain flattens out to a tropical desert of coastline and jungle. Where the densely populated, colonially influenced cities of the west have encouraged riots, revolutions, art and poetry that sprinkle Nicaragua’s history, the rural communities living on the Caribbean have a very different way of life, and dialects that often couldn’t be further from Latin American Spanish.
This much variety within the country naturally equals an abundance of places to see and things to do in Nicaragua as a tourist. From volcano boarding down Cerro Negro in the north, to hopping around the Corn Islands in the Caribbean east, to surfing Nicaragua’s best wave on the Pacific west, and maybe even a cheeky waterfall hike on the island of Ometepe down south, you could literally never get bored.
To make it even better, the local people are among the kindest I’ve ever met, and would lose an arm and a leg to help you out when you need it. Just be extra careful with your valuable possessions – pick-pocketing is rife in Nicaragua, and pretty much everyone loses a phone or wallet at some point if they’re not looking after it. Some Spanish skills are very helpful here, you’ll probably need the basics quite a few times!
The main airport in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital city, is usually quite expensive to fly into, so if you’re not heading straight into the country by air, the other most popular way is to travel by land from Costa Rica. Many pre-bookable coaches make this journey, or you can make it yourself on local buses. Generally, Nicaragua is very cheap and accessible to travel around, and chicken buses or ‘colectivo’ minivans can take you to pretty much every destination you fancy.
So, after all those top tips you may find yourself standing in Nicaragua, hopefully having successfully kept hold of your phone (don’t make my mistake, please). Now what? Buckle in, because you’re about to be educated on the absolute best things to do in Nicaragua…