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Introducing Managua

Managua is a shambles. It is chaotic and broken, poetic and mesmerizing, all at the same time.

And while most travelers are now skipping the city altogether – and arranging quick airport transfers from nearby Granada – stay a day or two and you will see that big, bad Managua ain't so bad after all, and that this truly is the heartstring that holds the nation's culture, commerce and conscious together.

Aside from diving into the whir of a magnificent beehive of honking horns, sprawling markets, garbage and rancor, this low-rise city with its improbable trees, remarkable street art and spirited monuments also gives you easy access to nearby lagoons, nature reserves at Montebelli and Chocoyero-El Brujo, a smattering of fun beaches like Pochomil, and the hot springs at El Trapiche.