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- HOTELS (BEST RATED)
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- THINGS TO DO
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Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 123,697 (2012), it is Nicaragua's sixth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically. It has a rich colonial heritage, seen in its architecture and structure.
Granada was founded in 1524 by Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, ostensibly the first European city in mainland America. Unlike other cities that claim the same distinction, the city of Granada was not only the settlement of the conquest, but also a city registered in official records of the Crown of Aragon, and the Kingdom of Castile in Spain.
Granada is also known as La Gran Sultana, in reflection of its Moorish and Andalusian appearance, unlike its sister city of León and historical rival, which displays Castilian trends.
|POPULATION :||• Municipality 117,569|
• Urban 105,171
|TIME ZONE :|
|AREA :||205 sq mi (531 km2)|
|COORDINATES :||11°56′N 85°57′W|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49.5%|
• Female: 50.5%
|AREA CODE :|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :|
Granada is the oldest colonial city in Nicaragua and the all-time-rival of Leon. It is located on the north west side of the Lago Cocibolca. Its colored colonial buildings, interesting history and relative safety make it an important tourism destination. It is the city in Nicaragua with the highest presence of expats and one of the most touristically "developed", both these things will be immediately apparent to the visitor, especially compared to other cities in Nicaragua.
Granada's restaurants have received international recognition by newspapers like the New York Times. In the city of Granada, there are many restaurants including Café Espressonista, Ciudad Lounge, Pita Pita, Garden Café & Café de los Sueños. In recent years, the city of Granada's evolving culinary scene mixes local and international flavors, as well as supporting farm-to-table sustainability of local growers and producers. Granada's economy continues to grow in big part because it is fast becoming a tourist attraction for its colonial architecture, as well as its ecological beauty and now as a food destination.
Granada, nicknamed La Gran Sultana after her muslim influenced namesake in Spain, is one of the oldest cities of Nicaragua and one of the first European settlements in the Americas that lasted. A rich town for most of the colonial period, Granada has always been and continues to be a conservative city. As a (sort of) "Caribbean Port", connected to the ocean by the lake and the Rio San Juan, Granada was attacked by pirates several times in its early history. However the attack that left the biggest mark on the city was carried out by an American.
The town recovered however and became the dominating force culturally and politically for the next thirty years until the liberal general Jose Santos Zelaya took control of the country. You can still see a lot of the wealth and power Granada once had in its colonial houses and churches. And there is still a monument for some former president or other who was born here at almost every corner downtown.
Granada still is very much a conservative town and the ruling Sandinistas are not as well liked - to say the least - here as they are in León , which contributes to their ongoing rivalry. Today however Granada is also notable for winning awards in American magazines as one of the supposedly most live-worthy places on earth and many retired Gringos have made Granada their second home. Many colonial houses and even some small islets just out of town in lake Nicaragua are still for sale so ask the locals if you want to move here long term and have the necessary cash on hand.
Although the Gringo-influence here is stronger than in most other places of Nicaragua Granada has lost nothing of its charm and continues to attract tourists, locals and expats alike.
It was named by Hernández de Córdoba after the ancient Spanish city of Granada. This was done in honor of the defeat of the last Moorish stronghold, which had been Spanish Granada, by the Catholic King and Queen of Spain. Granada, Nicaragua was historically the sister capital in Central America to Antigua, Guatemala. During the colonial period, Granada maintained a flourishing level of commerce with ports on the Atlantic Ocean, through Lake Nicaragua (a.k.a. Cocibolca) and the San Juan River.
The city has been witness and victim to many of the battles with and invasions fromEnglish, French and Dutch pirates trying to take control of Nicaragua.
It was also where William Walker, the American filibuster, took up residence and attempted to take control of Central America as a ruling president. One of Walker's generals, Charles Frederick Henningsen, set the city ablaze before escaping, destroying much of the ancient city and leaving printed the words "Here was Granada".
For many years Granada disputed with León its hegemony as the major city of Nicaragua. The city of Granada was favored by the Conservatives, while Léon was favored by the Liberals. For many years there was conflict that at times became quite violent between the cities' families and political factions. In the mid-19th century a compromise site was agreed on and the capital was finally established atManagua between both cities. As of 1850, Granada had a population of approximately 10,000.
Granada avoided much of the tumult of the Sandinista Era in the 1970-80s.
Granada is located along the coast of the Lake Nicaragua (a.k.a. Lake Cocibolca), the world's twentieth largest lake.
Granada is the capital city of the Department of Granada, which borders Boaco and Managua to the north, Masaya and Carazo to the east and Rivas to the south. Within the same department, the River Tipitapa which connects the Lake of Managua and Nicaragua passes through it in the north. It also has three volcanic lagoons; Manares, Genirzaro, and the famous Apoyo. Apoyo, which is shared with the Department of Masaya, is the largest volcanic lagoon in Nicaragua. Granada is a very warm city all year round, with very similar temperatures to Managua. This is due to similarities in geography with its close proximity to a lake and surrounded by high hills. Rainfall in Granada is approximately between 1,100-2,100mm annually.
The vegetation around Granada is a reflection of its climatology. Dry forests and also humid forests skirt the Mombacho volcano. The volcano is also home to a wide array of fauna. The lake is also home to many creatures, both marine and freshwater creatures. It is the only freshwater lake in the world where sharks live (Nicaragua shark). Fishing in the lake is quite good, and fishermen, both commercial and recreational, regularly catch guapote andmojarras, as well as sardines. Nicaragua has recently banned fishing of the Nicaragua shark and sawfish because of population decline.
Other important cities and towns within the Granada district include Malacatoya, El Paso, El Guayabo, Diria, Macatepe, El Guanacaste, Nandaime and Diriomo, known nationally as the last city of witches. Mombacho volcano is the highest point (1,345 m) within Granada; the now dormant volcano blew most of its cone into the lake, forming the 365 Islets of Granada, from where the volcano provides an amazing view. It is also possible on a clear day to see Ometepe and Zapatera Islands. This latter island is the second largest island in Lake Nicaragua, and it too is an inactive volcano. It is a national treasure, known as the home of pre-Columbian statues and idols which were found on the island during the Spanish conquest, these are now exhibited in the Convento San Francisco Museum.
Granada has many beaches on Lake Nicaragua which are very popular around Semana Santa ("Holy Week").
Granada has long been a center of commerce, including timber, gold and silver. Granada's economy continues to grow as it is becoming a hub for tourism. Though Granada remains Nicaragua's sixth largest city, it is widely known for preserving some of the finest colonial-era architecture in the country. A real estate boom had been underway for several years, with many European and Americans purchasing and renovating the area's homes for retirement or holiday homes and several foreign realtors establishing offices, but that boom slowed in 2007. The prior escalation of real estate prices in Granada and other parts of Southwestern Nicaragua has led to a shift of investor attention toward Northern Nicaragua and the cities of Matagalpa, Leon, Corinto and the surrounding beaches of Leon and Corinto.
Museums have opened, and new hotels and restaurants are proliferating at a fast rate.
Granada, though now highly dependent on tourism, also has fertile agricultural land within the municipality. Major production of organic coffee and cacao, cattle,plantains and bananas occurs within its boundaries.
Internet typically costs up to NIO20/h.
Prices in Granada
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$0.95|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$7.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$13.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$21.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$35.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$5.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$1.80|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$3.20|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$5.50|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.32|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$1.40|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.80|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$49.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$35.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$80.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$0.20|
34 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
130 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Fly to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua) and from there make your way by bus (every half hour from Mercado Huembes or the UCA station) or taxi (around $35 from the airport depending on your bargaining skills). As an alternative, you can take an air con shuttle for $15 from the airport to Granada. In most cases, the shuttle will deliver you to any point in Granada. There is a tourist information counter as soon as you clear immigration. Ask the representative and (s)he'll point you to a reputable shuttle service. The trip by taxi or shuttle is about 40 minutes. Another option may be to fly to the Liberia Airport over the border in Costa Rica, but it would involve about 5 hours of travel and a border crossing. Rental cars are not allowed to cross the border, but agencies will arrange for car swaps and pickups on the other side of the border. Managua is by far your best option.
There is a small airport a few miles from Granada on the highway to Masaya. The airport was served only by Nature Air, which offered flights from San Jose and Liberia, Costa Rica, the flights are now going into Managua International airport (IATA: MGA). Flights originate in San Jose, Costa Rica's capital and also from Liberia (IATA: LIR) in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
The airport on Ometepe (from where a boat takes roughly three hours to Granada) only receives domestic flights (from San Carlos, Managua and San Juan del Norte) as of 2015, but this may change in the future.
The train that once existed was shut down during the era of Violeta Chamorro (1990-1996). So, no, there's no possibility to take any train to get there. Nevertheless, you can have the chance to visit the old train station, which is used as a technical school sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation.
Buses from Managua to Granada leave from both the UCA Terminal (C$25 as of April 2016. If you have oversized baggage you might be asked to pay an extra C$25) and Mercado Huembes on a very frequent basis The trip takes about 2 hours. There is no scheduled public transport that does the León-Granada run directly, so you'll have to change buses in Managua. If you take the chicken bus from Leon your last stop in Managua will be the Israel Lewites Terminal from where you will have to go to either the UCA Terminal or Mercado Huembes. Minibuses from Leon to Managua depart from the same location in Leon but terminate at the UCA Terminal so they might be a more convenient way to reach Granada as they lessen the need to change terminals in Managua. Granada can also be reached by first-class buses from neighboring Costa Rica and Honduras.
From Costa Rica
There are two main options, either take the ordinario buses which costs half the prize (10 US) and fuzz your way through, experience a lot of interesting sights and the heat or hop on one of the (often agonizingly) air conditioned coaches, which are comfortable, take you there in about 8-10 hours (crossing the border might take a while, and you will have to exit the bus twice for passports and customs) and cost US$20. The best options going from Costa Rica to Nicaragua are Central Line, TransNica and Ticabus. Back from Granada to Costa Rica you might as well take the Tica Bus or NICABUS. Just ask any taxi driver in whatever city you are in to take you to the Nica or TICABUS-station.
From Tegucigalpa, you can also get the TICA bus, which leaves daily around 9AM for Managua, for around US$20. Then take another bus (at a different station), or taxi, to Granada.
Yes you can get there by rental car, which is often really expensive to hire, since imported cars are expensive too and the risk of theft is high. Most of the principal highways are in excellent condition, however other obstacles (cows, horses, people, people on horses...) can surprise you - especially at night, so be alert. Secondary roads range from paved to gravel. The roads from the airport are excellent on the most direct route.
From Costa Rica, take the Panamerican Highway, which leads from San José through Liberia, the border crossing at Peñas Blancas, the first bigger town in Nicaragua is Rivas, after Nandaime take a right onto the Granada-Nandaime road. Look for Granada-related signs.
There's a boat running twice a week from San Carlos via Ometepe to Granada and back. It leaves San Carlos at Tuesday and Friday at 2PM. The trip to Ometepe takes about three hours. San Carlos-Granada is roughly twelve hours one-way. There is a ferry running between Granada and Ometepe, but as of July 2016 it's canceled until further notice, as the lake levels are too low. In general the ferry may be canceled due to low lake levels as well as storms, so enquire locally if possible.
Transportation - Get Around
Granada is a small city; everything can comfortably be reached by foot. For some outlying points (e.g. the Asese peninsula) taxis and bikes come in handy.
You can hire a taxi from Managua to Granada or vice versa through Taxi Managua for 45 USD.
- Airport pickups can be organized through emailing [email protected] or in country Angel can be called directly at 8.828.2804
- Local taxis work on set prices : 10 Cordobas by day and at night after 9PM 20 Cordobas per person, wherever you go within the town's borders.
Buses (old stylish US or Canadian schoolbuses) go just about everywhere at about every time, you see them and if you slightly look like anybody wanting to go anywhere, be sure they'll load you on their bus. Another option are the mini buseswhich have a bit more set time, they're more comfortable and also faster but cost a bit more.
Horse-drawn carriages, known as coches, are a wonderful way to see the extent of the city limits. From the cemetery in the southwest, to the converted Rail Station in the north, to the water front in the east. 30USD for an hour and a half tour.
Granada's islets are not to be missed, and the way to see them is by boat. Boat tours leave from Puerto Asese, about 5-10 minutes from downtown by taxi. Try to book them as a group as it gets cheaper for each individual. Also a boat that is almost full might make special deals for a single traveler or a small group
Most hotels and hostels rent bikes and if yours doesn't, some are willing to rent to people staying elsewhere. You should pay roughly $10 a day. As the city is rather flat and traffic is manageable it is a good way to get around, although the heat might get uncomfortable. Be advised that robberies and assaults at machete - point have happened along parts of península de Asese.
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Granada is known around the world for its high-quality rocking chairs which can be seen all around town. The main vendors a bit out of town on the road to Masatepe.
If you want to go cheaper, there's the option to buy local and famous Nicaraguan pottery, which you can buy in town, but the better option is to go to San Juan de Oriente where there's a more varied selection and the experience of meeting the artisans.
Also very typical are the hammocks, there are several hammock stores and factories in Masaya, but you can find them made in Granada on Calle Xalteva, a half bloc west of the central park at Tio Antonio http://tioantonio.org/eng/eng_content/eng_child1.htm.
- Lucha Libro Books, Calle Calzada (1st left off Calle La Calzada). If you've been traveling for a while, here you'll find two things you're desperate for: great books and real coffee. By far the best selection of new and used books in Granada with thousands of English-language books as well as Spanish titles. Classics, dictionaries and study guides, Latin American non-fiction, a full collection of Lonely Planet guides for all of the Americas and much more. While there are bargains, expect standard prices for Latin American bookstores – books are import items in Nicaragua. (For those sticking to a strict budget, nearly every hostel in Granada has a book exchange.) They also sell Nicaragua calendars, postcards and postage, t-shirts, Mayordomo chocolate and other things. Lucha Libro also serves smoothies, fresh coffees ranging from drip to cold brew (including bottles of concentrate to go) to frappes, fresh fruit salads, amazing pastries, bags of dried fruits and other reasonably-priced fare to eat in (the store has tables inside and outside) or to go.
There are many street vendors selling quesillos, tamales, revueltas, carne asada, and other local specialties such as gallo pinto (rice & beans), fried plantains, nacatamales, bajo (yucca, plantain, beef mix). Very inexpensive. The local specialty is Vigoron: cabbage, tomatoes, onions, and fried pork rind (or roast pork) on mashed yucca for NIO40 from the kiosks in the parque central. Great value (provided you are not a vegetarian).
- Las Jarras, Calle Libertad (From Central Park, 2 1/2 blocks up Calle Libertad), . Widely considered the best place in Granada to enjoy "frito." Chicken, beef or pork, marinated and char-grilled to perfection, served on a bed of fried plantains, and topped with salad, with optional side orders of gallo pinto and fried cheese. The portions are hearty, to say the least. In addition to the tables on the street, there's a nice interior patio with a bar. USD2.50-4.
- The Garden Cafe, Calle La Libertad (1st left off Calle La Calzada, One block north), . 11:00-22:00. Friendly and relaxing.USD3.50.
- Pupusawa, Calle el Comercio (Go S a few blocks on the road starting at the SW corner of Parque Central, Calle el Comercio, the tiny restaurant will be on your left side after you pass a shoe store with a pink awning, if you see Pali, you have gone too far). 08:00-21:00. Ridiculously cheap El Salvadorian (and some Nicaraguan) dishes. Try the burrito, as well as order a refreshing té helado cacero con durazno (homemade peach ice tea) on a hot day. Most items USD1 or less.
- Tropicana (On the left street going down from the cathedral (La Calzada)). Offers really cheap and quite reasonable food, also breakfast.
- Cafe Tropical (Parque Central). Nicaraguan/Caribbean cuisine, in addition, they have a very nice selection of Chinese food. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and exotic drinks.
- Charly`s Bar & Restaurant, 4 blocks west of Old Hospital, . German cuisine and best BBC. Draft beer and homemade cheesecake by owners Charly and Maria Elena.
- NEcTaR, Calle La Calzada (1.5 block E of the cathedral), . They arrange the local traditional meals into tasteful and beautiful dishes. They offer a selection of freshly made juices and cocktails.
- Café de los Sueños, Calle La Calzada (In front of the school), . 11:00-22:30. Closed on Mondays. Canadian Mexican owned café offering crepes, paninis, salads and more. Great coffee and even better deserts. Try the chocolate & coffee cake.
- Asese. Has a beautiful location, on the edge of Lake Nicaragua, with lush foliage surrounding it and a rustic, spacious dining area. Boneless fish platters are the house specialty.
- Café DecArte, Calle Calzada (Go one block E from the central park on Calle La Calzada. DecArte will be on the Northwest corner.). Offers delicious international (some organic) food and excellent drinks. Snacks and meals are between NIO40-150. Surrounded by local art. Daily specials.
- La Claraboya, . Tu-Su, 07:00-22:00. Fusion cuisine restaurant. Menu includes prime cuts of tenderloin beef, chicken, lobster, shrimp and fresh seafood pastas. USD10-20.
- Imagine (Going towards the lake on Calle Calzada from the cathedral turn left first block (right after Pasta Pasta)). Offers delicious food, excellent drinks, homemade salsas, snacks and meals are between NIO150-400 (without value added tax). There is always live music playing, usually from 20:00, classic rock (unplugged version), great fun and atmosphere. Daily specials.
- El Tercer Ojo (Third Eye) (Across the street from San Francisco Church).Offers good food, a lot of tapas and specials in a beautiful atmosphere, Tapas and whole meals ranging between NIO40-200. Also offers art-books and a big selection of wine. Plate USD6-12, 15% tax and 10% tip added to bill.
- El Zaguan (On the street along the back/E wall of the cathedral). The best churrasco, the delicious Nica grilled steak, cooked over an open grill. Set in beautiful colonial open-air garage. USD8.
Coffe & Drink
Great drinks can be purchased from local vendors at the corner in Parque Central, such as linenseed-drink, hibiscus ("jamaica") iced-tea, or red beet drink or anything else, completely overloaded with sugar. Nice alternative: The local "Cacao" drink, milk and powdered chocolate beans, almost like chocolate milk, available in most cafes. Also "Raspados" made with crushed ice and raspberry syrup are very delicious and are usually sold by vendors around the Central Park.
And then of course, the local coffee! You have the biggest range: organic, shade grown, fair trade...
- Coffee La Amistad. Nice place to chill out, Steven is a big help and is full of information about trips and sights in an around town. Good coffee and Iced Tea!!
- Cafe Lucas previously Don Daffa, e-mail: [email protected]ef.net."Parque Central" "" Located in the shadow of the Cathedral. Nicaraguan/Caribbean cuisine, in addition, they have a very nice selection of Chinese Food choices. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and exotic drinks. Vernon Hodgson from Corn Island is Proprietor and Chef.
Sights & Landmarks
- There are 6 main churches : the Cathedral, La Merced, Guadalupe, Xalteva, San Francisco and María Auxiliadora, which all have interesting historical backgrounds and are in very different states.
- Fuerte La Polvora is an 18th-century fort (built in 1748) that's open for tours. A few historical exhibits are available on the main level, you can climb the towers for views of the quiet city streets, or wander through the lovely courtyard.
- Lake Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua), is the 10th largest fresh-water lake on earth and is inhabited by Bull Sharks, informally named the Nicaragua Shark. The beach area is not the safest area in town at night and comes with a rather unpleasant smell during the day. However, during the day this is a nice place to catch a breeze, and there are many Nicaraguan families that come here to pass the time. Vendors pass selling all kinds of food. Tours of the islands are available from Puerto Asese, near the pleasant Asese restaurant (known for its boneless fish).
A bit further along the shore is the Centro Turistico, a park like area complete with bars and restaurants. It's a bit cleaner then the beach right down from the city.
- The local market is definitely worth a glimpse, it's chaotic little market stands where you can get almost everything. The market is open everyday except holidays around and in the old Market hall, you can't miss it.
- The Central Park with the Cathedral and the Colonial houses surrounding it. The lively center of town with a lot of handicrafts or snacks to buy, or just sit down at a bench and watch the city and its people.
- The streets themselves with their charming Colonial colored houses are always worth a wander themselves.
- Take a boat tour of the Isletas. Boats leave from the marina at Puerto Asese. Your guide will tell you how all the islands are owned by millionaires. You will even visit an old fort that is on the island. Not to mention you will see adorable monkeys that live in the tree.
- Mi Museo, Calle Atravesada 505 (In front of Bancentro), . Daily 8AM-5PM. Private collection of over 5,000 Nicaraguan Pre-Columbian ceramics. Free.
Things to do
- Mombacho Beach Club. The heat in Nicaragua is hard to stand, so you'll love refreshing yourself in the 60-foot pool. On top of that, it's located in a gorgeous courtyard, with a bar and free WiFi. Enjoy a range of massages from aromatherapy to Shiatsu to ChocoTherapy, or just have a manicure, pedicure or facial. Entry to pool $5. Spa treatments $9-$28. [www]
- Rent a bike from Mapache located on Calle Cisne, 2nd left off Calle La Calzada. You can bike the entire city in one day.
- ¡Wow Tours!. Take a boat tour around the hundreds of isletas in the Lake Nicaragua. ¡Wow Tours! is a Nicaraguan owned company that offers community tours of the islands, where you will meet the local people who inhabit them
- Bluemountain Horsebackriding.Discover local farming and the area around the Mombacho-Volcano on horseback.
- Go up the church tower at the Iglesia La Merced (1US$) and watch the sun go down over the bustling city.
- Take a Canopy Tour, where you will go flying on cables through the rainforest trees on the side of Mombacho Volacano. ($25USD) [www]
- Try interesting drinks at local market stands (such as cacao de leche, linseed drink or red beet drink, beware: often painfully sugary!).
- Get happy with Mangos! You can buy heaps of Mangos at the market for about 1 Cordoba each (which equals about a 17th of a Dollar).
- Take a bus to Masaya and visit the local and giant hand craftmarket (good advice: better see the new than the old market, same stuff, half the price).
- Get a very inexpensive table or seated massage at Seeing Hands Blind Massage, located in Computadoras de Granada, Calle 14 de Septiembre, 1/2c. south of the Firehall (Bomberos).and the other location they have is on Calle La Calzada before Guadulpe Church.
- You can also go to the Volcano reserve and watch over the wide land, see the Managua lake and maybe get some stinky smoke in your lungs and be happy about the beautiful nature surrounding the Volcano.
- The Laguna de Apoyo is a deep Volcano crater lake and presumed to have the clearest water in Nicaragua, you can swim and even snorkel in there. Overnight stays with either San Simian Resort or Laguna Beach Club can be arranged. A Taxi from Granada should cost around 15US. You can alternatively take the bus to Managua and get dropped of at the entrance to the Laguna de Apoyo. From there you can take a taxi (4 US).
- Local cinema at the Hostel named "Bearded Monkey", which shows two movies each day for only about a dollar entry-fee, has a really good selection of movies too, for friends of independent cinema, they rent DVDs all day long.
- The Choo-Choo train There's that weird train that goes all around town, originally for kids, but hey, great fun, it plays the latest reggaeton-tunes over and over again and it only costs five cordobas. Hop on whenever you find it.
- Casa de los Tres Mundos (Casa de los Leones),The Foundation "Casa de los Tres Mundos" is an institution created to initiate, support and promote cultural projects in Nicaragua and Central America. Besides these artistic, musical and educational activities, which emphasize support for the poorer segments of Nicaraguan society, the foundation finances and coordinates an integrative rural development project in Malacatoya.
- Horse and carriages circle the city center.
- Live music at Restaurant Imagine 1st left off Calle la Calzada, going towards the lake on Calle la Calzada from the Cathedral turn left first block (right after Cafe de Arte). One of the only places playing live classic rock (unplugged version) in the city. Live music starts at around 9PM almost every day of the week. Check the sign posted on the door daily to see who is playing. Very relaxed atmosphere and great food although a little bit pricey. No cover charge.
- Vida Granada Before you head out on your day of discovery, be sure to have a look at the city's arts calendar for a complete listing of cultural events in the city — from live music, film, literary, arts events and cultural celebrations, the calendar is the source in Granada.
- ChocoMuseo. Take a free tour of the Museum learning where chocolate comes from and the history of the evolution of chocolate. Get a hands-on lesson of how to make your own chocolate in a Chocolate Workshop for $24.15 at 9am, 11am, 2pm or 4pm. For the extreme chocolate enthusiast, the Museum and Factory also offers tours to a cacao plantation on the Mombacho Reserve. You also get a chance to swim in the thermal waters, see the Isletas and ride on horseback. Tour cost $65 on horseback, $55 to hike. Try the daily all-you-can-eat breakfast for $6 + tax.
- O'Shea's Irish Pub, Calle la Calzada (Green building with tarp in front of Dario Hotel). 10AM - 2AM. Dubliner Tommy Griffin pours a mean pint of Guinness in this friendly pub. Quiz nights on Wednesdays pull a crowd all vying to win the first prize: a liter of seven-year-old Flor de Caña rum. Large quantities of good food available all day, including what is reported to be the best Fish & Chips in Central America. (WARNING: Staff here are notorious for short-changing customers and padding the bill. Complaints to the owner fall on deaf ears.)
- El Bar, Hotel Plaza Colon (In front of the main square). 12PM - 10PM. El Bar offers a select wine list, classic cocktails and appetizers. Outdoor sitting and indoor AC sitting. splurge.
- Margarita Bar & Grill, Calle la Calzada (two and a half blocks down the Calzada from the park), . American sports bar on La Calzada right between Parque Central and Lake Nicaragua, and home of the famous "Golden Cadillac Margarita" (Cuervo Gold, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier). The restaurant serves fantastic food including daily seafood specials, baby back ribs, filet mignon, and Coney Island hot dogs all at very reasonable prices. The bar serves more variety of cocktails --and the coldest beer-- than anywhere else in Granada. Bob the owner used to run a bar in the Florida keys, so service and quality are top-notch here.
- Mombacho Beach Club Bar. Mojitos, Cuba libres, and domestic and import beers offered at Mombacho Beach Club. Delicious salads, sandwiches, nachos and other specials are served
- Granada Beach Bar, Centro Turistico, al fondo. Toward the end of the Centro Turistico, Granada Beach has live Tropical music Thursdays through Saturdays. Tons of locals come out to drink and dance the night away. budget.
Things to know
Social workers in Granada strongly advise to not give money or food to begging children. In Granada the homeless situation is not nearly as severe as in other poor cities. Orphanages and charity organizations take care of homeless children, and poor people have access to charity kitchens. The kids that beg and sell items to tourists do this to make easy money, and are being exploited by adults. Anything you give to these children keeps them from the place they belong: in school.
Power outages can be frequent, especially during the dry (tourist) season. Electricity, water and internet can go out at any time and it is advised that you shower early to avoid the unexpected water shutdown. Occasionally inclement weather will create an outage, as you'd expect anywhere.
Some will advise not to drink the tap water as it will make you sick, though most have no problems. Also, make sure when you buy bottled water that the top has not been opened because some people without scruples will fill the bottles with tap water.
You must also be careful with the insects: Be sure to bring insect repellent or buy it at just about any pharmacy, as Nicaragua does have dengue. This is especially a concern during the wet season. Though malaria does exist in Nicaragua, Granada is said to be unaffected by it. Clothes that cover most of your skin as a precaution against insects can't hurt, though.
Safety in Granada
Nicaragua was rated the safest country in Central America, however, minor gang violence has been filtering into Nicaragua from Honduras and El Salvador. The capital, Managua, has the largest number of inhabitants but the majority of crime there is petty theft. Granada, the sixth largest city, is generally safe but using common sense and always walking with someone else at night here and everywhere else in the country is recommended. Robberies are known to have occurred along the Peninsula de Asese. If you plan a tour keep your wits´about you and maybe leave the camera in the hotel.
In Granada, the moneychangers are licensed and provide a terrific alternative to the banks.