Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and the all-time-rival of Leon. It is located on the north west side of the Lago Cocibolca. Its colonial buildings in pastel shades, interesting history and relative safety make it an important tourism destination.
Typical horse cart in Granada
It was named by Hernández de Córdoba after the ancient Spanish city of Granada. This was done in honour of the defeat of the last Moorish stronghold, which had been Spanish Granada, by the Catholic King and Queen of Spain. Granada, Nicaragua was historically the sister capital in Central America to Antigua, Guatemala. During the colonial period, Granada maintained a flourishing level of commerce with ports on the Atlantic Ocean, through Lake Nicaragua (also known as Cocibolca) and the San Juan River.
The city has been witness and victim to many of the battles with and invasions from English, French and Dutch pirates trying to take control of Nicaragua.
Granada has long been a centre of commerce, including timber, gold and silver. Granada's economy continues to grow as it is becoming the national tourism hub. Though Granada remains Nicaragua's sixth largest city, it is widely known for preserving some of the finest colonial-era architecture in the country. A real estate boom had been under way for several years, with many European and Americans purchasing and renovating the area's homes for retirement or holiday homes and several foreign realtors establishing offices, but that boom slowed in 2007. The prior escalation of real estate prices in Granada and other parts of Southwestern Nicaragua has led to a shift of investor attention toward Northern Nicaragua and the cities of Matagalpa, Leon, Corinto and the surrounding beaches of Leon and Corinto.
Fly to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) and from there make your way by bus (every half hour from Mercado Huembes or the La UCA station) or taxi (around USD35 from the airport depending on your bargaining skills). As an alternative, you can take an air con shuttle for USD15 from the airport to Granada. In most cases, the shuttle will deliver you to any point in Granada. There is a tourist information counter as soon as you clear immigration. Ask the representative and she´ll point you to a reputable shuttle service. The trip by taxi or shuttle is about 40 minutes. Another option may be to fly to the Liberia Airport over the border in Costa Rica, but it would involve about 5 hours of travel and a border crossing. Rental cars are not allowed to cross the border, but agencies will arrange for car swaps and pickups on the other side of the border. Managua is by far your best option.
There is a small airport a few miles from Granada on the highway to Masaya. The airport was served only by Nature Air, which offered flights from San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica, the flights are now going into Managua International airport. Flights originate in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital and also from Liberia (IATA: LIR) in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The train that once existed was shut down during the era of Violeta Chamorro. So, no, there's no possibility to take any train to get there. Nevertheless, you can have the chance to visit the old train station, which is used as a technical school sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation.
Yes you can get there by rental car, which is often really expensive to hire, since imported cars are expensive too. The risk of theft is not so high, but it is advisable to park your car on places where a guard will watch your car. Expect to pay 10 to 20 córdoba (NIO) per night; all the guards are reliable. Most of the principal highways are in excellent condition, however other obstacles can surprise you, so be alert. Secondary roads range from paved to gravel. The roads from the airport are excellent on the most direct route.
From Costa Rica, take the Panamerican Highway, which leads from San José through Liberia, the border crossing at Penas Blancas, first bigger town in Nicaragua is Rivas, after Nandaime take a right onto the Granada-Nandaime road. Look for Granada-related signs.
You can hire a taxi from Managua to Granada or vice versa through Taxi Managua for USD45.
From Managua buses and mini bus shuttle services depart regularly 05:00-22:00 from UCA (University of Central America) terminal for around NIO24-44 or from Mercado Huembes and will take about 1 hour.
From Leon, catch a direct Leon-Managua-UCA shuttle for NIO25.
Granada is easily reached by first-class buses from neighbouring Costa Rica and Honduras.
There are two main options, either take the chicken buses which costs half the price (USD10) and fuzz your way through, experience a lot of interesting sights and the heat or hop on one of the (often agonizingly) air conditioned coaches, which are comfortable, get you there in about 8-10 hours (border crossing might take a while, and you will have to alight from the bus twice for passports and customs) and cost USD20.
The best options going from Costa Rica to Nicaragua are Central Line, TransNica and Ticabus. Back from Granada to Costa Rica you might as well take the Tica Bus or NICABUS. Just ask any taxi driver in whatever city you are in to take you to the Nica or TICABUS-station.
You can take the Ticabus from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Granada. Simply ask the driver to let you off in Granada (They go through the city anyway) and once you start seeing beautiful cobblestone streets and old Spanish-inspired buildings you will know you're in Granada and you can get ready to get off. From the Ticabus dropoff, do not take a taxi, the entire city and most hostels and hotels are within walking distance. Simply begin walking to your right and you will find this wonderful city.
There are also many shuttle services from Costa Rica that can take you to Granada.
From Tegucigalpa, you can also get the TICA bus, which leaves daily around 09:00 for Managua, for around USD20. Then take another bus (at a different station), or taxi, to Granada.
The ferry has been indefinitely cancelled due to the low water level of Lake Nicaragua stemming from a drought in 2014. While this ferry is likely to run again in the future, it could still be a year or more until it is ready to go again. It is still cancelled with no end in sight as of December 2015. There used to be a ferry boat running twice a week from San Carlos via Ometepe to Granada and back. It leaves San Carlos at Tuesday at 14:00 and Friday at 17:00. Departing from Granada, the boat leaves Monday at 14:00 and Thursday at 17:00. The ferry terminal is on the lake at the end of Calle La Calzada, 1km downhill from the Cathedral.
Granada is a small city; everything can comfortably be reached by foot.
Local taxis work on set prices : C10 by day and at night after 21:00, C20 per person, wherever you go within the towns borders.
Buses (old stylish US or Canadian school buses) go just about everywhere at about every time, you see them and if you slightly look like anybody wanting to go anywhere, be sure they'll load you on their bus. Another option are the mini buses which have a bit more set time, they're more comfortable but cost a bit more.
Horse-drawn carriages, known as coches, are a wonderful way to see the extent of the city limits. From the cemetery in the southwest, to the converted Rail Station in the north, to the water front in the east. USD30 for an hour and a half tour.
Granada's islets are not to be missed, and the way to see them is by boat. Boat tours leave from Puerto Asese, about 5-10 minutes from downtown by taxi.
Motorcycles (US$40/day) or scooters (US$30/day) can be rented from Geralds Motorcycles, inside an ice cream and internet cafe on the south side of Central Park. Directions: Parque Central, Costado este, de la alcaldia municipal, pegado a restaurante Nuestro Mundo.
- Volcan Mombacho Lots to do on the volcano...great hikes, a real cloud forest at the top, a couple of zip lines operators, tour of the coffee plantation and processing facility is. And the most spectacular views. Cooler temperatures than Granada city make it is great place in the hot months. Just 20 minutes from the city. Mombacho Lodge is about half way up and has nice rooms so you can get a real feel for the mountain with a visit that is more than just a few hours...they do a great night hike and are right on the treetop monkey highway.
A view from the Parque Central towards the Cathedral
- Volcan Masaya Nearby Granada is also the active Masaya Volcano. The crater is still billowing smoke and glows a deep red, although the color can only be seen during the nighttime tours of the crater. Most tour companies in Granada offer both daytime and nighttime tours of the volcano and the surrounding areas for about $30pp (or whatever you can negotiate!) which includes the $6 park entrance fee. The night tours start around 3pm and go to the large market in the town of Masaya—which has astonishingly non-pushy vendors—before heading to the volcano. You will then be driven all the way to the crater's edge for an impressive view into an active and smoking crater. Unfortunately the best summit views are closed after a 2012 eruption destroyed part of the caldera's rim, but excellent views of the surrounding countryside are still available from another nearby summit. After enjoying the sunset here, you will be driven down to a nearby magma tunnel which is filled with small bats and walk through ~150 meters of it. At the end of your tour, you will go back to the rim of the volcano, but this time at night, and observe the glowing red coming from the magma at the volcano's center (unfortunately, you cannot see the magma directly as there are no safe vantage points). This tour can be done yourself if you have a rental car, but be careful on the roads. It is theoretically possible to do this tour yourself without a tour or rental car, but this is very much not recommended. It is far enough from Granada that getting back at night would be difficult and sketchy.
- There are 6 main churches : the Cathedral, La Merced, Guadalupe, Xalteva, San Francisco and María Auxiliadora, which all have interesting historical backgrounds and are in very different states. You can visit the belltower of La Merced for US$1 from 10am until 6pm which offers a nice view on the town. Be aware that this is an active belltower, and will be rung (by hand!) every quarter hour. Watch your ears.
- Fuerte La Polvora is an 18th century fort (built in 1748) that's open for tours. A few historical exhibits are available on the main level, you can climb the towers for views of the quiet city streets, or wander through the lovely courtyard.
- Lake Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua), is the 10th largest fresh-water lake on earth and is inhabited by Bull Sharks, informally named the Nicaragua Shark. The beach area is not the safest area in town at night and comes with a rather unpleasant smell during the day. However, during the day this is a nice place to catch a breeze, and there are many Nicaraguan families that come here to pass the time. Vendors pass selling all kinds of food. Tours of the islands are available from Puerto Asese, near the pleasant Asese restaurant (known for its boneless fish).
- A bit further along the shore is the Centro Turistico, a park like area complete with bars and restaurants. It's a bit cleaner than the beach right down from the city, but a fairly far walk. All tours to the islands, even arranged tours, leave from here (if you arrange it in town, the companies provide shuttles to and from).
- The local market on the appropriately-named Calle El Comercio is definitely worth a glimpse, it's chaotic little market stands where you can get almost everything. The market is open everyday except holidays around and in the old Market hall, you can't miss it.
- The Central Park with the Cathedral and the Colonial houses surrounding it. The lively middle of town with a lot of handicrafts or snacks to buy, or just sit down at a bench and watch the city and its people.
- Take a boat tour of the Isletas. Boats leave from the marina at Puerto Asese or are arranged by tour companies in town. There are a few destinations on every visit: (1) Your guide will show you around the small islands—are owned by Nicaraguan and expatriate millionaires. (2) You will visit an old Spanish fort that was built on an island to protect Granada from pirates, (3) You will pass a small island with a troop of five adorable spider monkeys that live on a small island, and (4) You will stop at a restaurant on one of the islands (which one depends on your guide). The spider monkeys were rescued by a local veterinarian who then let them loose on the island, so they are tame and will climb on your boats (and you) and take whatever food offerings you have to give. They are not aggressive and will not look through your bags, so if you have food you don't want to give them, just put it away. If you like monkeys and want them climbing on you, the best chance for this is with morning tours, as the monkeys sleep through the afternoon—and were fed by morning visitors. Coconuts, which you can buy on the island with the old fort, make a good treat for the monkeys. If you go with a company, it will cost around $15/person. If you speak Spanish, are on a shoestring, and have a crowd of 6+ people and your own alcohol, you can just show up at the beachside dock on the way to the marina, and negotiate a rate of about $5/person (particularly near sundown when there is slim chance of another party arriving).
- Mi Museo, Calle Atravesada 505 (In front of Bancentro), ☎ +505 2552 7614, . Daily 08:00-17:00. Private collection of over 5,000 Nicaraguan Pre-Columbian ceramics. Free. edit
- The streets themselves with their charming Colonial coloured houses are always worth a wander.
- Make your own cigars at a cigar factory opposite the Xalteva church. The English-speaking owner will spend about an hour guiding you through the craft of cigar making, after which you'll get to keep your own as a souvenir or you can buy as many as you want. As a bonus, there is a pet scarlet macaw (the big multicolored parrot) that will perch on your shoulder for a photo (for free).
There are several tour operators in town, particularly on the pedestrian street La Calzada. Nearly all guides speak quite good English and are knowledgeable about the areas. We did two tours with Alberto at Erick Tours (Dec 2015) and he was a great guy / guide.
Puerto Asese marina in Granada
- PURE Gym - Spa - Yoga. Take a Yoga or gym class, get a massage from a qualified therapist, and enjoy a healthy vegetarian meal...all at the same place at PURE. 60 minute massage = $26. Meal $4-5. Yoga classes at 8 am and 6 pm on Mon-Fri, 9:30 am on the weekends. $5/class. Located on Calle Corrales, from the front of the San Francisco Convent, 1.5 blocks towards the lake (East).
- Mombacho Beach Club. The heat in Nicaragua is hard to stand, so you'll love refreshing yourself in the 60-foot pool. On top of that, it's located in a gorgeous courtyard, with a bar and free Wi-Fi. Enjoy a range of massages from aromatherapy to Shiatsu to ChocoTherapy, or just have a manicure, pedicure or facial. Entry to pool USD5. Spa treatments USD9-28.
- ArtesaNic Cigars del Puente Papa Q 2 1/2 al Oeste" From Parque Central Granada, 5 1/2 blocks going West on Calle la Libertad 2552-6496. Daily 10:00-22:00. Offers an impressive selection of premium cigars from Esteli, martini and whisky bar, posh lounge area with high-speed Wi-Fi. Has an interesting offering of Nicaraguan Art and Ceramics. Lounge, Jazzy Atmosphere.
- Rent a bike from Mapache located on Calle Cisne, 2nd left off Calle La Calzada. You can bike the entire city in one day.
- "La Bella del Mar"is the best way to see the isletas....the boat has two levels, a bar, restaurant on board and also a waterslide! The boat takes you into the thermal waters of Laguna la Calera where you can go for a swim!!
- ¡Wow Tours!. Take a boat tour around the hundreds of isletas in the Lake Nicaragua. ¡Wow Tours! is a Nicaraguan owned company that offers community tours of the islands, where you will meet the local people who inhabit them.
- Bluemountain Horsebackriding. Discover local farming and the area around the Mombacho-Volcano on horseback.
- Go up the church tower at the church La Merced (about USD1) and watch the sun go down over the bustling city.
- Take a Canopy Tour, where you will go flying on cables through the rainforest trees on the side of Mombacho Volcano. (USD25)
- Try interesting drinks at local market stands (such as cacao de leche, linseed drink or red beet drink, beware: often painfully sugary!).
- Get happy with Mangos! You can buy heaps of Mangos at the market for about 1 Cordoba each (which equals about a 17th of a US dollar).
- Take a bus to Masaya and visit the local and giant hand craftmarket (good advice: better see the new than the old market, same stuff, half the price).
- Get a very inexpensive table or seated massage at Seeing Hands Blind Massage, located in Computadoras de Granada, Calle 14 de Septiembre, 1/2c. south of the Firehall (Bomberos).
- Visit the Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve, about 10 kms south of Granada and easy to access by bus or car. Get a ride or walk to the top for the unique cloud forest and the spectacular views. Lots of hiking trails, zip line adventures and coffee finca tours. If you want a forest lodging experience, Mombacho Lodge is half way up and has cabins for rent.
- The Laguna de Apoyo' is a deep Volcano crater lake and presumed to have the clearest water in Nicaragua, you can swim and even snorkel in there. Overnight stays with either San Simian Resort or Laguna Beach Club can be arranged. A Taxi from Granada should cost around 15US. . You can alternatively take the bus to Managua and get dropped of at the entrance to the Laguna de Apoyo. From there you can ask for the next bus (6 NIO), take a taxi (USD4) or bicycle along a dirt road without traffic. Down the hill on foot (also taxi or rare bus) and bathing nude in the wonderful scenery.
- Local cinema at the Hostel named "Bearded Monkey", which shows two movies each day for only about 1USD entry-fee, has a really good selection of movies too, for friends of independent cinema, they rent DVDs all day long.
- The Choo-Choo train There's that weird train that goes all around town, originally for kids, but hey, great fun, it plays the latest reggaeton-tunes over and over again and it only costs five cordobas. Hop on whenever you find it.
- Casa de los Tres Mundos (Casa de Leones),The Foundation "Casa de los Tres Mundos" is an institution created to initiate, support and promote cultural projects in Nicaragua and Central America. Besides these artistic, musical and educational activities, which emphasize support for the poorer segments of Nicaraguan society, the foundation finances and coordinates an integrative rural development project in Malacatoya.
- Horse and carriages circle the city centre.
- Live music at Restaurant Imagine 1st left off Calle la Calzada, going towards the lake on Calle la Calzada from the Cathedral turn left first block (right after Cafe de Arte). One of the only places playing live classic rock (unplugged version) in the city. Live music starts at around 21:00 almost every day of the week. Check the sign posted on the door daily to see who is playing. Very relaxed atmosphere and great food although a little bit pricey. No cover charge.
- ChocoMuseo, . Take a free tour of the Museum learning where chocolate comes from and the history of the evolution of chocolate.Get a hands-on lesson of how to make your own chocolate in a Chocolate Workshop for USD17. They have a great all-you-can-eat buffet brunch for USD6/person that includes plenty of chocolate from crepes, pancakes, banana milkshake, and your regular US and Nicaraguan breakfast favourites. Call at least one day ahead if you are in a large group. For the extreme chocolate enthusiast, the Museum and Factory also offers tours to a cacao plantation on the Mombacho Reserve. You also get a chance to swim in the thermal waters, see the Isletas and ride on horseback. Tour cost USD65 on horseback, USD55 to hike. edit
- Nica Surf Adventures. Open daily, 8am-6pm. Nica Surf Adventures offers surf packages and tours for the Pacific side of Nicaragua. A typical package includes surfing, accommodations, sport fishing, and sunset cruises. Available for any group size and budget. USD50-555. edit
- Corazon Centento Granada (Content Heart). edit
- Vida Granada Before you head out on your day of discovery, be sure to have a look at the city's arts calendar for a complete listing of cultural events in the city — from live music, film, literary, arts events and cultural celebrations, the calendar is the source in Granada.
- Ciudad Lounge Cigars. Nicaragua is well known for its quality Cigars. It has won several times the Cigar of the year Award. The Ciudad Lounge is a very interesting cigar experience in Granada. Here you can learn the making and history of Cigars.
- "Mi Museo". Visit Mi Museo to see a working archaeological research centre, housing one of the world's largest collection of pre-columbian ceramics. See ceramics in the context they would have been used over 4,000 years ago. Go on Indy Tours to experience archaeological digs across Nicaragua.
There are several low-budget Spanish schools in Granada.
- Spanish Dale! Language Schoolis located in the heart of Granada, in the charming Hotel Spa Granada. The school boasts a team of Nicaraguan teachers educated and trained in all facets of Spanish grammar, direct and dynamic teaching methods and in effective student/teacher interactions.
- The local Red Cross is a good option, since you can buy one-on-one Spanish lessons from them and so support them. For more options look around for flyers.
- "CENAC" Spanish School is also a great option where you can learn Spanish with native speakers, in a country with much to discover and friendly people. Their goal is to teach Spanish as a second language, so that visitors to Nica can understand the culture and customs of the country. The school boasts 25 years of experience and local knowledge. Located 3 blocks east of the old hospital on Calle La Libertad.
- Casa Nica Spanish Schoolis a cooperative of women that has been teaching Spanish since 1998. Spanish classes are tailored according to skill level and interests, and students have a lot of fun while meeting people and getting to know the community through fabulous afternoon activities.
There are local guides too, that will show you around town or the area and tell you of the interesting history of Granada, one is called Gioconda, a very nice lady, that always takes her little traditional dress and umbrella around town, she sits every day in front of the Hospedaje Central. Her office is at Cafeteria Taza Blanca - ☎ +550 2552 2876 or mobile phone +550 8874 7822.
Volunteer opportunities abound.
La Esperanza Granada is an organization that sends volunteers into local schools to help out, or supports women's working groups, built a community centre etc. etc., for the impoverished outskirts of Granada. Volunteering is completely free of charge, minimum commitment is generally eight weeks but shorter stays are possible.
Casas de la Esperanza is another organization working in the outskirts of Granada to provide housing to impoverished locals. "El Camino a Cambio" is a short documentary about the organization.
Another volunteer option is Education Plus Nicaragua, a local NGO that educates and feeds children in the marginalized outskirts of Granada.
Local hostels and foreign-owned shops are sometimes looking for English-speaking people, and while the pay may be good for local standards, it will be significantly lower than what one would expect in their home country.
Granada is known around the world for its high-quality rocking chairs which can be seen all around town. The main vendors a bit out of town on the road to Masaya.
If you want to go cheaper, there's the option to buy local and famous Nicaraguan pottery, which you can buy in town, but the better option is to go to Masaya where there's a bigger choice and the prices are lower.
Also very typical are the hammocks, there are tons of hammock stores and factories in Masaya, but you can also get them in town for a bit more money.
- Lucha Libro Books, Avenida Miguel de Cervantes (1/2 block north Casa de la Mujer), . 08:00-20:00. If you've been travelling for a while, you're probably desperate for English-language books. By far the best selection of new and used books in Granada with thousands of English-language books as well as Spanish titles and other languages. Classics, dictionaries and study guides, Latin American non-fiction, a full collection of maps and travel guides for all of the Americas and much more. While there are bargains, expect standard prices for Latin American book stores – books are import items in Nicaragua. (For those sticking to a strict budget, nearly every hostel in Granada has a book exchange.) They also sell Nicaragua organic oils, handmade bags and jewellery, coffee, postcards and postage, t-shirts, mace, Mayordomo chocolate and other items. edit
- The Garden Cafe, (Kitty corner with Imagine bar. One block from the Calzada.), . edit A side from it being a cafe and restaurant with a beautiful garden, The Garden Cafe has a great shop full of handcrafts from many local companies and social organizations.
There are many street vendors quesillos, tamales, revueltas, carne asada, or local specialities such as gallo pinto (rice & beans), fried plaintains, nacatamales, bajo (yucca, plantain, beef mix). You can have it all between NIO5-15. But keep in mind that the standard of cleanliness can vary. The local specialty is Vigoron: cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and fried pork rind (or roast pork) on mashed yucca for NIO25 from the kiosks in the parque central. Great value (provided you are not a vegetarian).
- La Merienda (Vegetarian cuisine), Calle La Calzada, house #450. (Across from hospedaje La Calzada and before Guadalupe Church). 11:00-22:00. Twenty-one delicious vegetarian meals to choose from. Friendly and relaxing. USD3.50. edit
- El Gordito, Southwest corner of Parque Central (Head through the central park away from the cathedral, walk over to the far upper left corner of the park). 08:00-20:00. Outdoor dining at this popular kiosk of traditional Nicaraguan food: vigaron, nacatamales, gallo pinto (beans and rice), queso frito (fried cheese), roasted pork, etc. Good selection of fresh juices, teas and other drinks. Try the cacao (local chocolate milk). Most of the food is under $3 (with drink). edit
- Pupusawa, Calle el Comercio, frente al gallo mas gallo (head south a few blocks on the road starting at the SW corner of Parque Central, Calle el Comercio, the tiny restaurant will be on your left side after you pass a shoe store with a pink awning, if you see Pali, you have gone too far). 08:00-21:00. Ridiculously cheap El Salvadorian (and some Nicaraguan) dishes. Try the burrito, as well as order a refreshing te helado cacero con durazno (homemade peach ice tea) on a hot day.> Most items $1 or less. edit
- Tropicana, located on the left street going down the Cathedral (La Calzada). Offers really cheap and quite reasonable food, also breakfast, typical and Western style. edit
- PITA PITA - Mediterranean Food, Calle La Libertad y Miguel Carvantes (On the corner of Calle La Libertad and Calle Cervantes, one block from Parque Central towards the lake), ☎ +505 2552 4117, . 12:00-22:00. Pita Pita is a great place in Granada for traditional Mediterranean food: hummus, shawarma, Jerusalem Mix, and the only original falafel in Nicaragua. David, the owner, is a friendly and helpful guy from Israel. All ingredients are put in freshly-made pita bread baked daily on location. And if you like spicy, Pita Pita has some of the hottest chili sauce in town (David will warn you if you ask for it). edit
- El Pizzaiol, Calle La Libertad (One block from Parque Central towards the lake), ☎ +505 2552 4117, . Serves traditional Mediterranean and Italian food...the only place in town with wood-oven pizza in Granada. They also have fresh salads, pasta, vegetarian food, and a variety of Mediterranean dishes. Sit around a beautiful and quiet garden in a pleasant atmosphere. edit
- Charly`s Bar & Restaurant, 4 Blocks west from Old Hospital, . German cuisine and best BBC. Draft Beer and handmade Cheesecake by the owners Charly and Maria Elena. edit
- NEcTaR, Calle La Calzada (1.5 block east from the cathedral), (NectarNicaragua@gmail.com), . They arrange the local traditional meals into tasteful and beautiful dishes. They offer a selection of freshly made juices and cocktails. Live music every Thursday. edit
- O'Shea's Irish Pub and Restaurant, 216 Calle La Calzada Granada, Nicaragua (Green building in front of Dario Hotel), ☎ +505 8454-1140, . 10:00-02:00. Large quantities of good food available all day (including the to-die-for Jalapeño steak). O'Shea's serves traditional Irish fare, Nicaraguan food, fish & chips, and craft beer. One of the few places on the Calzada that serves liters of beer. Sometimes service can be slow because of the popularity of the place. (11.930010,-85.951557) edit
- Reilly's Tavern, Calle La Libertad (One block from Parque Central), . 11:00-03:00. Reilly's serves up great food and drinks every day with probably the best vibe in Granada. Located one block north of the chaotic and noisy Calle la Calzada; it's VERY popular with travelers, locals, and expats. They have the longest and cheapest Happy Hour in Nicaragua. The bar and kitchen are open until late at night. Here are some of their Daily Specials... Monday Nights: Pub Quiz / Tuesdays: Tequila and Mexican Tacos (plus FREE Chips & Salsa / Wednesdays: Open Mic & Karaoke / Thursdays: Hot Wings & All Day Happy Hour AND Men's Night (FREE SHOTS for the guys) / Fridays: Ladies' Night (FREE DRINKS for every woman in the bar) / Sundays: Bloody Mary and Bloody Caesars (all day $2 each). (11.9306546,-85.9526454) edit
- Asese. Has a beautiful location, on the edge of Lake Nicaragua, with lush foliage surrounding it and a rustic, spacious dining area. Boneless fish platters are the house speciality. edit
- Café DecArte, Calle Calzada (Go one block East from the Central Park on Calle La Calzada. DecArte will be on the Northwest corner.). Offers delicious international (some organic) food and excellent drinks, snacks and meals are between 40 and 150 cordobas, it's nicely surrounded by local art. Daily Specials. edit
- Ciudad Lounge, ☎ +505 2552 6496 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Th-Tu 10:00-23:00. Eclectic Fusion cuisine restaurant. Menu includes prime cuts of tenderloin beef, chicken, lobster, fresh seafood, pastas & vegetarian dishes. This restaurant was rated by the New York Times USD7-29. edit
- El Tercer Ojo (Third Eye), (located on the left street going down the Cathedral (La Calzada)). Offers good food, a lot of Spanish Tapas and Daily Specials in a beautiful atmosphere, Tapas and whole meals ranging between 40 and 260 Cordobas.. Also offers art-books and a big selection of Wines. Plate USD6-25, 15% tax and 10% tip added to bill. edit
- El Zaguan, (on the street along the back/east wall of the cathedral). One of the best examples of churrasco, the delicious Nica grilled steak, cooked over an open grill. Set in beautiful colonial open-air garage. entrees ~8$us. edit
- La Claraboya, ☎ +505 2552 2775. Tu-Su 07:00-22:00. Fusion cuisine restaurant. Menu includes prime cuts of tenderloin beef, chicken, lobster, shrimp and fresh seafood pastas. USD 10-20. edit
- Imagine, one street north of Calle Calzada (Going towards the lake on Calle Calzada from the Cathedral turn left first block (right after Pasta Pasta)), ☎ +505 8842 2587, . 16:00. Offers delicious food, excellent drinks, homemade salsas, snacks and meals are between 150 and 400 Cordobas (without value added tax). There is always live music playing, usually from 8PM, classic rock (unplugged version), great fun and atmosphere. Daily Specials. edit
- Las Jarras, Calle Libertad, piedra bocona 25 metros al oeste (From Central Park, 2 1/2 blocks up Calle Libertad), ☎ +505 8582 4943. Widely considered the best place in Granada to enjoy "frito." Chicken, beef or pork, marinated and char-grilled to perfection, served on a bed of fried plantains, and topped with salad, with optional side orders of gallo pinto and fried cheese. The portions are hearty, to say the least. In addition to the tables on the street, there's a nice interior patio with a bar. USD2.50-4. edit
Great drinks can be purchased from local vendors at the corner in Parque Central, such as linenseed-drink, hibiscus ("jamaica") iced-tea, or red beet drink or anything else, completely overloaded with sugar. Nice alternative: The local "Cacao" drink, milk and powdered chocolate beans, almost like chocolate milk, available in most cafes. Also "Raspados" made with crushed ice and raspberry syrup are very delicious and are usually sold by vendors around the Central Park.
And then of course, the local coffee! You have the biggest range: organic, shadegrown, fair trade...
- Coffee La Amistad. Nice place to chill out, Steven is a big help and is full of information about trips and sights in an around town. Good coffee and Iced Tea!!
- Cafe Lucas previously Don Daffa "Parque Central" "email@example.com" Located in the shadow of the Cathedral. Nicaraguan/Caribbean cuisine, in addition, they have a very nice selection of Chinese Food choices. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and exotic drinks. Vernon Hodgson from Corn Island is Proprietor and Chef.
- Cafe de las Sonrisas (Smiles), (From Iglesia de la Merced, 50 metres towards the lake), . edit The cafe is employed by people with hearing impairments and it's also a social centre doing many things.
Here are a few bars worth mentioning:
- O'Shea's Irish Pub and Restaurant, 216 La Calzada Granada, Nicaragua (Green building with tarp in front of Dario Hotel), ☎ (508) 8454-1140, . 10am - 2am. Dubliner Tommy Griffin pours a mean pint of Guinness in this friendly pub. Quiz nights on Wednesdays pull a crowd all vying to win the first prize: a liter of seven-year-old Flor de Caña rum. (11.930010,-85.951557) edit
- El Bar, Hotel Plaza Colon (In front of the main square), . 12PM - 10PM. El Bar offers a select wine list, classic cocktails and appetizers. Outdoor sitting and indoor AC sitting. splurge. edit
- Margarita Bar & Grill, Calle la Calzada (two and a half blocks down the Calzada from the park), ☎ (505) 2552-6139, . American sports bar on La Calzada right between Parque Central and Lake Nicaragua, and home of the famous "Golden Cadillac Margarita" (Cuervo Gold, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier). The restaurant serves fantastic food including daily seafood specials, baby back ribs, filet mignon, and Coney Island hot dogs all at very reasonable prices. The bar serves more variety of cocktails --and the coldest beer-- than anywhere else in Granada. Bob the owner used to run a bar in the Florida keys, so service and quality are top-notch here. edit
- Mombacho Beaclub Club Bar, . Mojitos, Cuba libres, and domestic and import beers offered at Mombacho Beach Club. Delicious salads, sandwiches, nachos and other specials are served edit
- Granada Beach Bar, Centro Turistico, al fondo. Toward the end of the Centro Turistico, Granada Beach has live Tropical music Thursdays through Saturdays. Tons of locals come out to drink and dance the night away. budget. edit
- Backyard Hostel, Calle Libertad 2 blocks west of parque central, ☎ +505 8984 2490, . checkout: 11:00. Cheap bar (USD2 a litre for beer) with lots of interesting people. Very clean dorms, great location, cheap food, nice hangout spot, 5 adorable pet bunnies that hop around the garden, and last but not least, a great swimming pool. You will definitely enjoy the pool during the hot hours of the day. [Edit April 2016: The entire hostel stank of cigarette smoke and all the mattresses are wrapped in plastic so any sweat pools under your body the entire night.] dorm USD8 (April 2016). edit
- Casa del Agua, Avenue Guzman (SE corner of Central Park, S 1/2 block on Avenue Guzman), (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Small 8 room guesthouse half a block from the Cathedral. Has a great pool to relax in after a long hot day in Granada. All rooms have a private toilet, shower with hot water, a flat-screen HD television, a strong floor fan, and wifi access. Air-con is also available in the rooms for USD10/day. There is a large full kitchen with appliances and utensils so you can make use of the fresh food at the market that is a few blocks away. A simple breakfast is available each morning (donuts, cereal, milk, coffee, tea). You can book the entire place for a group and there are two studio apartments with a private entrance available as well. Laundry (wash+dry) is available for $7. The owner, Gerry, is very amiable and happy to give guests suggestions on what they might like to do/eat/see in the area. Sgl USD19, dbl USD38.. edit
- De Boca en Boca, North of Iglesia Merced, ☎ +505 5752 7434, . checkout: 11:00. Great atmosphere and very good price compared to the service, clean and well-equipped bathrooms and good furniture. Further good restaurant and bar. If you don't need a pool this is your budget choice. dorm USD8 (April 2016), dbl USD24. edit
- El Tiangue, Calle Atravesada (near intersection of Calle Estrada). No frills, but great price and location. USD10 for a private double room (spotless bathroom two doors down). Three blocks from Parque Central, around the corner from the Oasis, gated entrance. Upstairs from the street market, 2-3 blocks from busses and grocery store. Awesome quick, cheap food is across the street (about USD1 for a full meal), in a green building that can be easy to miss during the street's busy hours.
- Hospedaje Central, 1 block west of the parque central in "Calle La Calzada". Don't expect fancy, but it is comfortable enough. It is run by a nice family. It has an unbeatable location, sitting in the main street where all the cafes, bars, and street performers can be found. It has a front bar/restaurant as well but isn't a very lively place to be normally. USD5 per night in dorm. USD12 for a room with private bathroom. Free Wi-Fi in room and free coffee. The food is not the best, but the Mojito Happy-Hour is unbeaten: Cervezas NIO10 per bottle or NIO22 for a litre, 2 Mojitos for NIO25.
- Hospedaje Esfinge, Costado Sur Oeste del Mercado Municipal (Large yellow hotel across from the old green Mercado on Calle Atravesada), ☎ +505 2552 4826 (email@example.com), . checkout: 11:00. Owned by a lovely old lady, this quiet and quite large place is fairly nice for a budget option. A safe place, with a night guard. Located in the center of the market with a Pali supermarket next door. Kitchen on site is free to use. Some of the rooms are festively painted. Free wifi in common room but doesn't reach most rooms. The building is very old so expect a few ants, but the beds are comfy and the rooms are clean. US$16 for a double with private bath. edit
- Hostal el Momento, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Colonial House and a brand new hostal with a really nice garden with lots of seating and lounge areas. Very good security as it is close to a bank, they also have security cameras and safe boxes in the rooms and the dorms have lockers also. The privates come with and without bathrooms but all have cable TV and there is free Wi-Fi with iPads free to use. They have a bar and cafe in the garden or you can use their guest kitchen. Great set up and willing staff looking to help in anyway. USD14-22 single room and USD22-28 double room. edit
- Hostal La Casita, Calle 14 de septiembre 2 1/2 blocks north of La Merced church, ☎ 2552 4797. Advertise themselves as the cleanest hostel in Granada. The kitchen available for use includes: a refrigerator, 2 stove-top gas burners (no oven, and burners must be lit with a match), a few pots (mostly aluminum), old dishes and silverware. Free computer & Wi-Fi in common area. Laundry service available. Receptionists are helpful. They advertise themselves as quiet, but are not averse to welcoming loud groups who stay up all night drinking in the courtyard. No television, and no sound system. A cat lives there too. edit
- Hostal La Mexicana, Calle Real Xalteva no.507, ☎ 2552-2413. *La Libertad, Calle La Libertad. A nice, clean, quiet hostel in an airy and spacious colonial building. Well-equipped kitchen. Warm atmosphere with Wi-Fi and three computers with internet. Unlimited coffee in the morning included. Private USD13,8, with bath USD20,(may 2015). edit Private USD13,8, with bath USD20,(may 2015). edit
- Nuestro Mundo, Costado sur del parque central, contiguo a la Alcaldía, south/west corner of parc central (Go to park central and on the corner of the park closest to the Cathedral you'll see a balcony with 5 pillars. that's the one!), ☎ 8983 9803, . checkout: 11am. Every room has its own private little kitchen. Towels included. Rooms with balcony has a view (of less then 20m) on the Cathedral and the central square. Rooms are clean and feature a double bed and one single bed, a refrigerator, coffee machine and tv. Each room on the first floor has a balcony and shared bathroom/toilet. Rooms on the ground floor feature a garden with private toilet and shower. The beds are ergonomic and the view is unbeatable. Laundry is possible. $20 (large) rooms. edit
- The Oasis, Calle Estrada 109, ☎ 552 8006 (email@example.com), . A bit more expensive than the other hostels, but very nice. Clean and safe, free 15min phone call home on their Internet phone (to Canada, Europe, US), free Internet, a small restaurant that mainly serves breakfast, modern colonial style interior, a courtyard with hammocks and another courtyard with a small pool. Multiple TV's with a large selection of dvds to choose from. Great view from the rooftop pila as you wash your clothes. They also have private, air-con rooms for around USD20/night. Dorm USD9. edit
- Hotel La Mesa del Padrino, From the S. Francisco square, 1 and 1/2 blocks North, in front of the Gymnasium Sport, . A small, family run hotel with en-suite rooms and a large tropical garden. $35. edit
- Hotel Casa San Francisco (firstname.lastname@example.org), 207, Calle Corrales (Diagonal from the San Francisco Convent), ☎ 1-505-2552-8235, . checkin: 1pm; checkout: 11am. Beautiful boutique hotel with pool, wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, air conditioning, hot water, tv/cable. The first boutique hotel in Granada, serving travelers for 10 years, check out trip advisor. Great staff to take care of your travel plans, also offering, longer term housing. www.hotelcasasanfrancisco.com $45-$70. edit
- Casa Silas Bed and Breakfast, 206 Calle La Concepción (1.5 blocks west of the market), ☎ 011 505 8883 6834 (email@example.com), . The casa features 2 guestrooms with wireless internet, AC, complimentary VoiP telephone to US, Canada and Mexico, complimentary cell phones, on-site bicycles, swimming pool and breakfast. $55. edit
- Hotel El Club, at Calle La Liberdad and Avenida Barricada, ☎ 2-552-4245 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The hotel features 11 rooms with wireless Internet. This hotel doubles as a disco, so be ready to party. edit
- Hotel con Corazón, at Calle Santa Lucia 141, . Hotel con Corazón is a beautiful hotel (15 rooms) in the center of Granada. A double for $64/71 including taxes and a extensive breakfast. Swimmingpool and WIFI included. It has a special twist, discover how your visit helps Nicaragua build a brighter future with your stay. edit
- Hotel Casa Vivaldi, Calle El Caimito, from the Alcaldía, 4,5 b. to the lake. http://www.hotel-granada-nicaragua.com Discover one of the most comfortable hotels in Granada, Nicaragua: an oasis with the biggest pool in town surrounded by tropical vegetation will offer to you beautifull moments of relax, away from city daze. $44-$54/night edit
- Hotel El Almirante, Calle Corrales 111, Granada, ☎ 505 2552 4628 (email@example.com), . In a renovated colonial house in the historic center of Granada. The hotel rooms have bathrooms, flat screen TV and safe deposit box. Swimming pool, free wireless internet access and cable TV. $60. edit
- Hotel Jerico, Calle Calzada, Granada, (firstname.lastname@example.org), . The rooms have air-con, big bed, sofa and free wi-fi. Two computers in front for use too. The place doesnt have much atmosphere, but for the price, it might be the best deal in the area. Its also far enough down the main strip that it doesnt get noisy. $30. edit
- Hotel Spa Granada, Calle Atravesada, Across from Bancentro, ☎ 505 2552 46 78 (Enjoy@HotelSpaGranada.com), . In the largest intact surviving colonial house in Granada. The room rental includes a 30 minute massage and access to the largest pool in the historic center of Granada. $60. edit
- La Islita Boutique Hotel, Calle El Cisne, 3 blocks south of Calle La Calzada. http://www.laislita.com Chic, Intimate, Stylish; cozy boutique hotel; eight rooms with comfortable beds, AC, WiFi, cable TV, private bathroom, continental breakfast; stunning rooftop terrace. $50-$75/night edit
- Hotel La Pergola, from City Hall, 3 blocks towards the lake, ☎ 2-552 - 4221 (email@example.com), . An antique colonial house built in the XIXth century that has been restored conserving the characteristic of the wonderful houses of Granada. edit
- Hotel Colonial Granada, (50 meters from plaza), ☎ +505 552 7581, . from US$55. edit
- Hotel Plaza Colon, (across the street from the central plaza), ☎ +505 2552 8489, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Beautiful boutique hotel. $79-104. edit
- Hotel Spa Granada, (Calle Atravesada in front of Bancentro), ☎ +505 2552 4678, . from USD49. edit
- Jicaro Island Eco Lodge, ☎ +505 2558 7702, . http://www.jicarolodge.com On Lake Nicaragua. Very close to downtown with easy access to Granada. Private all-inclusive. Secluded 2-story casitas. Swimming Pool. Free Wi-Fi. Yoga retreats. from USD300. edit
- La Alhambra, right in the middle of town. beautiful. USD50-80/night
- La Gran Francia, right in the middle of town. beautiful. USD90-200/night
- Mombacho Lodge, Mombacho Volcano Granada (Past park entrance about 1 mile and follow signs), ☎ +505 8499 1029, . New lodge tucked away in the forest on the way to the top of the volcano. New private cabins with all comforts but in tune with the surroundings. Bar and restaurant. Monkeys in the trees, miles of trails, night wildlife tours. USD85. edit
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Internet typically costs up to NIO20/h.
Nicaragua was rated the safest country in Central America, however, minor gang violence has been filtering into Nicaragua from Honduras and El Salvador. The capital, Managua, has the largest number of inhabitants but the majority of crime there is petty theft. Granada, the sixth largest city, is generally safe but using common sense and always walking with someone else at night here and everywhere else in the country is recommended.
In Granada, the moneychangers are licensed and provide a terrific alternative to the banks.
Social workers in Granada strongly advise to not give money or food to begging children. In Granada the homeless situation is not nearly as severe as in other poor cities. Orphanages and charity organizations take care of homeless children, and poor people have access to charity kitchens. The kids that beg and sell items to tourists do this to make easy money, and are being exploited by adults. Anything you give to these children keeps them from the place they belong: in school. , , 
Power outages can be frequent, especially during the dry (tourist) season. Electricity, water and internet can go out at any time and it is advised that you shower early to avoid the unexpected water shutdown. Occasionally inclement weather will create an outage, as you'd expect anywhere.
Some will advise not to drink the tap water as it will make you sick, though most have no problems. Also, make sure when you buy bottled water that the top has not been opened because some people without scruples will fill the bottles with tap water.
You must also be careful with the insects; be sure to bring repellent as Nicaragua does have malaria and chikungunya, this is especially a concern during the wet season.
There are different bus terminals scattered all over the town. The chicken buses to Rivas (for Ometepe and San Juan del Sur) leave from near the "Mercado", chicken buses to Managua leave from a terminal on Calle Elena Arellano, just north of the Tica bus office. Express microbuses to Managua leave from near the Parque Central.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!