Travel to Nicaragua Basic Guide!
At the moment, Nicaragua is not a country that is on the list of many tourists, so it can sometimes be difficult to find tourist information about this destination. The objective of this publication is, precisely, to answer the usual questions that you will ask yourself before traveling to Nicaragua.
First of all, clarify that this article has been written according to my experience traveling through Nicaragua and complemented with quality sources. That said, let’s go in parts:
Population and extent of Nicaragua
With an area of 130.00 km (more or less a quarter of Spain), Nicaragua has 6 million inhabitants . The country is divided into 17 different regions (15 departments and 2 autonomous regions), with Managua being the capital and the most populated city, and León and Granada the next in population.
The Nicaraguan capital
Without the intention of offending anyone, I will tell you that Managua, the country’s capital , is one of the least attractive places in the country from a tourist point of view. So in my opinion, unless you have to go through the city for some logistical matter, you can do without this visit.
If you are traveling for work or another reason, then you might be interested in spending a few days there since it concentrates a good part of the country’s industry and important companies . One and a half million people live in Managua , more than two if we take into account the cities that surround it. You can read more about Managua in my post about the trip.
Currency and prices
If something increases the tourist attraction of Nicaragua, it is how cheap it is to travel the country . With 20 euros a day you can travel there without problems, even if you pay to sleep, eat and move. For less than 10 euros a night you will find more than acceptable accommodation , and from 30 euros you can access hotels of a certain level. It is also possible to eat with dignity for 3 or 4 euros , less even if you do it on the street. When it comes to transportation, you will hardly pay for a bus ticket more than 5 euros , even if it takes you from one end of the country to the other.
The Nicaraguan currency is the Córdoba, whose value is one thirtieth of a euro (more or less). Although in many places they allow you to pay with dollars, I recommend that you use their currency whenever possible. Likewise, I encourage you to always carry some cash with you , since many places do not accept a card and finding an ATM is sometimes not an easy task.
In Nicaragua it is easy to find decent accommodations without paying a lot for it . I also tell you not to go in the first place that crosses your path without checking it first . Before booking a night, ask them to show you the rooms and bathrooms, especially for hygiene reasons. The accommodation offer is wide, and if you look at two or three you will find good options at a more than affordable price. I’m just telling you that for 8 euros a night we slept in a private room in a hostel in Granada that even had a pool and breakfast.
As much as possible, look for accommodations with air conditioning or, at the very least, a fan . In many places in Nicaragua it is almost as hot during the day as it is at night, so there will be people who have a hard time falling asleep if they don’t have some extra ventilation. To ensure that you are going to sleep in a good accommodation, you can always book it in advance through Booking , where it is easy to find many options and at good prices.
Another recommended option is to use the AirBnb platform and stay with local people . If you are interested, here is an invitation with a gift of 25 euros.
Transportation in Nicaragua
To this day, Nicaragua does not have a highly developed transport infrastructure , but it does have a decent minimum supply. If you decide to travel by local bus, get ready to live real adventures, since they are not usually very comfortable vehicles and they always fill them up to the roof. It’s not uncommon for you to have to stand on relatively long rides. Of course, it is not comfortable, but it is very cheap . As I said, for less than 5 euros you can go almost from end to end of the country. My only recommendation, apart from being patient, is that you carry valuables with you . The reason, in most buses, the luggage goes on the roof tied with ropes, so confidence does not give much.
Within cities it is also possible to get around by taxi , there are even taxi drivers who will offer to take you to other cities at relatively low prices. My advice is to avoid taxis for long distances and, before you get on one, negotiate the price . Taxis in Nicaragua do not have a meter, so if you ride without knowing what you are going to pay, you will regret it.
If you are considering renting a car then I will tell you that it is a very good option . Although there are no highways or multi-lane roads, the pavement is usually in decent condition and far from cities there is no excessive traffic. I also tell you to walk with 10 eyes on the road, since there is a lack of road education among the locals. But in worse places we have driven. For all this, moving in a rental car is a great option and at a good price.
In general, Central America is not an area of the world that is characterized by the variety of its foods, but it is true that Nicaragua has a good reputation among its neighbors. The reality is that during my time in Nicaragua I ate quite well and paid very little. Some of its typical dishes are nacatamal, quesillo, tripe soup, gallo pinto …
Of course, although there is a certain level of food, I also tell you that in Nicaragua there are a lot of clubs with poor hygiene conditions, because do not go in the first place you find . Likewise, avoid eating uncooked or undisinfected products and make sure they have not been washed with water directly from the tap.
Although there are many locals that do not dislike drinking tap water, the truth is that their water has a significant health problem, so under no circumstances would I invite you to try it. I also tell you to avoid ice drinks that are not made from purified water . Your delicate European stomach will thank you. When in doubt, you will always have Toña.
Vaccinations and visa
In general terms, I will tell you the only compulsory vaccine is the yellow fever vaccine for tourists from South America . The rest of us are exempt from any obligation although, depending on your route through the country, it could be interesting to take precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid fever . I leave it to your choice about malaria, since today there is no infallible medicine against that disease. The best remedy, try to avoid mosquito bites and do not drink water that is not mineral . However, to prevent any problem from being more complicated than necessary, taking out travel insurance before leaving is always a good option. Our recommendation: Iati Seguros.
Regarding the visa, the citizens of most of the countries of Europe (Spain included) and America do not need any special permission to enter Nicaragua as a tourist. If it is for a work issue, it is better to consult the procedures with your embassy. If you need more information about vaccination and visa in Nicaragua , take a look at our publication about it.
Nicaragua claims to be one of the safest countries in Latin America , and to a certain extent it is, but I advise you to always travel with some caution . Personally, I did not have any kind of mishap on my trip there, but it is true that when you move away from the areas protected by the tourism bubble, the atmosphere becomes rare. To clarify all your doubts about it, take a look at the publication: « Is Nicaragua a safe country? ”
Climate in Nicaragua
Although Nicaragua is a country with a tropical climate and temperatures remain more or less stable throughout the year , they can vary from one region to another . The hottest area is the Pacific area, where it is not uncommon for it to exceed 35 ºC. If you prefer something more temperate, in the Estelí, Jinotega and Matagalpa mountain areas, temperatures are lower and usually do not exceed 30 ºC. In winter, they can even drop below 20ºC. My personal experience is that Nicaragua is very hot, both during the day and at night, so put on your cream and drink lots of water, especially if you travel between March and April, the hottest months.
What varies the most throughout the year is the issue of rains, distinguishing between two seasons: the rainy season, from May to October, and the dry season, the rest of the year . This does not mean that in the dry season it never rains and that in the rainy season it does not stop, but it is much more likely that one thing or another will happen. More information about the weather in Vianica .
Nicaragua is located at UTC -6 so, compared to Spain, there are between 7 or 8 hours less , depending on whether we are in summer or winter time. As in Costa Rica, in Nicaragua it always dawns (5:30 AM) and dusk (6 PM) more or less at the same time .
In relation to the above, tell you that in Nicaragua the usual working hours are from 8 AM to 5 PM, although restaurants and other entertainment venues usually open from 10 AM to 10 PM .
As in the vast majority of Latin American countries, Spanish is the official language and the most widely spoken . In English it is also possible to understand each other, although its use is less frequent than among its Ticos neighbors.
The plug in Nicaragua is the American type , that is, two parallel flat pins and a third round one at the bottom. The voltage is 120 volts and although it is different from ours, you should not have a problem charging your electronic devices. I recommend you take a universal plug adapter in your luggage before you leave, as in Nicaragua it could be difficult to find it. On Amazon they are at a good price.
What can I visit in Nicaragua
Before answering this question, the first thing you should ask yourself is how much time you will be able to dedicate to the country. If you manage to escape for 10 or 15 days, I will tell you that among the essential places are the colonial cities of León and Granada, and the mystical island of Ometepe . It is also worth visiting the Laguna de Apoyo and some of its many volcanoes . San Juan del Sur and its beaches are also very famous, although I personally didn’t like it too much.
If you are lucky enough to be able to dedicate more than two weeks to this trip, then I would tell you to get to know the Caribbean region and the impressive Corn Islands , or to visit the northern area , where it is possible to find greater biodiversity. For more information and recommendations on what to see in Nicaragua , visit my publication on the matter.
And here ends this guide to travel to Nicaragua, in which I have tried to answer the queries that every traveler usually makes sooner or later about the country. Now, as always, I open the comments in case you still have any questions in the pipeline. For more information, I also recommend that you take a look at our guide to the country.