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Nicaragua

Nicaragua travel guide

Central America's biggest country is perhaps its most misunderstood – but with volcanoes, beaches and fine colonial architecture, it's well worth getting to know

Nicaragua is a friendly and peaceful country that has nonetheless received some negative press over the years. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing – Nicaragua has managed to preserve its authenticity and character without being swamped by tourists. The largest country in Central America, Nicaragua offers both natural and cultural gems, a testament to a turbulent but fascinating history. On its Pacific side, where most of the population now live, the major colonial influence was Spanish, while the Caribbean coast was dominated by the British. With its volcanoes and the massive inland sea of Lake Nicaragua, the Pacific lowlands are stunningly beautiful. Ometepe Island, which lies in the lake, is the largest freshwater island in the world, dominated by the Concepción and Maderas volcanoes. There are regular ferries to this largely unspoilt jewel. Elsewhere, in the city of León you’ll find old colonial buildings, while the beaches along the Pacific coast are quiet and perfect for watersports and swimming. Off the Caribbean coast, the Corn Islands were once a base for British buccaneers, but sandy beaches and clear blue seas now make them an ideal destination for snorkelling and diving.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Criss-cross the country by boat, plane or bus
  2. Climb Cerro Negro – Nicaragua’s angriest volcano
  3. Rent your own island, complete with luxury villa, boats and staff at Little Eden Cay
  4. Take a side trip along the Río San Juan and try the giant river shrimp – lobster in all but name!
  5. Head to Orinoco in November for National Garifuna Week – a right old knees-up with live music, dance and mountains of food

Wanderlust tips

The craft market in Masaya is a great place for souvenirs – everything is made by local and national craftsfolk. Hiring a taxi is one of the best ways of finding your way about the notoriously tricky-to-navigate Managua.

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