Published on November 8th, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
Top 5 Things To Do in Granada, Nicaragua
BY MARK CHESNUT
Founded in 1524, the lovely Colonial city of Granada is a hub for Nicaragua travel and tourism — and with good reason. Loaded with history and culture and exuding a relaxed vibe, it’s a memorable place to spend a Central America vacation.
Looking for things to do during your visit? Here are a few ideas to get you started (inspired by my own latest visit; I jotted these notes while relaxing at an open-air restaurant in the historic city center).
1. Admire the architecture. Granada is dotted with historic treasures, including countless private mansions, stately government buildings and six magnificently cavernous churches (be sure to head to the top of the tower at La Merced, which dates to 1534, for great views and photo opportunities of the city).
2. Indulge in the hotels. Interesting and attractive accommodations are available at various price points, and several of which are set in gorgeous mansions. Check into the Hotel Plaza Colón for one of the best upscale experiences; it’s decorated with handmade wood furnishings and looks out on the main square. Hotel Joluva is square one for gay and gay-friendly travelers, with comfortable accommodations, reasonable rates and a free pick-up truck shuttle to a beautiful swimming pool the Belgian owners have built in the nearby countryside.
3. Soak in the ambiance. By day or night, Granada is a city made for strolling and relaxing. Stake a bench in the shady Parque Central, the main city square, and people watch as you enjoy the relaxed vibe. Or refuel at one of the many restaurants with outdoor seating on La Calzada, the pedestrian thoroughfare lined with eateries (I like the grilled pork at Centralito, and also the pizza at Don Luca).
4. Experience new things. Whether you opt for volunteering to help the poor at Casas de la Esperanza, making chocolate at the new Choco Museo, rolling cigars at Doña Elba or Casa Mombacho or cruising the streets aboard a rented bike or a horse-drawn carriage, you’ll find plenty to fill your time in Granada.
5. Get out of town. Located just under an hour by car from Managua’s international airport, Granada is an ideal base for exploring the natural wonders of the region. Take a cruise onto Lake Nicaragua (one of the few places in the world with freshwater sharks) and you’ll pass by the tiny islets that dot the waters. Go shopping for handmade crafts in the town of Masaya. Or go horseback riding and canopy touring at the Mombacho volcano that towers in the distance outside of town.
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