Stick to the Pacific side if you’ve got limited time
If you’ve only got two weeks in the country, you’ll need to choose wisely. Nicaragua is the biggest country in Central America and destinations on the Caribbean coast, such as the Corn Islands, are only accessible by plane. With that in mind, this itinerary focuses on the western side of the country.
Most people skip out of Managua on arrival and head to Granada, a charming colonial city on Lake Nicaragua. Spend a day or two exploring the streets, and another on a day trip to the active Masaya Volcano, before taking the ferry to the enchanting island of Ometepe.
Exploring Ometepe is a highlight
Here you can hike one of the two volcanoes, hike to the San Ramon Waterfall, or relax in natural springs. Enjoy the incredible views over the huge lake and while away the evenings with friendly locals before heading back to the mainland and the party town of San Juan del Sur. Dance the night away with the backpacker crowd and catch some waves at the nearby surfing beaches.
From here, take a bus up to Leon. Visit the great museums and soak up the atmosphere in a liberal city that became a focal point for the Sandinista Revolution. Book a day trip to go sand boarding down the nearby volcano called Cerro Negro and you’ll have a unique adventure hurtling down black sands.
Use Esteli as a base to explore the countryside
It’s an amazing place to spend your last couple of days in the country, and just a short hop from the international airport at Managua or the border with Honduras.