Guest Post By: Liisa Vexler of The Family Freedom Project 
Children: Charlie (then aged 4) and Dexter (then aged 6)

Granada

Granada

 

If you’re interested in more information on visiting Nicaragua with kids take a look at our comprehensive family guide.

 

 

Why Nicaragua with Kids? 

Founded in 1524, the Nicaraguans claim that Granada is the oldest city in the Americas. It is a colourful colonial town, filled with historic richness and modern energy. We chose to visit Granada because it was a short three-hour drive from our home in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. It is only an hour or so from Augusto César Sandino International Airport (ACS) – the main airport in Managua – so accessible no matter where you start.

Nicaragua is an up-and-coming tourist destination for several reasons: It offers friendly people, good value, historic interest, and natural beauty. Granada has all of the above, in addition to being a walkable and thus child-friendly city.

We had been in Costa Rica for three months when we made this trip. You cross the border into Nicaragua, and though the weather and landscape are similar, you can immediately feel that the political climate and economy are not. There is much more obvious poverty here and this can be both an educational opportunity and a challenge to explain to children.

 

Granada Highlights

 

Tour the city by horse drawn carriage

Touring the city of Granada by horse drawn carriage

Touring the city of Granada by horse drawn carriage

 

In the central square you will see the drivers and their extravagantly decorated carriages. Find the one you like and hop in for a tour of the city. The driver will show you city landmarks, including the opportunity to climb the bell tower in the central church for a bird’s eye view of the city.

 

Hike around the top of an active volcano

granada

Hiking on the volcano

 

Liisa Vexler and family, Granada, Nicaragua

Liisa Vexler and family

 

We hiked around Volcano Mombacho with our 4 and 6 year olds – it was about an hour hike. The terrain is do-able for kids, but wear good shoes and bring a sweater (we did neither!). I would not advise doing this on your own, and I am not even sure that it’s possible. Tour companies provide transportation and guides from hotels and other locations in the city centre.

 

Visit the city market and an artisan market

markets granada

 

The Masaya Market about twenty minutes from downtown is an artisan market with something for everyone. Find everything, from typical tshirts and souvenirs, to unique handicrafts and artwork. My kids love their Nicaragua baseball jerseys, and I found some beautiful handmade jewellery.

 

Take a boat tour of Las Isletas

boat tour

Boat tour

 

A boat tour of Las Isletas, the 365 little inhabited islands just off the harbour of Granada is fascinating. Some islands have mansions with weekend homes of the wealthy, while others have small cabinas housing local families. Birds, monkeys and interesting flora add to the attraction. The boat tour is about 2 hours. We did not stop along the way, though some of the tours do stop for a drink at a hotel on one of the islands. For more information on the boat tour take a look at this post.

 

Learn to make chocolate, from bean to bar

Choco museo

Having fun in the Choco Museo. Photo credit: Nicaragua Tourism Board

 

We all enjoyed our visit to the Choco Museo, where we took part in a chocolate making workshop. Everyone loves chocolate in some form or another, so this place was a hit with family members of all ages!

We learned the steps involved in making chocolate, from the point of growing and picking the pod from the tree, to finding the ready-to-eat product on store shelves. We roasted, shelled (or winnowed) and ground the cacao beans. From the pure cacao, we made Mayan hot chocolate while learning its history, and then a more traditional, sweet, artisanal chocolate bar. This was an engaging, educational, and delicious stop on our journey. For more information on the Choco Museo, take a look at this post.

 

Stay at Hotel Colonial Granada

Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

 

Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

 

A family suite in Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

A family suite in Hotel Colonial, Granada, Nicaragua

 

We stayed at the Hotel Colonial Granada right in the middle of town. It is a courtyard style hotel with a lovely pool in the middle, perfect for downtime during the day. We paid $99 a night during high season for a large room with two queen beds, a sitting area, and a full breakfast each morning.

 

Eat well!

The Garden Cafe, Granada, Nicaragua

The Garden Cafe, Granada, Nicaragua

 

We all enjoyed our meal at El Zaguán, a traditional steakhouse. They had interesting options for the kids, and vegetarian plate for me. There was a play area for the kids which allowed them to make some new friends while we finished our meal.

We also loved The Garden Café at lunch for sandwiches, salads, and yummy smoothies.

 

 

The Best Time To Visit Nicaragua 

The Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua

The Cathedral in Granada, Nicaragua. Photo credit: Nicaragua Tourism Board

 

It is hot in Granada all year round. It rains primarily April through November, with the most rain falling in September and October. If you want to avoid crowds but want to maximize dry days, traveling April through June is probably your best bet.

 

 

Three Things You Should Definitely Do

1. A walk, a snack, and maybe a horse and buggy ride around the city centre.

2. Visit the Masaya Market

3. Take a boat tour of Las Isletas

 

 

You May Also Enjoy the Following Posts:

10 Things to do with kids in and around Granada

Nicaragua With Kids: Charlie and the Choco Museo! A Chocolate Making Workshop in Granada

A Tour of Masaya: Smoking Volcanoes and Ancient Crafts

Swimming in the volcanic crater Lake of Apoyo

A comprehensive guide to Nicaragua With Kids

 

 

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Granada blog

 

Liisa is the voice behind the Family Freedom Project book and website. She is a Canadian writer who began her career specializing in the health sector, but now writes about her passions, travel and lifestyle with kids. She currently lives at the beach in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with her husband and two boys ages 7 and 9.

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