Juigalpa is the capital of the department of Chontales in Nicaragua.
Juigalpa is a mid-size city along the Careterra Norte. It is a pleasant city to pass a short time but becomes crowded in August when the annual Ascension festival is held. Juigalpa is not a significant destination for travelers, offering few attractions of touristic interest.
By bus or car from Managua.
Follow the Rama Carretera east out of Managua.
All of the bus routes connecting Juigalpa and Managua can be found at Mercado Mayoreo in Managua. Juigalpa is approximately three hours by bus in an ordinary route and two hours in an express bus. There are also charter helicopters available from Managua as well. All buses connecting San Carlos and Managua pass through Juigalpa. There is also direct bus service to and from Rama with connecting service to Managua.
Taxi Cabs are the predominate means of transportation within the city. Taxis within the city limits cost C$10 per person. Costs increase for places outside the concentrated part of the city.
There are also several bus routes that cost C$3 per person.
- Parque Central, Parque Palo Solo and Parque Ruben Dario are three well-maintained parks within the city.
- Thomas Belt Zoo, a rather impressive selection of animals considering the size of the community.
- Gregorio Aguilar Barea Museum, features several stone carvings and other artifacts found in the Amerrisque Mountains. Many of these artifacts are from the Chontal natives.
- Cinema Popular, a movie theater located one block west of the central park.
Come for the patron saint festival. The patron saint celebrations on the week of August 15 celebrate the Assumption of Mary. This patron saint festival is renowned as one of the best in Central America, drawing people from neighboring countries. Much of this celebration takes place in the Plaza de Toros near the center of town. Here the highlighted event is bull riding. On average five people die every year from bull related injuries. As a result, there is a saying in Juigalpa, “It is not a good patron saint festival if nobody dies”. There are two fairs during the patron saint festival. One is put on by the mayor’s office in the center of town. The other, and larger of the two, is organized by a microfinance NGO, PRODESA, and takes place in the PRODESA fairgrounds located on the western side of town. Plaza Taurina de Chontales, located on the north end of town, has a rodeo every middle weekend of the month. The design of this arena was inspired by the rodeo arena in Houston, Texas.
There are two markets in town. One is the municipal market in the center of town, east of the central park. The other market “Mercado Nuevo” is located along the Rama Carretera at the southern end of town near the hospital.
- Cafe Iguana offers food and drinks by the pool side bar and also has a private restaurant area, it serves one of the best churrascos and variados (a variety of local side dishes) in the area.
- La Embajada is located 100 meters west and 200 meters south of the Esso gas station. Meat is sold by the pound (2 pound minimum) and a proportionate amount of avocado, cuajada, tortilla, and onion salad is included. The recipe for the marinade has been passed down for generations.
- La Quinta is located along the Carretera on the southern side of town and serves many typical Nicaraguan platters in a clean atmosphere with decent service.
- Pollos La Toya is located 200 meters east of the cemetery’s east entrance. It is famed for its “Pollo Asado con Chile” (grilled chicken with chile).
- Restaurante Palo Solo is located in Palo Solo Park and serves many typical Nicaraguan platters but with more creative modifications.
Juigalpa is also home to the only beef jerky producer in Central America. Casey Welch’s Carne Seca can be found at Esso and Texaco.
Juigalpa has three discotecas:
Café Iguana is a two story complex with a pool and wet bar located on the western part of town.
Hotter’s (Caracoles Negros) is a discoteca on the northern end of town along the Rama Carretera. It is most popular on Thursday nights (Ladies’ Night).
La Quinta is located along the Rama Carretera on the southern part of town. It is most popular on Saturday nights and occasionally features a mechanical bull (especially during the Fiesta Patronale)
There are a few popular bars as well:
- Hotel Los Arcángeles, just east of Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Ascension. With dining. +505 2512 0847
- Hospedaje Nueve Milenio is available for budget accommodations near the municipal market, in the center of town. Offering amenities such as air conditioning, fan, private or communal baths, and it is open 24 hours a day. Depending on accommodations price rages are from US$4-15 per day.
- Hotel Quintanilla is located in the western part of town along the street leaving for Puerto Diaz. It includes private parking and breakfast.
- Hotel La Quinta offers simple, yet air conditioned rooms and is connected to a restaurant and discoteca.
- Las Miradas is a boutique hotel with many amenities. There is air conditioning, internet in all of the rooms, gym, spa, and an excellent view of the Amerrisque Mountains. The price is about US$50 per night.
Take care if walking at night in Nicaraguan cities, including Juigalpa. It is better to stay in groups or take taxis from one destination to another. There is an increasing amount of violence caused by groups of delinquents due to a rising crack cocaine problem. Avoid the barrios on the northern end of town. Also, avoid unpaved streets as these are typically poor neighborhoods outside the center that are not as well patrolled by the police.
You can leave through the domestic bus routes from the municipal market or catch any bus heading north to Managua on the Rama Carretera. Or you can go south to San Carlos. Buses to El Rama (with boat connection to Bluefields and Big Corn Island) leave once daily.