Backpacking in Nicaragua: Top 13 Sights in Granada

Backpacking in Nicaragua: Top 10 Sights in Granada

Backpacking in Nicaragua: Top 13 Sights in Granada

Out of all the countries in South and Central America, Nicaragua was the one that suffered most from my busy lifestyle. I only dedicated 5 days to the country in the end (a month in Guatemala and two weeks in Honduras were ‘to blame’) and for that reason, I decided to only visit Leon and Granada. I did pass through Managua but was basically only changing buses there so my soul opinions and experiences on Nicaragua come from Leon and Granada. I found Nicaragua a lot blander than the other countries, and slightly less intense in my short stint there, but I definitely enjoyed that!

Blander and Quieter - relaxed Nicaragua

Blander and Quieter – relaxed Nicaragua

I crossed from Honduras at El Guasaule and stayed in Leon at the Casona Colonial Hostel. A fast couple of days there and I ended up in Granada. I actually ended up staying a day extra in Granada anyway and have highlighted a cool top 13 to check out for you here.

Backpacking in Granada, Nicaragua - Top 10 Sights

Backpacking in Granada, Nicaragua – Top 13 Sights

While backpacking in Granada I stayed in the basic but well located Hostel San Angel, which is family run and I had a few nights out too, including a meal in Nectar Bar. By day and night I’d recommend this top 13 in the city itself – obviously the lake and the islands offer extra things to see and do, but stick to checking out these 13 in the city and you’ll be ready for your happy hour Victoria beer on Calle La Calzada.

Hostel San Angel, Granada

Hostel San Angel, Granada

1. Antigua Estacion del Ferrocarril
The old railway station is worth a peek. No trains run anymore here sadly and they’re not common in Central America but here is a reminder of the way things were in Granada. Back in the days you could get a train to Leon or San Jose from here.

Antigua Estacion del Ferrocarril - the Old Railway Station

Antigua Estacion del Ferrocarril – the Old Railway Station

Antigua Estacion del Ferrocarril - the Old Railway Station

Antigua Estacion del Ferrocarril – the Old Railway Station

2. Estadio Roque T Zavala (Baseball Stadium)
It was interesting to learn that Baseball is the number one sport here in Nicaragua. While the other Central American countries concentrate on football, the Nicaraguans are proud of their baseball tradition, so I headed out to the stadium.

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Estadio Roque T Zavala (Baseball Stadium)

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Estadio Roque T Zavala (Baseball Stadium)

3. Parque Central
The main park is also the main focus of the town. Hotels sprout up out of nowhere, outdoor market stands sell food and drink and an avenue runs right down to the Lago (Lake. Use Parque Central to admire the architecture and get your bearing.

Parque Central in Granada, Nicaragua

Parque Central in Granada, Nicaragua

Parque Central - downtown Granada, Nicaragua

Parque Central – downtown Granada, Nicaragua

4. Capilla del Sagrado Corazon/Iglesia Guadeloupe
This old church sparkles out on a corner on your walk down to Lago de Nicaragua. It’s open all the time by the looks of things and is in need of repair. The name of this church varies but you can’t miss it.

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Capilla del Sagrado Corazon

5. Lago de Nicaragua
The name of the Lake is actually Lago de Nicaragua and it’s massive. You can do all sorts of boat tours and activities here including hikes on Isla Ometepe. I was “laked out” after a week at Lago Atitlan (Guatemala) and having just spent a further week in the water diving in Honduras. So I just headed down to the Lakeside to admire it. There was a really pleasant mist in the air around the lake.

Down by the Lake - Lago de Nicaragua

Down by the Lake – Lago de Nicaragua

6. Iglesia de la Merced
This marvellous church dates back to 1539. While the Church architecture is stunning, for me the reason to visit is to climb the steps to the Bell Tower for a glorious view over the city. It will cost you $1 US but it’s worth it.

Iglesia de la Merced.

Iglesia de la Merced.

View from the Bell Tower at Iglesia de la Merced.

View from the Bell Tower at Iglesia de la Merced.

View of the Main Cathedral in Parque Central from Iglesia de la Merced.

View of the Main Cathedral in Parque Central from Iglesia de la Merced.

7. Fortaleza La Polvora
There’s an old fort here in Granada which was once called the Fortaleza de Armas. It has a good view over the town and is a leisurely stroll along Calle Real Xalteva.

Fortaleza La Polvora, Granada, Nicaragua.

Fortaleza La Polvora, Granada, Nicaragua.

8. Convento y Museo San Francisco
This Convent is definitely worth a look just because it’s the oldest church in the whole of Central America. The weird thing for me is that I couldn’t find it as in tourist brochures it looked blue! I later found it had been repainted and I had walked past it a few times.

Convento y Museo San Francisco

Convento y Museo San Francisco

9. Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora
“Mucho Iglesias” becomes a common theme in proudly Catholic Nicaragua, with Leon boasting a load of churches, Granada almost equals it. Again this changed colour a tourist brochure showed it as yellow but it’s clearly blue and white (much like that stupid gold dress that keeps clogging up my Facebook feed). Even worse, the photo cannot be turned round so get turning your laptops on their side to see it!

Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora - yes I've tried turning it round.

Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora – yes I’ve tried turning it round.

10. Post Office
As you might know I post my brother a new postcard from every country and almost every city. However in Granada it took me ages to find the Post Office as it’s just not obvious. It’s actually just round the corner from Convento y Museo San Francisco and when I got there it was packed! I had to wait for about 70 kids (no exaggeration) to post their letters before I could get my cards sent!

The busy post office in Granada

The busy post office in Granada

11. Iglesia de Xalteva
It had to be another church and one of sparkling colours, you can visit this one on your walk out to the Fort, where you’ll also pass the Iglesia Maria Auxiliadora.

Iglesia de Xalteva

Iglesia de Xalteva

12. Calle La Calzada (Bar Street)
By night Calle la Calzada (Bar Street) is the place to be in Granada – a street full of all sorts of foreign bars and restaurants including Mexican, Irish and Japanese. Plus of course Nicaraguan food and drink! The quirkiest bit for me was Imagine Bar, which is even on a corner on a street called Penny Lane. It’s like the Hippy Corner of town and the guy that runs the bar is a nut! You pay more for your beers in here too by the way.

Abbey Road and Penny Lane - Hippy Zone

Abbey Road and Penny Lane – Hippy Zone

While drinking a Macua cocktail in Nectar Bar I met Brian and Jeremy from Wyoming and we ended up on a bar crawl crawl together including the Irish Pub, the John Lennon Pub and a Mexican Bar. I also had a coffee with them the day after and hope to visit Jackson Hole in Wyoming some day! Hope you are well guys – what a great night out we had!

A night out with Brian and Jeremy from Wyoming in Granada.

A night out with Brian and Jeremy from Wyoming in Granada.

13. Mercado Municipal
I didn’t do much shopping in Nicaragua but I had a quick browse in the market here. Fridge magnet for my Mum, postcards etc. Plus the usual mix of fruit and veg stalls.

Shopping in Granada

Shopping in Granada

Aside from all this, it’s a funky quirky town and it’s a hard place to dislike – I totally recommend a few nights in Granada. What’s even better is there are daily long distance buses from here to San Jose (Costa Rica) and Tegucigalpa (Honduras). I also visited an art gallery and a few other places that I didn’t put on the list.

Art Gallery in Granada

Art Gallery in Granada

Here are my videos from backpacking in Granada, it’s well worth a few days for sure:

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About Jonny Blair

I'm Jonny Blair, a travelling Northern Irishman. Since leaving my hometown a decade ago I have managed to visit over 100 countries and over 600 towns or cities across all 7 continents. Along the way I have worked in countless jobs! Join my journey on Don't Stop Living - a lifestyle of travel as I provide you with tips and inspiration to live your travel dreams! Safe travels! Follow me on Jonny Blair Google Plus
This entry was posted in Granada, Lists, My Top 5s, Nicaragua, North America. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Backpacking in Nicaragua: Top 13 Sights in Granada

  1. Claudia says:

    It’s a pity you only managed to spend 5 days in Nicaragua. It is a gorgeous country. But I must say it seems like you did capture the essence of Granada in your short time there 🙂 lovely post, thank you for this!
    Claudia recently posted…Awesome things to do in NicaraguaMy Profile

  2. Jonny Blair says:

    Hi Claudia, thanks for the comment. Sadly that’s the way travel goes with me. I had 3-4 months in Central America but I started in Mexico City working my way south and had already a flight booked out of San Jose in Costa Rica as I was heading to a football match in Europe. Sadly Nicaragua suffered the most and I ridiculously spent 26 days in Guatamala which looking back was too much. My favourite countries were Honduras and El Salvador, but I still enjoyed my time in Nicaragua despite how short it was. Safe travels, Jonny

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