Many that visit Nicaragua want to take in what this beautiful country has to offer but don’t want visit the “usual” tourist hot spots. Here is alternative on what to see and do in Nicaragua.
1) Léon over Granada
2) Northern Nicaraguan Coast over San Juan del Sur
3) Rio San Juan over Granada
4) Ometepe over San Juan del Sur
5) Matagalpa, Estelí, Somoto and the Atlantic Coast
Léon is like Granada’s twin to the north. Léon has as much history and tradition as Granada but far fewer tourists that come through this town. Both of these cities share a long history. Both wanted to be the capital of the country and with no compromise Managua was made the capital. Although Léon isn’t located at the edge of Lake Nicaragua it does have numerous volcanoes nearby to visit. Léon’s museums may surpass those of Granada. Léon is where Nicaragua’s most famous poet Rubén Darío spent his childhood. Visitors to Léon can visit the house where he grew up. The city also boasts the largest cathedral in Central America. Taking a tour of the church one can go to the rooftop where there is an amazing view of the city. Léon may not have Lake Nicaragua at its doorstep but it does have the beach within a 20 minutes drive.
Southern Nicaragua is the destination of choice for those looking to catch great waves and a few sun rays. Northern Nicaragua boasts some great surfing with less crowds and the same amount of sun rays. Both Chinandega and Léon have some great surf spots or beaches where you can be the only person on the beach for miles. If you’ve had a little too much salt water you can visit one of Nicaragua’s highest peaks. The Cosiguina Volcano is a beautiful volcano to hike. Once you reach the top you can look down its impressive crater where there is a lagoon. Also because of its location less tourists hike it than other Volcanoes like Mombacho.
If you want to go to a place where you will feel like you’re in the middle of a jungle and not with a bunch of other foreigners at an arms distance then the Rio San Juan is a great option. Rio San Juan is definitely off the beaten path. The only ways to get there are to fly from Managua (costs about $120 round trip), by ferry which departs from Granada and makes a stop on Ometepe or by land around Lake Nicaragua. Once you arrive to San Carlos you will need to take a boat trip down the river. Along the river there are many great little hotels to stay in. These hotels will range in price, accommodations, and overall facilities. Many of these hotels are equipped to provide tours down the river where you can see some unbelievable wildlife and natural beauty. You can do all this with few other tourists around.
If you are in southern Nicaragua and want to “see” Nicaragua without the tourist you should avoid San Juan del Sur and go to Ometepe instead. San Juan del Sur is the beach hot spot of Nicaragua. Ometepe offers something completely different for visitors. It is the largest fresh water island in the world and has two impressive and very different volcanoes to explore. You will find fewer tourists on the island but when you are out and about exploring the island its possible you may not run into any for the entire day. Hiking the two volcanoes and kayaking the Istian River are real treat. Take advantage of that if you decide to visit Ometepe.
Other great spots to visit in Nicaragua that receive few foreign tourists that may interest you include these northern cities, Matagalpa, Estelí and Somoto. Compared to the tourist hot spots these places receive few tourists. The highlights to see include the coffee farms, Peñas Blancas and the Somoto Canyon. The Atlantic Coast offers some unbelievable beauty seen by few. It is definitely for the more adventurous traveler who is prefers adventure over comfort. From Bluefields you can take a boat ride up the coast to see the Pearl Lagoon and Pearl Keys. The islands look something you would see in an exotic travel magazine.
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