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Nicaragua Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Nicaragua travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

Bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, Nicaragua is the biggest country in Central America and has much to offer travelers.

It’s quickly becoming a top travel destination and for good reason. From its beautiful biodiversity to its bustling cities, this country is home to roughly 47 million people and has a lot to explore.

Nicaragua is known as the land of lakes and volcanos making it a big draw for nature enthusiasts.

Lake Nicaragua, the biggest in the country, has been amazing outsiders since the 1500s. I mean, where else can you find oceanic marine life in a freshwater lake?

There are also several active volcanoes to explore throughout the country, each offering something different.

For a truly unique experience, head to Cerro Negro, where you can try your hand at volcano boarding; you’ll really have to see this one to believe it!

Moreover, beach lovers should check out Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, home to some of the most gorgeous shoreline in Central America.

Nicaragua’s cities are also full of life and new things to explore.

The country’s capital of Managua is home to incredible colonial architecture and museums like the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura, where you can learn all about Nicaragua’s pre-Columbian heritage.

While you’re there, sample some of the local flavors like gallo pinto, a rice and beans dish that’s a favorite among travelers and locals alike.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to Nicaragua. If you’re traveling in Central America, you won’t want to miss this incredible destination!

Note: This ultimate guide to Nicaragua travel contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Nicaragua Map

Use this Nicaragua travel map to begin planning your trip to this incredible country!

Nicaragua map

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Things To Do In Nicaragua

Discover the best places in Nicaragua to visit & the top experiences to have!

Nicaragua Travel Advice

Use these Nicaragua travel tips to plan the perfect trip!

Top Nicaragua Tours

Explore the local culture with the help of a Nicaragua tour guide!

  • Food Tour – Nicaragua Gastronomy in San Juan del Sur
  • Masaya Volcano Night Tour in Managua, Nicaragua
  • Hike Maderas Volcano in Ometepe Island from Managua
  • Day Trip to Cascada Blanca Waterfall in Matagalpa from Granada
  • Tour Chinandega & City of El Viejo from Corinto

Renting A Car In Nicaragua

Need a rental car for your Nicaragu trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Nicaragua Hotels

Click here to browse hotels in Nicaragua!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

Nicaragua Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Nicaragua tour. When visiting Nicaragua — or any other country in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Nicaragua itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Nicaragua Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling Nicaragua.

Q: Is Nicaragua safe for tourists?

There are several things to watch out for and keep in mind to stay safe while in Nicaragua. Nicaragua has an authoritarian government that limits freedom of expression, dissent against the government, and demonstrations. Demonstrations throughout the country have turned violent and if you are detained by the government, you may be stuck in that situation for a while.

While you likely won’t run into any issues like this during your stay, it’s best to watch what you say about the government and avoid any situations of unrest.

Also, keep the number of your home country’s local embassy handy just in case.

Street crime and theft are also common throughout Nicaragua, particularly on crowded busses and in popular markets like the Oriental. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep any valuables out of view, and only carry a small amount of cash.

Make sure any valuables are locked away before you leave your hotel, home, or hostel for the day to avoid pickpockets and keep any possessions out of sight before leaving your car.

“Express kidnappings” by unlicensed taxi drivers are also an issue in Nicaragua. If you plan to take a taxi during your trip, try to order it from a radio dispatcher at the airport or your hotel.

When the cab arrives, make sure that there is a red border around the car’s license plate and that it has some kind of company name or logo displayed.

These tips will help you weed out the legitimate cabs from those operated by criminals.

And of course, check your country’s travel alerts for Nicaragua before you leave to stay informed on any possible safety issues.

Q: Is Nicaragua expensive to visit?

Like many Central American countries, Nicaragua is very budget-friendly. The average traveler spends about $32 USD per day on accommodations, food, transportation, and other expenses.

Of course, this depends on your travel style — you’ll pay a bit more for higher-end accommodations and excursions.

Your biggest expense will likely be round-trip flights. Non-stop flights from the United States are rare, but you can find some good deals depending on your travel dates and your departure city.

Q: How long do you need in Nicaragua?

Most experts suggest spending 10 days to two weeks in Nicaragua to get the full experience of the country. If you’re doing a full tour of the country, you’ll want to spend a few days in each place.

You’ll also want to budget in a half to a full day for travel between certain locations as travel within the country is pretty slow and domestic flights are limited.

Q: What do I need to know about traveling to Nicaragua?

There are a few things to know before traveling to Nicaragua. It’s good to learn a few Spanish words and phrases before your trip, particularly if you’ll be traveling to more rural parts of the country. Not everyone speaks English, so knowing a bit of Spanish will take you far and shows respect when meeting locals.

Bluefields (the capital of the South Caribbean Autonomous Region in Nicaragua) and the Corn Islands are known as unspoiled coastal paradises, but their remote location comes with little access to medical care and law enforcement. The Corn Islands in particular are only accessible by plane. though flights are relatively inexpensive. Keep this in mind as you plan your trip.

Nicaragua also has a long history of occupations and revolutions, particularly in the twentieth century. Reading up on the country’s history before your trip can give you a better understanding of what you’ll see and the issues the country currently faces.

It’s important to be an informed traveler, particularly in places like Nicaragua.

Q: What are the top attractions to see in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is known as a land of lakes and volcanoes, so naturally, these are some of the country’s top attractions. Masaya Volcano and Cerro Negro are great for those wanting to explore beautiful hikes and active volcanoes. You can even surf down the volcanic ash at Cerro Negro (with proper protection, of course) for a truly unique experience!

Apoyo Crater Lake and the vast Lake Nicaragua are absolutely gorgeous spots and perfect for water sports. Take out a stand-up paddleboard, go for a swim, or try your hand at windsurfing on particularly blustery days. Alternatively, you can just enjoy the view and tranquility of an unspoiled paradise.

Nicaragua’s cities are also not to be missed! The lakeside city of Granada is home to some incredible Spanish colonial architecture as well as great restaurants and bustling markets.

In Leon, you can explore the ruins of Leon Viejo, one of the country’s earliest colonial settlements and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the city is home to the country’s National University, fantastic museums, and delicious food.

Q: Do I need a visa to visit Nicaragua?

Citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, and many other countries do not need a visa to travel to Nicaragua for less than 90 days. You will need to purchase a tourist card upon arrival for about $10 USD. Citizens of other countries may need to acquire a visa to enter Nicaragua.

It’s recommended to view your country’s Nicaragua International Travel Information page for the most up-to-date information on entry and exit requirements. You can also contact the Consulate General of Nicaragua.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in Nicaragua?

While many tourist attractions, as well as big hotels and restaurants, accept credit cards, it’s wise to carry cash when traveling to Nicaragua.

Moreover, it’s smart to bring a backup ATM card in case you run into any issues.

Q: What is the best time to visit Nicaragua?

While Nicaragua is a year-round destination, the dry season is between November and April.

Q: What months are summer in Nicaragua?

Summer in Nicaragua runs from November to April.

Q: Can you drink tap water in Nicaragua?

It is best to avoid drinking the tap water in Nicaragua.

Q: What is the hottest month in Nicaragua?

The warmest month in Nicaragua is typically April.

Q: What is the local currency in Nicaragua?

The local currency in Nicaragua is the Nicaraguan córdoba.

What would you add to this Nicaragua travel guide?