Nicaragua Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
Nicaragua is a really up and coming destination with friendly local people and a stunning coastline. View our comprehensive travel and backpacking guide with tips, ideas for the best things to see and do and information about itineraries, costs, how to save money, and more!
Activities & Things to Do in Nicaragua
Get inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling or backpacking in Nicaragua.
Travel to Nicaragua
Nicaragua is stable and safe to visit with the civil war in the 1990's long finished. Tourism is playing a key role in helping the economy with new facilities, hotels and infrastructure being built. It's best to visit Nicaragua now before more people discover this special destination.
Our destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this up and coming country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get recommendations for budget travel tips, where to stay and advice how to stay safe.
Get inspired to visit Nicaragua today!
- Capital: Managua
- Currency: Gold Cordoba (NIO)
- Country Size: 129,494 km2
- Dailing Code: +505
How to Get to Nicaragua
International flights from Central America and worldwide arrive into Managua International Airport or you can cross the borders of Costa Rica and Honduras fairly easily.
Best Time to Visit Nicaragua
There is no best time to visit this country, we recommend visiting all year round.
Top Reasons to Visit Nicaragua
- History and culture
- Pretty towns and villages perfect for photography
- Spectacular beaches
- Friendly people
- Tasty food
- Great value for money. This country is very cheap compared to nearby countries like Mexico and Costa Rica
Best Places to Visit in Nicaragua
Here is a run down of places you might want to think about adding to your Nicaragua travel itinerary:
The Masaya National Park
In the Masaya National Park you can go up a volcano - it's all pretty active at the moment so you will be happy only to be allowed to take photos for about 5 minutes and then driven back down. The sulphuric fumes are pretty lethal so a short as stay as possible will be enough - there are spectacular views for the top. This location is included in most international tour itinerary but also some local travel agents offer day trips to see the volcano and then they will also take you to the Masaya market; a laguna and then to a ceramic school where you will be taught how to make ceramics - all in all, this is an enjoyable trip.
There is a tour to the Mombacho volcano (a dormant one) plus canopy zip tour through the forest which is a lot of fun! You will be driven up to the top of the volcano which includes a small hike of about an hour to check out the views over Granada and then go down for the zip tour. There are 11 platforms in 45 mins which will be an amazing challenge and probably something you haven't done before. A lot of people say this is their favourite tour/place to visit in Nicaragua.
There are boats to Las Isletas - a collection of 365 small islands formed when one of the volcanoes erupted years ago. This will be a very relaxing experience and also scenic - some of the islands have the prettiest houses and there are also monkeys that you can see close up and feed. Lunch is usually included in excursions here and you can also stop off for a swim on the way back to the mainland.
Off the Beaten Track
You might want to visit Masaya to have more of a wander about the sights, there are some scenic churches and buildings and it is a lot less touristy here. The Laguna De Apoyo is a beautiful and peaceful location, you can go swimming or hire a kayak to go out in the water.
Travelling & Backpacking in Nicaragua
Nicaragua the largest country in Central America, a tropical paradise and there are so many reasons why you should visit.
If you are looking for an authentic Nicaragua experience then our travel packages and backpacking ideas will appeal to you. Top things you can do here include relaxing in San Juan Del Sur, exploring the bustling city of Managua, checking out Las Penitas beach, learning to surf, taking a visit to Ometepe Island or kayaking around Las Isletas or Lake Apoyo. Other popular ideas for tourists include visiting Botanic Gardens, Museum of Legends and Traditions, The Ortiz-Gudian art gallery and for history the ruins of Leon Viejo are incredible.
Nicaragua is a very active destination and you can rent bikes at selections spots in the country, or if you are feeling like a challenge there are overland cycling tours throughout the whole country. You will get to ride about seeing the main sights in in places like Granada like the old train station, a few parks, the old hospital, the old fort, the centro turismo. The beaches in Nicaragua are also amazing and a top draw for internationals. Volcano boarding in Leon is popular with travelers or if you are looking for an adventure to relax by the beach head to San Juan del Sur which is one of the highlights.
Nicaragua is also a great wildlife watching destination, you can see exotic animals like monkeys and rare birds and there are also 25 volcanoes to visit. When visiting you can also enjoy the architecture of Granada or go swimming or snorkeling on the West coast. If you would like to escape away from the main tourist trail we recommended visiting the Caribbean Corn Islands which are spectacular and far away from the crowds. Leon is one of the highlights of Nicaragua, this place is very similar to Granada but much smaller which is great as it makes it all so walkable and you can manage to see quite a few sights in a short period. There are a lot of churches and pretty buildings, great for photos and the relaxed pace to life here will appeal.
If you are looking for the adventure of a lifetime then something not to be missed whilst in Nicaragua is to go volcano boarding, this can be arranged on a pre-organised tour or visit a local travel agent to get booked on to a volcano boarding tour. From Leon you will take an extremely bumpy road to Cerra Negro - the most active volcano in Nicaragua which is where most volcano boarding activities are held. You will have to hike to the top of the volcano with heavy boards in tow (sometimes this can take around 45 minutes) and then sliding down the other side on boards wearing yellow and green jumpsuits - this is an amazing experience. Sand and grit will get everywhere - in your mouth, nose, ears... you might have to wash and rinse your hair 6 times to get the stuff out! It will be worth it though.
We have an exciting range of authentic travel packages and holidays where you can explore the Río San Juan jungle, see old Spanish fortress ruins or visit active volcanoes in Maribios Volcanic Chain.
Health & Safety
The 1990's civil war which ravaged the country is long over and generally this is a safe country to explore. You might want to learn basic Spanish which will make getting around and everything easier.
Gap Year in Nicaragua
View ideas for taking a gap year in Nicaragua. On our website you can find structured trips and programs for students, graduates and people looking to explore. You could explore the Río San Juan jungle and see old Spanish fortress ruins or visit active volcanoes. The people of Nicaragua are extremely kind, there are lots of adventures but most importantly, for some travelers, they serve up the best Fanta Orange with ice. To experience this country on a budget you might want to avoid eating at Western places or Western food, you will find street food and eating locally will save you a lot of money. You might also want to combine experiences and book a gap year in Costa Rica too.