Managua is the capital of Nicaragua.
- Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, IATA: MGA)(ICAO: MNMG), Aptdo 5179.
Delta from Atlanta, Los Angeles (3 times a week), Continental airlines from Houston, Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, American Airlines from Miami, TACA airlines from Miami and Washington Dulles (IAD). TACA also connects several times daily from San Salvador and COPA once daily from both San Salvador and Panama City. Flights from Canada are less expensive and less troublesome via San Salvador than via Miami. In the Winter, Air Transat (charter) flies non-stop from Montreal to Managua for packages primarily in Montelimar.
There are direct bus routes from all major cities stopping at various points.
Buses from Masaya, Granada, San Marcos and some from Jinotepe come in through the southeastern Carretera Masaya entrance and pass by the Centroamerica rotonda before going to either Mercado Huembes or UCA.
Buses from Jinotepe also come in through carretera Sur stopping by 7 Sur, a hub to go to via Carretera Nueva and Vieja Leon and C. Sur.
To go to the mountains in the north or the caribbean coast, buses leave from Mercado El Mayoreo.
- AVIS Rent-a-car . They have offices at the International Airport, Montoya zone, Carretera a Masaya. E-Mail: [email protected], Toll Free US & Canada: 1-866-978-6539, Nicaragua phone: 505-250-3366.
- Budget Rent-a-car . Has 10 locations around Nicaragua, toll free # 1-800 758 9586, nicaragua Phone 505 255-9000. cars from $10 per day up.
Directions in Managua are unlike most you will ever encounter. Earthquakes have left the city without a reasonable (or used) street address system, so most addresses are given based on landmarks and with the directions al lago - North, towards the lake, arriba/abajo (east/west) and al sur (to the South). For example, to instruct a taxi driver to drop you off at Casa Ben Linder , the directions are "en barrio Moseñor Lezcano, de donde fue el Banco Popular, 2 al lago, 2 arriba", which means, "in the Lezcano neighborhood, from where People's Bank used to be, 2 blocks towards the lake and 2 blocks East".
- Fair cab prices are currently between 20 and 30 cords during the day, and 30-50 at night.
- 110 goes from mercado Israel Lewites (buses to Leon) to mercado Roberto Huembes (buses to Granada), passing on the way by the UCA, where microbuses leave for both Granada and Leon, as well as Masaya and other cities.
- Buses to Granada, Leon, Jinotepe, Masaya, and Chinandega are also available at UCA (Universidad Centroamericana). Several city buses connect through UCA as well (102, 103, 110, 119).
- Bus fare is currently 2.5 córds. if you don't know which bus to take you can usually ask someone at the stop. there is no map of managua bus routes so most people just memorize them.
- Catedral de Managua. Ruins of the city's old cathedral are a remembrance of the damage caused by a 1972 earthquake that destroyed much of central Managua.
- Palacio Nacional. The old national palace is now a museum featuring several salons with exhibits highlighting the indigenous Nahuatl people and the 2,500 year old stone sculptures they left behind. A smattering of popular arts and cultural exhibits round out the museum, which also features a beautiful courtyard garden. Adult : 4 USD. Guided tour in spanish and english included..
- Rotonda Ruben Dario. There is a lovely fountain at the Ruben Darío Rotonda that is lit up at night and visible from Tiscapa.
- Tiscapa Lagoon. Fresh water lagoon in the crater of an extinct crater. This is where you'll also find the landmark silhouette of Augusto Sandino as well as military memorials. Zip-lines over the lagoon let you fly across the water in a harness (for a fee).
- Huellas de Acahualinca, ☎ (505) 2266 5774. M-F : 8AM to 5PM / Sa-Su : 9AM to 4PM. Footprints of a group of around 10 people that walked towards the lake 6000 years ago. The tracks were found 4 meters below the surface and were preserved thanks to a nearby volcano eruption. Adult : 4 USD.
- Gambling - There are many casinos, large and small throughout Managua. Star City has a number of locations. If you like to play poker, go to the Pharo's casino on Carretera Masaya. It has hold'em poker tournaments at night (when there's enough interest); $200 buy-in no limit table can be found a lot of nights, $50 tournaments. The nicest casino in Managua by far is Palms Casino just off of Carretera Masaya.
- Play billiards - There are at least three good pool places if you're in a group, Pool8, and the two Time Off locations. All are downtown. Time Off has excellent snacks.
- Catch a movie - You can catch good Latin American movies some Wednesdays at 7PM at the theatre near Art Cafe (a bar) near the Parque de las Palmas.
If you do not have the time to go to Masaya for handicrafts, go to the Mercado Huembes where you will find everything from souvenirs to hammocks, and paintings. Ask anyone how to get there.
- Los Ranchos: steak house that is so good, it spawned a chain in South Florida. Has been popular with locals for lunch and dinner since the days of Somoza. During that time, the politicians on opposite side of the conflict would run into each other here on a regular basis. Service is impeccable. They serve a churrasco that is hard to beat for flavor and tenderness. Order it with a gin Martini for appetizer. Located about 3 blocks north of estatua de Montoya. $$.
- La Plancha: Steak house at its best and finest. Dare you to try it and not say its one of the best steaks you ever had tried in your life. Their signature plate is the name of the restaurant: La Plancha. Comes with mashed potatoes and plantains on a hot grill. $$.
- Le Café de Paris: the best French restaurant in town. Taken care personally by its proprietor and chef, Jeaninne. Very good wines. Ask for its famous foie gras, green salad and pepper steak. Located in Los Robles. $$$.
- La Cocina de Doña Haydée: a good taste of local Nicaraguan cuisine. 3 Locations - Original off the Carretera Masaya km 4.5 (not far from Metrocentro), another near the Rotonda Bello Horizonte and the last in the food court at Metrocentro.
A good breakfast is Leche Agria - a homemade yogurt like drink. Look for signs advertising it in store fronts and pulperias. Put a little salt on it and eat it with tortilla.
- Casa del Cafe for good coffee and breakfast. Four locations, one in Los Robles, one on the second floor of Metrocentro, one in Galerias Santo Domingo and one after the security check at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport.
- Sushi Itto, in case you have a craving. Three locations, one in Carretera Masaya (in Plaza Familiar), one in Galerias Santo Domingo, and one in Plaza Caracol. $$.
- La Cueva del Buzo - great seafood freshly caught. Must go if you can afford it $$$.
- El Rincon Salvadoreno - fantastic Salvadorian pupusas and fruit juices in a pleasant outdoor area $
- Toro Huaco, in the Zona Rosa across from the Picoteo. Outdoor restaurant bar that is comfortable with large groups. Sit under the stars on clear nights. Open mike night on Thursdays for joke telling is good night to get to know the Nicaraguan sense of humor. Owner speaks English fluently.
- Music Lounge, 2 blocks north of the Texaco in Altamira. Outdoor/indoor music bar that plays a range of music. Nice lighting and atmosphere. Show up with friends.
- HipaHipa. Exclusive Club on Carretera Masaya. Entrance can be 150 cordobas, parties wed/fri/sat.
- Moods, in Galeria Santo Domingo located on Carretera Masaya. Fanciest and Hippest disco in Managua. Entrance can be from 150 cordobas to 300 cordobas, parties W-Sa.
- Broder, in Zona Rosa. Disco with entry fee up to 150 cordobas, parties Th-Sa.
- Arribas, in Zona Rosa on top of Broder. A good atmosphere, sometimes live music.
- Art Cafe, . Art Cafe is a very nice place for listening to live alternative music and have a tranquil evening. It has a colorful bohemian looks and art on their walls and in the vibe of the place and the people that frequent it in general. Go there by taxi, ask for "Art Cafe, en frente del Parque las Palmas"
There are tons of bars in the area south of the big BAC building downtown, find an abandoned place called Lacmiel and head east to find this zone.
There are also a few bars and restaurants around ZONA HIPPOS. Woody's has good wings. This area is west of the traffic light at Hilton Princess and La Union supermarket.
The "Zona Rosa" is an area with bars and restaurants that has sprung up in what was once a mostly residential area. It is located south of the BAC building. Highlights include Pharaoh's casino, Casa del Cafe, bars east of Lacmiel, la Casa del Baho restaurant, and Hipa Hipa bar.
Last but not least there are also bars and restaurants in the new "Zona Viva" in Galerias Santo Domingo
- Hospedaje Luciernaga Radio Sandino 75 mts east, Tel: 222 6570; 10 US for a room with private Bathroom (close to the Trans-Nica-Bus Terminal, Taxi ca. 1 US)
- Holiday Inn Select Managua, . 5 miles from airport, full service hotel, free Internet, free car rental with room, hotel and convention center.
- Hilton Princess Managua, . 5 miles from the airport and mere steps from some of the best bars & restaurants in town. Great staff.
- Santos Guest House is the most renowned budget place in town -- or at least the cheapest -- $5/night/person. This place might be handy for backpackers. Don't expect too much from the DIY plumbing and electrical wiring, but you will get your own bathroom/shower.
- Bolonia, home of Hotel Santos, contains a host of $5-15/night (negotiable) hostels within a few blocks of the Tica Bus station. Walk around and visit a few before you choose one.
- Hotel Europa has clean, comfortable rooms for about $30/night. It is owned by a Spanish guy. Located near the Crowne Plaza (one block al lago, one west, one block al lago).
- Crowne Plaza: This is one of the nicest Crown Plazas around. The service is impeccable, the pool is very nice, and there's marble everywhere. There's a casino and a sushi restaurant, several more restaurants within walking distance, and a small shopping mall across the street. Get a room with lake view and you will see clearly all the way to Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario, the old cathedral, and the old and new government buildings. This hotel was the Intercontinental for years until the new Intercontinental was built at Metrocentro. Before the 1972 earthquake that destroyed Managua, this hotel sat on the hill overlooking the whole city right next to the main military base and Somoza's bunker. It's where everyone who was anyone stayed in Nicaragua until the early 1990's. The EEBI (the elite force of the Guardia Nacional during Somoza's time) and the military academy were a short walk away. It's as if the U.S. advisers and politicos had a dorm right next to the Somoza government. Howard Hughes stayed here when he was in Nicaragua in the 1970's. It is said that he rented three floors for weeks and demanded that the staff not rotate. He met with Somoza about some business, but nothing came of it. Rooms go for $90-120 a night.
- Mansion Teolinda has nice rooms with Air Conditioning, cable TV, a pool and a restaurant. It was the well known house of a family until the revolution. It was confiscated and taken by a Sandinista and never given back. They retained the name Teolinda when they turned it into a hotel though because it is so well known. It is located near the Crown Plaza Hotel (two streets south, two blocks west). A double room with breakfast included goes for about $60.
- Hotel Colon has been recently refurbished. It is nice, clean and comfortable, yet reasonable and charming. Double occupancy rooms were $68 (or $53 for a less nice room) with AC and cable TV. Breakfast included, free parking in front. Location: south of the BAC building, east of Lacmiel about 2 blocks (updated 1/2007).
- Los Balcones(near the Spanish embassy) in Las Colinas close to Managua is a family run hotel with rooms that start at $25/night. 24 hour security. The owner speaks English, but the rest of the family and the principals of the staff don't. Breakfast is available. Rooms have air conditioning and cable, Wireless Internet for free, refrigerator, pool, safe parking. The Hotel's slogan is "One Bed - One Bathroom" The only downside is the traffic during the day if you're on the street side of the hotel; luckily not when you are sleeping. A big plus is the view of downtown Managua from the balconies. Some mornings are just amazing. Contact E-Mail [email protected] or at Phone 505-255-0031, ending 2 and 3.
- Managua Backpackers Inn . 2267-0006/8414-4114; Colonial Los Robles, 3era etapa, Casa #55, De donde fue Chaman 75 varas al sur. Dorms from $8 per night. This hostel is centrally located in the heart of modern downtown Managua, and offers guests a wide range of accommodation options and features. In less than 10 minutes you can walk to the MetroCentro shopping center, cinemas, parks, casinos, supermarkets, Zona Hippos, and over 50 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The surroundings are very clean and secure allowing guests to explore at any time without worry. Just a short bus or taxi ride to all of the major national sights, UCA, Bus Terminals, and markets. Airport transfers take 30 minutes, and a shuttle service is available for guests. Dormitory or private rooms, shared kitchen, pool, hot showers, air conditioning, free wireless internet and a relaxed comfortable atmosphere.
- Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, Costado Sur Centro Comercial Metrocentro, carretera Masaya, ☎ +505 2 2768989 (fax: +505 2 2768988), . 157 rooms with wireless high speed internet, 7 suites, rooms and executive floors. It offers its guests the services of restaurant and bar, gym, spa, pool, gift shop and print service. $150-600.
Nicaragua is much safer than it has been in the past two decades, but is not quite on par with Costa Rica in this respect. Minor gang violence has been filtering into Nicaragua from Honduras and El Salvador.
You don't see as many gang problems as you see in Honduras and El Salvador but they do exist but in much smaller numbers. They usually don't target tourists who are savvy, but if you go to the wrong place or get in an empty taxi you may be in danger, especially at night.
Go accompanied or avoid the Mercado Oriental. In Managua, avoid side streets outside of downtown (area between Metrocentro and around the BAC building.)
The area around the tica bus station has been deemed unsafe for tourists by the Nicaraguan police. If you must go, take a taxi to and from there.
If walking around Managua, watch out for the many pot holes on the street. Some man hole covers are missing and you can fall pretty bad.
Be careful on buses, while it is perfectly fine to carry a bag or purse, it may be safer to carry money and small valuables in your pockets. Buses get very crowded and people start getting pushy, this is a great opportunity for thieves to grab and run.
Be careful at stop lights, where there are a lot of panhandlers and window-washers.
- United States, .
- Granada - Oldest colonial town in the American continent. It has beautiful colorful and picturesque churches. While you're there, take a 2 hour tour of the Granada islands, 365 in total.
- Masaya Volcano National Park - Excellent park featuring a smoking, active volcanoe, a visitors center with historical and geological displays. Watch the crater fumes rise to the sky. Climb the steps to the Bobadilla Cross. See the flocks of bright green parrots who live in the volcanoe's walls. Guided walks to a bat-filled cave are available in the evenings.
- Caribbean Coast - Daily flights are available to Nicaragua's Atlantic coastline, where tropical reefs and small offshore islands offer a very different view of the country. Try to specially visit Corn Island and try their fresh garlic butter shrimp and other seafood that gets freshly caught each day. Swim in beautiful turquoise water or take a glass bottom boat ride and/or scuba diva in the coral reefs.
- Pacific Beaches - Try going to one of Nicaragua's best and most popular destinations: San Juan del Sur. This is a nice beach that has from $10 hostels to $70 nice hotels up to expensive condo rentals. There is something for every pocket. While in San Juan del Sur try to visit nearby practically unpopulated beaches of majagual and marsella, among others. Also, for a more comfortable tourist scene you could always visit Montelimar Beach Resort which is like 10 minutes from Pochomil Beach in the pacific. Rooms average of $75 all inclusive (buffet, soft and alcoholic drinks).