One of the reasons that so many visitors, retirees and full time residents flock to the Gran Pacifica is because Nicaragua boasts some truly amazing culture. Although the gorgeous beaches, the low cost of living and the perfect climate are big bonuses, Nicaragua is also a vibrant and historic destination that is bursting with landmarks and attractions. If you want to get to the heart of Nicaragua, there is no better city than Granada.
Admire the Colonial Architecture
Granada is a city with a history dating back for nearly 500 years, and it has influences from countless nations around the world.
Settled by the Spanish in the 16th century, Granada was later invaded and visited by the English, the Dutch and the French in staggering numbers. Today, you can explore the colonial influences through the city's amazing architecture.
There are six major churches in Granada, each of which is worth a look. Also of interest to architecture fans is the amazing fort built in 1748 called Fuerte La Polvora. Central Park, the largest green area in the city, is also surrounded by colonial buildings that were once private homes to the wealthy expats that colonized the city.
Visit Lake Nicaragua and the Islets
One of the biggest reasons to visit Granada is for the chance to see Lake Nicaragua, known to locals as Lake Cocibolca. This is one of the largest lakes in the world, and on the banks you'll find the beautiful beaches where residents flock to play in the sand, soak up the sun and splash in the blue waters.
A popular pastime for tourists is to take a boat tour from the Puerto Asese Marina and explore the lake as well as the islets, or isletas, found within. These islets are mostly uninhabited, but some are privately owned by the wealthiest residents of Nicaragua. Don't miss the islet full of monkeys or the islet home to the ruins of an abandoned fort once used to protect Granada from attacks.
Explore the Vibrant Culture
There is no shortage of cultural attractions to choose from in Granada. Top picks include the local market hall, which is open daily from sunrise, the Mi Museo for pre-Columbian ceramics and the ChocoMuseo, which is part museum and part restaurant serving up all things chocolate.
If you are traveling with kids, or if you just want to give your feet a break, ride the train that winds through the city and offers you a glimpse of the most impressive buildings and monuments in Granada.
Dive Into Delicious Local Cuisine
No trip to Granada would be complete without sampling some of the local fare. The most common dish in the city is Vigoron, a hearty meal of cabbage, onions, pork and tomatoes served over mashed yucca root. Don't bypass the street vendors selling other delicious specialties like carne asada, gallo pinto and fried plantains. There are also plenty of upscale restaurants serving a variety of international dishes in Granada.
The next time you're in Nicaragua, don't miss the chance to visit Granada, explore the city and see the charming islets in Lake Nicaragua.