You’ve probably seen a handful of photos from Granada, Nicaragua posted here and there. Usually you get the central plaza, the cathedral, a bell tower view over the roofs, and some horse-drawn carriages. Or in the case of a cheapskate like me, photos of signs showing how cheap everything is in Nicaragua.
I just visited Granada for the second time this week and got out of the center to some other areas. One of the great things about this gorgeous colonial city is that there’s lots to do outside of it within a short drive. That photo at the top, however, is from a place on the edge of town that you can get to by bike or cheap taxi: the city cemetery. I got all kinds of terrific shots from there and it’s really interesting to see how elaborate the graves are. One is a marble replica in miniature of a local church. Unlike when I’ve visited the famous ones in New Orleans or Buenos Aires though, there was almost nobody else here.
The most common excursion is to go out on a boat ride around the little islands and peninsula jutting out into the giant lake where the city is situated. These islands have homes on them, some quite grand, that are weekend getaway places for wealthy Nicaraguans and a few foreigners. You may also stop at an old Spanish fort, but the best reason to go is to check out all the bird life. You see lots of herons, egrets, oropendolos, cormorants, and often an osprey or two.
Excursions go to the Masaya volcano, where you can drive right up to the crater. If the crater is really active with sulphurous steam though, like it was when we visited, you probably won’t see much beyond the edge. The town of Masaya is a big craft center though, so you may be able to see some artisans at work. At the market there you can weed through the junky stuff and find some real treasures for a great price.
There is a lagoon to the side of that volcano and a few great overlook restaurants in the area where you can take it all in as you have lunch. The shot above is the panoramic view we got at ours. Then there’s Lake Apoyo, a deep one set in an extinct crater nearby. You will probably visit an overlook point with a great vista if you go on some kind of tour. But this would be a great place to chill out for a while and relax or get some work done. No motorboats allowed.
No matter what price range you’re in, you will eat well in Nicaragua. In my experience the food is a step up from most other parts of Central America, plus it’s a better value. If you want to splurge, you can spend $15 and get a big lobster platter or something like this that’s meant to be shared around the table. There’s lot of fried greatness in there and you won’t need to eat again for a while.
Naturally, this is one of the cheapest places to live in the world as well. It’ll figure prominently in a book I’ve got coming out later this year on living a better life for half the price. Get on the newsletter list here.