Granada is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot of beautiful cities. The streets of Nicaragua’s oldest colonial city are lined with charming yellow-painted houses, laid-back mango sellers and delicious courtyard cafés.
Things To Do in Granada, Nicaragua
Granada, though Nicaragua’s sixth largest city, is really quite small. It’s the ideal city for exploring slowly, and if you have a couple of days, there really is no need to rush.
Amble Through the Streets
Granada’s beauty really lies within its streets. Endlessly ambling around was one of our favourite things to do in Granada because we had plenty of time to take in the surroundings and appreciate the colonial architecture.
Cycle to Lake Nicaragua
Once you’ve exhausted ambling the city, rent a bicycle and peddle your way down toward the lake. If you cycle too far to the right, you’ll end up in a strangely colourful ghost town of beach bars and climbing frames out of season (I don’t know what it’s like in high season!)
Climb the Bell Tower of La Merced Church
The bell tower of La Merced Church is the best place for incredible city views. We saw the bell ringing first hand – it was loud! – while we were skirting our way around the edge of the tower.
Things We Decided Not To Do in Granada, Nicaragua
As with all touristy places, there are some activities that you should think twice about before signing up.
A Boat Tour of the Islets
We were originally keen to take a boat tour of the islets, but when we took a closer look at some of the tour operators, they all boasted photos of monkeys jumping onto the boats and performing for tourists. A further look at TripAdvisor revealed a lot of negative reviews, some which mentioned that the monkeys were not native to the islands, but had been “imprisoned” there for tourism.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
We never found any information to suggest that anything unethical is going on, however a horse-drawn carriage ride around the hot city isn’t our thing. Not only is it reasonably expensive and unnecessary to see the city this way, but we were further put off when we saw two horses pulling a carriage laden with seven people.
Places To Eat in Granada, Nicaragua
Breakfast at the Garden Cafe
This place is no secret, which means it’s much quieter in the mornings than it is around lunchtime. Enjoy a locally-sourced breakfast of fresh fruits, yoghurt and granola, or oatmeal with dried apricots and almonds, in the garden courtyard.
Eat Healthy at Cafe de los Suenos
We discovered this place, which is down the quiet end of the main strip, thanks to a recommendation from a friend. The menu is filled with healthy options, from passion fruit juice to Greek salad.
Grab an Espresso at Cafe Fitzcarraldo
The best espressos in the city can be found here at this little French style café just off of Central Park. The caffe frappes are delicious too.
Try Street Food in Central Park
There’s not a massive variety of street food in Granada, but what they do have is pretty good. For vegetarians like us, freshly sliced mango is sold on the street corners by day and corn is grilled up by night. Pupusas – flat, circular corn tortillas – are cooked up on hot griddle plates and served in large leaf.
Places to Stay in Granada, Nicaragua
After arriving late and crashing for the night in an average hostel, we moved the next morning and stumbled upon De Boca en Boca Hostal. Tucked in the corner next to La Merced church, this new little hostel had just been opened by a couple of total lovebirds. The owners, a French guy and his Nicaragua girlfriend, were friendly, happy and completely in love. A double room for $14 per night was perfect for us as a couple on a tight travel budget.
Are you tempted to travel to Granada, Nicaragua, or maybe you’re already been?