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Nicaragua Travel Guide
Last Updated: September 1, 2023
Known as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Home to Lake Nicaragua (Central America’s largest lake), beautiful islands, expansive volcanic terrain, mangrove swamps, ethereal cloud forests, and tropical rainforests, Nicaragua is a stunning destination with tons of things to see and do — no matter your interests.
In fact, I loved my visit to Nicaragua so much I ended up extending my visit!
While Granada, León, and San Juan del Sur tend to pull in the crowds, if you leave the main southern cities and get a little off the tourist trail, you can discover even more varied landscapes, friendly locals, and little explored towns and national parks.
This travel guide to Nicaragua shows you how to visit on a budget, save money, and make the most of your trip.
Table of Contents
- Things to See and Do
- Typical Costs
- Suggested Budget
- Money-Saving Tips
- Where to Stay
- How to Get Around
- How to Stay Safe
- Best Places to Book Your Trip
- Related Blogs on Nicaragua
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Nicaragua
1. Visit Little Corn Island
This archipelago off the Caribbean coast is one of the best places to relax in the country. It boasts diving with hammerhead sharks and underwater caves, fresh seafood, and plenty of hammock downtime on deserted beaches (invest in a good hammock if you’re serious about your R&R). Don’t miss Otto’s Beach.
2. Relax in San Juan del Sur
This picturesque surfer paradise is fringed with prehistoric volcanic hills and was the first destination to put Nicaragua on the map. Backpackers flock here in droves to surf and party under the stars. It’s a must-visit destination in the country!
3. Admire colonial Granada
Nicaragua’s oldest city is revered as the colonial jewel of Central America. Many of the pastel-painted buildings have been meticulously restored. Bask in Granada’s historic grandeur as you weave through the cobblestone streets, visit local art galleries, and sip on a coffee in a plaza.
4. Tour León
From world-class museums, Central America’s largest cathedral, and other beautiful monuments to a lively party scene fueled by the ample student population, León is one of my favorite places in the country. Sample the best roadside quesillo and see the local artists who give the city its eccentric flavor.
5. Explore Ometepe Island
Spend your days hiking, kayaking, or cycling around the island, spotting howler monkeys and archeological ruins in the process. Two of the two volcanoes here (Concepción and Maderas) offer strenuous 8-10-hour hikes. Guides are mandatory and cost 530 NIO.
Other Things to See and Do in Nicaragua
1. hike miraflores.
Miraflores national park was the highlight of my entire trip. Located in Estelí in northern Nicaragua, this is a stunning cloud forest with rivers and waterfalls. You can take day-hikes or multiday treks to the park (the multiday trips enable you to stay with local host families in small communities) and there are also programs to help you learn to farm. The one-day trek that I did ran from 7am-4pm and cost 550 NIO which included two meals and a mandatory guide. An extra bonus that I loved is that all the money goes back into supporting the community and farmers.
2. Explore Rio San Juan
This river is a wonderful stopover for nature enthusiasts looking to go kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching. Despite the surge in eco-tourism in the region, accommodation options are still no-frills and very low-key, with Wi-Fi and phone coverage being scarce. Most tours leave from San Carlos, which is located at the mouth of the river on Lake Nicaragua.
3. Hike a volcano
Nicaragua has 19 volcanos (9 of which are active). The two peaks on Ometepe –– Concepcion and Maderas –– are the two most popular day hikes in the country. Concepción, towering at 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) is a baking hot hike, so bring lots of sunblock and water. Maderas is easier but muddier, with a lake at the summit. Cerro Negro (near León) offers a comfortable sandy route from top to bottom and is also well-known for “volcano surfing.” Masaya Volcano is the most active volcano in Nicaragua and you can actually see the lava bubbling there (visits are limited to 10 minutes due to the fumes). For people wanting a challenge, try San Cristobal, Nicaragua’s highest volcano. If you’re hunting for scenic Insta-worthy views, hike to Telica (also within easy reach from León) for a spectacular sunset (you can actually camp at the top).
4. Relax at Lake Apoyo
Laguna de Apoyo is a breathtaking body of water that sits upon the Apoyo volcano crater near Granada. This 200-meter-deep lake is the perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and sailing. Hostels offer day trips from Granada for around 300 NIO, which include a return shuttle and include use of another hostel’s facilities, kayaks, and tubes on the lagoon. You can also visit independently and stay overnight if you want a longer visit.
5. Tour a coffee plantation
Coffee is Nicaragua’s primary export and Jinotega, the misty and mountainous northern region, produces over 80% of the country’s output. You can organize a coffee tour in any of the eco-lodges/hostels dotted around the region. I particularly liked Eco Albergue La Fundadora. Even though I don’t drink coffee, it’s a fascinating and important industry in the country (and region) and worth learning about.
6. Relax at the Pearl Cays
The remote string of crescent-shaped playas that make up the Pearl Cays (pronounced “Pearl Keys”) offer some of the best Caribbean beaches in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, due to climate change, this stunning collection of white islands is steadily shrinking. Located near the Corn Islands, there are currently only 10 left from the original 18. Accommodation on the island is super exclusive and very pricey. However, day trips by shared speedboat can be easily arranged to make visits affordable. Private boats start from around 8,800 NIO and fit up to 10 people. Come here to snorkel, swim, and lounge away the day.
7. Visit the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve
Bosawas is the second-largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere and is home to jaguars, tapirs, spider monkeys, harpy eagles, and more. A huge chunk of the country’s bird population — 600 out of 790 species — are located here, making it the prime spot for wildlife and bird watching. Multi-day trips, where you can truly immerse yourself in the wilderness, hike cloud forests, swim in waterfalls, and meet Mayangna and Miskito indigenous communities start at around 12,000 NIO per person.
8. Explore the Solentiname Archipelago
Isolated on the southwest tip of Lago de Nicaragua, the Solentiname Archipelago is a cluster of 36 islands revered for their pristine collections of primitive art, birdlife, and laid-back lifestyle. It’s best to base yourself in Mancarrón and organize day trips to other neighboring islands throughout your stay. It’s roughly a four-hour drive from Managua to San Carlos and then and then a two-hour boat ride to the dock in Mancarrón. There are no ATMs to be found on the islands so bring plenty of cash.
9. Shop at the Masaya Markets
Stock up on rum, coffee, hammocks, and ceramics at the Masaya Markets in Masaya National Park near Managua. Barter your way through the markets and soak up the colorful atmosphere. While there is a lot of tourist junk here, there are still plenty of artisanal handmade crafts as well. On Thursdays, a weekly ‘Night of Revelry’ features traditional dancing, local food, and music. The market is just thirty minutes from Managua.
10. Visit the stone carving hermit
Near Estelí in the north you can find Alberto the hermit. He’s been living here for almost 40 years, carving stone figures and sculptures in the jungle. He’s eccentric, kind, and incredibly knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in the region. Stop by to see his carvings and learn about his life in the jungle. Here’s a video of my visit .
11. Check out the Isletas de Granada
Southeast of the city of Granada in Lake Nicaragua, you can find the Isletas de Granada (Grenada Islets). There are around 365 of these volcanic islands, some of which are inhabited. A few have hotels on them or you can take a one-hour boat ride around them to admire their pristine beauty (it costs around 1,400 NIO for a boat that can take 8 people).
12. See Somoto Canyon
Dating back to the Miocene epoch (23-25 million years ago), Somoto Canyon is a relatively unexplored part of Nicaragua. Located near the border with Honduras, it was discovered by Czech and Nicaraguan scientists in 2004 and, since then, its spectacular walls and clear water have become a popular tourist destination. Activities here include hiking, boating, and scaling the canyon walls. The narrowest part of the canyon can only be reached by swimming or by tubing. Somoto Canyon Tours offers a variety of tours lasting from 3-6 hours with prices starting at 880 NIO.
13. Do a homestay/Learn Spanish
If you have a bit more time to spend in Nicaragua, there are lots of opportunities to volunteer, learn Spanish, and farm by taking part in a homestay (Estelí, Ometepe, and León are popular destinations for this). Hostels and tourist offices in any of the big cities can help you arrange it.
Nicaragua Travel Costs
Accommodation – Small 6-8-bed dorms generally cost around 250-350 NIO per night, with private rooms costing between 700-1,700 NIO. Free Wi-Fi and free breakfast are common and many hostels also have a swimming pool.
For a budget two-star hotel, expect to pay between 1,000-2,600 NIO for a double room including breakfast. Expect basic amenities such as Wi-Fi, A/C, a TV, and sometimes a swimming pool.
Airbnb is available on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast as well as in Grenada and Managua (there are no rentals on the Atlantic side). You can score a great beachfront property from 2,800-4,200 NIO depending on group size and house style. For a private room, expect to pay at least 880 NIO per night.
Food – Beans, rice, and meat are the backbone of most meals in Nicaragua. Grilled chicken, pork, and beef are common options (especially for street food). Gallo pinto (fried rice and beans) is the go-to breakfast and dinner meal, with an egg often being added for the breakfast option. Be sure to try the popular quesillo , a tortilla wrapped around white cheese smothered cream, and nacatamales , a tamale made from maize dough stuffed with pork and potato.
A typical lunch, eaten in a comedor (local eatery serving tradition cuisine), or street stall costs between 100-175 NIO. Nicaraguans are more accustomed to dining out for lunch so travelers can expect to see fewer evening options available in non-touristy spots.
On the coast, seafood is the main staple so expect a lot of grilled fish. On the Caribbean side, the cuisine is heavily influenced by Caribbean culture as well.
A meal at a restaurant serving local cuisine costs around 345-520 NIO for a three-course meal with a drink.
The touristy towns and on the coast have more international cuisine options. Expect to pay 800-1,200 NIO for a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant. A large pizza costs around 270-350 NIO. For fast food (think McDonald’s), expect to pay around 210 NIO for a meal.
A domestic beer or latte/cappuccino costs around 30-90 NIO.
If you’re buying a week’s worth of groceries, expect to pay between 1,100-1,300 NIO for basic staples like rice, beans, seasonal produce, and some meat or fish.
Backpacking Nicaragua Suggested Budgets
On a backpacking budget of 1,100 NIO per day, you can stay in a hostel dorm, use public transportation and chicken buses to get around, limit your drinking, cook all of your meals, and enjoy free and cheap activities like free walking tours and lounging on the beach.
On a mid-range budget of 2,800 NIO per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb or hostel room, eat out for most meals, enjoy a few drinks, take the occasional taxi or coach between cities, and do more paid activities like diving or guided day hikes.
On a “luxury” budget of 8,200 NIO per day or more, you can stay in a hotel, eat out anywhere you want, drink as much as you’d like take domestic flights to get around, and do whatever tours and activities you want. This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!
You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in NIO.
Nicaragua Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
Nicaragua is one of the cheaper countries in the region but prices are rising quickly as it becomes more of the “it spot” to retire and work remotely from. Here are some of the best ways to save money during your trip:
- Take the chicken bus – Chicken buses (crowded local buses that make multiple stops) are the cheapest way to travel. You can save big time if you’re willing to trade A/C and cushioned seating to travel on a decommissioned school bus for a few hours. For example, the 3.5-hour trip from Granada to Rivas costs just 70 NIO!
- Refill your water bottle – The tap water here is not safe to drink so make sure you have a reusable bottle with you. To stay safe, bring a water filter like LifeStraw to ensure your water is clean and safe!
- Use the right currency – Pay with US dollars in bigger cities and save your córdobas for purchases at small businesses in rural areas and villages since they won’t have change for larger USD bills.
- Bring cash – Cards are accepted in major establishments and big cities. However, electricity can be fickle on the coast so it’s best to carry plenty of cash in case you’re caught out in a blackout.
- Learn some Spanish – Inflated tourist prices are common here. To avoid getting overcharged, learn some Spanish. Even just a few words and phrases can help you avoid being overcharged.
- Travel during the shoulder season – Prices are highest during the dry months (December-April). To avoid the crowds and save money, travel during the rainy season or shoulder season. You might get rained on, however, accommodation and activities are cheaper.
- Choose less-traveled routes – Prices for activities and accommodation plummet when you leave the tourist triangle (Granada, León, and San Juan del Sur). Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America so don’t be afraid to think outside the box and venture off the beaten path.
- Share private taxis – If you’re traveling in a small group, a taxi can often work out cheaper and more time-efficient than a bus or shuttle. Negotiate the price beforehand and ask your hostel for the normal rates so you have a reference.
Where to Stay in Nicaragua
If you’re looking for places to stay during your visit, here are some of my favorites:
- Hola Ola Hostel (San Juan del Sur)
- Viavia Leon (León)
- De Boca en Boca (Granada)
- Managua Backpackers Inn (Managua)
How to Get Around Nicaragua
Bus – Chicken buses (i.e. converted school buses) are the cheapest way to get around. They are slow and stop often but have dirt cheap prices (around 35 NIO per hour of travel).
If you’re looking for a more comfortable journey, book with a coach company or private mini-shuttle, the latter of which are air-conditioned with cushioned seating and have storage room for your luggage.
For private mini-shuttles, expect to pay between 880-1,750 NIO per trip, however, you can try and buddy up with other hostel guests to drive down the price since it’s a private booking.
Most of the large cities have public transportation with local bus tickets costing under 6 NIO.
Air – La Costeña, Nicaragua’s domestic carrier, is based out of Managua and serves most of the country. Even if you’re keeping spending to a minimum, you have to take a flight if you want to visit the Corn Islands. Return tickets from Managua to the Corn Islands cost 5,700 NIO. For the 2.5-hour flight from Managua to Bluefields, expect to pay at least 4,500 NIO.
Train – There are no trains in Nicaragua.
Car Rental – A 4WD is recommended if you’re planning to visit rural areas as the roads here can be rough. Prices start from around 1,400 NIO per day for a multi-day rental. You’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) and you’ll definitely want to have extra insurance too.
When to Go to Nicaragua
There are two distinct seasons in Nicaragua: the dry season, which falls between November-April, and the green (rainy) season which is from May-October.
To avoid the crowds and peak prices, visit during the rainy season. The rainier months also offer ideal surfing conditions and deserted beaches to enjoy the waves. Just keep in mind the Caribbean coast sees more rain than the Pacific. Expect daily highs around 30°C (86°F).
The San Sebastian festival in Diriamba runs between January 17th-27th and is an amazing way to celebrate a local fiesta, with colorful parades, traditional music, and street-side buffets filling up every corner.
Easter (Semana Santa) is when you can find most locals hitting the mountains or beaches with family and friends. Buses and hotels, particularly on the coast, fill up fast so be sure to book in advance if you’re visiting during this time. Note that cities are much quieter during this period and many local businesses adapt their opening times/hours and events to celebrate the religious holiday.
How to Stay Safe in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America, though petty theft and robberies are still relatively common. For that reason, keep your belongings secure and out of sight at all times — especially on crowded public transportation.
Solo female travelers should feel safe here when out during the day, however, they will want to avoid traveling alone after dark. Additionally, the usually standard precautions apply here as well (always keeping an eye on your drink at the bar, never walking home alone intoxicated, etc.).
If you rent a car, don’t leave any valuables in it overnight, and make sure to have suitable insurance just in case as break-ins can occur.
Scams are rare here, but they do happen. Be wary of random strangers asking for medicine or other financial assistance. Just politely decline and be on your way. You can read about common scams to avoid here .
Inflated tourist prices are common in Nicaragua. To avoid getting overcharged, learn some Spanish. Even just a few words and phrases can help you avoid being overcharged
Many people come to Nicaragua to party as drugs and alcohol are both cheap and abundant. However, the fines and penalties for drug use are steep. Police often expect bribes that can cost of hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars. Police won’t hesitate to strip search you if they suspect narcotics so avoid using drugs here to stay safe.
Moreover, the drug trade contributes to deaths, instability, and unrest in the region. Don’t contribute to that.
Protests and clashes in the major cities aren’t uncommon. Should a protest occur during your visit, avoid the area and return to your accommodation. While you’re unlikely to be hurt, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
As always, keep your wits about you at night time, particularly in the capital. Ask your hotel to call you a taxi in Managua (always negotiate the price before getting in the car), which can be an intimidating spot for travelers due to the lack of road names, tourists, and landmarks.
If you experience an emergency, dial 118 for assistance.
Always trust your gut instinct. Avoid isolated areas at night, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID, before you leave on your trip.
If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it in Nicaragua!
The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.
Nicaragua Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
Nicaragua Travel Guide: Related Articles
Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Central America and continue planning your trip:
Do You Need Travel Insurance for Costa Rica?
The Best Tour Companies in Costa Rica
The 6 Best Hostels in Panama City, Panama
Is Belize Safe to Visit?
Is Central America Safe to Visit?
How to Get Around Central America on a Budget
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Nicaragua Tours & Vacations
Central America’s largest, but least densely populated, country overflows with natural beauty.
It can be hard to choose between chatting with monkeys, climbing volcanoes or picking a banana straight from the tree but on our Nicaragua tours, you can do it all. Not only will you be treated to an unforgettable Central American adventure few have experienced before, but the locals are incredibly welcoming and you'll soon feel right at home among the palm trees with your newly found friends by your side.
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Nicaragua at a glance
Managua (1.05 million)
(GMT-06:00) Central America
Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
Learn more about Nicaragua
Best time to visit nicaragua.
There are three distinct regions in Nicaragua: the Pacific coastal area, the north central mountains and the Caribbean lowlands, also know as the Mosquito Coast. Temperatures and rainfall vary depending on the region. Typically, the dry season is from December to May. Between June and October, the countryside is lush and fresh but humid. March and April are the hottest months, even in the north central mountain area. The Mosquito Coast experiences heavy rainfall even in the dry season.
Geography and environment
Central America’s largest country is blessed with one of the most pristine and varied landscapes in the region. Most famous are its perfect coastlines (both Caribbean and Pacific) and Lake Nicaragua with its 310 islands. There are jungles, volcanoes and beaches to explore and with Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, Nicaragua is in good company.
Top 5 island experiences in Nicaragua
1. beach bliss.
Lying back on a perfect sandy beach is, quite literally, the least you could do while in paradise. For slightly more strenuous activities, take a dive into the Caribbean, Pacific or Lake Nicaraguan waters; or get to know the fishermen as they haul in their daily catch.
2. Get fruity
Head inland to taste the real treats of Ometepe’s volcanic soil. Wander through watermelon crops, pick bananas off the tree, inhale the smell of citrus and gaze over miles of coffee plantations.
3. Climb a volcano
If those steamy peaks have you hankering after toasted marshmallows, pack your sense of adventure and head uphill. Volcano Maderas reaches 1340m and a climb up here is certainly not for the faint hearted.
4. Monkey around
Go on safari, island-style, and spot howler monkeys, colourful parrots and diverse plant life.
5. Go petroglyph-ing
The call of Lake Nicaragua’s islands have been attracting people for centuries. Discover cultural artefacts strewn across the islands and try to decipher the petroglyphs’ meaning.
Nicaragua travel faqs, do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join an intrepid trip.
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
Do I need a visa to travel to Nicaragua
NICARAGUA: Australia: Not required Belgium: Not required Canada: Not required Germany: Not required Ireland: Not required Netherlands: Not required New Zealand: Not required South Africa: Not required Switzerland: Not required United Kingdom: Not required USA: Not required
Please note that although a visa is not required, holders of British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and most EU passports are now required to pay US$10 for a tourist card on arrival.
Is tipping customary in Nicaragua?
Tipping isn’t expected in Nicaragua but if you’ve received good service consider a 10% tip. Some high-end restaurants may include a service charge on your bill.
What is the internet access like in Nicaragua?
There are plenty of internet cafes available in the main towns.
Can I use my cell phone while in Nicaragua?
Reception is good in most coastal and urban areas. However, ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone without paying further expenses.
What are the toilets like in Nicaragua?
It's likely that you’ll encounter different types of toilets while traveling in Nicaragua. Western-style flushable toilets are commonly found in high-end resorts, hotels and restaurants, while squat toilets are common in rural areas and homes. Be prepared by carrying your own supply of toilet paper and soap, as these aren't always provided.
What will it cost for a...?
Bottle of soft drink = 20 NIO Beer in a bar or restaurant = 25 NIO Simple lunch = 75 NIO Three-course meal = 150 NIO Short taxi ride = 50 NIO
Can I drink the water in Nicaragua?
Drinking tap water in Nicaragua isn’t recommended. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Are credit cards accepted widely in Nicaragua?
Credit cards are widely accepted.
What is ATM access like in Nicaragua?
There’s good access to ATMs in nearly all towns and cities.
What public holidays are celebrated in Nicaragua ?
- 1 Jan New Year's Day
- Holy Thursday*
- Good Friday*
- 19 Jul Liberation Day
- 14 Sep Battle of San Jacinto
- 15 Sep Independence Day
- 8 Dec Immaculate Conception
- 25 Dec Christmas Day
How do I stay safe and healthy while traveling?
Go to: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
Go to: https://travel.gc.ca/
From the UK?
Go to: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
From New Zealand?
Go to: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/
From the US?
Go to: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html
The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information.
Do I need to purchase travel insurance before traveling?
Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Does my trip support The Intrepid Foundation?
Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveler. Trips to this country directly support our global Intrepid Foundation partner, Eden Reforestation Projects.
Eden Reforestation Projects
Eden Reforestation Projects are helping to mitigate climate change by restoring forests worldwide; they also hire locally and create job opportunities within vulnerable communities. Donations from our trips support restoration across planting sites in 10 countries around the globe.
Caution November 6, 2023
Worldwide caution, update november 6, 2023, information for u.s. citizens in the middle east.
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Travel Advisory July 17, 2023
Nicaragua - level 3: reconsider travel.
Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.
Reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to limited healthcare availability and arbitrary enforcement of laws . Exercise increased caution in Nicaragua due to crime, and wrongful detentions .
Country Summary : The government of Nicaragua arbitrarily enforces laws for political purposes. Throughout Nicaragua, government officials and law enforcement continue to target those opposed to the rule of President Ortega. The government and its affiliated groups have been reported to:
- Systematically target opposition figures (regardless of nationality), including former allies, political activists, business representatives, clergy, human rights advocates, and members of the press.
- Arbitrarily target pro-democracy advocates.
- Prevent certain individuals from departing Nicaragua by air or land for political reasons.
- Arbitrarily seize and/or search private property including personal phones and computers for anti-government content.
- Arbitrarily charge individuals with terrorism, money laundering, and organized crime offenses for political reasons.
U.S. citizens have reported being subject to this treatment. U.S. citizen residents of Nicaragua also report increased scrutiny of alleged political speech and additional scrutiny by immigration officials.
The Department has determined the risk of wrongful detention of U.S. nationals by the Government of Nicaragua exists.
Travelers should exercise increased caution and be alert to the risks of crime, including violent crimes such as sexual assault and armed robbery.
Poor infrastructure in parts of the country limits the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in emergencies. U.S. government personnel may be subject to restrictions on their movements at any time.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Nicaragua.
If you decide to travel to Nicaragua:
- Consider arrangements to depart the country quickly.
- Ensure your U.S. passport is valid and available for a quick departure from the country, if needed.
- Avoid demonstrations and restrict unnecessary travel.
- Do not attempt to drive through crowds, barricades, or roadblocks.
- Maintain adequate supplies of food, cash, potable water, and fuel in case you need to shelter in place.
- Use caution when walking or driving at night.
- Keep a low profile.
- Do not display signs of wealth such as expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas .
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter .
- Review the Country Security Report for Nicaragua.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
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Length of stay.
One page per stamp.
No (90 days or fewer). Tourist card at airport. See Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements below.
Yellow fever (in some cases, see Entry Requirements section).
Must declare $10,000 USD or more in cash.
Embassies and Consulates
U.S. Embassy Managua
Km 5 ½ Carretera Sur Managua, Nicaragua Telephone: +(505) 2252-7100 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(505) 2252-7100 Fax: +(505) 2252-7250 Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
The Government of Nicaragua has denied entry to or expelled foreigners, including NGO workers, academics, and journalists, for political reasons, including perceived support of pro-democracy or human rights movements. Travelers attempting to leave the country have been arrested or denied permission to travel for political reasons. The Nicaraguan government has revoked residency status for foreign nationals for political actions or expressions. Immigration authorities regularly review social media for evidence of political expression or activity and warn foreign nationals against such activities.
- For visitors other than tourists , the Government of Nicaragua recommends that you pre-register your trip by following the instructions available on the Nicaraguan immigration website (in Spanish only). See our website for additional information.
- All travelers should have an onward or return ticket and evidence of funds to support yourself while in Nicaragua. You must carry a valid identity document at all times, such as a U.S. driver’s license or U.S. passport.
- You must purchase a tourist card for $10 USD at the airport (exact change recommended), valid for up to a total of 90 days in any of the member countries of the Central America-4 Border Control Agreement . Visitors remaining longer must obtain an extension from Nicaraguan immigration or be subject to large fines.
- Individuals traveling from countries at risk of yellow fever transmission must show proof of yellow fever vaccination administered at least 10 days before travel in order to be permitted entry to Nicaragua.
- If you use a passport of a different nationality than you did on prior trips to Nicaragua, Nicaraguan authorities may deny you entry. If you possess multiple nationalities, you should carry a valid passport for all of them. If you have Nicaraguan nationality, you should have both your U.S. and Nicaraguan passports with you.
- You must exit Nicaragua with the same passport used for entry . If your U.S. passport is lost or stolen while in Nicaragua, you will need to get a new entry stamp from Nicaraguan Immigration before you can depart. This cannot be done at the airport on departure.
- There is a $42 USD tax that must be paid upon exiting (this tax is normally included in the price of the plane ticket for air travelers).
- See the U.S. Embassy website for information regarding departure requirements for children under 18 who also are Nicaraguan citizens .
Advanced Coordination Required for Volunteer Groups: Please note that the Government of Nicaragua has forced the closure of more than 1,000 NGOs and charitable organizations. Groups engaged in these types of activities, including the apolitical provision of basic services, may be denied entry. You should email both the Embassy of Nicaragua in the United States ( [email protected] ) and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs ( [email protected] ) to inform them of your trip and secure advance permission if you are leading one of the following types of trips, even if your group has worked in Nicaragua previously or has a local office:
- Volunteer mission;
- Charitable or medical brigade (the latter also need permission from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health); or
- Assistance visit organized by NGOs, religious groups, schools, or any other group doing this type of work in Nicaragua.
For the latest visa and entry requirements, visit the Nicaraguan immigration website (Spanish only).
HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors or foreign residents in Nicaragua.
Dual Nationality and International Parental Child Abduction : Find information on dual nationality , prevention of international child abduction , and customs regulations on our websites.
COVID-19 Information: As of July 21, 2023, the Nicaraguan government lifted all COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Travelers arriving in Nicaragua do not need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.
Safety and Security
- The Government of Nicaragua is authoritarian, limits freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, represses internal dissent, and monitors and responds to perceived threats to its authority. Nicaragua’s Sovereign Security Law and its Terrorism and Money Laundering law allow for discretionary interpretation of vaguely defined unlawful activities that threaten the peace and economic stability of Nicaragua. Convictions under these laws are largely arbitrary and result in long prison sentences.
- Nicaraguan authorities and armed civilians in plain clothes known as “para police” may monitor, detain, deny entry to, expel, or question private U.S. citizens concerning their activities, including their contact with Nicaraguan citizens. Visitors should avoid any commentary on Nicaraguan politics or governance.
- The legal process can result in prolonged detentions of U.S. citizens. Especially in politically motivated arrests, the judicial process is neither fair nor transparent.
- Demonstrations or strikes may occur throughout the country; in the past, the Nicaraguan government has violently suppressed them. Avoid demonstrations and exercise extreme caution around large gatherings.
- Semana Santa (the week before Easter);
- Repliegue Historico a Masaya (early July);
- July 19 celebration of the Sandinista Revolution;
- Celebration in Managua of Santo Domingo, the Patron Saint of the city (August 1st and August 10th);
- Day of the Nicaraguan Army (September 2);
- Nicaraguan Independence Day (September 14 and 15); and
- Immaculate Conception (December 8).
- Crime: Vehicle burglaries, pick-pocketing, and occasional armed robberies occur in store parking lots, on public transportation, and in open-air markets like the Oriental and Huembes Markets in Managua. Petty street crime is common. Police presence is extremely limited outside of major urban areas. The Caribbean Coast’s geographical isolation further limits the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens living in or visiting the area.
- Uniformed police and para-police commit violence and intimidate civilians throughout the country for political reasons.
- U.S. citizens have been sexually assaulted in beach resort areas.
- There are no forensic doctors on the Corn Islands , so victims of violent crimes, including sexual assault, must travel to Bluefields at their own expense for medical examinations and collection of evidence. In several recent cases, police were reluctant to produce police reports or pursue charges . Please report such incidents to the Embassy.
- Medical services outside Managua are limited, including for victims of crime.
- Exercise extreme caution when renting or driving vehicles. In one common scam, “Good Samaritans” pull over to help change a flat tire. While the driver is distracted, an accomplice steals the driver’s possessions.
- Due to crime and other illicit activity, U.S. government personnel are prohibited from entering Managua’s Oriental Market and gentlemen’s clubs throughout the country.
- International Financial Scams: See the Department of State and the FBI page for information.
- Victims of Crime: Report crimes, including sexual assault, to the local police at 118 (Nicaraguan equivalent of “911,” in Spanish). Report serious crimes to the U.S. Embassy at 2252-7100 immediately and minor crimes during business hours.
- Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
- See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .
- The Embassy can:
- Help you find appropriate medical care.
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police.
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent.
- Provide a list of local attorneys.
- Share information on victim’s compensation programs in the United States .
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or, limited financial support in cases of destitution.
- Help you find accommodation and flights home.
- Replace a stolen or lost passport.
- Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the Embassy for assistance.
- Coastal Disputes: Be aware of the following border disputes:
- Nicaragua and Colombia have an ongoing dispute over waters surrounding the San Andres Islands.
- The Nicaraguan Navy has challenged vessels passing through its exclusive economic zone.
- Nicaragua and Costa Rica have stationed security forces at Harbor Head (also called Isla Calero) at the eastern end of the San Juan River.
- Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador have maritime and land disputes over islands and access to fishing rights in the Gulf of Fonseca on the Pacific Coast, a closed sea under international law.
- Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities are uncommon. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in major cities. In the event of a diving injury, the only hyperbaric chamber is in Puerto Cabezas, over 100 miles from Corn Island where most tourists dive. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Nicaragua are severe, even for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs.
- Even with a prescription, marijuana is illegal in Nicaragua.
There are severe penalties, including imprisonment, for domestic violence, psychological abuse, and non-payment of child support.
Arrest Notification: Nicaraguan authorities may not notify the Embassy when a U.S. citizen has been detained, especially if the arrestee has dual nationality. If you are detained, ask police or prison officials and friends or family to notify the U.S. Embassy. After the Embassy learns of an arrest, it may be several days or weeks before the Government of Nicaragua permits a consular official to visit. In the case of dual U.S.-Nicaraguan nationals, the U.S. Embassy may be denied consular access. See our webpage for further information.
- The judiciary does not enjoy independence from political influence. The legal system operates arbitrarily, which can result in prolonged detentions of U.S. citizens without charges or due process, often for political reasons.
- Authorities have ignored or significantly delayed implementing judicial orders to release, deport, expel, or transfer prisoners.
Purchasing Property: Exercise extreme caution before investing in property. Armed individuals have taken over privately owned land. U.S. citizens have been arrested or threatened over property disputes. See our website for more information.
Beach Safety: Exercise caution at the beach. U.S. citizens have drowned at Nicaraguan beaches, lagoons, and lakes. Warning signs are not posted. Lifeguards and rescue equipment are not normally available. Hiking in volcanic or remote areas is dangerous. Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Carry sufficient food, water, and communication equipment. If you travel to remote areas, hire a reputable local guide. Nicaraguan law requires tourists hire a local guide for several volcanoes, including the two volcanoes on Ometepe Island (Maderas and Concepcion).
Disaster Preparedness: Nicaragua is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. If you are at a coastal area when an earthquake occurs, move swiftly to higher ground (when safe to do so) to avoid possible tsunamis.
- In the event of an earthquake, volcanic eruption, or other natural disaster, U.S. citizens should pay close attention to local media reports. Follow the guidance of local authorities and monitor the websites of the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies ( INETER ) and the Nicaraguan Emergency Alert System ( SINAPRED ). Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important emergency information.
- See the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website for information about disaster preparedness.
Customs Regulations: U.S. citizens planning to import items should contract a recognized local customs broker for assistance well in advance of their visit. The Embassy is unable to assist with the customs or import process.
- Nicaraguan customs officials routinely delay or block import of goods, including items intended for donation.
- If you are planning to bring vehicles or household goods, consult Nicaraguan customs officials prior to shipment.
- When entering with your vehicle, you must have the original registration and title.
- Drones and similar devices are not permitted and will be confiscated by Customs authorities.
- Approval from the Ministry of Health’s Pharmacy Department is required to import large quantities of medicine, even for charitable purposes.
- Before excavating archaeological materials or buying historical artifacts, you must consult with the National Patrimony Directorate of the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture . Otherwise, severe criminal penalties may apply.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report
- Human Rights Report
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Nicaragua. While violence against LGBTI travelers is uncommon, widespread discrimination exists. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and the Department of State's Human Rights report for further details .
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): The government of Nicaragua recently forced the closure of more than 1,000 NGOs and charitable organizations. Employees of NGOs and volunteers supporting NGOs may be denied entry. Please see “Advanced Coordination Required for Volunteer Groups” above.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: There is limited or no accessibility assistance for public transportation and in many public areas. There are few sidewalks and pedestrian road crossings.
While Nicaraguan law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities, in practice such discrimination is widespread in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of state services.
Students: See our Students Abroad page.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers .
COVID-19 Testing Information:
- PCR tests are available only through the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health. The government of Nicaragua prohibits the import of COVID-19 tests. The Embassy has received reports of tests being confiscated from U.S. citizen travelers upon arrival in Nicaragua.
- All testing in Nicaragua is carried out at the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference (CNDR) and the Nicaraguan Institute for Health Investigation (INIS) from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Test results are returned the same day between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. and can usually be downloaded after 4:00 pm.
- Travelers wishing to be tested must present an identification card (cedula) or passport and their flight itinerary. The $150 fee must be deposited in either Banpro account 10010012253774 (U.S. dollars) or 10010002253784 (cordobas), both registered under TGR-MINSA. Cash payments can be made at Conchita Palacios National Health Complex or at the INIS cashier.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information:
- Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, Covishield, and Pfizer Vaccines are available in Nicaragua for U.S. citizens to receive. Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.
Covid-19 Medical Evacuation:
- Click here for a list of private companies offering medical evacuation of COVID-19 patients from Nicaragua to the United States. U.S. citizens seeking information about medical evacuation of COVID-19 patients should contact these private companies directly.
- Health Ministry website
- The health ministry has created a 24/7 hotline to call regarding COVID-19 in Nicaragua. To reach the hotline, call +505-8418-9953.
- Managua Airport website with airline contact information.
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Main roads between major cities are generally paved and in good condition. Other roads may have potholes, be poorly lit, be narrow, and lack shoulders. Speed bumps are often poorly marked. During the rainy season, roads may become flooded or have additional damage. Horse carts, livestock, and pedestrians crossing roads in front of oncoming traffic are common, even on major roads in the main cities. Most roads on the Caribbean Coast are unpaved. Road signs throughout the country are limited or non-existent. Road travel after dark is hazardous in all areas. Carry a cellphone in case of emergency. Do not drive outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic Laws: If you are involved in a traffic accident, you must wait for the police and insurance company representatives to arrive before you move your vehicle. However, especially during overnight hours, police and insurance companies may not respond. Do not move your vehicle, unless a police officer tells you to do so, or you will be legally liable for the accident.
Nicaraguan law requires that police take a driver into custody for:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (the legal limit is 0.05% blood alcohol content); or
- For being involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death.
The minimum detention period is 48 hours. In fatal accidents, drivers are held until they reach a legal settlement with the victim’s family.
To avoid liability, consider hiring a professional driver through a reputable hotel.
All drivers must carry:
- Driver’s license;
- Proof of insurance;
- Vehicle registration;
- Emergency triangle;
- Fire extinguisher; and
- Inspection and registration stickers
These regulations also apply to drivers in rental vehicles. Penalties for not having any of the above include fines and towing. For more information, check with the Nicaraguan National Police or the Embassy of Nicaragua.
Traffic Stops: Transit police often stop those in rental cars and with foreign license plates.
- If transit police demand a bribe in lieu of a fine, request a receipt and the officer’s name and badge number.
- To report mistreatment by police, email a complaint to Nicaragua’s National Police and forward a copy to the U.S. Consular Section in Managua .
- If you receive a traffic violation, police will confiscate your driver’s license until you pay the fine at a bank. Depending on your length of stay, you may not be able to recover your license in a timely manner.
Public Transportation: Buses, moto-taxis, and ferries often lack proper safety equipment.
- U.S. government personnel are not permitted to use public buses and most taxis (including moto-taxis) due to safety and crime concerns.
- Use only licensed taxis recommended by airport authorities, major hotels, restaurants, or other trusted sources.
- Exercise caution in the face of possibly overloaded or unsafe ferries and boats. Check with local naval or police authorities about the safety of being on the water in local weather conditions. Most vessels provide insufficient numbers of life vests and other safety equipment.
Airports in remote locales often have short airstrips, minimal safety equipment, and little boarding security.
See our Road Safety page for more information and the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism and National Transit Authority .
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) assessed the government of Nicaragua’s Civil Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Nicaragua’s air carrier operations in 2015. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page .
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Nicaragua should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories .
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook .
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in Nicaragua . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.
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This Central American Country Is Home to Beautiful Beaches, Epic Surf, and a Rich Cultural History
How to plan the perfect Nicaragua vacation — boutique hotels, stellar surfing spots, and delicious food included.
Jade Moyano is a Brazilian-born travel writer and editorial director who speaks four languages. Her work has appeared in Monocle, Uproxx, GQ, Travel + Leisure , and other publications.
Nicaragua is a postcard-worthy destination that harkens back to simpler travel times.
Lined with emerald-green coasts dotted with old-school fishing villages, it's a place where you can surf nearly empty lineups as if you were still in the '70s.
I've sailed around its Pacific coast in a catamaran, stopping at deserted islands to watch dolphins frolic by. I've danced salsa in a corner bar in Granada, one of the oldest colonial cities in Latin America. I've ridden motorcycles through dense jungle trails in Popoyo, had gallo pinto on the side of the Pan-American Highway, and made friends that will last a lifetime. But these experiences barely scratch the surface of why Nicaragua is one of my favorite destinations.
For starters, Nicaragua is not for everyone. It's rugged and traditional, with a bit of edge and a bloody past . But it's also home to a rich cultural heritage and friendly locals who go out of their way to get you the most delicious seafood, help you catch a wave, or show you the way around the backroads.
I first went to Nicaragua in 2015, when the country was experiencing somewhat of a golden age. A combination of affordability, an under-the-radar reputation, and the rise of surf tourism made towns such as San Juan del Sur popular. This lasted for about three short years. It was a time when things were fairly peaceful, the economy was growing, and tourism was booming. Since then, due to civil unrest and the pandemic, it has become less common to see positive headlines about the nation, but what keeps people coming back to Nicaragua — stunning nature, pristine beaches, and lively culture — is still intact.
Nicaragua is set between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Upon landing in the capital city of Managua, most people flock to the Pacific, where the surf is some of the most consistent in all of Central America and the cities of Leon and Granada offer deep cultural insight into this beach destination . Yet, it's on the Caribbean coast where you'll find the most untouched lands. In this area, expect to find Indigenous, Creole, and British influences in the fishing communities that live among the mangrove-filled jungle.
Best Time to Go to Nicaragua
While many tropical countries around the world count on an extremely dry and rainy season, Nicaragua has a milder version of both. The dry season here runs from November through May, though it's not as barren as its neighbor Costa Rica . Meanwhile, the rainy season, which spans April through October, brings torrential downpours (especially in October), but note that it's rare for it to rain all day every day.
The one thing that's rather consistent in Nicaragua is the temperature. According to Weather Spark , "The temperature in Managua varies so little throughout the year that it is not entirely meaningful to discuss hot and cold seasons."
One more forecast you may be interested in is the surf. According to Giant's Foot Surf , for waist- to head-high swells, visit Nicaragua between March and September. But if you're looking for larger waves, you may need to come in the middle of the rainy season — between May to August — which Giant's Foot Surf calls the nation's "prime time."
Best Things to Do in Nicaragua
No trip to Nicaragua is complete without a deep dive into the world of surf, sun, and sandboarding .
The Pacific coast of Nicaragua is lined with beaches for all surf levels. Some must-see spots include Playa Maderas, Popoyo, El Tránsito, Playa Colorado, and Playa Hermosa, and it's possible to experience all of these during a weeklong trip.
El Tránsito is a short, 90-minute drive from the Managua airport. In El Tránsito, you'll find yourself immersed in a tight-knit community of locals and about some expat families. Stay at Mandla , a boutique hotel designed by a couple from England and South Africa. Make sure to eat every item on their menu, especially the fresh oysters.
Further south, you can stop at Popoyo, where consistent offshore winds and epic waves make it one of the best places to surf in all of Central America. Malibu Popoyo , a 12-room resort tailor-made for surfing families, is perfectly perched across from the beach, and stays here come with a great surf coach and tour guide.
Next, head down to Playa Maderas for a more mellow, family-friendly beach experience ideal for beginners. If surfing is not your thing, don't worry, as these beaches also flourish with local life, seafood restaurants, and occasional live music.
Want to see more land, but don't want to forgo surfing? Volcano boarding is your best bet. Yes, we are talking about sliding down Cerro Negro after hiking to the summit at 2,300 feet. The trek is challenging, but the ride back is unforgettable. All you have to do is hold a string attached to a wooden plank and slide down to the bottom at an average speed of 50 mph.
Lastly, visit Ometepe , an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua. To arrive, hop aboard one of the wooden transport boats that may also be carrying anything from chickens to motorcycles. On Ometepe, you can choose to trek up the volcanic peaks, swim in natural pools, get lost on nature trails, or taste coffee right next to the field in which the beans are grown.
Best Hotels in Nicaragua
Anyone who lands in Managua also has the option to drive north or south, to choose between more populated areas or seclusion. But regardless of the direction, Nicaragua is full of small boutique hotels from renowned designers and hoteliers who flocked to the country in search of a more laid-back lifestyle.
For a design-forward property, check into the Tribal Hotel in Granada. Aside from its location on a colorful street, the New Yorkers who own the hotel traveled the world seeking unique pieces that complement the artisanship of local craftsmen. From Copacabana pool tiles to Indonesian batik fabrics, Tribal feels like a slice of the world on an unassuming corner in the bustling colonial city.
For those wanting to surf exclusive Playa Colorado, located within a gated community near Popoyo, Aurea is your best bet for guaranteed access to the world-class waves. The brutalist-inspired guest house, which was dreamed up by a group of Venezuelans, feels less like a hotel and more like a home within a community of expats and well-to-do Nicaraguans.
For something more accessible, book a stay at the aforementioned Malibu Popoyo , a 12-room boutique hotel owned by a female surfer and entrepreneur who fell in love with the area during a surf trip. Perfect for families in search of adventure and comfort, as well as surfers and creative types, the property is located a few steps from the beach and boasts an on-site organic restaurant.
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- Corn Island
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Nicaragua travel guide
Fabled land of lakes and volcanoes, Nicaragua also lays claim to vibrant colonial cities, deserted beaches and wildlife-rich rainforests. Its vibrancy is all-encompassing, and the hospitality of its people is renowned throughout the Americas. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is also one of the safest and cheapest countries that constitute the ‘gringo trail'. That visitor numbers to this sun-drenched sanctuary are only increasing should come as no surprise.
What Nicaragua lacks in standout cultural attractions it compensates for with natural beauty. Its reefs and rainforests are hotbeds of biodiversity and teem with jaguars, monkeys and myriad bird species (though how this idyll will look after the Nicaragua Grand Canal has been built remains to be seen).
The country’s wild landscapes are fertile ground for thrill-seekers. Visitors can go hiking, biking, kayaking and swimming in the country’s iconic crater lakes. Whether you want to ride some of the world’s best waves, speed along zip-lines above the jungle or scuba dive along shelves of iridescent coral, Nicaragua has it all. Sound too much like hard work? Then kick back on the twin peaks of Ometepe Island, overlooking the shimmering Lake Nicaragua, or catch a boat into the Indío Maiz Biological Reserve, the largest area of virgin rainforest north of the Amazon.
Those hankering for the city life should head to León or Granada, two of Central America’s prettiest colonial cities. Both are hubs for travellers and represent gateways to nearby attractions. From León, you can climb the Maribios volcanic chain, go ‘volcano-boarding’ down the slopes of the still-rumbling Cerro Negro or pick coffee beans in the temperate northern highlands. Granada, meanwhile, is the ideal base to explore Masaya’s volcanic park, in particular, Volcano Acatenango, or zip-line over Mombacho’s cloud forest and take a cooling swim in Laguna de Apoyo.
For surfers, head to San Juan del Sur in search of the perfect wave, then spend your evenings dancing the night away in the city - made famous for its nightlife and the renowned ‘Sunday Funday’ festival. Others can abscond to the Corn Islands, an archipelago that offers everything you'd expect from the Caribbean, minus the sky-high prices. So grab a beer and join the party – it’s only just begun.
130,373 sq km (50,337 sq miles).
6,285,000 (UN estimate 2018).
52.2 per sq km. (UN estimate 2018)
President Daniel Ortega since 2007.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice .
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and see support for British nationals abroad for information about specific travel topics.
Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance . Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Nicaragua set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Nicaraguan Embassy in the UK .
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Nicaragua.
Passport validity requirements
To enter Nicaragua, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 6 months after the date you arrive.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
British nationals can visit Nicaragua for up to 90 days without a visa. You may be refused entry if you do not have an onward ticket.
Check with your travel company or nearest Nicaraguan embassy what the policy is for entry at the Nicaraguan border.
Travelling to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras
Under the Central America Border Control Agreement (also known as CA-4), you can travel between Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras for up to 90 days without a visa.
The 90-day period starts when you enter any of these countries and does not restart when you cross borders. You’ll have to go through immigration checks at borders. If you’re expelled from one of these countries, you’re also excluded from the other 3.
In Nicaragua, you can extend your stay by up to 30 days by paying a fee before the 90 days expires. If you overstay, you may get a fine.
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Nicaragua guide .
Depending on your circumstances, these may include a yellow fever certificate.
Travelling with children with Nicaraguan nationality
Children with single or dual Nicaraguan nationality may need certain documents to leave Nicaragua with one parent or a third party. Check with the Nicaraguan migration authorities (in Spanish).
There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Nicaragua. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. Contact the Nicaraguan Embassy in the UK for more information.
There is a ban on electronic smoking devices such as e-cigarettes in Nicaragua. You cannot import, export, sell, store or use these devices, with or without nicotine. Customs officials can confiscate these products at the border.
Taking money into Nicaragua
The US dollar, either in cash or travellers cheques, is the only foreign currency freely exchangeable in Nicaragua. Banks do not exchange British pounds.
Arrival and departure tax
You must pay an arrival tax of 10 US dollars in cash. There is also a departure tax of 35 US dollars, which is normally included in the price of your air ticket.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad .
Terrorism in Nicaragua
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in Nicaragua, attacks cannot be ruled out.
Demonstrations and gatherings can turn violent. It is illegal for foreigners to take part in any sort of political activity in Nicaragua. You can be arrested and detained or deported for:
- taking part in a protest
- breach of the peace
- any activity seen as acting against the government, including political meetings and campaigns
- using Nicaragua’s national flag or colours (blue and white) for campaigning or protesting
Demonstrations can also lead to travel disruption. Check local information before travelling.
Foreigners have been affected by violent crime in Nicaragua. Criminals often carry out attacks on people in vehicles. To reduce the risk to yourself and your belongings:
- keep the windows of your car closed and the doors locked
- avoid public transport after dark
Take care when walking around markets, bus stations, around the old cathedral in Managua and in the poorer areas of towns. Do not visit these areas after dark on foot.
If you are robbed, do not resist, as many criminals carry weapons. If you report the incident to the police, get a signed and stamped copy of the police report.
There is no British Embassy in Nicaragua so we cannot give in-person consular assistance. If your passport is stolen, contact the British Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica on +506 2258 2025.
Taxi safety and ‘express kidnapping’
There is a risk of ‘express kidnapping’ if you use an unauthorised taxi. You could be taken hostage and forced to pay cash for your release.
Reduce the risk by:
- using a radio-dispatched taxi or an authorised taxi with red plates
- making sure the driver’s ID number, name and photograph are clearly visible on the dashboard
- making a note of the colour and number of the vehicle before you get in
It is a common local practice to share taxis with strangers, but tourists have been robbed when taking taxis called by strangers. Do not take a taxi if it has been called for you by someone you do not know well. You should also avoid using ‘colectivos’ (minibuses).
If you’re a woman, use hotels that have staff at the front desk 24 hours a day and have adequate security measures. Read the advice for women travelling abroad .
Risks when exchanging money
There is a risk when exchanging money on the street that you could be assaulted or targeted by muggers. There are often money changers with official identification at the front of banks, where there is likely to be better security. You can also withdraw cash in US dollars or Nicaraguan cordobas from ATMs.
Laws and cultural differences
Illegal drugs and prison sentences.
Do not become involved with drugs of any kind. Possession of even small quantities can lead to imprisonment.
There are strict restrictions on the use of drones. Do not use drones for photography or any other reason, unless you have written permission from the Nicaraguan authorities.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
There are strong currents off sections of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast and people have drowned. There are no warning signs or lifeguards, and rescue equipment is not readily available.
There have been fatalities from scuba diving off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. If you want to dive, contact a reputable diving company to find out about Nicaraguan waters. Nicaragua’s only hyperbaric chamber is in Puerto Cabezas, a 5-hour speedboat ride from Corn Island.
If you’re planning to drive a car, see information on driving abroad . You cannot drive or import right-hand-drive vehicles into Nicaragua.
You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Nicaragua. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence.
Driving standards and road conditions
The standard of driving is low and the condition of vehicles, particularly taxis and buses, is poor. There’s a risk of drivers failing to give way and driving dangerously, including under the influence of alcohol.
Road conditions are generally poor. There is no street lighting on the main highways between major cities and only minimal street lighting in towns. Avoid driving at night.
If you’re involved in a serious or fatal road traffic accident, you’re likely to be detained while it is investigated.
Boat and ferry travel
Although local law requires operators of water transport to have insurance, some still do not carry recognised insurance. Check the operator’s insurance cover before beginning your journey.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
See extreme weather and natural hazards for information about how to prepare, and how to react if there is a warning.
The hurricane season normally runs from June to November. Monitor the National Hurricane Center forecasts and the World Meteorological Organization warnings . Follow the advice of local authorities and obey evacuation orders.
A group of volcanoes, several of which are active, stretches the length of the country, in particular San Cristóbal, Masaya, Cerro Negro, and Telica and Concepción on Ometepe Island. Follow media reports and listen to local authorities if you intend to visit the area.
Do not hike on volcanoes without an experienced guide.
There is a risk of earthquakes. The US Federal Emergency Management Agency has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake or tsunami .
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on recommended vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Nicaragua guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro .
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad .
You cannot use British-issued prescriptions locally. To find a pharmacy (‘farmacia’), search online for the nearest big national chain, such as FarmaValue, Farmacia MEDCO, Farmacia Saba, Farmacia Kielsa, or Farmacia El Ahorro.
Healthcare facilities in Nicaragua
Public hospitals in Nicaragua are not well equipped, except for some hospitals in Managua. Emergency medical treatment is normally free in a public hospital but you will be charged for private health care. You may have difficulties without a good understanding of Spanish.
Private hospitals usually take payment for healthcare up front and in cash. A few private hospitals will accept major credit cards. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
FCDO has a list of medical providers in Nicaragua where some staff speak English .
There is also guidance on healthcare if you’re living in Nicaragua .
COVID-19 healthcare in Nicaragua
For information, see the Nicaraguan health authority website .
Travel and mental health
Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health . There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro .
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office ( FCDO ) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Nicaragua
Telephone: 911 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans , including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers , funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Nicaragua
- dealing with a death in Nicaragua
- being arrested or imprisoned in Nicaragua
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis , such as a terrorist attack
Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter , Facebook and Instagram . You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.
You can also contact FCDO online .
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are in Nicaragua and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in San José, Costa Rica who provide consular assistance for Nicaragua.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
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Nicaragua Tours and Trips 2023/2024
Nicaragua is a nation with a rich history and is home to the third largest city in Central America, Managua. After declaring independence in 1821, some US intervention, and a revolution in the 1960’s, this nation is finally finding its footing. With a mix of lowlands, mountains, and coastlines, there will never be a dull ...
- Nicaragua Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit Nicaragua
7 Trips in Nicaragua with 68 Reviews
- Starts Managua, Nicaragua
- Ends Managua, Nicaragua
Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
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- Tour Type Small Group Tour
- Activities Active and outdoor & Explorer Active and outdoor , Explorer & Cultural, religious and historic sites 'data-more-tripid='17327'>+1 more
- Accommodation Hotel & Lodge
- Transport Boat, Ferry, Bus & 4WD Jeep
- Age Range 16-95 yrs
- Operated in English
- Brochure Price: US$ 2,490
- Special Deal (10%): - US$ 260
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Chavala Experience Tour
- Free cancellation
- Trip customizable
- Tour Type Private Tour
- Activities Adventure & Sightseeing Tours Adventure , Sightseeing Tours , Cultural, religious and historic sites , Volcanoes & Beaches 'data-more-tripid='35055'>+3 more
- Accommodation Hotel
- Transport Bus
- Age Range 14-79 yrs
- Operated in English, Spanish
- Starts Antigua, Guatemala
- Ends Granada, Costa Rica
Guatemala & Beyond
- Activities Walking tours & Art and architecture
- Transport Bus, Private Vehicle & Taxi
- Age Range 15-99 yrs
- Brochure Price: US$ 1,360
- Special Deal (15%): - US$ 204
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- Starts Granada, Spain
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Cycle Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama
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Central American Journey
- Activities Cultural, religious and historic sites & Bird watching Cultural, religious and historic sites , Bird watching , Beaches , Volcanoes & City sightseeing 'data-more-tripid='3472'>+3 more
- Accommodation Hotel, Hut & Lodge
- Transport Boat, Bus, Private Vehicle, Ferry & Taxi
- Nov 16 Only 2 seats left
- Nov 30 Only 4 seats left
- Starts Granada, Nicaragua
Cycle Nicaragua to the Panama Canal
- Activities Active and outdoor & Cultural, religious and historic sites Active and outdoor , Cultural, religious and historic sites , Bicycle tours & Adventure 'data-more-tripid='22746'>+2 more
- Transport Boat, Bus & Ferry
- Brochure Price: US$ 4,300
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- Nov 18 Only 4 seats left
- Jan 20 Only 8 seats left
- Starts San Jorge, Nicaragua
- Ends San Jorge, Nicaragua
Ometepe Homestay 2D/1N
- Tour Type Independent Tour
- Activities Trekking and Hiking & Adventure Trekking and Hiking , Adventure , Wildlife & Explorer 'data-more-tripid='34380'>+2 more
- Accommodation Home-stay
- Transport Ferry
- Age Range 18-99 yrs
- Nov 11 10+ seats left
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Nicaragua Tour Reviews
Nicaragua - tour highlights and travel tips.
Nicaragua is a nation with a rich history and is home to the third largest city in Central America, Managua. After declaring independence in 1821, some US intervention, and a revolution in the 1960’s, this nation is finally finding its footing. With a mix of lowlands, mountains, and coastlines, there will never be a dull moment during your trip to Nicaragua. With plenty to see and do, this Central American gem is something you don’t want to miss.
- Surf in the beautiful city of San Juan del Sur.
- Take a chance and go volcano boarding; in short, sled down the side of a volcano.
- If the mainland becomes too much, retreat to the Corn Islands and take a load off.
- Go off the beaten path and meet the stone man; a man who carves animals and symbols into the caves in Esteli.
- Relax; it’s a great place to read a book on the beach, or even in the jungle.
- Caffeinate in Jinotega, and explore a city with plenty to offer.
- Watch the turtles at La Flor, just south of San Juan del Sur.
- Most hotels will refill your water bottle for USD 0.25; save the environment from the plastic.
- Don’t fear haggling on your holiday to Nicaragua; it will lower the prices and help you get to know the locals.
- If you want to, do a homestay and learn Spanish.
- Don’t expect addresses; most places don’t have them.
- Don’t exchange money at the airport in Managua; the exchange rate is crazy.
- Fruit can often be picked right from the trees or from the ground under them.
- In case of an injury or illness, avoid public hospitals.
- Pack earplugs; Nicaragua is a country filled with early risers.
Nicaragua has seasonal weather so please do check up on the best time to visit Nicaragua before planning your tour. And if you’re still hunting for more things to do and places to explore in Nicaragua, do check out our Nicaragua Travel Guide for more information.
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Nicaragua Travel Information
Travelling to a faraway destination can sometimes seem daunting while the prospect of gathering information from several different websites can get tricky. That’s why Goway has compiled all the information you could ever want and more into one, easy-to-navigate Travel Guide dedicated to Nicaragua.
Uncover local histories and unique cultures, learn about must-try delicacies and know just what to put in your suitcase with detailed sections on weather and “what to pack”. Read about the nature and wildlife that awaits you making it easier to spot when you arrive. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Nicaragua for yourself.
Extend Your Trip
After your Nicaragua tour , why not consider another of Goway's Latin America tours ? These include a large selection of other exciting countries in Central and South America. We offer Chile vacation packages and Easter Island tours , Ecuador vacation packages which include Galapagos cruises, Peru vacation packages which include Machu Picchu tours a nd Brazil tours including Iguassu Falls tours among many others.
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Nicaragua tours & trips.
Nicaragua is yet another adventure destination off the beaten track for the typical tourist. Sample local cuisine from street carts as you wander around the city of Granada with its Spanish colonial architecture. Tours include ziplining beneath towering volcanoes, biking, kayaking and trekking.
37 Nicaragua tour packages with 231 reviews
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Nicaragua - Best of Nicaragua
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Nicaragua - Capital Cities of Nicaragua
Tailor-Made Best Nicaragua Tour with Daily Departure
Nicaragua - Land of Lakes and Volcanoes
- 10% deposit on some dates Some departure dates offer you the chance to book this tour with a lower deposit.
Nicaragua Pacific Coast: Sea Turtle Conservation, Environmental Restoration, and Volcano Sandboarding
"I love the way that we were integrated with the community and were able to go teach..."
Colonial Tour Nicaragua 4D/3N
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- Explore and enjoy colonial architectural gems in the wonderful city of Granada.
- Have fun boarding down the ash-smeared slopes of the Cerro Negro Volcano and hike up to the peak of Masaya Volcano for an amazing view of the surrounding areas.
- Ride a wave at the cheerful town of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast.
- See the stunning beauty of lake housed within an imploded crater at Laguna de Apoyo.
- Marvel at the spectacle of imposing twin volcanoes rising over a lake at fabulous Isla Ometepe.
- Delve into Nicaragua’s revolutionary history and learn the art of guerilla warfare in the cities of Managua, Leon and Matagalpa.
- Breathe in the heady aroma of cigars at a cigar factory in Esteli and discover the processes involved in the production of world famous hand rolled cigars.
- Listen to soothing Reggae music and soak up the laidback Caribbean way of life on the palm fringed beaches of Corn Islands.
- The market at Masaya is the heart of the handicraft scene in Nicaragua and popular souvenirs include wood carvings, ceramics, leatherwork, textile arts and hammocks.
- Don’t hesitate to haggle with street vendors and at markets.
- The climb up to Cerro Negro takes about an hour and the descent offers exciting and unusual fun.
- Managua and San Jan del Sur have some of the liveliest clubbing venues in Central America.
- Try Nacatamal which is a moist tamale filled with chicken, pork and vegetables and cooked in a banana leaf.
- Nicaragua is famous for its rum and Flor de Cana is one of the popular brands.
- Get some expert scuba diving lessons at Corn Island.
- With good surfing conditions and warm water, San Jan del Sur is a great place to learn how to surf.
Nicaragua Trip Reviews
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Nicaragua holidays 2024 & 2025
Nicaragua’s history of fiery politics and unstable governments has traditionally kept visitors at arm’s length. Even now that the country has entered a period of peace and relative prosperity, it remains on the periphery of most people’s travel ambitions. Which is good news, say our specialists. It means you can explore its riches (which include volcanoes, island wildernesses, Spanish colonial churches and cloudforest reserves) in peace and quiet. And, you’ll be greeted with warmth and enthusiasm wherever you go.
Your holiday to Nicaragua could see you sampling the city of Granada’s café culture, or volcano boarding down the charred slopes of Cerro Negro. Boat down the Rio San Juan in search of macaws, and stare at the Pacific from the remote beaches of San Juan del Sur. Our specialists can assemble a trip that takes in all of these experiences, and more.
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Suggested tours for Nicaragua
These tours give you a starting point for what your holiday to Nicaragua could entail. Treat them as inspiration, as each trip is created uniquely for you.
11 days from £4,350pp
Classic Nicaragua tour
13 days from £4,675pp
Suggested activities for Nicaragua
Whatever your interests, our specialists will build activities into your trip that connect to how you want to experience Nicaragua.
Ometepe Island Tour
Rising proudly from the waters of Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is made up of two magnificent volcanic cones and is a more than impressive sight as you gaze across to its shores.
Granada City Tour
This tour takes in the "La Merced" church, the house of the Zamora family, the impressive brightly painted cathedral, the famous "Casa de Los Tres Mundos" and the San Francisco convent with its iconic blue façade.
Volcano Cerro Negro Hike
Rising out of the green trees the black walls of Cerro Negro create a bizarre contrast with the surroundings. You hike first on trails and later on a kind of black dune created by former lava. As you reach the foot of the volcano you begin an easy climb up to the first of two active and colourful craters.
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Best time to visit
Our specialists advise on the best months to visit Nicaragua, including information about climate, events and festivals.
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Useful information for planning your holiday in Nicaragua
Spanish is the official language of Nicaragua. There are also three Indian languages — Misquito, Mayangna, and Rama — spoken along the Atlantic coast. English is spoken in some visitor destinations and along the Atlantic coast.
The currency in Nicaragua is the córdoba (C$ or NIO). You’ll find ATMs in cities and larger towns, and credit cards are accepted in most hotels and in larger shops and restaurants.
If you’re planning to bring cash, take US dollars rather than sterling as it’s easier to exchange. You can pay in US dollars in some hotels and restaurants, but you’ll be given change in córdoba and at a lower rate than you might expect.
In Nicaragua, you should try nacatamales (meat tamales), indio viejo (beef stew), and sopa de albondiga (meatball soup). Rice and corn are staple parts of the local diet, and often served with meat, chicken, or fish.
Most dishes are a mix of Amerindian, Spanish, and West African influences and you’ll see gallo pinto (rice and beans), rondón (a spicy seafood stew), and quesillo (tortillas topped with cheese, cream, and pickled onions) on many menus and street stalls.
Popular sweet treats include buñuelos (a cassava and cheese dough ball soaked in cinnamon syrup), atolillo (a corn and cinnamon custard), and perrereque (corn cake). Corn is also the basis for drinks such as pinol (a drink made from roasted cornflour) and chicha (a spirit made from fermented corn).
As a rough guide, tipping 10% is appreciated in restaurants in Nicaragua. Your specialist can help with deciding on appropriate amounts to tip drivers and guides.
For the latest travel advice for Nicaragua, including entry requirements, health information, and the safety and security situation, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website .
Nicaragua’s diverse attractions include dramatic volcanic landscapes, little-visited wildlife reserves, neo-classical cities, and tranquil beaches. Nicaragua’s lack of visitors gives it an authentic charm and whether you want to explore the cobbled streets of its vibrant cities or track wildlife in one of its jungle reserves, you’ll find it has an unspoiled allure.
You can also hike to the top of volcanoes for expansive views, explore wildlife reserves home to alligators, caiman, turtles, and iguanas, tour coffee plantations , or take a guided city tour to learn about Nicaragua’s long and complex history. And when you’ve done the sights, quiet beaches on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts await with clear waters, the freshest of seafood, and a sleepy, laid-back air ideal for serious relaxation.
Nicaragua offers a good range of places to stay from beachfront hotels offering yoga and spas, to antique-filled heritage properties, and remote lodges where you can walk straight onto a forest trail.
In the cities, you’ll find historic hotels with plenty of local character including an elegantly restored mansion in Granada and a 17th-century convent in León. Elsewhere, hotels are usually simpler, but we’ve found some luxurious options including a wellness resort with suites and villas right on the waterfront, and a jungle ecolodge and spa overlooking the sea that also offers an insight into sustainable forestry and farming methods. For some more ideas, browse our collection of places to stay in Nicaragua .
In Nicaragua, most visitors head for Granada , León, San Juan del Sur, and Masaya Volcano National Park. Refined Granada, with its cobbled streets and neo-classical architecture sits between a glittering lake and an imposing volcano, while León is Nicaragua’s intellectual and cultural capital and a cosmopolitan hub with a vibrant energy.
For volcanic landscapes around a giant crater, head to Masaya Volcano National Park where you can hear the lava broiling underground. More volcanic peaks await on Ometepe Island where a network of trails offer good walking and riding opportunities and the chance to see ancient petroglyphs.
You’ll find dense jade forest thick with howler monkeys and brightly coloured birds in the Rio San Juan wildlife reserve, while for relaxation, you could explore the coastline around the up-and-coming fishing-village of San Juan del Sur or escape it all on the little-visited Corn Islands on the Caribbean coast.
It takes around 14 hours to fly from the UK to Nicaragua, via USA.
The time zone in Nicaragua is UTC-6 hours. Daylight Savings Time isn’t observed.
The best way to get around Nicaragua is with a private driver who can negotiate the sometimes-difficult roads and leave you to enjoy the scenery.
Although Nicaragua is an absorbing standalone destination, it also combines well with a visit to Costa Rica or Panama City. We can arrange overland transport to Costa Rica and a short flight to Panama.
UK citizens don’t need a visa to visit Nicaragua for stays of up to 90 days, but you’ll need to buy a tourist card on arrival. If you’re entering Nicaragua by land, you’ll also be asked to pay a customs fee and a municipal fee.
If you’re flying to Nicaragua via the United States, you’ll need authorisation to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. You can apply on the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) . Applications can take up to 72 hours to be processed and approved.
Speak to your doctor about vaccine advice for Nicaragua and ensure you’re up to date with the recommended vaccinations at home. You can also check the suggested vaccinations on the Travel Health Pro website .
Your passport should be valid for six months from your date of entry to Nicaragua.
Nicaragua in pictures
Our expert guides to travelling in Nicaragua
Written by our specialists from the viewpoint of their own travels, these guides will help you decide on the shape of your own trip to Nicaragua. Aiming to inspire and inform, we share our recommendations for how to appreciate Nicaragua at its best.
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The Cost of Travel in Nicaragua: A 2023 Budget Breakdown
My travels through Central America were a true adventure. Following a painless — albeit hot-and-longer-than-expected — border crossing from Costa Rica , I entered Nicaragua, home of lakes, volcanoes, and beaches. I was so excited to be there.
I spent the next month within this country’s borders, travelling northwards with my partner and we consider it one of our favourite travel experiences to date. Painless chicken bus rides, lovely people, dirt-cheap beer, and local rum made this month an incredible one. Not to mention the volcano boarding! More on that later.
Nicaragua was incredible. From the beautiful beaches of San Juan del Sur to the colonial architecture of Granada, we managed to see it all while still cramming in plenty of opportunities of relaxation. I recommend allocating a minimum of two weeks for the country, but a month would be perfection.
Sitting in the heart of Central America, Nicaragua lives up to its nickname of The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes . There’s the Pacific to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and so much natural beauty squeezed in between. The colourful city of Granada on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the pair of volcanoes on the isle of Ometepe, and the beauty of León Cathedral were just a few highlights.
And what excellent value, too! There was a host of accommodation for all budgets; the same for food. We mostly stuck to hotels and guesthouses in the $25-$55 a night range –- and did so with ease.
As with my Guatemalan budget guide , I’ll be referencing costs in dollars or the native currency. The Nicaraguan Córdoba (NIO) is the native currency – at the time of writing, in late-2021, $1 equates to around 35 NIO.
As always, a brief note before I carry on: I paid for everything mentioned within this article — as always, this is a comp- and press trip-free post.
My husband and I made the bold (and never regretted) decision to take a year out to travel. If you’re considering it, I highly recommend taking the plunge.
Nicaragua came about 6 weeks in, so we were into our travelling groove by then and London life felt like a distant memory. Basics covered, so let’s get started.
Here’s a rundown of where we visited in Nicaragua:
- San Juan del Sur: 3 nights
- Ometepe : 4 nights
- Granada : 3 nights
- Managua : 1 night
- León: 2 nights
What’s Included in this Post
The budget breakdown you’re about to read covers accommodation, transportation, activities, food, and miscellaneous costs.
Like I mentioned earlier, we travelled overland in Nicaragua – there was no reason not to. We used local travel agencies and our hotels to book buses and accommodation. Without fail, they offered much cheaper prices than online.
Our money went far in Nicaragua and we had some amazing experiences, from climbing the glistening white dome of León Cathedral to visiting Masaya, an active volcano.
The Cost of Accommodation in Nicaragua
Accommodation in Nicaragua was great value. From colonial guest houses to forest bungalows, we enjoyed a real mixture. Some places included breakfast; others charged an extra fee of around $6 per person. In the latter cases, we opted to pick something up ourselves, instead.
So, the specific places we stayed in Nicaragua were:
San Juan del Sur: At $59 a night , this incredible slice of paradise was one of our favourite places we stayed in the country. It’s all about wellness here: with a sun deck, yoga space, gorgeous swimming pool, tasty vegan food, and outdoor gym. Let’s face it: travel isn’t always the healthiest of pursuits, but when you stay here, you’ll feel like you’re nourishing your body once more. The property is located ten minutes from the beach, so offers up peaceful vibes to guests, away from the main party area. I wouldn’t consider staying anywhere else.
Ometepe: Our advice here? Do your research to decide where you want to stay on the island. It was bigger than we thought, and not all that easy to travel around. For our four nights, we stayed in two different places to experience slightly different areas of the figure-of-eight-shaped isle. Sitting on the southwest of vast Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe was formed by a pair of volcanoes rising out of the water. Our first stop was just outside Playa Mango and Balgüe, a dinky hamlet on the northern side of Maderas volcano. We stayed at this charming eco-lodge bungalow , set among tropical gardens with views to Concepcion Volcano and the lake. The cost? We paid $55 a night, with a top breakfast included. Santa Cruz was just four kilometres away, and Balgüe two kilometres. Peaceful and comfy, there was a pool, a restaurant, and those all-important mosquito nets in the room. This was an off-grid spot using renewable energy, so keep that in mind. And listen out for the monkeys!
For our second stop, we chose Merida, on the other side of the island. Located in the foothills of Maderas Volcano, our bungalow at this peaceful hideaway had a private balcony and mosquito nets. The staff were super helpful, and at $41 a night including breakfast, it was top value.
Granada: at this central, stylish spot with modern art adorning the bedroom walls, we paid just $30 a night including a first-rate traditional breakfast – money well spent. The property was a home in years gone by, like many hotels in the city. Inside, there was an open-air courtyard and garden, plus a shared kitchen. The owner Gaby was lovely – so friendly and helpful. She happily drove us to Masaya volcano one evening, despite the traffic and queues.
Managua: Research told us Metrocentro was the best area for tourists to stay in the capital, so we booked this simple yet comfortab le guest house with aircon for $47 a night , just a 10-minute drive from the lake. We only stayed in Managua for one night, so it was a brief, but enjoyable pitstop with breakfast included.
León: For just $34 a night we bagged this colourful, stylish and central guest house with a pool, bbq, garden views, and a continental breakfast. Just a 15-minute stroll west of the cathedral, we did well booking this homely spot with welcoming hosts.
OUR TOTAL COST OF ACCOMMODATION IN NICARAGUA CAME TO $601. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $46 PER DAY, OR $23 EACH.
THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION IN NICARAGUA
As I mentioned earlier, we travelled by chicken bus and microbus through Nicaragua. These were used by both tourists and locals. Microbuses were similar to chicken buses but with fewer stops.
If you go down the chicken bus and microbus route, keep in mind you’ll need to be flexible. Schedules seemed to change or not be entirely accurate, and they were a longer way of travelling than shuttle buses. We didn’t mind, given the distances weren’t that far and they were super cheap.
Tip: make sure you’ve got small bills and coins. That made life easier for both us and the drivers when paying.
Also, we found it best to get to the bus station early. We bought our tickets there and were one of the first to get on, ensuring we got a seat.
The buses were busy, hot, and a bit unpredictable. But they were a cost-effective way of getting around. Street food vendors popped on and off – great snacking opportunities!
Right, so here’s a breakdown of our journeys:
- Chicken bus from San Juan del Sur to Rivas: 15 NIO per person
- Taxi from Rivas to San Jorge (barter!): 105 NIO each way
- Ferry from San Jorge to Ometepe: 70 NIO per person each way
- Chicken bus from Rivas to Granada: 35 NIO per person
- Microbus from Granada to Managua: 15 NIO per person
- Microbus from Managua to León: 35 NIO per person
If chicken buses and microbuses aren’t for you, shuttle buses are an option, and still a pretty cheap way of travelling.
OUR TOTAL COST OF TRANSPORTATION IN NICARAGUA CAME TO 690 NIO or $20. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $1.50 PER DAY, OR $0.75 EACH.
THE COST OF ACTIVITIES AND ENTRANCE FEES IN NICARAGUA
How does peering into an active volcano and boarding down another one sound? They’re two of the amazing things you can, and should, do in Nicaragua.
Hike Maderas Volcano, Ometepe: 1050 NIO total. Not for the fainthearted, this lush cloud forest walk in the crater of dormant Maderas took us about 9 hours return. Take food, plenty of water, and swimming gear if you want a dip in the lagoon. You have to go with an experienced guide, which is what the cost covered. This is one for nature lovers.
Nighttime visit to Masaya Volcano , Granada: 350 NIO per person . One word: wow. What a fab evening. Our lovely host Gaby drove us here – big thanks. We queued for quite a while, but it was totally worth it to see molten lava coursing through the crater.
Lake Nicaragua boat ride, Granada: 875 NIO total. We bartered with a local fisherman who took us out for a couple of hours. At first glance the lake looked more like an ocean – we couldn’t see the other side. Once we were out on the water, we got a different impression. There were hundreds of islets (365 apparently), many with large houses on them. Some were uninhabited by humans, but did have monkeys roaming about. Monkey Island is home to five primates – one called Lucy who joined us on the boat for a swing. We stopped at Rock Island for a beer and a dip in the pool.
Iglesia La Merced viewpoint: 35 NIO per person. Close to Parque Central and viewed as one of the most beautiful churches in Granada, we paid $1 each to go up to the viewpoint for amazing city vistas.
Cerro Negro volcano boarding, León : 1700 NIO per person. A must! We absolutely loved this day out. Yes, it was quite tough (and hot) carrying quite a large wooden board up a volcano wearing a boiler suit, but so worth it. The views at the top and then the actual boarding… I did wonder what on earth I was doing as I prepared myself to slide down the black volcanic dust, but those thoughts soon disappeared. We enjoyed it that much, we climbed up for a second run. A tasty, generous lunch was included, too.
Climbed Cathedral dome, León: 105 NIO per person . The largest church in Central America and UNESCO-designated as well, we walked across the amazingly bright white-domed roof. For that small fee, we got to see wonderful views of the city… and volcanoes in the distance!
OUR TOTAL COST OF ACTIVITIES IN NICARAGUA CAME TO 5005 NIO or $143. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $11 PER DAY, OR $5.50 EACH.
THE COST OF FOOD in NICARAGUA
As always, food was a big thing for us as we travelled through Nicaragua. We ate a mixture of street food and cheap, local dishes in inexpensive restaurants.
Great breakfasts were included in quite a lot of the places we stayed, and they set us up for the day. These usually consisted of fruit and the traditional Nicaraguan brekkie of eggs, rice and beans, cheese, plantain, and tortilla. Tasty and filling! Sometimes, we didn’t even need lunch.
When we did eat breakfast out, we’d usually opt for something similar, and that would set us back around 70 NIO each.
Nacatamal: Similar to tamales, these were made from maize dough filled with pork, potato and spices, boiled in a plantain leaf. The cost? Around 88 NIO per nacatamal. Again, super filling!
Vigarón: Not for the veges out there, these consisted of boiled yucca (potato-like), chicharrón (fried pork skin), and cabbage slaw. A yummy on-the-go snack. Price-wise, they were around 70 NIO a portion.
Grilled meats: A staple in Nicaragua, we enjoyed this for dinner many a night. Think thin slices of beef, chicken or pork with rice and beans (gallo pinto) and tortillas. A generous plate set us back between 70-105 NIO from a street food BBQ or a local eatery.
Ugly fish (Guapote): Okay, so the name isn’t appealing, but the taste was amazing – like snapper. Our top recommendation? Las Colinas in Granada, a short cab ride out of the centre. Served with fries, rice, salad, and a sweet and sour and style vegetable topping, we loved this dish. We chose our fish size, too. On average, we paid 245 NIO per person to eat guapote at a local restaurant.
Average daily food cost: $10.80 per day, or $5.40 each
As always, bottled water was the main thing we drank, plus local beers and dark rum. Flor de Caña is made in Nicaragua, so we indulged in a few! We tended to buy a bottle from the supermarket (about 210 NIO).
A large water cost us about 35 NIO. Victoria Clásica and Toña local beer came in at about 50 NIO for a regular size bottle.
Average daily drink cost: $8.60 per day, or $4.30 each
Reasonably priced, tasty, and filling – what more do you need?!
OUR TOTAL COST OF FOOD AND DRINK IN NICARAGUA CAME TO $253. THAT’S AN AVERAGE OF $19.50 PER DAY, OR $9.70 EACH.
The Cost of Travel Insurance in Nicaragua
If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.
In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I use SafetyWing as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to Nicaragua. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re more affordable than the competition, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.
With SafetyWing, you’ll pay $1.50 a day for travel insurance.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO TRAVEL IN NICARAGUA?
So, I’ve done the calculations, and here are the costings per person:
- Accommodation: $23 per day
- Transport: $0.75 per day
- Activities: $5.50 per day
- Food and drink: $9.70 per day
- Miscellaneous: $3.50 per day
- Grand total spent in Nicaragua: $42.45 per person per day .
Nicaragua, we loved you! Seeing an active volcano and boarding down one (twice) were unforgettable experiences. We would definitely travel to Nicaragua again to visit the places we missed…
HOW MUCH DID YOU THINK IT WOULD COST TO TRAVEL AROUND NICARAGUA?
[Photo of the volcano via: Roberto Destarac Photo/Shutterstock]
Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.
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Epic post, as always. You inspired me to dig out my travel budget form my time in Nicaragua and guess what? I averaged $41 per day! Soooo close to your budget!
How funny! It’s always good to receive confirmation that my budget breakdowns are on point :-)
Nicaragua is my favorite country in Central America! So colourful, so beautiful, so vibrant, and so cheap! I can’t wait to return.
Yes!! I think it’s everybody’s favourite country in Central America, to be honest. Either that or Belize, anyway.
I really appreciate your article on Nicaragua. We had all intentions and plans to go but had to back out at the last minute. Now our plan is Belize. Do you have a break down of that?
I sure do! Here’s the Belize post .
Wow! Thank you for this truly helpful article! I’m trying to figure out where to go when I can escape New Zealand for a while (our borders are Covid-closed and it’s horrendously costly to go anywhere now, and to come back!), and your article genuinely does help make this decision. When I saw the lava in the volcano – SOLD! That is a bucket list item!
Glad I was in NI in 2021. My girlfriend and I only people at Volcan Maysaya at night. Esteli in “Nortena Nicaragua” is my favorite part of NI when the lowlands are too hot . Es mas fresco NI has 500 km of Pacific coast with beaches. Most are mas tranquillo then SJDSur. I stopped using travel insurance. Too much fine print. No coverage when you need it and after Cv(no problem for me. World travel mas tranquillo without crowds) they kept same exclusions and just raised prices! Looks like you missed some of my other favorite places here which is good. Feliz viajes
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Your Nicaragua Vacation
With a Nicaragua vacation package, you can forget about planning hassles and instead focus on experiencing all this amazing destination has to offer. Managua , Granada and San Rafael del Sur are some of the top cities here. Make sure your trip to Nicaragua includes some time in one or more of them! Expedia has flights, hotels, car rentals and more to help you put together your very own tailored Nicaragua vacation today.
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San Juan del Sur
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Hotel Real La Merced
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The largest of the Central American republics, Nicaragua is known for its rugged mountains and many volcanoes and lakes.
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With Expedia’s Nicaragua Vacation Packages, you’ll be able to create your dream escape while saving some serious money. Combine your accommodations with your flight bookings, and then save even more by adding extras like car rental and activities. If you plan on visiting Lake Nicaragua, why not add a guided tour of some nearby San Jorge landmarks to your package?
Your Nicaragua Vacation Itinerary
Day 1-2: Most people arrive at Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport in the national capital, Managua. Once you’ve settled into your hotel, spend a day or two exploring the city. Check out well-known sights like Old Cathedral, National Palace of Culture and the ruins of the former Somoza Presidential House.
Day 3-5: Hop in your rental car and take a road trip around the country’s north. Known for its tobacco production, Estli is also a great base from which to explore the Cliff Carvings of El Tisey, or go volcano boarding on Cerro Negro.
Day 6-7: Be sure to stop by Granada. With a vast history of indigenous civilization, Spanish colonization and piracy, yet a young, creative culture, travelers adore its unique, sophisticated vibe. Soak up the spectacular views from La Merced Church’s bell tower while you’re in town.
Nicaraguans celebrate Independence Day, their National Day, on September 15 each year. If you happen to visit around this public holiday, expect to see colorful parades, traditional music and lively festivities.
Spending a few nights in the capital city? You’ll find some great deals in our Managua Vacation Packages .
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Frequently asked questions, discover the most popular places to visit in nicaragua, san juan del sur beach.
If a restful vacation is part of your travel plans, San Juan del Sur Beach might be the perfect place to seek out during your trip to San Juan del Sur. Discover the bars in this relaxing area, or seek out the surfing spots.
Puerto Salvador Allende
Dine at one of the many restaurants, stroll along the lakeside boulevard and take a boat trip to nearby Love Island.
Why not spend a carefree afternoon at Maderas Beach during your travels in San Juan del Sur? Discover the bars in this relaxing area, or seek out the surfing spots.
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Travel to Nicaragua: what you need to know
Jul 3, 2019 • 6 min read
From lava-spewing volcanoes to idyllic, far-away beaches, Nicaragua's natural landscape measures up to some of the world’s best. But a series of clashes between anti-government protestors and the supporters of president Daniel Ortega have caused the death of 325 Nicaraguans in the spring of 2018 and placed a cloud of uncertainty over the entire country.
The ethical dilemma of traveling to Nicaragua
The Nicaraguan government has been accused of using tourism as a PR tool to promote a stable image of the country. While everything may seem ‘normal’ on the surface, the reality for Nicaraguans is quite different. Visiting tourists can provide a false image of normalcy, but tourists not visiting has a direct impact on an already bad economy and the livelihoods of thousands of families who rely on it.
Even the most intrepid travelers have concerns. The embers of violence have cooled and life is slowly returning to a sense of normalcy. It’s important to exercise caution, but here are areas in Nicaragua ready to welcome travelers.
Nicaragua’s misunderstood ugly duckling. As the capital, Managua is more prone to political demonstrations. The constant police presence is an occasionally alarming reminder that big brother is watching.
Even before the protests, many travelers used Managua as a hub to get other spots around the country. But, if you elect to stay in the city for a few days, exercise caution and avoid protests.
The chaotic city without street names is not easy to navigate, but you'll eventually find yourself exploring third-wave coffee shops, food-truck parks, authentic local food, specialty stores and local markets. And when the sun sets, the party begins with Nicaraguan music concerts, Latin dance parties, underground electronic fetes, craft beer bars and fine cuisine.
León and las Peñitas
León is a vibrant city full of inspiring architecture and artsy vintage murals.
The student town, considered the heart of Nicaragua, is located an hour-and-half from the capital city of Managua and was once home to Nicaragua’s greatest poet – Rubén Darío .
The city was a hot spot during the protests and demonstrations can happen anywhere around the city. If a protest begins, do not get involved and leave the area.
While in León, access the rooftop of the Cathedral Basílica de la Asunción (the largest in Central America) for a unique view of the city and the surrounding volcanic chain of Maribios. Pay a visit to Fundación Ortiz Gurdián to see one of the finest contemporary art museums in Central America. For an adrenaline fix, try volcano surfing down the black sands of the Cerro Negro.
Just 25 minutes west of León you’ll find Las Peñitas beach an easy-going surf spot with access to mangroves and Isla Juan Venado – a nature reserve popular for its bird-watching and turtle nestings.
In a country filled with volcanoes, Volcán Masaya stands out from the crowd. The very active natural wonder was known as the ‘mouth of hell’ by Spanish conquistadors, is located on Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya, the country’s largest national park. For truly mesmerizing views, visit Volcán Masaya at night.
The town of Masaya, located 30 minutes from the national park, was a stronghold of anti-government protesters. As a result there was a strong police presence in the area causing many businesses to close. Though the situation has cooled down, it would be best to skip this small town.
History lives on every corner in Nicaragua’s oldest town. Founded in 1524, Granada has been invaded by pirates led by Henry Morgan and burned down twice by the self-proclaimed ‘President of Nicaragua’ William Walker, an American expansionist from Nashville.
To get a true sense of Nicaraguan history, however, visit Convento y Museo San Francisco, one of the best museums in the region.
Granada is located at the foot of the green and dormant Volcano Mombacho . The area boasts a nature and wildlife reserve with clear designated hiking trails, ziplines and coffee haciendas. Mombacho also offers panoramic views of Granada and Lake Cocibolca.
If the mainland isn’t for you, stay on one of the 365 islets that make up the archipelago – Isletas de Granada, which was formed by a massive volcanic landslide 20,000 years ago.
A darling among tourists, Granada has felt the brunt of the civil unrest. The peaceful and picturesque town painted in bright colors is now mainly shuttered as nearly half of the city’s businesses have closed in the past year. You can still find a decent variety of restaurants and cheap 'crisis' deals at a wide range of hotels as the remaining businesses try to stay afloat.
The white-sand Caribbean paradise found on the Corn Islands remains remote and untouched. Distance kept the secluded getaway free of the violence and protests, leaving the beaches pristine and environment serene. Of course, all this serenity comes at a price – no cars, wifi or electricity (at times), particularly on Little Corn . But once you set eyes on the area, you won't mind at all.
Laguna de Apoyo
Located about 9 miles (15 km) north of Granada, this peaceful crater lake is believed to be the cleanest and deepest in the country. Whether you decide to just view from the crater's edge in Catarina or Diriá or head to the bottom of the crater for swim, you won't be disappointed.
Pacific Coast Beaches
All the beach towns in Southwestern Nicaragua have remained relatively calm and isolated from the civil unrest. The cluster of mountains, bays and uncrowded waves have something for everyone; from world-renowned surf breaks in Popoyo, which hosted the world surfing games in 2015, to affordable luxury beach developments in Tola.
International hub – San Juan del Sur – attracts the young and beautiful, but also offers top-notch lodgings (try El Coco Azul ) and fantastic dining (try Asados Juanita ). Not completely immune to all the troubles, tourism numbers have also dipped in the area in comparison to prior years.
Reaching Ometepe and seeing its famed twin volcanic peaks – Concepción and Maderas – was the kind of arduous journey that never attracted very large numbers of travelers.
The area was under heavy police presence during the height of the unrest, and though things have cooled down, the local economy is suffering. Tourism has almost completely disappeared and many people have gone back to basic agricultural practices to survive.
The land of coffee and cigars isn’t usually high on travelers’ list, but anyone seeking a mountain experience won’t find a better place.
The civil unrest reached the main towns of Matagalpa and Estelí , but things have settled down. Estelí is the major producer of premium cigars in the world. Spend an afternoon learning the art of cigar manufacturing.
Matagalpa is about an hour-and-half southeast of Estelí and is filled with endless lush green mountains and waterfalls. Enjoy the coffee farms , the farmstays and unspoiled country life.
Essential travel tips
The United States has issued a level 3 ‘Reconsider travel’ advisory on Nicaragua due to the ‘civil unrest, limited healthcare availability and arbitrary enforcement of laws'. Both the UK and Canada have issued ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ travel advisories.
Commercial airlines still fly to the country.
When in Nicaragua
- Avoid all demonstrations
- Don’t take photographs of the heavily armed police.
- Sign up for online alerts from your local embassy to stay on top of any political unrest.
Nicaragua is under the international scope for sanctions, the economy is in a recession expecting a decrease in GDP of 7-11% for 2019.
Armed robberies have been reported by travelers; however, no tourists have been killed, including during the height of the civil unrest.
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Nicaragua Travel Restrictions
Traveler's COVID-19 vaccination status
Traveling from the United States to Nicaragua
Open for vaccinated visitors
Not required for vaccinated visitors
Recommended in public spaces.
Documents & Additional resources
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Can I travel to Nicaragua from the United States?
Most visitors from the United States, regardless of vaccination status, can enter Nicaragua.
Can I travel to Nicaragua if I am vaccinated?
Fully vaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Nicaragua without restrictions.
Can I travel to Nicaragua without being vaccinated?
Unvaccinated visitors from the United States can enter Nicaragua without restrictions.
Do I need a COVID test to enter Nicaragua?
Visitors from the United States are not required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test or antigen result upon entering Nicaragua.
Can I travel to Nicaragua without quarantine?
Travelers from the United States are not required to quarantine.
Do I need to wear a mask in Nicaragua?
Mask usage in Nicaragua is recommended in public spaces.
Are the restaurants and bars open in Nicaragua?
Restaurants in Nicaragua are open. Bars in Nicaragua are .
- Travel Planning Guide
Nicaragua Travel Budget - Visit Nicaragua on a Budget or Travel in Style
- Nicaragua Costs
- San Juan del Sur
- Isla de Ometepe
- Nicaragua Hotel Prices
- Nicaragua Cities: Hotel Prices by City
- Best Hotels for One Night in Nicaragua
- Best Luxury Hotels in Nicaragua
- Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Nicaragua
- Best Pet-Friendly Hotels in Nicaragua
- Best Hotels for One Week in Nicaragua
- Best Romantic Hotels for Couples in Nicaragua
- Best Business Hotels in Nicaragua
- Best Hotels for First Time Visitors in Nicaragua
- Best Hotels for a Weekend Getaway in Nicaragua
- Hostel Prices & Reviews
- Nicaragua Tour Prices
- The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Nicaragua
- The Best 3-Day Tours in Nicaragua
- The Best Christmas & New Years Tours in Nicaragua
- The Best Adventure Tours to Nicaragua
- The Best Cultural Tours in Nicaragua
- The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Nicaragua
- The Best Tours Under $1000 in Nicaragua
- The Best Budget Tours to Nicaragua
- The Best Tours for Seniors to Nicaragua
How much does it cost to travel to Nicaragua?
Budget-friendly travel planning.
- Average Daily Cost
- Package Tours
- Intercity Transportation
- Tips and Handouts
- Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps
- Travel Guide
How much money will you need for your trip to Nicaragua ? You should plan to spend around C$1,975 ($54) per day on your vacation in Nicaragua, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, C$541 ($15) on meals for one day and C$365 ($9.99) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Nicaragua for a couple is C$1,224 ($34). So, a trip to Nicaragua for two people for one week costs on average C$27,654 ($757). All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.
- Travel Style: All Budget (Cheap) Mid-Range Luxury (High-End)
- Average Daily Cost Per person, per day C$ 1,975
- One Week Per person C$ 13,827
- 2 Weeks Per person C$ 27,654
- One Month Per person C$ 59,259
- One Week For a couple C$ 27,654
- 2 Weeks For a couple C$ 55,309
- One Month For a couple C$ 118,518
A vacation to Nicaragua for one week usually costs around C$13,827 for one person . So, a trip to Nicaragua for two people costs around C$27,654 for one week . A trip for two weeks for two people costs C$55,309 in Nicaragua. If you're traveling as a family of three or four people, the price person often goes down because kid's tickets are cheaper and hotel rooms can be shared. If you travel slower over a longer period of time then your daily budget will also go down. Two people traveling together for one month in Nicaragua can often have a lower daily budget per person than one person traveling alone for one week .
How much do package tours cost in Nicaragua?
- The average price for an organized tour package in Nicaragua is $172 per day. While every tour varies by total price, length, destinations, and quality, this is the daily average cost of tours in Nicaragua based on our analysis of available guided tour packages throughout the country.
- Multi-Day Group Tours Average Daily Cost for Organized Tour Packages $ 172
- Nicaragua - Capital Cities of Nicaragua 6 Days - 6 Destinations $ 799
- Managua City Stopover - 3 days 3 Days - 3 Destinations $ 800
- The Best of Nicaragua - 6 days 6 Days - 3 Destinations $ 1,490
- Colonial Tour Nicaragua 4D/3N 4 Days - 7 Destinations $ 995
How expensive is nicaragua how much money do i need for nicaragua.
How much does a trip to Nicaragua cost? Is Nicaragua cheap or expensive? The average Nicaragua trip cost is broken down by category here for Independent travelers. All of these Nicaragua prices are calculated from the budgets of real travelers to find the price of travel.
Accommodation Budget in Nicaragua
Average daily costs.
Calculated from travelers like you
The average price paid for one person for accommodation in Nicaragua is C$612. For two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room, the average price paid for a hotel room in Nicaragua is C$1,224. This cost is from the reported spending of actual travelers.
- Accommodation 1 Hotel or hostel for one person C$ 612
- Accommodation 1 Typical double-occupancy room C$ 1,224
Hotel Prices in Nicaragua
Looking for a hotel in Nicaragua? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options.
Find the best hotel for your travel style.
Actual Hotel Prices The average hotel room price in Nicaragua based on data provided by Kayak for actual hotel rooms is $76. (Prices in U.S. Dollars, before taxes & fees.)
Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world.
- Zopango Island Budget Hotel - Kayak $ 184
- Real Intercontinental Metrocentro Managua Luxury Hotel - Kayak $ 147
Transportation Budget in Nicaragua
The cost of a taxi ride in Nicaragua is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent C$365 per person, per day, on local transportation in Nicaragua.
- Transportation 1 Taxis, local buses, subway, etc. C$ 365
- Private Transfer in Nicaragua Viator $ 110
- Transfer From Managua International Airport Viator $ 20
- PRIVATE San Juan Del Sur Transfer Viator $ 56
- Managua Augusto Sandino Airport(MGA) to Managua- Arrival Transfer Viator $ 21
Intercity Transportation Budget in Nicaragua
Transportation between cities and towns in Nicaragua costs an average of C$1,001, based on spending from travelers. Naturally, prices vary by the length of the route, the type of transportation used, and the date.
- Intercity Transportation 1 Travel between cities C$ 1,001
Flights to Nicaragua
Rental cars in nicaragua, food budget in nicaragua.
While meal prices in Nicaragua can vary, the average cost of food in Nicaragua is C$541 per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Nicaragua should cost around C$216 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Nicaragua is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
- Food 2 Meals for one day C$ 541
- Tlakualli Food Tour Viator $ 15
What did other people spend on Food?
Typical prices for Food in Nicaragua are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the Food prices in Nicaragua, but your costs will vary based on your travel style.
- Pizza C$ 84
Entertainment Budget in Nicaragua
Entertainment and activities in Nicaragua typically cost an average of C$457 per person, per day based on the spending of previous travelers. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.
- Entertainment 1 Entrance tickets, shows, etc. C$ 457
- Private Kayaking Experience in Ometepe Viator $ 33
- Paddle Boarding and Meditation Wellness Experience in Las Isletas Viator $ 35
- Amazing Masaya Volcano at Night "Private Tour" Viator $ 75
- Masaya volcano Night Tour Viator $ 80
What did other people spend on Entertainment?
Typical prices for Entertainment in Nicaragua are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the Entertainment prices in Nicaragua, but your costs will vary based on your travel style.
- Lago de Nicaragua Boat Tour C$ 300
Tips and Handouts Budget in Nicaragua
The average cost for Tips and Handouts in Nicaragua is C$19 per day. The usual amount for a tip in Nicaragua is 5% - 15% .
- Tips and Handouts 1 For guides or service providers C$ 19
Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps Budget in Nicaragua
Unfortunately, bad things can happen on a trip. Well, you've just got to deal with it! The average price for a scam, robbery, or mishap in Nicaragua is C$243, as reported by travelers.
- Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps 1 C$ 243
Alcohol Budget in Nicaragua
The average person spends about C$318 on alcoholic beverages in Nicaragua per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
- Alcohol 2 Drinks for one day C$ 318
What did other people spend on Alcohol?
Typical prices for Alcohol in Nicaragua are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the Alcohol prices in Nicaragua, but your costs will vary based on your travel style.
- Tequila C$ 50
Water Budget in Nicaragua
On average, people spend C$26 on bottled water in Nicaragua per day. The public water in Nicaragua is not usually considered safe to drink.
- Water 2 Bottled water for one day C$ 26
Nicaragua on a budget.
At A Glance
- Tourism is continuing to grow throughout the country. While prices still remain cheap, demand picks up a little more every year and you can expect that to be reflected in the price of everything from hotel rooms to meals soon enough. While it still trails neighboring countries in its popularity, Nicaragua is on the rise and it will only continue to grow in the coming years.
- Many people choose to visit Nicaragua through a volunteer program. There are many different organizations that run programs to the country and, like anything else, some are better than others. Most will require you to a pay a fee for this opportunity. Make sure you understand exactly where your money ends up. Also make sure you're completely knowledgeable of what type of programs you'll be working with and participating in. You do not want to arrive and find there is little to do and worse yet, you don't want to find that you've displaced a local worker and taken a much needed job.
- Nicaragua is famed for its "Chicken Buses." These intercity buses travel throughout the country and service as public transportation for residents and tourists alike. They are most often old American school buses that have been repainted to have a little more style and flare. More often than not there will be some form of lively music playing and you'll find yourself sitting next to some form of livestock. It's a great experience and an opportunity that is not to be missed while you're in the country.
- Be prepared to negotiate hard for your taxi price, particularly in the city of Managua. There is no shortage of taxis so don't be afraid to let one go on by until you find one that offers you a suitable rate. Make sure the rate has been firmly set before you get in the car. Also don't be surprised if the driver picks up other passengers along the way. This is standard practice if there are others who are headed in roughly the same direction.
- It's important that you carry small bills with you while you're traveling throughout the country. Most people don't have change for larger bills and it can be very frustrating to try and pay for something when nobody can make change. If you're crossing the border from a neighboring country head to the bank before you leave and ask them to give you very small Nicaraguan bills. This will help you out tremendously.
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