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Travel Guide to Granada & Masaya, Nicaragua

Map of the Area

Granada & Masaya Nicaragua - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery
  • Masaya 55.1 sq mi (142.6 km2)
  • 26.2 °C (79.16°F)
  • UTC (GMT) -6 hrs
  • The Nicaraguan Córdoba (NIO) C$30.2524 = $1 USD.
  • Spanish
  • Masaya Municipality 139,701 (2005)
  • 11°58′N 86°06′W

Masaya & Granada, Nicaragua

Rich history, folklore and volcanoes

Imagine yourself walking through one of the most important colonial cities in Central America. Soak in the unique atmosphere and visit its many shops and markets. Having long been the center of commerce Granada on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua and on the base of the Mombacho Volcano is still a good spot for finding bargains on local arts and crafts as well as gold and silver jewelry. The city of Masaya close by is also well known for its bustling market. The Masaya National Park with the Masaya Volcano is Nicaragua’s first and largest National Park with two volcanoes and five craters. Be sure to walk a bit up so you can get a view of the smoking crater and the superb views.

Granada & Masaya Nicaragua - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Masaya, the smallest and most densely populated department in all of Nicaragua, is located 20 km (12 miles) south of Managua. It is home to the Masaya Volcano whose crater is an impressive sight. Its capital city has the same name and is 29 km (18 miles) from Managua.

The colonial city of Granada is located some 47 kilometers (29 miles) from Managua. Founded in 1524, it is the oldest city in the continental Americas. Set on the west coast of Lake Nicaragua, it has excellent potential for tourism and historical interest and ideal to explore the many little islands set in the lake. Please click on the links below to see what this town and its region have to offer you.

Masaya offers something for every area of interest

Historical

El CoyotepeFort, Masaya's churches and central park, the crafts market, Monimbo neighborhood, the churches of Nindiri and Niquinohomo.

Scenic

The Masaya Volcano National Park and its craters, caves, lava fields and hiking trails; the Masaya and Apoyo Crater Lakes; the scenic overlook in Caterina; the roadway between Ticuantepe-La Concepcion-San Marcos.

Ecological

The vegetation of the Masaya Volcano, semi-humid forests in the piedmont and ravines of the Mesa de Los Pueblos.

Granada & Masaya Nicaragua - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Masaya, Nicaragua

Capital of Nicaraguan Folklore & Home of the Masaya Volcano

The town of Masaya was established around the time of Nicaragua's independence, as the "Royal Village of San Fernando of Masaya". It was part of the Oriente department for many years, until it became a separate department in 1883. It has nine municipalities: Masaya, Nindiri, Catarina, San Juan de Oriente, Masatepe, Nandasmo, Niquinohomo, Tisma and La Concepcion. The latter has the most developed hotel and restaurant infrastructure. They all enjoy scenic splendor, a mild climate, lush vegetation and deep cultural roots in mestizaje, manifest in their gastronomy and crafts.

All of these towns may be reached by paved roads, with the exception of Tisma.

The department of Masaya is the center of Nicaraguan folklore and crafts and so it is to be expected that its crafts market is the largest in the country. In 1999, the city was named the "Capital of Nicaraguan Folklore", and it is also known as the "City of Flowers".

Masaya is a town where the folklore is experienced intensely, and it is a center for typical foods, crafts and many religious festivals. Every Thursday, a folk fair is held under the slogan, "Let's Go to Masaya". It offers the best of the region's music and dance as well as many traditional crafts and folk art items such as hammocks, embroidered dresses, fine crafted leatherwork, wooden crafts, sculpted masks, and pottery. Also visit the crafts workshops in the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbo, where you can watch skilled craftspeople at work and obtain souvenirs in the local shops.

The tourist options could not be better as there is such a short distance between the destinations: the Masaya Volcano National Park, the Masaya and Apoyo Crater Lakes, the overlook from the Hotel Lagos y Volcanes, the picturesque towns and the El Chocoyero-El Brujo Reserve. The folk art industries of Monimbo and the so-called Pueblos Blancos (White Towns) are also noteworthy.

Granada, Nicaragua

Colonial architecture, Lake Nicaragua & Mombacho Volcano

Like Leon, the city of Granada still retains its colonial style. Relive those times by taking a ride in a horse-drawn coach, leaving from the Parque Colon, and enjoy the scenery of Granada. On Fridays, experience the Noches de Serenata (Serenade Nights) and enjoy the local cuisine and a festive atmosphere enlivened by a variety of musical groups.

The Convent and Church of San Francisco were founded in 1529. San Francisco is the first church of the city and one of the most important colonial buildings in Central America. The Convent is now a museum that houses part of the pre-Columbian statuary of Nicaragua.

Visit the shores of Lake Nicaragua and take a boat ride from La Cabaña Amarilla or from Port Asese for an incredible ecological voyage among 350 small islands, borne of an ancient and violent explosion of Mombacho Volcano.

On the Isleta La Ceiba, visit the hotel of the same name, where you may enjoy aquatic and fishing activities and spend the night under a sky inundated with stars. Take photographs of the San Pablo Fort. To the south is Zapatera Island, famous for its many pre-Columbian petroglyphs, which are well worth viewing.

Plan a tour of the Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve , and enjoy wonderfully scenic views of the city, the Isletas of Granada and the Mombacho Volcano itself, from its two scenic overlook points. Hike the nature trails to learn about the lush flora and fauna of this spectacular volcano. The towns of the department of Granada are: Nandaime, Diriomo and Diria.

Granada & Masaya Nicaragua - Travel Guide - Tropical Discovery

Day Tours in Nicaragua

Adventure - Nature - Culture – Wellness

 

All our half or full day tours and activities are private and specially designed to cater to the groups specific needs and wants, enabling you to enjoy Nicaragua's beauty. They range from Nicaraguan culture and traditions, exotic plants and animals, volcanic wonders, sightseeing, a variety of art exhibits, shopping, and plenty of beautiful photos to take home with you. Our tour guides will accompany you throughout the day and share the secrets of each destination. Unless listed otherwise, each excursion departs daily. These are also only a sample of our most popular day tours, please contact us should you be interested in something specific.

*Recommended gear for all these tours: comfortable walking or hiking shoes, light clothing, bathing suite, sunscreen, sunglasses, drinking water.

  • The oldest city in the western hemisphere of the Americas, Granada was founded in 1524 by the conquistador Hernández de Cordoba. Once the business and shipping capital for the entire region, today Granada proudly remains as one of the last and truly colonial cities: an undiscovered jewel. On this excursion, we will visit the Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent and its Museum, with its vast exposition of pre-Columbian statutes and pottery, the colorful market, the charming cobblestone streets, and numerous architecturally significant churches and monuments. During our horse-carriage drive, your guide will not only focus on the rich and exiting history but also on the today's daily life of the "Granadinos". Tour includes: Land and boat transportation, horse carriage, entrance fee at monuments, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)
  • The oldest city in the western hemisphere of the Americas, Granada was founded in 1524 by the conquistador Hernández de Cordoba. Once the business and shipping capital for the entire region, today Granada proudly remains as one of the last and truly colonial cities: an undiscovered jewel. On this excursion, we will visit the Casa de los Leones, San Francisco Convent and its Museum, with its vast exposition of pre-Columbian statutes and pottery, the colorful market, the charming cobblestone streets, and numerous architecturally significant churches and monuments. Following our appetizing lunch in a colonial style house, we'll embark on a boat tour of Granada's famous Isletas, an archipelago of inhabited islands formed by an ancient volcanic explosion, just off the shore of Lake Nicaragua.

    * Available from Granada or Managua: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land and boat transportation, horse carriage, entrance fee at monuments, lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

  • This is an unforgettable day in rural Nicaragua. We begin the day by visiting the Masaya Volcano National Park, with the stunning and active Santiago crater. It's one of the few places in the world where such an active volcano can be observed up close. We will also visit the ecological museum, here our tour-guide will explain various details: geology, history, vulcanology and ecology. Next, we will visit Nicaragua's most popular open-air handcraft market located in Masaya, where Nicaraguan handicrafts can be purchased at exceptionally low prices. At lunch time, we will drive to Catarina one of the famous traditional towns, where ornamental plants and flowers are grown. Here we will taste the traditional food (bocadillos) at a typical restaurant, while enjoying the impressive panoramic views, over the Apoyo Lagoon and the region. Before returning to your departure point we'll pass by San Juan de Oriente and observe artisans making the famous and beautiful potteries.

    * Tour available from Granada, Managua or Montelimar: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land transportation, entrance fees at National Park and monuments, lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / other on request ).

  • We will start our day by visiting the first city of Leónbuilt in 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Córdoba and abandoned by its inhabitants 60 years later, because of scaring activities caused by the Volcano Momotombo. León Viejo has been declared in the year 2000 by UNESCO a "heritage site of humanity" as a symbol of Spanish conquest. Following that, we will discover the charms of the actual León, enjoying the attractions of this cultural city, its churches, monuments, markets, and learn about its rich history, including its most famous former resident Rubén Darío, Father of Nicaraguan poetry. After enjoying a pleasant walk through the colonial streets, we will enjoy our lunch at a typical restaurant in the second largest city of Nicaragua.

    Departure: Daily from Tuesday to Sunday

    * Tour available from Granada, Managua or Montelimar: Please inquire for details and pricing Tour includes: Land transportation, entrance fees at monuments and museum, lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

  • Managua has been Nicaragua's capital since 1851 and today more than 1/3 of the country's population lives there. During this half-day excursion we will witness the evidence of the 1972 earthquake on old Managua, as well as the emerging new Managua city, product of a rapid growth. We will visit its both Cathedrals, Lake Managua, the recently renovated National Palace (containing most of Nicaraguan culture and history), and a thriving market. This tour also presents the dramatic differences of the two societies, between the rich and poor and the contrasts that exist in many other ways as well and shows the visitors urban daily life in an unforgettable way.

    Departure: Daily from Tuesday to Saturday

    * Tour available from Granada or Managua: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land transportation, entrance fees at National Palast, Foot Springs museum, Lomas de Tiscapa, lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

  • The Mombacho Volcano is known as the guard of the colonial city of Granada. The high point measures over 1,300 meters and is a unique microclimate for the region, because of its altitude and frequent thick cloud covered forest. This impressive forest is protected and since 1999 part of the Natural Reserves of Nicaragua. We will drive from the savanna dry region at the volcano's base up, driving through coffee farms, into cloud forest humid conditions. Arriving at the top, the self-guided tour will bring you into the 2.5 km path with descriptive panels and information about the area, the fauna, the flora, and the volcanic activities. Along this path we will discover an unusual collection of orchids, ferns, butterflies, birds, and, when the weather is right, we will enjoy fantastic views of Granada and the surrounding countryside.

    * Tour available from Granada or Managua: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: 4x4 transportation from departure point, entrance fee at the reserve, documentation with translation of explanation panels.

    Please note: Mombacho Cloud Forest is a self-guided tour. For more flexibility we use our own 4x4 transportation to drive until the summit of the volcano.

  • We will start our day by visiting the mysterious Mombacho Vulcano Natural Reserve. Here we will enjoy the impressive and unique fauna and flora of the area (see tour before). After this visit we will continue our day stopping by the "Canopy" installations. After receiving our gear and carefully listening to the instructions about our next exciting tour, we will begin to glide safely the 17 platforms located in the tree tops. During our trip, we will enjoy at the same time the forest, coffee plantations, great surrounding panoramic views and lots of fun!!

    Departure: Daily from Wednesday to Sunday (Mon-Tue on request & with additional costs)

    * Tour available from Granada or Managua: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land and 4x4 transportation, entrance fee at the Reserve, Canopy Tour with professional instructors and equipment, translation of explanation panels.

    Please Note: Self-guided Tour at Mombacho Cloud Forest / Canopy Tour with English speaking instructors

  • Born in 1850, the Cerro Negro volcano (Black mountain) is one of the youngest volcanoes in the world. During the last 9 years its violent activity has left permanent marks on the region. In 1992, lava ash completely covered León, the second largest city of Nicaragua. The last eruption was in August 1999, when two new craters were formed. Hiking the lunar landscape of the volcano, descending its crater, and admiring the surrounding landscape are an unforgettable and exciting experience. Medium to good physical condition is required by all participants. This tour will be combined with a lunch stop at the Pacific beach of Las Peñitas where we will enjoy a succulent fresh fish in front of the ocean.

    * Tour available from Granada, Managua or Leon: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land and 4x4 transportation, entrance fee at the reserve and to the hot springs, Lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

    Please note: Medium to good physical condition is required.

  • Born in 1850, the Cerro Negro volcano (Black mountain) is one of the youngest volcanoes in the world. During the last 9 years its violent activity has left permanent marks on the region. In 1992, lava ash completely covered León, the second largest city of Nicaragua. The last eruption was in August 1999, when two new craters were formed. Hiking the lunar landscape of the volcano, descending its crater, and admiring the surrounding landscape are an unforgettable and exciting experience. Medium to good physical condition is required by all participants. This will be combined with a visit to the San Jacinto boiling soils, testimony of the large and constant activity of the area.

    * Tour available from Granada, Managua or Leon: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land and 4x4 transportation, entrance fee at the reserve and to the hot springs, Lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

    Please note: Medium to good physical condition is required.

  • The early start in the morning will certainly to be compensated by this full day excursion, exploring the world biggest volcanic island in a fresh water lake. We will drive first to the little port of San Jorge and enjoy a one hour smooth ferry ride on the great Lake Nicaragua. At Moyogalpa, Ometepe's main town, we will continue our trip by land passing several villages, observing the rural daily life of the inhabitants with sceneries reminiscent of the middle age!! At Altagracia, we will stop, visit the museum and learn about the rich Pre-Columbian past of the island, major encounter place by the Indian tribes. At Playa Santo Domingo, we will not only be able to enjoy a nice swim in the fresh waters of the lake, but also have a delicious meal served in front of this huge extension, second biggest lake in Latin America. In the afternoon, on the way back to Moyogalpa, we will stop at the legendary "Charco Verde" and observe some of the rich bird life of the area. Then we will return to the mainland and take you back to your hotel.

    * Tour available from Granada, Managua or Leon: Please inquire for details and pricing

    Tour includes: Land and water transportation, entrance fee at Natural Reserve, lunch, English speaking tour guide (German / French / Other on request)

* Please note: Information on this page is believed to be correct but not guaranteed

* Inquire for recent prices and schedule

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Hotel El Convento Masaya & Granada Nicaragua

This historical hotel in the heart of the magical city of Leon, is a true colonial jewel.

avg/night$95.00 SELECT

Hotel La Gran Francia Masaya & Granada Nicaragua

La Gran Francia is a splendid ancestral building whose existence historians argue dates back to the years immediately following the founding of Granada, in 1524.

avg/night$123.00 SELECT

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