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Central America Group Travel

6 Great Things To Do In Granada, Nicaragua

Last updated on February 29th, 2024 at 12:13 pm

There are so many great things to do in Granada, it’s not at all surprising that the city is a popular destination for visitors to Nicaragua.

Located in western part of the country, Granada lies on the banks of Lake Nicaragua. The city was founded in 1524 and is full of colonial history with cobblestoned roads and brightly coloured buildings around every turn.

I visited Granada as part of a group trip around Central America so my time in the city was short but really enjoyable! Here are my suggestions for 6 great things to do in Granada.

Hang Out in Central Park

Granada is built around a central plaza. It’s a large vibrant space where you will find a bandstand, fountain and statues. Locals and tourists alike gather under the shade of the trees and local vendors and tour guides are only too happy to sell you things you may or may not need! Spending time hanging out here is a great way to rest your feet!

Horse drawn carriages line up along the western side of Central Park whilst opposite, on the eastern side, stands the imposing Granada Cathedral.

Visit the Cathedral

The Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral (also known as Granada Cathedral) is a catholic cathedral towering over Central Park. The first cathedral was built around 1525, but was burned twice by 1578. A second cathedral temple was completed in 1751 with the cathedral seen today having been fully completed by the early 1970s.

The Cathedral is visible from various vantage points around Granada, including from the bell tower of Iglesia de la Merced.

Visit Masaya Volcano….at Dusk!

The Masaya Volcano National Park, at only 54 square kilometres in area, is however Nicaragua’s largest and first National Park. Located about 20-25 km from Granada, the Park consists of a volcanic caldera with 2 volcanoes and 5 craters. It is best known for offering visitors the unique experience of seeing a glowing lava lake!

A visitors centre not far from the entry gate offers permanent exhibitions detailing the history of the Park and information about the volcanoes. Lava flows erupted from the volcanoes in 1670 and 1772, however since then lava is seen only within the Santiago crater.

The indigenous people and their Spanish colonisers were equally fearful of the active volcano. The indigenous people made human sacrifices in an effort to abate the creature they believed lived within the crater, whilst the Spanish colonisers gave it the name the Mouth of Hell and in 1529 erected a cross near the crater to exorcise the Devil.

The lava lake contained within the Santiago crater is, in my view, best seen as the sun sets. The crater does emit gas and steam, however the views were clear enough on my visit to get a good view of the lake.

The Park is open from 5pm to around 8pm for evening visits, although it is also open during the day. Get Your Guide is always a good place to start when looking for an organised trip.

The nearby town of Masaya has a colourful market and is a stop off point for many tours.

Explore the Gorgeous Churches

In addition to the Cathedral, Granda is home to a number of beautiful, historic churches. Look out for:

  • Guadalupe church – constructed in 1626 with reconstruction taking place up until 1965.
  • Iglesia de Xalteva – almost completely rebuilt in the 1890s after suffering earthquake damage. There’s a nice park on the opposite side of the road.
  • La Capilla Maria Auxiliadora – a 1918 gothic blue and white church, with pastel colours continuing inside.
  • Iglesia de la Merced – built in 1534, the church was razed by pirates in 1655 and rebuilt between 1781 and 1783. It’s famous for its bell tower that you can climb for great views over the city.

Walk the Colourful Streets

Brightly coloured buildings and history seemingly around every corner make Granada a great place to explore on foot. One suggestion – take a walk from Central Park past the Cathedral along the well known Calle La Calzada, home to many restaurants, toward Lake Nicaragua.

Tired of walking, head back to Central Park and pick up a horse drawn carriage!

Visit Cafe De Las Sonrisas (the Cafe of Smiles)

A social enterprise providing work and skills development, the Cafe of Smiles is a cafe staffed entirely by deaf people. In addition to providing an opportunity to order using sign language, the yummy breakfast made for a lovely, educational visit.

In addition to the cafe, the staff also make hammocks and money boxes.

If you have several days in Granada, then there’s much more to see and do including but not limited to:

  • visiting Ometepe Island – check these options here with Get Your Guide
  • visiting Opoyo Lagoon
  • joining a chocolate making workshop – check out Chocomuseo for classes
  • visiting Mombacho volcano
  • taking a boat trip to the Isletas (the little islands in Lake Nicaragua)
Visiting Lake Nicaragua is a great thing to do in Granada

A Final Treat

If you’re looking for a special place to stay in the heart of Granada, try Hotel Real La Merced. Located across from Iglesia de la Merced, the pink coloured hotel is full of colonial splendour and is an oasis from the heat and energy of the city. I can highly recommend it!

If your journey to Nicaragua will take you to Granada’s rival, the gorgeous city of León, check out my posts 5 Exciting Ways to Spend Time in León and Volcano Boarding – What You Need to Know for a Thrilling Ride.

Disclaimer – Visitor information correct at the time of writing but do check before visiting.

Disclosure – This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you book something using them, I will earn a small commission but you will not pay anything extra. Thank you for supporting my blog.

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