Upon welcoming guests, we are often asked what to do in and around Granada, what are the sites that have to be visited and if we have some secret tips.
So, first of all, Granada as the oldest colonial city in America, is a real gem, that everybody should see. The colorful colonial houses, the old churches, the Malecon, and the especially kind and nice people make this city unique.
Even if you have only one day or a full week, you won’t be bored.
As usually the daytime is quite hot, we used to suggest out guest to visit Laguna de Apoyo, which is also one of our personal favorite programs. It is a lake in a volcanic crater with a crystal clear and a littlebit mineralic water that is always warm enough to go in but also cold enough to refresh yourself. It is located half an hour drive from Granada and you can easily get there by a taxi. Here the best is to enter into a “resort” where you can access the lake in a comfortable way. You can also get to the lake by bicycle, in this case there is a closer access point which is not known by many people, here we were always alone on the beach, that makes it even more special.
After refreshing in the lake, you can either visit the Volcan Masaya by night (or at least when it gets dark) or come back to the city to explore it. Volcan Masaya is one of the few volcans in the world where you can go and see the real lava inside the crater. You can also visit it by daylight, but the lava is much more visible and sexier by night.
If you come back to the city, from 5 pm the weather starts to be a bit cooler and you can start to explore the city. You don’t really need an exact itinerary, you can just walk around and enter into the churches, climb up the bellowers, from where you will get an incredible view of the city.
Obviously, you have to visit the Cathedral of Granada and we suggest you to visit the Church San Fransisco as well, where you can also enter the Museum and Convent, which has an amazing garden.
If you are walking in the city try to peep into as many houses as you can. The inner gardens and colonial structures are amazing – this you can experience in our hotel as well, where after entering in a small façade, you will be amazed at our secret garden.
Another good program is to go on a boat trip on Lake Nicaragua, which is the biggest lake in Central America (and yes, it’s really big). There are hundreds of Islands in the lake near Granada, and the boat will take you around them. It costs 20$/boat independently the nr of persons and you don’t have to book in advance, the best is to go there where the boats are and just get on…
If you have seen similar cemetery it might not be such a big wow for you, but for us it was really an interesting visit into the cemetery of Granada. All the tombs are above the ground, everything is very white and the place have a special atmosphere.
If you feel like hiking, you don’t have to go far either. Volcan Mombacho is located just next to the city, you can see it’s peak from everywhere. You have to go until the entrance of the National Park (you can also get there easily by bus) and from there you will be transported by 4x4 trucks to the mountaintop. There you can choose from 3 excursions depending your fitness and time. Volcano Mombacho is also an active volcano, so you can see here craters and the signs of volcanic activities. The nature is also impressive, you will find yourself in a so-called cloud forest full with orchids and mysterious jungle setup. Just check first from our panorama rooftop terrace if the mountaintop is clear and the visibility is fine.
Nicaragua is one of the few places on earth where you can find real handmade but still useful and sophisticated handcrafts: pottery, hammocks, wooden and bamboo furniture and crafts, bamboo lamps and jewelry. All these are made in small villages around Granada. They are called “pueblos blancos” (white villages) and it consists of 3-4 villages, each of them with a special art. In Catarina you can see how they make lamps and furniture of bamboo. Once you are in Caterina, you have to visit the mirador, from where you will have an amazing view to the Laguna de Apoyo. There are also incredible nurseries in this village that worth a visit if you are interested at plants and flowers.
In San Juan del Oriente you can visit local potters who make the most beautiful potteries of the world (at least we believe so) and also, they make nice jewelery in this village.
In Masatepe along the road you will see beautiful wooden furniture, that also worth a visit, even is you can’t bring them home😊.
And don’t worry about transportation in Granada. You can get a taxi that will take you anywhere within the city for 20 Cordoba/person (ca 0,6 USD) or you can take our bicycles free of charge from the hotel. If you decide to go outside the city you can always catch a taxi and agree with him or we can offer you our taxi service as well.
If you have more time, the Island of Ometepe is also a must. It's small island in Lake Nicaragua which is formed of two vulcans. You can stay on the island for 2-3 days, hiking the volcans, swimming in the lake or in a beautiful nautural pool (Ojo de Agua) or just chill in one of the easy lazy hotels, hostels or yoga retreats of the island.
We hope we could suggest some good programs in and around Granada, we could continue the program suggestions untill the end of the day, but now we fininsh it. Feel free to contact us with any question. If you are interested at good restaurants and bars, please check out our favorite places in our Airbnb guide!