Granada: La Gran Sultana

Granada is one of my favorite cities in all of Nicaragua. It is located on the western coast of Lake Nicaragua (Cocibolca), with striking architecture which is heavily influenced by its Spanish roots. This deep history of Granada is visible around every corner, making it the perfect tourist destination for visitors. A leisurely carriage ride around the city offers a quick and enjoyable way to experience both the past and present of this beautiful Latin city.

My time in Granada was mainly spent exploring the various parks and churches scattered throughout the city. The main church, Cathedral Inmaculada Concepción de María, lies in the center of the city next to a gorgeous park, which serves as the main tourist focal point for anyone visiting. Around the park there are hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, carriage rides, tour guides, etc. If you are ever in Granada, this is the first place you should go. However, since everything in this area is designed for tourists, the prices are often more expensive. Such is the case with La Calzada, a street connected to the park that is lined with restaurants. The ambience is inviting and the music energetic, but you’ll pay double or triple what you could pay at a local street side fritanga. Which is exactly what I did. I was able to locate a few fritangas that were absolutely the bomb and only cost me $3.40 per meal.

But I didn’t spend all my time in the city. I also explored an area called Las Isletas, which is a group of islands located on Lake Nicaragua, just outside of the city of Granada. In my opinion, this is one of the coolest places in all of Nicaragua. The only way to the islands is via a small boat, which you can pay passage for a small fee. Most of the islands are privately owned but there are a few that have restaurants that you can visit. There’s also an island with only monkeys on it. If I ever buy land in Nicaragua, this is definitely the place I’d like to do it.

I also explored Volcan Mombacho, which is located just outside of Granada. A shuttle takes you to the top and you can take a guided tour around the principal crater of the volcano. Mombacho has been inactive for hundreds of years, so there isn’t any smoke or lava, but it is still an impressive hike and view. Also, there is a beautiful lookout point from which you can see the entire city of Granada, as well as Las Isletas and Lake Nicaragua.

(Check out "Climbing Mombacho" on YouTube

A word of advice: If you decide to visit the cathedral next to the central park, and decide to climb the bell tower all the way to the top, DON’T ring the bell. They will kick you out and fine you. Did I ring the bell? Maybe. Did I get kicked out? Maybe. Did I get fined? No. I ran away before they could do anything.

Anyways, It was a fun few weeks in Granada and I hope to be back soon.

- Zach

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