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Itinerary Help

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Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
Itinerary Help

My husband and I are traveling to Nicaragua in January and are in need of a little itinerary help. Below is an itinerary for our trip that allows us to visit all the places we would like to visit. We are concerned that we are trying to do too much.

Proposed Itinerary:

Arrive 1am into Managua stay at Best Western

Day 1 – Travel in the morning to Grenada and stay 1 night

Day 2 – Travel to Ometepe and stay 2 nights

Day 3 – Ometepe

Day 4 – Travel to Leon and stay 1 night

Day 5 – Spend day in Leon and travel to beach in the afternoon and stay 2 nights at the beach

Day 6 - Beach 2nd night

Day 7 – Travel to Matagalpa and stay 2 nights

Day 8 – Matagalpa 2nd night

Day 9 – Travel to Managua for evening flight home

Q1) Are we trying to do too much in the itinerary below?

Q2) If we need to eliminate one place from the itinerary below any recommendations? We are leaning towards either Ometepe or Matagalpa.

Q3) We are considering renting a car but are torn by the pros and cons. Pros: freedom to move around, make stops, stay longer, leave earlier. Cons: cost, dealing with the police, our Spanish is not too good, what to do with the car while on Ometepe as we see no need to ferry the car over there.

Thank you for your help!


Level Contributor
1,261 posts
47 reviews
1. Re: Itinerary Help

I feel like you are doing too much, but I am the sort of person who will go and stay in one place and really get to know it. So I am maybe not the same style traveler as you. I also really like colonial cities so I am more partial to places like Leon and Granada.

I think you are shorting yourself on Granada and the surrounding area. Really, there is a lot of good stuff to see/do there. We spent 5 days just in that area and really had quite a good time.

I haven't been to Matagalpa so I can't say for sure, but if I had to drop something to add time somewhere else, that would probably be it.

Saint James City...
Destination Expert
for San Pedro
Level Contributor
12,468 posts
10 reviews
2. Re: Itinerary Help

We just returned from a couple of weeks in Nicaragua. We did three nights in San Juan del Sur, two would have been enough. Then, three nights Ometepe, really enjoyed the island, could have stayed longer. Then, four nights in Granada.

We really liked Granada. Could have easily stayed longer.

We then flew to the Corn Islands. For whatever reason, we were underwhelmed, and ended up wishing we'd gone to Leon instead.

I know nothing about Matagalpa, but, I'd second the idea of more nights in Granada.

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
945 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: Itinerary Help

I would skip Matagalpa but keep Leon unless you really want to learn about coffee production. Leon gets far fewer tourists than places like Granada and Ometepe.

Managua, Nicaragua
Level Contributor
621 posts
15 reviews
4. Re: Itinerary Help

Greetings Amber:

Looks good to me! As some others have mentioned, if you like to be active on your vacation then this is a good overview, decent itinerary for a first time visit to Nicaragua.

A couple of comments:

-There are some more Nicaraguan-style smaller places in Managua to stay at then across the street from the airport. Just a thought...

-Getting from Ometepe to Leon all in one day is quite a bit of travel time, but is do-able.

-Matagalpa (thinking of Selva Negra?) is beautiful and a nice change of scenery and climate especially after spending some time at sea level. Especially so if you are interested in hiking in the forest and learning about coffee plantations, you will love it there.

-If it comes down to either Ometepe or Matagalpa I would recommend Ometepe.

As far as the rental car question, you really don't need it for the first few days; traveling from Granada to Ometepe is easy-peasy.

If you decide to go on to Matagalpa from Leon then having a car would be better because you could pull over for photos, much more easily get to places like Selva Negra, etc. You can always get a car with a driver, best way to go IMHO.


Mike @ Farmstay El Portón Verde

Level Contributor
6 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: Itinerary Help

Definately recommend Ometepe Island - spend more time here and really enjoy Nicaraguans way of life. Very peaceful and relatively easy to get around on the island. There is alot to do - so plan more than a couple days and take in more of the island life. For us Granada was ok - but we preferred other areas around it - such as San Juan del Oriente for pottery, Masaya for the markets and volcanos, and Laguna de Apoyo. Don't miss the lookout at Catarina - what a view! A couple days on the Pacific Ocean is nice - there are better places near Leon than San Juan del Sur. It all depends on what you are looking for and where you have been before to compare it to.

Driving can be tiring (confusing) but helpful to see more in a short period of time. You need to be very careful and not leave anything in the car EVER!

LaCrosse Wisconsin
Level Contributor
11 posts
10 reviews
6. Re: Itinerary Help

We loved Ometepe Island and we didn't meet anyone that didn't have a visit that was too short cuz there is so much to do there. Contact Linda at Linda Guest House - she was very helpful to us prior to arriving to Nicaragua and we loved the guest house options right on the beach. Perfect location for relaxing, swimming, horseback rides at sunset, near to both volcanos, petroglyphs, kayaking the River, mineral springs....really we needed more time and hope to make it back next year. Enjoy!

We only checked out the area around Granada, Masaya, Laguna de Apoyo , San Juan del Oriente and Catarina. We heard Leon and the beaches near there are great too.

Naples, Florida
Level Contributor
4 posts
3 reviews
7. Re: Itinerary Help

Thank you all for the great replies!

We have decided to eliminate Matagalpa and do 2 nights in Leon, 2 nights on a beach, 3 nights in Ometempe, and 1 night in Granada.

As far as the beach town, we are having trouble deciding. We agree that traveling all the way from Leon to Ometempe will be a long day so we are thinking about splitting the trip up and incorporating a beach stay for 2 nights somewhere between Leon and Ometempe (Puerto Sandino, El Velero, El Transito, or Pochomil). Any recommendations would be great. We are looking for a laid back place to relax on the beach and get some surfing in.

Thank you,


6 posts
8. Re: Itinerary Help

Hi Amber,

I put together this itineray for you and your husband based on my experience as a tour guide, hope it works for you.

1. Arrival in Managua

2. Visit the ruins of Leon Viejo, a UNESCO site, then transfer to Leon, Nicaragua`s former capital. (Sleep in Leon)

3. Visit the Active Volcano of Cerro Negro (optional sand boarding), then in the afternoon either to relax by the beach of Las Peñitas or take a boat trip to Isla Juan Venado mangroves Natural Reserve. (Sleep in Leon)

4. Leave Leon and go to Los Cardones (two hours drive from Leon), www.loscardones.com/ where you can relax by the beach and take surfing lessons.

5. Free day to enjoy the beach.

6. Leave los Cardones and go to San Jorge (two hours drive) where you take the ferry to go Ometepe. In the afternoon you can visit El Ceibo Museum (the finest pre-Columbian museum in Ometepe and one of the best in the country) (sleep in Ometepe).

7. Hike Maderas Volcano (full day Excursion). (Sleep in Ometepe)

8. Ometepe day tour (visit Charco Verde Natural Reserve, Petroglyphs sites, and refreshing water spring) (sleep in Ometepe)

9. Leave Ometepe and stay in Granada for a city tour and boat trip through Las Isletas.

10. Fly home after this great itinerary.

Enjoy Nicaragua.

Fort Myers, Florida
Level Contributor
12 posts
9 reviews
9. Re: Itinerary Help

Sorry, but it seems like way too much ! Especially you need more time in Granada

Edited: 8:01 am, December 10, 2012
Kitchener, Canada
Level Contributor
438 posts
104 reviews
10. Re: Itinerary Help

def skip Matagalpa. you need the time for the other spots. all of which are must sees for any trip here. renting a car worked for me and gave me the time/freedom to pack alot more in. but that is def not for everyone!