5 unmissable experiences in Nicaragua

From surf to sealife, this Central American country has a wealth of attractions to offer the visitor.

This beautiful Central American country hasn’t always had a smooth ride – but today its friendly folk, picture-perfect landscapes, wildlife and diverse heritage provide plenty of thrills for visitors. Start planning your itinerary with our round-up of the best experiences in Nicaragua.

Roam volcanic Ometepe Island

Board the ferry at San Jorge for the short crossing over Lake Nicaragua (reputedly home to freshwater bullsharks) to Moyogalpa and you’ll be greeted by the sight of Isla Ometepe’s twin volcanos, Concepción and Maderas.

Roam those volcanic slopes to find prehistoric petroglyphs, soak in natural springs at La Ojo de Agua, and spot wonderful birdlife at Laguna Charco Verde before settling in to admire the sunset with a cold Toña beer. Arguably the best way to explore the island is on two wheels – fairly flat, quiet roads skirt the lower reaches of the volcanoes; expect to be heckled by howler monkeys from the tree canopy as you pedal past.

Explore colonial León

Founded on its current site in 1610, arguably Nicaragua’s most winsome city (and former capital) boasts wonderful colonial churches, fine art collections and a passionately liberal character. Don’t miss the cathedral (officially the Basílica de la Asunción), a vast baroque masterpiece built from 1746 that’s the largest in Central America – climb to the roof for city views, though maybe not after midnight, when the stone lions guarding the facade are said to come to life.

The real joy, though, is in ambling the streets of the old centre, pausing to admire the ornate saffron-yellow facade of the Iglesia de la Recolección, catch a folk concert at the Casa de Cultura or dive into the city’s vivacious nightlife. Its colonial-era architecture is rivalled only by Granada, where streets are lined with a kaleidoscopic array of houses.

Chill on the Corn Islands

For a taste of tropical paradise, head 70km offshore to a pair of Caribbean gems where slowing right down, lounging in the shade of a palm tree and watching the turquoise waves roll onto golden sand is the order of the day.

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