Nicaragua is an excellent travel spot for families or backpackers enjoying the cheap beer, hiking, nature, and good surf.
For a country that is full of history, color, volcanic landscapes, beaches, mountains, cities, jungle, villages and much more, there are significantly few backpackers and tourists in general.
Skip capital city Managua
There’s nothing to see here. Move on.
Don’t spend a lot of time there.
Granada is one of the most well-preserved colonial cities in Nicaragua. It was the first Spanish town in the country, and many of the buildings and churches are from Spanish times and are wonderfully preserved and painted.
From there you can even take a kayaking trip to the nearby islands, go hiking to Mombacho volcano, or visit the nearby markets in Masaya.
With 2,107 meters Cerro Mogoton is Nicaragua’s highest mountain.
Guided tours can be arranged in the town of Ocotal for the 3–4-hour ascent, which is more of a hike than a climb. Of course - if you are well prepared with offline GPS maps and good gear you can do it on your own.
Río San Juan
If you get to Boca de Sábalos from there is easy to visit the Reserva Biológica Río Indio-Maíz, one of the greatest rainforests in Central America. You must also visit El Castillo, a fortress built by the Spaniards in 1675 to stop the pirates entering Granada.
To get to the park you need to go to the village San Juan del Norte, that is surrounded by lakes, dense rainforest and some fabulous beaches on the Caribbean coast.
This is also an amazing starting point to visit the indigenous communities or to explore the ruins of Greytown, a British outpost across the bay that has been abandoned and has been taken over by the jungle.
Definitely one of the places to visit in Nicaragua.
Visit Ometepe island
The name Ometepe means ‘two hills’ in the native Nahuatl language. It is located in the lake that the Spanish conquerors called the freshwater-sea because of its size.
With its two noble volcanoes, charming beaches and natural biodiversity Ometepe Island should not be missed. Ometepe Island used to be one of Nicaragua’s best-kept secrets but now is one of its main attractions for both national and international tourists. No surprise why.
If you like relaxing in a natural Eden then Ometepe island is your place.
It is a remarkable river gorge that cuts deep through ancient rocks to create the Cañón de Somoto in the north of Nicaragua.
A four-hour descent of the narrowest part of the gorge means climbing over rocks, drifting down rapids, and jumping from high rocks into deep water pools.
If you are looking for more adrenaline option then choose a six-hour journey that includes going down cliffs and visits some mysterious caves inhabited by bats.
The canyon was only discovered in 2004 by two Czech geologists.
San Juan del Sur
If looking for beaches then San Juan del Sur is hard to defeat. It used to be a tiny fishing village but now has developed into a decent town that is well prepared for tourism, with lots of hotels and restaurants and a lively nightlife.
San Juan del Sur is a favorite spot for surfers and backpackers.
Tola beaches are definitely among the best Nicaragua beaches.
Playa Maderas, which is North of San Juan del Sur, is one of the most stunning Nicaragua beaches.
It is a lovely sandy beach perfect for sunbathing and has rocky areas for a great tide pooling.
Cerro Negro is an active volcano, where tourists sandboard down the slopes on one of the many organized tours to the mountain.
First, you have to hike up to the top, which takes around an hour, and then while sitting on a wooden board, slide down the side of the volcano.
Tours can be arranged from León in the morning and in the afternoon.
Masaya active volcano is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be your highlight for a long. What's more amazing, you can even drive right up and park by the crater.
It’s easy to visit from Managua or Granada.
Caribbean paradise couldn’t get much better than this. Visiting the Corn Islands is one of the things to do in Nicaragua. This stunning Nicaragua beach is located 70 km away from the east coast of the country.
Those two little islands that have small bays, coves, and even underwater caves.
Great Corn is the largest of the two and is populated by Creoles living in colorful wooden houses. Little Corn is tiny, only 500 people live on this small island where there are no cars and which is a real treasure for diving fanatics.
Life is slow in the Corn Islands - it is a perfect spot to relax, snorkel, dive, lay at the beach, eat some delicious seafood and feel in paradise.
To get to Great Corn Island, it is possible to catch a direct flight from Managua or hire a boat from Bluefields.
Another boat (locally called panga) is then needed to get from Great Corn to Little Corn: it may get really bumpy on the waves there, and often travelers get soaking wet so it is a good precaution to carry garbage bags to cover your bags.