Smoking Volcán Concepción and her almost perfect cinder cone rise from silvery, pure Lago de Nicaragua to pierce the cloudy sky. 'Land of Lakes and Volcanoes' indeed, you think, as the rolling waves of Cocibolca (an ancient indigenous name for this 'Sweet Sea') rock your suddenly tiny ferry into unspeakable admiration. For these symbols of the nation - wind over water, fire from the earth - convey the elemental significance of Nicaragua's most powerful passions, poetry (don't get them started, unless you want to) and revolution.
If you climb Concepción you'll look out over gorgeous colonial Granada and her hundreds of tiny tropical isletas (islets), across the slender isthmus pockmarked with crater lakes to where the Pacific breaks hollow on sandy cove beaches. Beyond, red-and-black Volcán Momotombo towers above Lago de Managua - its counterpoint is Sandino's massive iron silhouette, conscience of the nation and solemn defining feature of the Managua skyline. Proud León also beckons with its churches and museums, while the cloud forests, frothing waterfalls and incredible coffee of cool, green Northern Nicaragua may tempt you upwards. Here, in the mountains and lakes, Central America's mightiest rivers begin their journey across the autonomous, indigenous-owned rolling hills of the Caribbean Coast, to the sea.
For visitors of a certain age, just the name Nicaragua - taken from a tribal chief of such wisdom and power that he may never fade from this nation's collective memory - evokes grainy footage of camouflage-clad guerrillas, punctuated by gunfire and a 1980s soundtrack. Despite having ended more than 15 years ago, leaving Nicaragua one of the safest countries in the Americas, the Contra War is too often our collective memory of the land of Nicarao.
Ready to go?
These tours & activities make it easy:
Best places to stay in Nicaragua
Nicaragua travel guide
Traveling in Nicaragua is an authentic, nonstop adventure set among majestic volcanoes, enchanting colonial towns, invigorating cloud forests and glorious beaches.
Where to find secluded surf on Nicaragua’s southern coast
Inhaling the salty air, your body pleasantly fatigued from a morning surf, you gawk at the breathtaking, crescent-shaped cove and slouch deeper into your hammock...for surfers, Nicaragua has it all.
Nicaragua - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Nicaragua starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on the Nicaraguan outdoors.
Sprawling along the silvery edges of Xolotlán), broad Lago de Managua, this is the nation's capital and nerve center, an admittedly unlovely urban expanse of unsigned, tree-lined boulevards and uninspired modern monoliths that almost never seduce...
Island-hopping down Central America’s Caribbean coast
You don't always need suitcases full of cash to enjoy the Caribbean Sea – cradled in its western corner lie a number of idyllic island groups that are surprisingly easy on the pocket. San Blas Islands, Panama San Blas, Kuna Yala, Panama by Ben Kucinski. Creative Commons Attribution Licence.
Nicaragua - Granada (Chapter)
Granada drips with photogenic elegance, a picture postcard at every turn. It’s no wonder many travelers use the city as a base, spending at least a day bopping along cobblestone roads from church to church in the city center, then venturing out into the countryside.
From the crystal-blue ocean teeming with marine life to tropical rainforests alive with jungle melodies, take the road less travelled on this trip through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica with other travellers your own age.
Volcano Adventure- San José to Antigua
From the lush cloud forests of Costa Rica to the evocative cobblestoned streets of Antigua, get off the tourist track and discover the colour and spirit of Central America. Discover ancient Mayan ruins at Copán and visit small villages for insight into the region's vibrant culture.
20 unmissable extreme sports (and where to try them)
Ready to feel your pulse racing? From zorbing to volcano boarding, we’ve rounded up 20 adrenaline-packed but accessible activities to tick off your bucket list – and the most stunning destinations to try them in.
Nicaragua - San Carlos, Islas Solentiname & the Rio San Juan (Chapter)
This is where monkeys howl, alligators cruise the black water, and enormous 500-year-old trees shelter fingernail-sized tree frogs and carnivorous jaguars under one canopy. And there’s the sweet Archipiélago de Solentiname, mythic Río San Juan and spectacular Reserva Biológica Indio-Maíz.