An Ultimate Guide to Nicaragua: Everything You Need to Know and best travel tips
We spent in Nicaragua 11 days and in this article we would like to summarize all our tips about transport, safety, best mobile operator, currency and ATM without fee and much more 🙂
1. The cheapest way how to get to Nicaragua
Flights to Nicaragua are quite expensive, so we calculated that it is much cheaper to fly to Costa Rica (San José) and then take a bus to Nicaragua. But the worst part is the duration of the entire trip. For example, just at the border we spent 3 hours for the whole procedure!
Bus from Costa Rica to Nicaragua
We traveled to Nicaragua with the company Nicabus (route San José -> León), we bought the tickets at the Terminal 7-10 in San José and back with the company Nica Expreso (route Rivas -> San José), we bought the tickets online via busbud.com). Both companies were OK and we can recommend them.
The third favorite company is Ticabus, but we have no personal experience with it.
2. Currency and payments in Nicaragua
The official currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba, but most tours/excursions or entry/departure fees were paid in US dollars. But in most places the exchange rate for dollars was worse than if you paid in local currency, so we recommend paying in local currency if possible
Withdrawing money from an ATM in Nicaragua (ATM without fee in Nicaragua)
Most banks have ATM withdrawal fees. We have a Revolut card and the only bank where we didn’t have to pay a fee was Banco Avanz. You can also choose if you want withdraw local currency or dollars.
3. How to get around Nicaragua
Big cities and main tourist destinations are well connected by bus transportation, which is a bit in a worse condition with no rules :D, but very cheap at the same time 😀 We always bought tickets from the driver and there is no such thing as a timetable here. It’s best way how to catch the bus is to go to the bus stop/ and wait.
A typical bus in Nicaragua is the so-called Chicken bus (yellow bus). which connects most cities or minibus (minivan). Drivers usually stop along the route and react on people waving. It occurred to us that official stops do not even exist.
4. Best mobile operator, SIM card in Nicaragua
We tried 2 mobile operators in Nicaragua – Tigo and Claro. Bottom line is Tigo is cheaper but Claro has much better coverage around the whole country. So we definitely recommend Claro. I think we paid about 5 USD for 5 GB of data.
5. Nicaragua and safety
We only visited the famous tourist spots in Nicaragua, so we don’t know how it works if you were to go somewhere more remote. We felt very safe on the Ometepe Island and in León. It was about halfway in Granada, it was OK during the day but in the evening we didn’t feel very well, so we tried to go out as little as possible. We lived near the market and there were also a lot of homeless people and drunken/strange individuals hanging out there.
As for the city of Managua, we only saw it from the bus, plus we transferred there and that was enough for us. A terrible mess and we didn’t feel good about it.
6. Best time to visit Nicaragua
It is generally recommended to visit Nicaragua during the “dry season” which is from December to April. We were here in November and the weather wasnt pleasant. It rained for half the days and for example we saw the volcano on the Ometepe islandfor about 10 minutes of our entire stay there :D. The rest of the days was volcano in the clouds.
7. Flying drone in Nicaragua
We are traveling with drone DJI Mini 3 which weighs up to 250 grams and is very compact. We flew it several times in Nicaragua and never had a problem with it (November/2022). In the case of national parks, however, we would always check beforehand whether flying with a drone is not prohibited.