We spent six days in Granada Nicaragua and found so many surprising things. You could easily see this small town in less time, but we had the time so we took it. Let me tell you some of our favorite discoveries in Granada Nicaragua – Colonial Charm and Much More.
We flew into Managua from Miami, but based on our research did not have any interest in hanging out in Managua. So we moved right along. After a slow process getting through passport control and inspection, we met our driver right outside the terminal. I had booked ahead the driver through Southwinds Tours. He spoke perfect English and transported us safely on the 45 minute drive south to Granada.
We stayed at a small hotel in a perfect location in Granada called El Almirante. Easy walk to everything. This hotel was inexpensive, had fabulous staff, was popular with both locals and foreigners, and offered a great breakfast. We did find it was noisy however and our room was very small. After six nights we were definitely ready to move on to something bigger.
A Little History
Granada (region) was populated long before the Spanish arrived with a thriving indigenous population. In 1524 the city was named after the town of the same name in Spain, by Spanish conquistador Hernandez de Cordoba.
During the colonial era Granada was a sister city to Antiqua Guatemala and the cities have a very similar look architecturally. For many years Granada was in conflict with the city of Leon with the power struggle between families and politicians. This was often violent.
In 1834 Candido Flores attempted a revolt against the government in Leon, but the failed attempt left Granada in shambles. Next American William Walker attempted to take control of the city and declared himself President. An anti-abolitionist, Walker wanted to keep slavery and run the region of Granada. When his attempts failed he burned the city. He was later executed in Honduras.
Granada was spared from most violence during the Sandinista vs Contra period in the 1970’s – 1990’s – luckily. It’s why you can still enjoy this gem Granada Nicaragua Colonial Charm and Much More.
Granada Nicaragua Colonial Charm and Much More
There are many things to do in this pretty little town. We did not do them all, but here are some of our favorites;
Self Guided City Tour – Using Map My City we created a self guided tour that we did in just a few hours on our first day. Starting at the amazing Mercado Municipal and working our way through several historic sites including the Willliam Walker House, Iglesia La Merced, La Polvora Fortress, Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral and San Fransisco Convent Museum of History. We climbed to the bell towers in both cathedrals which I high recommend. At the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral you will find the Parque Central de Granada area, always lively and full of vendors, food, families, and people just relaxing.
Mombacho Volcano Hike – we took a guided tour up to the Mombacho Volcano using Danny’s Tours. We were picked up at our hotel and drove the 45 min up the steep road to the top of the volcano. Then we hiked with a guide along the trails and enjoyed flora and birds and fantastic views back down to Granada and Lake Nicaragua. The view includes being able to see Masaya Volcano about 15 miles in the distance with venting steam. We also stopped at a Las Flores Coffee Plantation on the way.
Lake Nicaragua Boat Tour – we also used Danny’s Tours for this excursion and it was the most fun of all the things we did. Our guide Manuel picked up at our hotel and drove us to the lake where we boarded a small boat. Motoring around the dozens of islands on the lake, learning history, seeing how the locals live as well as the millionaire mansions was incredible. We saw so many amazing birds, as well as monkey, bats and fish. I highly recommend this. You also can choose to do a kayak tour.
Walk along Lake Nicaragua – on our last day with time to spare we took a long walk, seeing some of the less touristy neighborhoods and walking along the lakefront. Though very neglected and in need of some TLC, a park stretches several miles along the lake and we enjoyed the walk.
Carriage Ride – A popular activity, though very touristy, is to take a horse drawn carriage ride through the city. We decided to do this on our final day. The 40 minute ride was $15 with an English speaking guide pointing out sites along the way and answering our questions.
Wow. The dining options in this small town were phenomenal. What a surprise that was. Not just the local food but international cuisines of every kind. These listed here are all amazing.
Nectar – located on the Calle La Calzada, a pedestrian area bursting with dining options, we chose Nectar at random but turns out it is a highly rated spot. We enjoyed Nicaraguan cuisine including our first time having tostone, a fried plantain topped with meat and cheese. Delicious
The Garden Cafe – we read great reviews about The Garden Cafe so we headed there for a late lunch and enjoyed our quinoa bowls so much. They have a wide range of healthy foods based on local ingredients. Absolutely delicious.
Pita Pita – This was such a surprise to find such authentic Mediterranean food in Nicaragua. The baba ganoush, hummus and falafel were excellent.
Boca Baco – We had an exceptional meal at this little tapas place that also serves sushi. What more could you want? We enjoyed half a dozen tapas to share, including fabulous deep fried shrimp and a delicious beef carpaccio. Highly recommend.
Bistro Estrada – another delicious surprise, and in a beautiful garden courtyard. We loved this hidden little gem and the authentic Nicaraguan menu.
Tosto Metro – You must eat here…if you can find it. We went to the Mercado three times trying to find it. On the third try we were determined and we found it. It’s very hidden in the chaos that is the Granada Mercado. Just a few steps to the left from the main entrance, but if you blink you’ll miss it. And we did…but the third time was the charm. Tosto Metro does burgers. Only burgers, but it is exceptional. You choose beef, chicken or pork. It’s served on a bun made from plantains. Accompanied by the absolute best sauce. And sweet little treat at the end. Perfecto.
There are many, many more. You won’t go hungry in Granada Nicaragua – Colonial Charm and Much More
Granada A Pleasant Surprise
I encourage you to visit Granada Nicaragua. It has a lot to offer and you will be pleasantly surprised. Next week I’ll post about San Juan del Sur Nicaragua so be sure to come back!
See last week’s post Our Favorite Things in West End Roatan
Don’t miss this week’s top performing post Sixth Annual Travel Awards 2022
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