Managua/Granada/Isla De Ometepe/San Juan Del Sur/Leon/Matagalpa/Masaya
We recommend staying at least 4 nights in Leon. This historic city is filled with beautiful sites including amazing churches. Additionally, Leon is a great "hub" city to stay in while taking day trips to local towns including Matagalpa.
Just outside of Leon you can embrace yourself for Nicaragua's extreme sport: Volcano Boarding. Cerro Negro is considered the most popular volcano to ride so make sure you do not miss out! There are several tour companies that offer this sport for approx. cost of $40 Canadian in Leon including hostels. The cost includes commute to the volcano and back, all equipment needed and a local guide. This adventure is a must for any backpacker who is looking for some extreme fun on a cheap budget.
San Juan Del Sur is a tourist hot spot. Depending on the year San Juan Del Sur offers turtle tours and surfing lessons. Be prepared to pay for the tourist life but this town is worth it as a stop over. San Juan is known for its 'Sunday Funday' parties which draws in hundreds of backpackers each week.
'Chicken Buses' are the easiest way to get around in Nicaragua. Most buses cost between $0.50 -$2 Canadian. To get the full Nica-Life experience ensure to commute the way the locals do. Buses have there route painted on front of the buses (ex. Managua-Granada) so its easy for all people to get to where they need to go.
If you enjoy surfing or just the beach, the pacific coast of Nicaragua is worth the time. With bright blue water, crystal soft sand and perfect waves any beach adventurist will find relaxation in the Nica lifestyle. As a backpacker, we know that its a bit hard to lug your surf or wake board around but no need to worry. In several beach destinations, small local shops offer daily rentals (approx. $5CAN). Additionally, if you want to start your surfing journey in this amazing country pop up surf shops are available for you to take a class or two.
Flor De Cana is native to Nicaragua since 1890 and if you are in the Leon region you can visit the heart of the most awarded rum in the world. Ok I have to admit the tour is pricey but it was a pretty awesome experience and you get to try rum throughout the tour! The history behind Flor De Cana is key to Nicaragua because of the vast land that the family company owns and how they try to filter jobs to other local farmers throughout 5 generations. Worth the splurge if you love Rum.
If you love chocolate, make sure you head to Matagalpa (great day trip!). There is an amazing chocolate place that is native to Nicaragua and only sold in small parts of Central America. You can even get a tour of the very small chocolate "factory" which is an old castle style home in the hills of this enchanting town. El Castillo Del Cacao is worth the stop over to get some yummy Nica chocolate and a great gift for someone back home that is truly from the country.
If you are looking for a day of backpacker relaxation, I highly recommend visiting local hot springs on Isla de Ometepe. The hot springs are called Ojos De Agua (eyes of the water). The water is clear and cool but the small patches of warmth from the ground in the pools gives you true relaxation. Ensure to get there early as we heard from other tourists that it can get busy. We lucked out and there was barely anyone that day.The cost to get into the pools is approx. $3 Canadian but the perfect day trip.
Our favourite thing to eat while travelling through Nicaragua is the traditional Pinto Gallo meal. This includes fried rice and beans, a tortilla and a fried sunny side style egg. The best part is this meal is perfect for any budget backpacker only costing between $2-$4CAN. If your a true foodie, Nicaragua is the perfect place to indulge yourself while staying on a budget. Don't forget the mojitos!!! (several bars offering 2 for 1 specials costing $1 per drink)