Nicaragua has a popular, carved-out tourist route based on its principal, most developed attractions. The beaten path is made up of the Granada-Ometepe-San Juan del Sur circuit, which can be done in about a week. Save another week for volcano-boarding near León, wildlife-viewing in Estelí, and relaxing on remote Big Corn Island. Wherever you head, Granada is a good place to ease into things, with colorful surroundings, wonderful cuisine, and a central location.

Granada, Nicaragua. Photo 123rf

Granada, Nicaragua.

Day 1

Arrive in Managua in the early afternoon, and settle into your hotel. Visit La Loma de Tiscapa and have dinner in the city. Spend the evening listening to live music at a local bar or concert venue.

Day 2

In the morning, hop a bus to Granada. Choose a day trip to Volcán Masaya, Mombacho, or the Laguna de Apoyo, then head back to your hotel in Granada.

Volcan Mombacho. Photo © Nicolas de Corte/123rf.

Volcan Mombacho. Photo © Nicolas de Corte/123rf.

Day 3

Head south for San Jorge and catch a late morning ferry to La Isla de Ometepe. Spend the afternoon lounging on Playa Santo Domingo, or hiking trails in Charco Verde. Sleep on La Isla de Ometepe.

Days 4

Get up early for an all-day climb up a volcano, or visit Finca Magdalena for a coffee tour before heading south for a tour of the Río Istián or a shorter hike up to the Cascada San Ramón. Spend another night on La Isla de Ometepe.

Reserva Charco Verde. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Reserva Charco Verde on Isla de Ometepe. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Day 5

Catch a morning ferry to the mainland and make your way to the Pacific coast. Head for San Juan del Sur for an international ambience, or if you prefer peace and quiet, choose a Tola beach. Spend your afternoon surfing or sunbathing. If the turtles are nesting, plan a trip for the next day. Sleep in a hotel in San Juan del Sur or one of the Tola beaches.

Day 6

Keep on enjoying the sun and surf, or make your way north to León. Spend the afternoon exploring the city and the evening enjoying the nightlife. Check into a hotel in León for the night.

Steam rises from the open crater of the Masaya volcano.

Volcán Masaya. Photo © Balone1988, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Day 7

Try out volcano boarding on Cerro Negro or hike Volcán Telica. If you still have energy in the afternoon, catch a bus to Estelí and stay the night in the city.

Days 8-9

In the morning, head to La Garnacha or Miraflor Nature Reserve. Take a wildlife tour and get to know your hosts who will house you for the next couple of days. Visit a nearby waterfall.

The view from La Garnacha's mirador. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

The view from La Garnacha’s mirador. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Day 10

Catch a bus back to Managua for your afternoon flight to Big Corn Island. Spend the evening relaxing under the stars.

Long Beach on Big Corn Island. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Long Beach on Big Corn Island. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Days 11-14

Spend languid days beachcombing, diving, or snorkeling on either Big Corn or Little Corn.

See the Best of Nicaragua in Two Weeks With this Itinerary!

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.