a journey through western Nicaragua visiting beautiful colonial cities, stunning volcanoes and glorious beaches
A 12 day itinerary which gives a wonderful glimpse into a country with so much history, natural beauty and culture. Colonial towns, freshwater lakes and islands, volcanoes and glorious beaches combine to make a special ‘off the beaten track’ holiday.
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The Colonial cities
Days 1-5: After a first night in the capital, Managua, you are driven (about 2 hours) to León with views of Lake Managua and Momotombo volcano along the way. Two nights allows time to explore this delightful colonial city with cobbled streets, bustling plazas and Central America's largest cathedral. León Viejo (32km away) was the original site of the city, abandoned due to volcanic activity in the 17th century. An excursion to the Juan Venado Nature Reserve, where you navigate between the mangroves by motor boat, gives you the opportunity to see a variety of exotic birds, mammals, crabs and other wildlife.
Continue south (about 3 hours), with a stop on the way at the active Masaya volcano, and spend two nights in Nicaragua's other colonial jewel, Granada, on the southern shore of Lake Nicaragua. Founded in 1524 this is the oldest city in the New World with many colonial buildings, churches and an impressive cathedral. The lake has around 354 islands (formed during volcanic eruptions) which can be visited by boat, while the city can be visited by horse drawn carriage.
Days 6-8: Driven south (about 1.5 hours) along the shore of Lake Nicaragua to take a ferry (1 hour) to Ometepe island, rich in history and with diverse flora and fauna. Stay three nights at an authentic island lodge with views of Ometepe's towering volcanoes, Madera and Concepcion. Possible activities include boat excursions, volcano hikes, swimming in the lake, mountain biking or riding.
Days 9-11: Return to the mainland and driven (2-3 hours) to the Pacific coast near San Juan del Sur, for three nights at a beachfront hotel to relax.
Day 12: Driven (about 4 hours) to Managua airport for international connections.
A stay on one of the Corn Islands (Big Corn or Little Corn), renowned for their pristine white sand beaches, is also an option. The Islands are 70km off the Caribbean coastline and are accessed by a short flight from Managua. To reach Little Corn, visitors must additionally take a boat from Big Corn and getting around is on foot or by boat as there are no roads.
In the following section you will see our suggested options for possible accommodation.
The estimated flight cost included in this itinerary (assuming international flights from the UK plus any internal flights that are necessary) is £620 per person.
Standard - £2,840
A selection of properties offering good value without compromising on location.
- Finca San Juan de la Isla - an authentic Ometepe Island lodge on the lake shore and a perfect base for exploration.
- Hotel El Convento - a very central, colonial hotel in Léon with comfortable rooms, a lovely courtyard and a pool.
- Hotel Plaza Colón - overlooking the Parque Central in Granada with comfortable, spacious rooms a courtyard and pool.
- Morgan's Rock - an eco-lodge set on a bluff with a private beach, wonderful views, bungalows set amongst trees and a lovely pool.
Price and validity notes
We have tried to give you as accurate an idea of prices as possible, including meals where appropriate (but not when there are good local options so you don't pay for a meal that you might not want), accommodation, transfers, and any tours we have included.
All prices are per person based on two people sharing a room and are intended as a guide (local high or low seasons can cause some variation). All prices were correct when published but may vary with exchange rate fluctuations, fuel surcharges, or changes in the general economic situation.