A weekend in Granada, Nicaragua
So, if you live in Costa Rica and your boyfriend lives in Honduras, you have to be creative and find fun and approachable ways to meet. Therefore, why not meet in between our countries? We picked a date and met in Granada, Nicaragua. If you travel from Costa Rica you can take a bus, there are four main companies that will take you directly to Granada. It will take you from 8 to 9 hours. Buses leave early, so I took the 5:00 a.m. bus and got to Granada by 1:00 pm on Friday. If you travel from Honduras, you can also take the 5:00 a.m. bus that will stop in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. From there you can take a chicken bus or a shuttle to Granada and get there almost at the same time.
We stayed three nights in a nice hotel in the center, most hotels have balconies with a view of the town, some have inside patios, and a swimming pool, which if you travel during the warmest months, from December through April you will appreciate a cool pool.
Granada is an old colonial town. It has well preserved colorful buildings and structures with narrow roads. We learned later that the Spanish government has invested financially in the restoration of the city. Here, people live from tourism, so they are very welcoming, and will be glad to help you with directions and recommend places. There are a lot of restaurants and shops. You can find day tours at very economic prices. From kayaking on the lake to a night hike at the Masaya Volcano, which is active and you can see lava on its crater.
What to do in a weekend?
We got there on Friday, by lunch time, we were starving and went to find a place to eat. It wasn’t hard to find one, since there are a lot of options, but we figured out later that the best food is not found on the main street Calle La Calzada, but on the cafes that are on the side streets, I highly recommend Garden Café. It has a beautiful courtyard garden with arts and crafts you can also purchase. I loved the Thai chicken wrap. Buts it’s up to you, since it is also nice to sit on those outside tables from the main street restaurants to enjoy the view and have a nice cold drink. You will see kids approaching your table asking for food or selling cashews though, so be prepared for that. It was a little shocking for me when one kid asked me to give him the taco I had on my plate.
Most hotels include breakfast, but don’t miss out on having breakfast one day at Kathy’s Waffle House. Order the chocolate waffle…yumm! You’ll be full for the rest of the day!
Take a walk
Take a walk through the town. Climb the tower at the Catedral, you pay a tip of $1 to climb to the bell tower. There are plenty of churches in Granada, but from this tower you can have a vast view of the city and its red tile roof buildings. Granada is known for its street art and colorful doors, markets, and parks. There are Art galleries with hand crafted items, wooden furniture, and paintings.
Granada is hot and humid, it can get up to 35 Celsius degrees (95 F°) so bring beach clothes mostly!! Enjoy a cantaloupe gelato while you scroll down and watch the locals sit on rocking chairs on the sidewalk to stay cool.
By night, do some bar hopping or restaurant hopping like we did. Start at Calle La Calzada, pick a place, I recommend Restaurante El Torito, have a drink and chat with the waiters, they are young and fun and they’ll tell you where to go if you feel like dancing or listening to some live music for later. Next, have a beer in the inside garden in El Hotel Dario, enjoy watching the water fountain while you have a nice talk, then move to El Tercer Ojo, sit and relax with a glass of wine.
If you are a runner like me, you’ll agree that when you run, you explore and get to know places faster than walking. So get up early, grab a bottle of water or bring some Quetzals or Dollars, American Dollars are accepted everywhere in Granada, and run. Run through town, through the market, run all the way down to the Lake of Nicaragua. You can run into the Touristic Center, you’ll see a big arch at the entrance. It is mostly visited by locals and it is considered a beach trip for Nicaraguans that live in the area. But it has a circuit path you can follow for a longer run.
Take a boat ride or a kayak ride through the islands
We booked an afternoon kayak tour which will let you watch the sunset on your way back. It was beautiful. The islands originated from volcanic eruptions, some have been expanded and are privately owned with big houses, others have restaurants. Make sure you stop in one and have coconut water. You get all wet in the kayak tour, so make sure you bring dry fit clothes, sandals, a bottle of water, and a waterproof camera. Although we didn’t bring a camera with us our tour guide was super nice, he took pictures of us and sent them later.
Hike the Masaya Volcano
You can visit and hike the Masaya Volcano. There are two craters, one is active and emits sulfur gas, you can get a closer view on the edge of the crater’s mouth and observe the glowing lava if you take the night tour. The other crater hasn’t been active in a while, so vegetation has covered it, but you can walk around and have a panoramic view of Nicaragua’s extended land.
I really loved exploring Granada. There are more things to do there, but don’t rush around on a schedule, take slow walks, sit on a bench, take naps…enjoy the city and relax.