Granada – Nicaragua’s Colonial Gem

The city of Granada, founded in 1524 and renowned for it’s colonial architecture and colourful streets, should be on the top of your “to-do” list when traveling through Nicaragua.

Wandering through the romantic streets of the city, it’s not hard to see why it’s nicknamed “The Paris of Central America”. granada Colourful buildings, colonial facades and beautiful courtyard gardens dotted with rocking chairs are just a few of the things granada doorsthat give this city its special charm. And, if you’re like me and you have a thing for old doors…well you’ll be in heaven! It’s a photographer’s playground. Check out this link in my Photography category for more.

Tour the City

On the central square of Granada you will find local vendors selling souvenirs, horses and carriages offering rides around the city and the main Cathedral whose bell tower offers awesome views over the city rooftops. granada cathedral

Get involved in the local experience by wandering through the street market and check out the various art galleries spread out across the city.  All along the way you will spot secret little courtyards – mysterious entrance ways that open up to magical gardens on every block.

When it’s time to sgranada courtyardtop for some lunch or a cold brew to escape the heat of the day, take a stroll down the “Calzada”. A quaint pedestrian road hosting several bars and restaurants and a few boutiques of local handcrafted products. At night this street becomes festive and busy (but also a little touristy), with street musicians and dancers performing as you sit at the bars. Granada is full of trendy and up market restaurants, so I would recommend to come here for a cocktail and head out for dinner elsewhere.

Eating Out in Granada

The Garden Cafe and Espressionista are popular places for both breakfast and lunch. They offering good quality coffee, delicious meals and their own boutique shops. Wok and roll is also a good lunch option with a fun menu allowing you to create your own sushi fillings and wok dishes! granada pita pita falafel

Pita Pita is definitely one of my favourites for lunch or dinner. Offering delicious Mediterranean and Lebanese/Middle Eastern cuisine. They also have amazing pizzas and a really nice evening ambiance in the courtyard garden.

Restaurante El Zaguan is well known for their Central and South American grill dishes, as well as other menu options to suit all tastes. They can also easily cater to bigger groups if booked in advance.

El Tercer Ojo (The Third Eye) is a super trendy restaurant and bar situated in a little open courtyard off the Calzada. This place boasts delicious cocktails and a menu of mixed cuisines – the gyozas are the best I’ve had since my trip to Asia! Sharing the courtyard space is an uber cool vintage boutique shop which you can peruse while you wait for your meal 😉

Activities and Excursions

There is plenty to do in the city and surrounding area. Visit the Isletas de Granada and kayak to Monkey Island. Fancy yourself a cigar connoisseur? Check out The Mombacho Cigar Factory and Doña Elba Cigars.

But one thing you absolutely CANNOT miss is a night tour of the Masaya Volcano. Stare into the fiery pit of this active crater and watgranada masaya volcanoch in awe at the molten lava lake below! I kid you not – it’s like something out of The Lord of The Rings, you feel like you’re about to enter Mordor! You can drive there by car on your own, entrance is $10. Or you can go from Granada with an organised group for about $30 for the trip. See the above link for more info. It’s totally worth it! It opens from 5pm for the night tour and closes by 8pm so you can be back in Granada in time for some delicious food at one of the recommended places.

 

la merced granada nicaragua

Visit the main Cathedral of Granada, build in 1583 and many other old churches dotted around the city. Climb up the cathedral’s bell tower for an awesome view over the main square and city’s rooftops. The contrast of the old La Merced church facade against its colourful surroundings is quite impressive too.

I recommend 3-4 days at least to explore this beautiful city and surrounding areas. One can really get wander-lost all day roaming the streets, discovering all the nooks of the city. There is something around every corner!

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