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In the shadow of rumbling Volcán Mombacho, overlooking the silvery expanse of Lake Nicaragua, rose the first Spanish city in the Americas: Granada, "La Gran Sultana," seat of an empire, architectural jewel, temptation to pirates and today, epicenter of Nicaraguan tourism. Visitors are returning, after two decades of peace, to take horse-drawn carriages past recently refurbished plazas, centuries-old adobe neighborhoods, and spruced-up Spanish Colonial landmarks like sky-blue Convento San Francisco, which today houses ancient relics of the region's indigenous past. Boats wait to take you to the sparkling crescent of 300 tiny islands, ...

In the shadow of rumbling Volcán Mombacho, overlooking the silvery expanse of Lake Nicaragua, rose the first Spanish city in the Americas: Granada, "La Gran Sultana," seat of an empire, architectural jewel, temptation to pirates and today, epicenter of Nicaraguan tourism. Visitors are returning, after two decades of peace, to take horse-drawn carriages past recently refurbished plazas, centuries-old adobe neighborhoods, and spruced-up Spanish Colonial landmarks like sky-blue Convento San Francisco, which today houses ancient relics of the region's indigenous past. Boats wait to take you to the sparkling crescent of 300 tiny islands, "Las Isletas," while increasingly upscale restaurants will fortify you for the city's growing nightlife scene. Some come for the International Poetry Festival, others to shop famed Masaya Market's handicrafts, still more to visit nearby parks and preserves, hiking Mombacho's ragged rim, or swimming the deep crater lake of Laguna de Apoyo.

Paige Penland
About the Expert

Paige R. Penland is the author of the Nicaragua portion of Lonely Planet Nicaragua & El Salvador and the cult hit A Week or Two in Southwest Nicaragua.

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Paige Penland for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Dry season (November-April); Poetry Festival (February); Fiestas (August & November)