Granada makes the perfect base from which to explore all of Nicaragua, but remember to devote at least 3 - 4 full days to the city so you don't miss the highlights!
You might think it touristy, but a carriage ride is a great way to start your visit. Learn the layout of the Colonial city and get some interesting historical background from some very knowledgeable drivers. They are found in Parque Central but will come to your hotel for no extra charge.
$25 per carriage. 1 hour. max 5 people
1. City Carriage Ride
Streetside at lunchtime, Vigoron is deep-fried pork skin with a spicy cabbage salad over yuca. All the juices melt into the starchy root. If you prefer pork meat instead of rind - ask for 'Chancho con Yuca'.
$2 (50-70 Cordoba)
A tour of the 365 islands that surround the Asese peninsula is almost an obligatory part of your Granada visit. Or, for something truly spectacular, - spend a few nights on one!
$30 per boat. 1 hour.
3. Boat Tour of Isletas
4. Los Pueblos Blancos
$25 - $35 per person. Car and driver. Often called 'Classic Tour'. 3 hours.
30 minutes outside of town the roads around Catarina, San Juan Oriente, Diriomo and other villages are lined with flowering plants, wooden furniture and ceramics for sale. See the views of Laguna de Apoyo and have lunch in Catarina.
5. Lava Tour - Masaya
$25 per person. Includes car, driver and entrance.
Leave at 4.30 pm from Granada with car and driver to arrive just after sunset and before the lines of traffic. You might be waiting a while but everyone agrees it's worth it.
6. La Frontera
Restaurant. Most plates $5 - $6.
Our favorite eatery. Amazing burritos, burgers and veggie dishes that are served with music hits from the 80's.
Other favorites: El Garaje (lunch), Garden Cafe, Pita Pita.
Either the hiking tour of the volcano crater or zip lining the rainforest canopy will bring you up-close to monkeys, sloths, air-plants, orchids and other wonderful things.
Transport to the top of the volcano, then 3 different length walks or hikes to choose.
7. Mombacho Rainforest
Don't be afraid to try the delicious natural drinks the locals sell from their front doors. Served in plastic bags with a straw - limonada, grama, pitaya, tamarindo, linaza, mandarina ... the list goes on.
$0.50 or 15 cordoba.
Pictured: Cacao. Milk and cocoa bean.
8. Traditional Frescos
Ladrillería San Jeronimo makes cement tiles using a 90-year-old press. Located at Hotel La Polvora. Try your hand at making a tile! Also visit Favilli Tile.
Beautiful cement tiles are the signature of Granada's Colonial homes.
9. Colonial Cement Tiles
10. La Merced Bell Tower
Climb to the top for just $1. Very small children are not permitted.
The highest viewpoint in the city and a great place to snap rooftop selfies. Take in the sea of red tile roofs and a view out over Lake Nicaragua, Las Isletas and volcano Mombacho.
11. Masaya Market
A 30 minute drive from Granada.
This market is huge. Guides say to go to the artisanal market (with the arches) - but the main market has more of everything, better prices and lots more to experience!
12. Laguna de Apoyo
Allow a half day to enjoy the swimming in the laguna. 20 minutes from Granada.
Formed from a volcano crater the laguna makes for great swimming in clear waters. Do a half day here before or after visiting the Masaya market or Los Pueblos Blancos. Lunch at 'La Abuela' or 'Paradisio'. Use the private beach at 'Monkey Hut' for $6.
For the longest time nearly all Granada's restaurants and bars have been located on La Calzada. Now new places are opening on adjacent blocks and further afield.
Street dining, drinks and people watching.
13. La Calzada
You'll want to eat frito more than once during your stay. Fried green plantain chips with ripe fried plantain, a large piece of barbecue chicken, beef or pork, topped with spicy cabbage salad and wrapped in a banana leaf. Prepared roadside and eaten with fingers.
Recommended: In front of Restaurante Chino Año Nuevo
In the middle of town as the name suggests the park is the main hub with plenty of people watching and adjoining market streets to explore. Connects to La Calzada. Banks are all located one street to the west.
15. Parque Central
16. Butterfly Reserve
5 minute drive. $5
We recommend this for kids but the adults come back just as enthralled as the younger ones. Nice for a mellow outing. Probably good to call before arriving.
17. Drinks and Dancing
Tip: Get around at night by taxi, just 30 cordoba ($1) per person.
Go out in La Calzada and find locals and visitors mixing it up at places like Encuentros Bar where crowds gather after 9 PM.
18. Sopa de Res
Beef soup prepared over wood fires, served mostly on Mondays. 80 Cordoba ($2.50)
Nicaragua's cure for Mondays! Look for signs at private homes who are serving small bucketfuls. Key ingredient - naranja agria (bitter orange).
Pork, rice, cornmeal, tomatoes, etc. wrapped and tied in a leaf and boiled until all inside is a soft delicious mush. Yum. Ask a local where to buy.
Mostly made on the weekends.
Don't over exhaust yourselves. A day spent by the pool is just what your mind and body need sometimes -- and the kids will definitely not complain.
Relax in one of the many privately owned guest houses of Granada.