In popular destinations with notoriously rough roads, such as Isla Ometepe, San Juan del Sur and several of the Pacific beaches, you'll often get outlets renting rugged sets of wheels that make tackling those roads a piece of cake. Expect to pay around US$25 per day for a dirt bike, up to US$65 per day for a quad and up to US$80 for a serious dune buggy.
In smaller towns there are fewer taxis and more tuk-tuks (motorized three wheelers) and triciclos (bicycle rickshaws). They’re inexpensive – around US$0.50 per person to go anywhere in town – and kind of fun. Tuk-tuks are also the easiest and quickest way to get between the Pueblos Blancos near Masaya.
The only city really big enough to warrant catching local buses is Managua, where the bus routes are really convoluted, the bus stops are often not marked and the service is only worth using if you've been living in the city for some time and know exactly where you're going. Given how inexpensive Managua's taxis are, it's not really worth spending time figuring out the bus routes for the sake of saving a few coins, particularly if you're only in the city for a day or two.
Almost all taxis in Nicaragua are colectivos (shared taxi or minibus), which stop and pick up other clients en route to your destination; however, it is always possible to pay a bit extra for an express service.
Managua taxis are unmetered and notorious for ripping off tourists. Always negotiate the fare before getting in. Taxis at major border crossings may also overcharge, given the chance.
Most other city taxis have set in-town fares, usually around US$0.50 to US$0.70, rising slightly at night. Ask a local how much a fare should cost before getting into the cab.
Hiring taxis between cities is a comfortable and reasonable option for midrange travelers. Prices vary widely, but expect to pay around US$10 for every 20km.
Hitchhiking is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Travelers who hitchhike should understand that they are taking a small but potentially serious risk.
Nevertheless hitchhiking is very common in rural Nicaragua, even by solo women – to find a ride, just stick out your thumb. Foreign women, particularly those carrying all their bags, should think twice before hitchhiking solo. Never hitchhike into or out of Managua.
In rural areas where bus service is rare, anyone driving a pickup truck will almost certainly stop for you. Climb into the back tray (unless specifically invited up front) and when you want to get off, tap on the cabin roof a couple of times.
You should always offer to pay the driver, which will almost always be refused.