Why: Nicaragua is really cheap and gets way less tourists than Costa Rica. I really wanted to visit Isla de Ometepe. I wanted to go by land through Central America and Nicarauga.

Flight: You can fly into Managua by finding a flight on skyscanner.com. I overlanded it which is a great way to see Central America.

Exploring the cathedrals in Leon

Day 1: Land in Managua. Stay at Doctor Botique Hotel. Check out the main plaza, local markets, and cathedral and get your feet wet in Nicaragua.

Day 2: Take a bus up to Leon and stay in Sonati Hostel. Leon has a great vibe to it. There is super tasty street food, friendly locals, and really walkable plazas. This is one of the best cities in Central America

Laguna de Apoyo’s blue waters

Day 3: Go out sandboarding outside of Leon. Take the bus down to Grenada, another fabulous town in Nicaragua. Walk the lovely plazas and check out the tasty local foods. Stay in Casa del Agua Hostel.

Day 4: Go visit Iglesia La Merced for the best views of Grenada. Make sure to get out to Laguna de Apoyo. Laguna de Apoyo is a volcanic lake inside of a crater which is pretty sweet. Come back to the cobblestone streets of Granada for a yummy dinner.

Granada is one of Central America’s gems

Day 5: Spend your day enjoying the colorful buildings of Grenada and in the evevning head out to Masaya Volcano to see lava river at night. This will be one of your coolest experiences in Nicaragua.

Day 6: Take a bus down to Rivas and get the ferry for Isla de Ometepe. Ometepe is a magical place where time stops still. I have been there twice and absolutely loved it. Stay in Hostel Life is Good. Rent a bike or moped to explore the island all afternoon. Talk to your hostel about getting a guide to climb one of the two volcanoes for the following day.

Getting the ferry over to Isla de Ometepe

Day 7: Walk up early and meet your guide to hike either Volcan Concepcion or Volcan Madeira. I hiked Volcan Concepcion and enjoyed the varied views while climbing up the trail from the middle of the biggest lake in Nicaragua. This is a fairly demanding hike, so having a guide is a big plus. Enjoy some local seafood when you are finished.

A local vendor in a street market

A local vendor in a street market

Day 8: Take the ferry back to Rivas and head over to San Juan del Sur and stay in Hostal Brisas and Olas. Head out to hike up to the Cristo statue on the hill overlooking the town. Try some of the tasty food at several of the local eateries.

Colorful souvenirs on the streets in San Juan del Sur

Day 9: Go out horseback riding on the beach and try surfing at Playa Hermosa or Playa Maderas. Both of these beaches just outside of town are great spots to swim or giving surfing a shot.

Day 10: Take a bus back up to Managua and fly out or head south to enter into Costa Rica.