The colorful colonial town of Granada, Nicaragua has a vast array of activities to experience. The town itself is bustling with many pedestrians, horse drawn carriages and tons of restaurants and outdoor markets, while there are also tons of outdoor options just surrounding the city to have some fun with. So, here are my top 5 favorite things to do in Nicaragua's charming city of Granda!
1 • Stroll down to Lake Nicaragua
The city of Granda sits right on the edge of this huge lake and is just a 15 min walk from its central park. If you walk to the left past the Catedral de Granda down the street, calle la calzada, you'll come across many great restaurants and bars and eventually pass other sights like la Iglesia de Guadalupe. This street is pretty touristy, but is great for finding a place to sit down and eat or for finding a good place to book a tour through.
Once you reach the end of this street, you'll come across Parque Azul, and just past this is the lake! If you go during the rainy season, there are so many green trees and lovely flowers. There are nice park benches to sit and enjoy the day, or watch the horses graze beside the lake. We even saw a horse give birth! Crazy story.
2 • Take a boat tour of Las Isletas
These islands just off the shore of Granda were formed after Volcano Mambacho erupted thousands of years ago. Some islands have local fishermen living on them. Some accommodate luxury homes. Others are home to the monkeys. Beware.
You can choose to kayak around the islands, or take a boat tour. There are many touring companies that you can book through all over Granada. I personal used Erick Tours for multiple excursions. I was always able to haggle the price down with them! I had originally intended on doing the kayak tour, but they din't have enough people signed up. My boat tour only had 3 people on it though, myself and a nice couple whom I became good friends with. We had a blast! You'll get some rum shots, get boarded by monkeys, spend lunch on one of the local island restaurants. Overall a really fun time.
3 • Attend a raging party at Treehouse Nicaragua
Treehouse Nicaragua is an incredible hostel. It's completely made up of treehouses... in the jungle... on the side of Mambacho Volcano... surrounded by howler monkeys... INCREDIBLE. They have a free shuttle that takes you up (most of the way) from Central Park. They have dorms, private treehouse rooms, and even hammocks you can sleep in. They also serve large group meals for breakfast lunch and dinner (including a vegetarian option YUM). They have daily tours to cool secret swimming spots on the side of the volcano during the day, and then at night there is always a crazy party.
I actually did some volunteer work here for a little while and was able to spend some time working at this hostel. It's full of great people and wonderful memories and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun time in the trees.
4 • Climb the bell tower of la Iglesia de la Merced
Located just a few blocks west of Parque Central, this church is still in use today. The best part? You can climb up a steep spiraled staircase to the top of its bell tower for $1. There you'll find a 360 degree view of the entire city with Mombacho Volcano to the south, Lake Nicaragua to the east, and a sea of colorful buildings and tiled rooftops. Just don't be the jack-ass who rings the bell and enjoy the incredible view!
5 • Visit the local Granada markets
I love visiting the local markets in a city like this. There is so much color and hustle and bustle combined with local flavor. Everything is clumped together near the Mercado Municipal, and it's a great place to see what the locals are eating and buying. I would come here to buy fruits and veggies to eat for lunch during my stay. The streets can get a bit overwhelming and crowded in the afternoon however, so I recommend going in the morning when everything is fresh!
- Beware of catcalls. They will happen.
- Visit markets in the morning while everything is fresh.
- Eat street food to save money