There are lots of great things to do things to do in Granada, Nicaragua. While roaming around this charming colonial town, we tried to sample as many things to do in Granada as possible, so that we can bring you our top 5 recommendations from span from leisure to adventure.
So… what to do in Granada Nicaragua? Let’s begin with a unique cultural performance.
5) Watch the Tall Woman and the Big-Headed Midget on Calle La Caldeza
Calle La Caldeza is a street blocked off from vehicular traffic in exchange for foot traffic. Restaurants, bars, and patio seating line the street. Sure, it attracts a hefty tourist crowd, but it’s absolutely worth joining the pack to relax on this street and people watch. Just before sunset, have a peek at the restaurant menus (don’t worry, the hosts will be very eager to show you them). Pick a place, have a seat outside, and order an iced-cold beverage of your choice. We recommend something with the local Flor de Caña rum. Keep your eyes peeled for happy hour offers.
As the sky begins to change to brilliant red and orange hues, soon enough you’ll certainly hear the sound of loud drumming approaching. The bigheaded midget will be dancing to the rhythm as the tall woman twirls her dress round and around. Don’t worry if you miss this little performance. They’ll be back.
4) Hike up Volcan Mombacho
Want to hike a volcano but hesitant about the challenge involved? Volcan Mombacho is the volcano for you! This volcano is a very easy and pleasant hike. A powerful 4WD van does all the hard work, carrying you up the mountain, as you simply walk a relatively flat mile or so and get to enjoy the views from atop this dormant volcano.
Saunter through the naturally volcanically created tunnel which is seemingly carved right through the side of the volcano. Here you’ll get some views of what’s left of the crater. Back on the other side, you’ll be rewarded with viewpoints of Granada and even better views of the Isletas beyond.
3) Go Ziplining
You can’t possibly take a trip to Central America without doing a canopy tour at some point. It is the quintessential activity around these parts and we found Granada to be a great place to partake. Here you’ll find a really fun series of zip lines that are both long and fast. Don’t just glide down normally either. Opt for the tandem, superman, upside down monkey, and the rock-and-roll rides. It was all a blast and the staff here was really fun and friendly. Prices to zipline here were less expensive than we found in other parts of Central America, yet safety was a completely safe experience. If you’re looking for adventure, ziplining is the best things to do in Granada, Nicaragua.
2) Visit the Isletas of Granada
This is a must-do excursion in Granada. Head down to the docks and choose a guide for your own private tour through the narrow waterways around the supposed 365 very small islands.
It almost seems like boating through a series of canals than it does traveling around a lake with islands, as there appears to be more land than there is water. The islands are said to have been formed when Volcan Mombacho exploded thousands of years ago. Dotting the islands are mansions belonging to Nicaragua’s ultra-wealthy and the boat captain will fill you on one which one’s belong to who.
There are a few remote bars and restaurants you can stop at for a snack and/or drink. There’s also a nice fort on an island you can get off and explore. And no trip to the Isletas is complete without a stop at the monkey island. Visiting the isletas is among the quintessential things to do in Granada.
1) Go on a Horse and Carriage Ride
All throughout the Central Park area carriages line up eager to give tourists a tour of all the major sites around town. Opt for a quick 30-minute jaunt or the full hour grand tour. Stop to take pictures along the way and learn a bit about Granada’s history if you can understand a little Spanish.
A horse and carriage ride through Granada is a great way to get oriented with the city and to quickly and effortlessly see most all the major sites. Sit back and enjoy the novelty of the clip-clopping of the horses down the cobblestone streets. As you pass the numerous grandiose old churches and other buildings, envision a time where the horse and carriage was the transportation. We recommend embarking just before sunset, as you’ll enjoy the cooler temps (relatively speaking) and pleasant skies. This is Granada. Sit back and enjoy the ride. A horse and carriage ride throughout this charming colonial town tops this list of things to do in Granada Nicaragua.
Bonus: Eating & Drinking Around Granada, Nicaragua
Best Eats: Eat an Ugly Fish at Los Colinas
This restaurant is very much out of the way and in a somewhat questionable area, but get out of the tourist zone and come here for possibly your best meal in all of Nicaragua: The Ugly Fish. The floor of this open area restaurant is actually packed down ash/rock from Mombacho. But don’t let the breezy casual atmosphere fool you, because this place is serious about their fish. The Ugly Fish is actually a type of seabass, known as Cocibolca Guapote, which is caught in Lake Nicaragua. Its deep fried whole and then smothered in a sauce full of onions and tomatoes. You can order this very meaty white fish in a few different sizes but the regular left me absolutely stuffed and I was barely able to finish it. This is a great restaurant to try this delicious local treat.
Best Drinks Around Granada:
You must have the Flor Cana rum, whether choosing the Extra Lite (white) or one of the award winning dark aged rums, such as the delicious Gran Reserva 7, this is the stuff to drink when in Nicaragua. Perhaps order a Nica Libre (coke, rum, lime), which in Nicaragua differs from a Cuba Libre, in that the Cuba Libre uses dark rum while a Nica Libre uses light rum. We recommend enjoying one at a patio table on Calle La Caldeza. Of the dozens places to choose from, we thought O’Shea’s had one of the best happy hours in Granada, Nicaragua and it was a great location right in the middle of the action.
Where to Book Things to do in Granada Nicaragua and Best Places to Stay
Booking Tours in Granada Nicaragua
There are many tourism agencies within Granada, particularly along Calle de Caldeza, which offer various tours throughout the Granada itself and the surrounding area. The horse & carriage ride can be booked directly with the driver. Zip lining and volcano tours can be booked with a tourism agency and there is even a combo tour in which you can do them both in the same day.
For tours in Granada you’ll be able to just book them once you get there, which will be the most cost-effective. Making tour reservations the day prior should provide enough advanced notice and its not too common that they fill up. Yet if you’re the type of person who likes to book things online in advance, check out these tours of Granada you can book on Viator.
Best Hotel Deals in Granada Nicaragua
Accommodation in Granada does tend to get booked up so it is best to make a reservation in advance, particular so during high season. You can find the best deals online rather than on the ground. Granada’s best hotels and hostels fill up early, so book a room as soon as you can. For the best deals, try searching on hotelscombined.com which compares prices among all the top booking sites (Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda, HostelBookers, etc.)