Travel guide to Granada, Nicaragua
We spent 3 days in Granada and it was absolutely enough to get to know the city and its surroundings. Apart from the historic center and the volcanoes, there is not much else to visit here. We liked that they tried to renovate sidewalks and monuments in the city. But in general, even though everyone was nice to us at the hotel and during the trips, we didn’t feel very safe here (especially in the evening). There were a lot of homeless people and beggars lounging on the street, who often shouted at us. However, we do not want to discourage you from visiting Granada, it is a beautiful colonial city, only the poverty is evident here…
Granada – best places to visit and activities
1. Parque Central de Granada
The main square where you can find the famous yellow church Cathedral Conception of Mary, food stalls and gazebo.
- Guadalupe Church –The path from the square to Lake Nicaragua leads through the Catholic Church of Guadalupe.
- Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de las Merced – view of the city from the rooftop
- Iglesia Xalteva
3. Masaya volcano and lava lake
The only volcano in Nicaragua where you can see a lava lake. You can either go here with a travel agency or, like us, with a hostel that arranges the trip and we found that it is even cheaper. We went with Hostel Oasis and the price of the trip was 22 USD/per person. Departure from Granada was at 4 pm, so we also caught the sunset at the volcano and then saw the lava in the dark, which was even better because of its bright orange color.
4. Mombacho Volcano Nature reserve
The Mombacho Nature Reserve is located 10 km from Granada and you can visit an extinct volcano and a path through the tropical forest. Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit this unique place, but the easiest way to get here is with a tour. The cheapest way is to take a bus to Rivas and ask the driver to stop at the entrance of the reservation.
How to get to Granada by bus
We went to Granada from León, but you can get here by bus from any major city. Here is our route from León, which ended up taking us half a day.
Bus trip from León to Granada
There is no direct bus from León to Granada so you need to change change and take another bus in Managua. Honestly we do not recommend staying in Managua. The town is not very safe and there is nothing interesting to see. So here’s how to get to Granada:
- First you need to get to the bus station in León, which is right in the middle of the markets. We walked here to save money, but we were little bit lost on the huge market. If you want to be safe and not tired of walking, we recommend catching tuktuk in the city. The approximate location of the bus station from where the minibus to Managua departs is here. The ticket cost 78 NIO (2 USD).
- In Managua, change to the so-called Chicken bus (this type of bus reminds us of school buses in the USA) to Granada. In Managua, you need to walk about 100 meters through the market, so we recommend bracing yourself against the vendors and the milder chaos. But we had no problem and the locals even willingly advised us where to find the minibus. The ticket cost 37 NIO (1 USD) and the trip took about 2 hours because we kept stopping somewhere and picking up someone.
- The bus stop in Granada is here
Shuttle bus to Granada
Almost every hotel usually offers a shuttle bus directly to Granada. Bus the ticket can be 3 times more expensive than a classic public bus, so we did not choose this option. In addition, we would also didn’t have such a memorable cultural experience 😀
Long-distance bus from Granada to Costa Rica
If you come here from Costa Rica, we recommend taking a long-distance bus that will also take you across the border. The trip should cost around $30. We traveled with Nicabus on the route San José -> León and the bus stopped also in Granada. Other companies that go here include, for example, Ticabus and NicaExpreso.
Best restaurants in Granada
- El Buritto Loco – cheap Mexican restaurant, delicious alcoholic cocktails (strawberry daiquiri was the best)
- Kathy´s Waffle House – nice breakfast options and also good spot for lunch, huge portions for good price
- Frapuq Baty – delicious frapé and nachos
- Monna Lisa – best pizza in Granada, owner is Italian guy
- La Sultana y el Café – good coffee and desserts
- Tostometro – banana burgers, local specialty
Tips for accommodation in Granada
We stayed in Hotelu la Gran Sultana, which had a central location, breakfast included in the price, a pool and a terrace with city view.