Last Updated: June 14, 2021
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Known as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes,” the country is home to expansive volcanic terrain and ethereal cloud forests as well as historic colonial cities and wonderfully rugged coastlines.
I love visiting Nicaragua. It’s one of the best countries in the region. My visit there exceeded my expectations. Granada, Leon, and San Juan del Sur tend to pull in the crowds, but if you leave the main southern cities and get a little off the tourist trail, you’ll discover even more diverse landscapes and friendly locals who are more than happy to show you around and share a beer.
Nicaragua is gaining momentum as the ‘next’ Costa Rica, but it still remains one of the most budget-friendly spots in Central America. Recent political unrest slowed tourism down but, as the unrest subsidies, people are coming back.
This travel guide to Nicaragua will show you how to visit on a budget, save money, and make the most of your trip!
1. Visit Little Corn Island
This miniature archipelago 70km off the Caribbean coast is one of the best places to relax in the country. You’ll be rewarded with other-worldly diving with hammerhead sharks and underwater caves, fresh seafood, and plenty of hammock downtime on one of the many deserted beaches (invest in a good hammock of you’re serious about your R&R). Don’t miss Otto’s Beach while you’re here — it’s one of the most amazing beaches in Central America.
2. Explore Rio San Juan
This historic waterway is a wonderful stopover for nature enthusiasts looking to indulge in kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching. Despite the surge in eco-tourism in the region, accommodation options are still no-frill and very low-key, with Wi-Fi and phone coverage also being scarce. It’s the perfect place to disconnect. Full-day jungle tours cost around 2,100 NIO ($60 USD).
3. Hike a volcano
Nicaragua has 19 volcanos (9 of which are active). The two peaks on Ometepe––Concepcion and Maderas––are the two most popular day hikes in the country. Concepcíon, towering at 1,600m (5,249 feet) is a baking hot hike, so bring lots of sunblock and water. Maderas is easier but muddier, with a lake at the summit. Cerro Negro (near León) offers a comfortable sandy route from top to bottom. If you’re hunting for scenic Insta-worthy views, hike to Telica (also within easy reach from León) for a spectacular sunset.