The Most Beautiful Historical Towns and Cities in Nicaragua

The yellow church in Granada, Nicaragua
The yellow church in Granada, Nicaragua | © elnavegante / Shutterstock
Photo of Jack Guy
2 August 2018

Controversy and exploitation aside, centuries of Spanish rule have left Nicaragua with some amazing colonial architecture. Here are the most amazing Nicaraguan cities and towns with the best examples.


A large city in Nicaragua, León is at once busy and laid-back. There is a large student population here, and plenty of revolutionary history in among the colonial streets and churches. The city is also known for its foodie scene, and it’s a top spot to spend a few days. Look into the sand boarding tours that will take you to nearby Cerro Negro.

Colonial Calvario church in the historical city of Leon, Nicaragua | © mundosemfim / Shutterstock

Ciudad Antigua

One of the oldest towns in Nicaragua is in the north of the country near the border with Honduras. Take a bus to Esteli and then on to Ciudad Antigua to see the impressive 17th-century church, which has elements of Moorish architecture. The town is a relaxed spot where you can get to know more about life in rural Nicaragua.


Perhaps the most impressive colonial city in Nicaragua, this place sits on the shore of Lake Nicaragua. It was the main port for the Spanish colony, and many of its impressive buildings are well-preserved. Today it remains a bustling commercial city and it’s a popular place for foreign immigrants to settle and build a new life. Make sure your camera is charged!

Houses in Granada, Nicaragua | © Guillaume Baviere / Flickr

San Rafael del Norte

Slightly northeast of Esteli lies this small town in the middle of the mountains. It’s a fantastic setting, and the impressive Templo Parroquial San Rafael Arcángel provides a great focal point for exploring.

Granada, Nicaragua | © Kanokratnok / Shutterstock


The Spanish set up artisan workshops in this small town between Managua and Granada, and it remains famous for its handicrafts today. It’s a popular stop with visitors looking to buy hammocks, textiles and other products, as well as those who want to visit the nearby Masaya volcano – where you can see molten lava bubbling in its depths.

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