Managua is the capital and largest city of Nicaragua. A city that saw the death of Sandino, the rise of the Somozas and their fall from power at the hand of the Sandinistas, Managua is full of history and the closest thing to metropolis Nicaragua has. Ever threatened by earthquakes, Managua has mostly lost its historical downtown in a 1972 quake, but is slowly gaining yet another face through urban renewal policies of the current government. While many visitors to Nicaragua try to limit their time in the capital you should not make the same mistake as its theaters, museums, monuments and historical remnants are well worth spending some time, to say nothing of the nightlife.
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With a population well beyond a million, Managua is the second biggest metro area in Central America and by far the biggest city and urban center in Nicaragua. Almost every fourth Nicaraguan is a Managuan and the city still grows rapidly through people moving in, making a person "born and raised" in Managua something of a rare sight. Managua is the undisputed commercial, political, cultural and religious center of the country and many new trends originate from here before they affect the rest of the country. The Managua focus of nearly all media (print and TV) is so staggeringly large, that an address without mention of the city is almost always meant to mean Managua by default in news or advertising.
Managua's location between the rival cities of León and Granada made it an ideal compromise site when the capital was relocated in the 1850s. While this decision seemed genius at the time, geology today indicates otherwise, as there is an active fault line right where downtown Managua used to be (before the 1972 earthquake knocked it down, that is). Managua's economy is based mainly on trade. The city is Nicaragua's chief trading center for coffee, cotton, and other crops. It is also an important industrial center. Its chief products for trade include beer, coffee, matches, textiles, and shoes.
The city has seen the rise and fall of political powers throughout Nicaragua's history and suffered major earthquakes in 1931 and 1972. Since the 1972 earthquake, residential and business areas have been built on the outskirts of Managua, giving rise to urban sprawl on a massive scale. Managua has been dubbed the Venice of Central America because of its escalating use of makeshift canals that can be found throughout the city.
Although it doesn't have the colonial beauty of León and Granada and travelers and expats alike love to complain about the dusty hot streets in the dry season (roughly November to mid May) and the mud and torrential canals in the rainy season (roughly May- mid November), Managua does have some things to offer for the tourist. So it might be worth to spend some time here and not head out on the first bus or plane you can get.
As you can see in the climate table above, Managua does not experience big changes in temperature, but it does have a pronounced rainy and dry season. The days at the end of the dry season in May are usually uncomfortably hot, often with a lot of humidity as the clouds of the coming rainfall gather. When the rain finally does come, it can be torrential and both the streets (most are not paved with asphalt but stones) and the makeshift canals throughout the city usually take a heavy toll from this first rainfall. During the rainy season, the aforementioned canals can become vicious streams and many a thing, person or animal has fallen in them never to be seen again, so take care.
Residents of the city and of the department of Managua are called Managüenses.
Nicaragua is one of Latin America's cheaper destinations. Its hotel, food and transportation costs are a fraction of its neighbors. Eating at local restaurants is extremely inexpensive, and for US$30, a meal for four can be served at these locations. Fast food are similarly priced to those in North America and Europe. High-end restaurants are relatively affordable compared to high income countries. Foreign cuisine, like French and Italian specialties, are served at high-end locations for a fraction of the price found in North American and European cities. However, things that are unremarkable or daily fare in Europe may be considered expensive specialties in Nicaragua. Transportation is equally affordable with bus trips for C$2,50 (córdobas) (~ US$0.10) and taxi trips starting at C$20. While Managua also has cheap accommodation, it is one of a few cities in the country with luxury accommodation that may even scrape the four figures in dollars.
Delta from Atlanta airport, United Airlines from Houston, Spirit Airlines from Fort Lauderdale, Aero Mexico from Benito Juarez international airport (IATA: MEX) American Airlines from Miami Airport, Avianca from Miami and Washington Dulles (IATA: IAD). Volaris and Nature Air fly to San José, Costa Rica. Avianca also connects several times daily from San Salvador and Copa Airlines once daily from both San Salvador and Panama City. Nicaragua's domestic airline La Costeña (not to be confused with the canned bean company of the same name) flies to destinations throughout the country as well as Tegucigalpa. Keep in mind that La Costeña has a baggage limit of 35 pounds (15.88 kilos) and despite charging what must be the lowest overbaggage fee in the business ($1.20 per pound), they consider any excess weight "standby bags" and do not guarantee their transportation even if you pay the fee. Flights from Canada are less expensive and less troublesome via San Salvador than via Miami.
International buses connect Managua to most Central American capitals and southern Mexico. The buses are usually air-conditioned and in a good shape, however bring time and patience as the trips can take quite some time. As flights between Central American cities are expensive and there are no railroads to speak of, buses are often the best option unless you are more pressed for time than money. Reputable companies include: transnica ticabus and king quality. For routes schedules and prices see their websites.
There are direct bus routes from all major cities stopping at various points. The most important bus stations from a tourist point of view are Mercado Roberto Huembes 2 Mercado Roberto Huembes bus station (buses to the west and southwest), Mercado Israel Lewites 3 Terminal Israel Lewites (buses to the north and northwest) and UCA 4 UCA bus station (minibuses to short distance destinations see below)
Buses from Masaya, Granada, San Marcos and some from Jinotepe come in through the southeastern Carretera Masaya entrance and pass by the Centroamerica rotonda before going to either Mercado Roberto Huembes or UCA.
Buses from Jinotepe also come in through carretera Sur stopping by 7 Sur, a hub to go to via Carretera Nueva and Vieja Leon and C. Sur.
To go to the mountains in the north, the Rio San Juan region in the southeast or the Caribbean coast, buses leave from Mercado El Mayoreo.
As can be expected of a city of two million (and growing), Managua has serious issues of traffic congestion. This is not helped by taxi drivers and motorcyclists often driving reckless next to the suicidal and the occasional home-made horse carriage (that given the levels of congestion is not any slower than a car) clogging the streets. Almost all traffic lights see street vendors during the day selling everything from water to newspapers. Keep an eye on your belongings and close the windows if possible, as theft through open windows does occur.
- AVIS Rent-a-car, ☎ , toll-free: (US & Canada), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. They have offices at the International Airport, Montoya zone, Carretera a Masaya
- Budget Rent-a-car, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Has 10 locations around Nicaragua. cars from $10 per day up.
Driving directions in Managua are a bit odd and can be confusing until you get used to them. The major earthquakes and subsequent political upheaval have left the city without a consistent and clear street address system. Although the government has made attempts to address (no pun intended) this problem, directions are given relative to landmarks and distances. Most addresses are given based on landmarks and with the directions al lago - north, (towards the lake) arriba/abajo (east/west; literally "up" or "down") and al sur/a la montaña (to the south/to the mountains). To make things even more confusing, sometimes the former location of a landmark or some thing that no longer exists is referenced as in "de donde fue..." (i.e. "from where ... used to be"). For example, to instruct a taxi driver to drop you off at Casa Ben Linder, the directions are "en barrio Moseñor Lezcano, de donde fue el Banco Popular, 2 al lago, 2 arriba", which means, "in the Lezcano neighborhood, from where People's Bank used to be, 2 blocks towards the lake and 2 blocks East." Not even all taxi drivers know all landmarks and as GPS systems are a bit overwhelmed by this system of addresses, sometimes the best you can do is write down a route description. That said, if google maps (or whatever you're using) knows the physical location of the place you're looking for it gets the route the same way as everywhere else.
Managua has an extensive public bus system, whose route density and service frequency would far surpass most US or Canadian cities, however it lags behind most European cities and overall public transit is worse than in Central American peers like Panama City or San José and there are no plans to introduce either "bus rapid transit" or any rail based option in the foreseeable future. There is no night bus service. Service starts early in the day, buses on many routes already running (and often full of people!) around 5 am. An unofficial interactive online map of the city's public bus routes, created by volunteers, can be found here ; the site also has a downloadable map in PDF format. While buses have a reputation of being dangerous (even among Nicaraguans not living in Managua) you should be fine during daylight hours, but keep an eye on your belongings.
Unlike other Nicaraguan cities, buses in Managua are identified by route numbers; unlike most public transport systems around the world, an information placard carried by a Managua city bus would typically only include the route number, and not the names of the route's end points. At the bus stops one could also often see a sign with the numbers of routes serving it, but no additional information.
As of 2016, a single-trip fare is just C$2.50 (under US$0.10).
In 2013 a new system of payment was introduced, which replaced cash with rechargeable cards, known as Tarjeta TUC and managed by MPESO. As of early 2016 most buses only accept cards; they carry a "solo tarjeta", or "solo TUC" placard in front. However some accept both cards and cash. Look for "pago mixto" on the front of the bus.
TUC cards can be bought at a number of places, e.g. at the AM/PM convenience stores, for C$50, and cash value can be added to them as needed. However, a card account is associated with a customer's name and the number of his identity document - and the identity document typically accepted for card purchase is the Nicaraguan national ID card (and not, for a example, a foreign passport). This may make purchasing a card difficult for a foreign visitor. If you don't have a card but want to board a card-only bus, you often can ask some other passenger to swipe his card for you, and reimburse him for the cost of the fare; or sometimes the driver would be glad to take your cash anyway. At some busy stops, you can see enterprising locals who sell card swipes to cardless passengers for twice the normal fare price (C$5 instead of C$2.50); some even have little cardboard signs!
Besides the city buses proper (numbered routes), commuter buses that run between Managua and neighboring cities can be used to travel to points along their routes. For example, there are no city buses south of some point on Carretera a Masaya, but you can get a ride along this road on a Masaya- or Granada-bus (mostly originating/terminating at UCA or Roberto Huembes Market); typically, you'll be charged C$10.
- No. 110 goes from mercado Israel Lewites (buses to León) to mercado Roberto Huembes (buses to Granada), passing on the way by the UCA, where microbuses leave for Granada, León, Masaya and other cities.
- Buses to Granada, Leon, Jinotepe, Masaya, and Chinandega are also available at UCA (Universidad Centroamericana). Several city buses connect through UCA as well (102, 103, 105, 110, 111, 114, 119, 168).
- No. 266 runs to the airport (and beyond, to Zona Franja [the Free Trade Zone]) along the Carretera Norte from the Mercado Oriental area. From other parts of the city, one can take any bus that goes to the eastern part of Carretera Norte (such as 105 or 114), get off at the bus' last stop that's still on the Carretera (typically, La Subasta), and then take an airport-bound bus (such as no. 266 or a commuter bus to Tipitapa). Watch for the airport terminal on your right; it's hard to miss, or ask the driver (or the driver's assistant) in advance to stop there. It's only a short walk across the parking lot from the bus stop to the terminal entrance.
There are two forms of taxis in Managua: Collectivos and Privados (Collectives and Privates).
- Collective taxis work similar to buses: they pick up passengers on the route that you travel on. Usually this means that 3-4 passengers ride in a car with a common or similar destination. This is the fastest transport available in Managua, the cost is also friendly given that the fare is split evenly among the riders. However, collective taxis are also risky given the fact that organized crime has flourished in this transportation sector because of fixed passengers. In other words, drivers already know who they pick up and thus mug the one extra passenger. This crime, however, is not common, but it is the one with the highest chance of being mugged.
- Private taxis are the most popular option among tourists. The taxi is yours and picks up no one along the way. The fastest service in Managua also is the most expensive. These taxis have the most space and the most personal protection. If you have cargo, ensure that you hail a taxi that has a trunk. Not all cars are equipped with one.
Before getting into a taxi, take a look at the license (usually in the windshield or a side window) and the number-plate. Some Nicaraguans have taken to messaging the license plate number of the taxi they are getting in to a friend and it is certainly not a bad idea to do that as a precaution. Stay away from taxis without a license or when you perceive anything to be fishy.
While Managua is perhaps the least bikeable city in the country, it is the center of the embryonic beginningso of bicycle activism and advocacy with a critical mass ride dating back to 2011. Few dedicated cycle routes exist and many roads and roundabouts were designed for cars only, but cycling mostly avoids the insanity that is Managua traffic and the not entirely satisfactory buses and taxis.
Walking around Managua can be a frustrating experience. Few areas are designed to be walkable, traffic is heavy and in the dry season dust gets everywhere. There are some decent strolls to be had where downtown Managua used to be before the 1972 earthquake and the government has made an effort to revitalize the lakefront around Puerto Salvador Allende, but all in all, locals don't walk long distances when they can avoid it. Furthermore nothing is really close to anything, further complicating the situation.
- 1 Old Cathedral of Managua (Catedral de Santiago). Ruins of the city's old cathedral are a remembrance of the damage caused by a 1972 earthquake that destroyed much of central Managua. Due to structural damage caused by the earthquake, it's fenced with barbed wire and can't be entered.
- 2 Museum National Palace of the Culture (Palacio Nacional). The first floor of the old national palace is now a museum featuring several salons with exhibits highlighting the indigenous Nahuatl people and the 2,500-year-old stone sculptures they left behind. A smattering of popular arts and cultural exhibits round out the museum, which also features a beautiful courtyard garden. A library (free entry; open Monday to Friday only) is on the second floor Adult : 5 USD museum admission. Guided tour in Spanish and English may be included.
- 3 Rotonda Ruben Dario. There is a lovely fountain at the Ruben Darío Rotonda that is lit up at night and visible from Tiscapa. It is also often used as a landmark for reference purposes
- 4 Tiscapa Lagoon. Fresh water lagoon in the crater of an extinct volcano. As of 2016, the lake and its wooded shores, with some paths and stairs, are fenced off and are off limits to visitors; however, you can sneak a peak at it from the road south of the lake (Pista Benjami Zeledon), or enjoy a better view from the Loma de Tiscapa Park just north of the lagoon (see below)
- 5 Parque Loma de Tiscapa (Enter the park from the north, near Hotel Crowne Plaza). The barren hill on the northern lip of the crater of the Laguna de Tiscapa, known as Loma de Tiscapa used to be the site of the presidential palace and the headquarters of the National Guard in the Somoza era (until they were destroyed in the earthquake of 1972); political prisoners were tortured in a prison close by. This is where you'll also find the landmark silhouette of Augusto C Sandino (with a little American tanquette next to it), as well as military memorials. The hill offers the best views in town, both to the downtown and Lake Mangua to the north, and to the Carretera a Masaya area to the south. This is also the starting point of the Ticapa Canopy Tour; when in operation, zip-lines over the lagoon let you fly across the water in a harness (for a fee).
The Nicaraguan Army headquarters (not open to the public) are located on the hill's northern slope. C$1 (for foreigners); C$20 for a car.
- 6 Museum of Ancient footprints of Acahualinca (Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca), ☎ . M-F: 8AM to 5PM, Sa-Su: 9AM to 4PM. Footprints of a group of around 10 people that walked towards the lake 6000 years ago. The tracks were found 4 meters below the surface and were preserved thanks to a nearby volcano eruption. Note that this museum is located in a rough neighbourhood. Taking a taxi is highly recommended. Adult: US$4.
- 7 New Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de la Purísima Concepción), 14 Avenida Sureste (Near Rotonda Rubén Darío). Designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and completed in Sept. 1993, some find this unusual Catholic church to be fascinating. Some find the roof's 63 domes to be sleek and mosque-like. Free.
- 8 Parque de la Paz, Área Monumental. Your chance to see a lot of grayish-white concrete poured over AK-47s and one tank, which is supposed to symbolize everlasting peace in Nicaragua now that the Contra war is over.
- 9 Asososca Lagoon (Laguna de Asososca) (NW of the junction of Carretera Carretera Nueva a Leon and Carretera Vieja a Leon, and of the US Embassy). Larger than the Tiscapa Lagoon, the Asososca Lagoon is also fenced in, and officially closed to the public; apparently it's part of the city's water supply. As of 2016, the water company has been replacing parts of the old dilapidated fence. The lagoon can be seen from certain vantage points nearby, and its near-vertical walls are rather stunning.
- Gambling - There are many casinos, large and small throughout Managua. Star City has a number of locations. If you like to play poker, go to the Pharo's casino on Carretera Masaya. It has hold'em poker tournaments at night (when there's enough interest); $200 buy-in no limit table can be found a lot of nights, $50 tournaments. The nicest casino in Managua by far is Palms Casino just off of Carretera Masaya. Beware that casinos are said by police and regional security analysts to play a significant role in the regional drug trade and money laundering networks. This is unlikely to impact your personal safety at a casino, but does contribute to Nicaragua's security problems.
- Play billiards - There are at least three good pool places if you're in a group, Pool8, and the two Time Off locations. All are downtown. Time Off has excellent snacks.
- Catch a movie - You can catch good Latin American movies some Wednesdays at 7PM at the theatre near Art Cafe (a bar) near the Parque de las Palmas. The Art Cafe is near Hotel Beneficial Las Palmas and is within walking distance to the hotel.
- Estadio Nacional Dennis Martinez (Baseball). While you might be surprised to hear it, Baseball is as much a national pastime in Nicaragua as it is in the US, maybe even more so. The national stadium (named for Major League pitcher Dennis Martinez) has space for 30,000 people, making it thrice as big as the national soccer stadium. The stadium is currently closed due to remodeling and scheduled to reopen some time 2017. Besides Baseball games of the national team it is mostly used for home games of The "Indios del Boér", Managua's home town team and the serial champion of the Nicaraguan league.
If you do not have the time to go to Masaya for handicrafts, go to the Mercado Huembes where you will find everything from souvenirs to hammocks, and paintings. Ask anyone how to get there.
- Galería Codice, Colonial Los Robles, ☎ . Excellent place to buy art (including paintings) and top-quality souvenirs/artesania from all over Nicaragua. As might be expected, though, items are pricey here.
- 1 Mercado Oriental, Calle 15 de Setiembre. A huge market where almost everything is on sale. However it has a rather dangerous reputation. Pick-pocketing, grab-and-run theft are commonplace and there have even been instances of armed robberies. Overall Mercado Oriental can be a fascinating destination but is generally not recommended for the average tourist. If you still want to go, go with someone who knows the place and whom you know personally and trust. It should go without saying that you should never take any valuables (including cell-phones and cameras), that you can't risk losing.
- 2 Metrocentro. The most luxurious mall in town right next to rotonda Ruben Dario on the opposite side of the new cathedral. Has a decent food court and a big selection of nearly everything as well as a multiplex cinema
- Mercado Huembes. One of the major markets of Managua, offering a wide variety of goods ranging from clothes to pineapple and from beans to tooth-paste judging from the prices for basic foodstocks frequently printed in the main newspapers La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario it is maybe slightly more expensive than the Mercado Oriental in terms of price, but to a traveller the difference is negligible
- Mercado Mayoreo. although it isn't as large as Huembes or Oriental the selection is almost as wide. It serves as a terminus of several local bus routes as well as the bus station for buses to northern cities like Estlí and more distant destinations like San Carlos (Nicaragua), Rama and the las Minas towns.
- Los Ranchos: steak house that is so good, it spawned a chain in South Florida. Has been popular with locals for lunch and dinner since the days of Somoza. During that time, the politicians on opposite side of the conflict would run into each other here on a regular basis. Service is impeccable. They serve a churrasco that is hard to beat for flavor and tenderness. Order it with a gin Martini for appetizer. Located about 3 blocks north of estatua de Montoya. $$.
- La Plancha: Steak house at its best and finest. Dare you to try it and not say its one of the best steaks you ever had tried in your life. Their signature plate is the name of the restaurant: La Plancha. Comes with mashed potatoes and plantains on a hot grill. $$.
- Le Café de Paris: the best French restaurant in town. Taken care personally by its proprietor and chef, Jeaninne. Very good wines. Ask for its famous foie gras, green salad and pepper steak. Located in Los Robles. $$$.
- Asados El Gueguense: great local cuisine. Large selection of local meat dishes. Restaurant Website $$.
- La Cocina de Doña Haydée: a good taste of local Nicaraguan cuisine. 3 Locations - Original off the Carretera Masaya km 4.5 (not far from Metrocentro), another near the Rotonda Bello Horizonte and the last in the food court at Metrocentro.
A good breakfast is Leche Agria - a homemade yogurt like drink. Look for signs advertising it in store fronts and pulperias. Put a little salt on it and eat it with tortilla.
- Casa del Cafe for good coffee and breakfast. Four locations, one in Los Robles, one on the second floor of Metrocentro, one in Galerias Santo Domingo and one after the security check at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport.
- Sushi Itto, in case you have a craving. Three locations, one in Carretera Masaya (in Plaza Familiar), one in Galerias Santo Domingo, and one in Plaza Caracol. $$.
- La Cueva del Buzo - great seafood freshly caught. Must go if you can afford it. $$$.
- El Rincon Salvadoreno - fantastic Salvadorian pupusas and fruit juices in a pleasant outdoor area $
- Toro Huaco, in the Zona Rosa across from the Picoteo. Outdoor restaurant bar that is comfortable with large groups. Sit under the stars on clear nights. Open mike night on Thursdays for joke telling is good night to get to know the Nicaraguan sense of humor. Owner speaks English fluently.
- Music Lounge, 2 blocks north of the Texaco in Altamira. Outdoor/indoor music bar that plays a range of music. Nice lighting and atmosphere. Show up with friends.
- El Caramanchel, Del Hospital Militar, 3 cuadras al Norte. cultural bar with a good mix of foreigners and Nicas.
- HipaHipa. Exclusive Club on Carretera Masaya. Entrance can be C$150, parties Wed, Fri, Sat.
- Moods, in Galeria Santo Domingo located on Carretera Masaya. Fanciest and Hippest disco in Managua. Entrance can be C$150-300, parties W-Sa.
- Broder, in Zona Rosa. Disco with entry fee up to C$150, parties Th-Sa.
- Arribas, in Zona Rosa on top of Broder. A good atmosphere, sometimes live music.
- Art Cafe. Art Cafe is a very nice place for listening to live alternative music and have a tranquil evening. It has a colorful bohemian looks and art on their walls and in the vibe of the place and the people that frequent it in general. Go there by taxi, ask for "Art Cafe, en frente del Parque las Palmas"
There are tons of bars in the area south of the big BAC building downtown, find an abandoned place called Lacmiel and head east to find this zone.
Mozara-180 entrance fee-open bar till 2PM Saturdays
There are also a few bars and restaurants around Zona Hippos. Woody's has good wings, Pirata's is a popular local restaurant/bar and Tercer Ojo is a more upscale resto-lounge with fusion cuisine. This area is west of the traffic light at Hilton Princess and La Union supermarket.
The Zona Rosa is an area with bars and restaurants that has sprung up in what was once a mostly residential area. It is located south of the BAC building. Highlights include Pharaoh's casino, Casa del Cafe, bars east of Lacmiel, la Casa del Baho restaurant, and Hipa Hipa bar.
There are also bars and restaurants in the new "Zona Viva" in Galerias Santo Domingo
- Holiday Inn Select Managua. 5 miles from airport, full service hotel, free Internet, free car rental with room, hotel and convention center.
- Hospedaje Luciernaga Radio Sandino 75 mts east, Tel: 222 6570; US$10 for a room with private Bathroom (close to the Trans-Nica-Bus Terminal, Taxi ca. US$1)
- 1 [dead link]Hotel Yolaina, From semaforos de enitel Villa Fontana 200 meters west, 50 meters north, 50 meters east, ☎ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. 24 rooms, each equipped with air conditioning, hot water, wireless Internet, and cable TV. Hotel has 24 hour security, a pool and breakfast is included. 5 minutes from Galeria Santo Domingo and Metro Centro, 3 minutes from Pharaohs, Chinese Embassy, and Zona Hippos. Manager speaks English. Airport pickup/dropoff is available. Discounted rates for long term stays. US$35-50/night.
- Hilton Princess Managua. 5 miles from the airport and mere steps from some of the best bars & restaurants in town. Great staff.
- Santos Guest House is the most renowned budget place in town—or at least the cheapest -- US$7/night/person (June 2011). This place might be handy for backpackers. Don't expect too much from the DIY plumbing and electrical wiring, but you will get your own bathroom/shower.
- Bolonia, home of Hotel Santos, contains a host of US$5–15/night (negotiable) hostels within a few blocks of the Tica Bus station. Walk around and visit a few before you choose one.
- Hotel Europa has clean, comfortable rooms for about US$30/night. It is owned by a Spanish guy. Located near the Crowne Plaza (one block al lago, one west, one block al lago).
- Crowne Plaza: This is one of the nicest Crown Plazas around. The service is impeccable, the pool is very nice, and there's marble everywhere. There's a casino and a sushi restaurant, several more restaurants within walking distance, and a small shopping mall across the street. Get a room with lake view and you will see clearly all the way to Teatro Nacional Ruben Dario, the old cathedral, and the old and new government buildings. This hotel was the Intercontinental for years until the new Intercontinental was built at Metrocentro. Before the 1972 earthquake that destroyed Managua, this hotel sat on the hill overlooking the whole city right next to the main military base and Somoza's bunker. It's where everyone who was anyone stayed in Nicaragua until the early 1990s. The EEBI (the elite force of the Guardia Nacional during Somoza's time) and the military academy were a short walk away. It's as if the U.S. advisers and politicos had a dorm right next to the Somoza government. Howard Hughes stayed here when he was in Nicaragua in the 1970s. It is said that he rented three floors for weeks and demanded that the staff not rotate. He met with Somoza about some business, but nothing came of it. Rooms go for US$90–120 a night.
- Mansion Teodolinda has nice rooms with Air Conditioning, cable TV, a pool and a restaurant. It was the well known house of a family until the revolution, hence it is a landmark and reference point for addresses. The original building was destroyed by the 1972 earthquake, remaining as an empty lot. In 1991 the land was purchased and in 1993 opened to the public with only 7 rooms. As a family business has been slowly growing up to 42 rooms, offering restaurant, meeting facilities, swimming pool. It is located near Hospital Militar (three streets North and two streets west). A double room with breakfast included goes for about US$60. 
- Hotel Colon has been recently refurbished. It is nice, clean and comfortable, yet reasonable and charming. Double occupancy rooms were US$68 (or $53 for a less nice room) with AC and cable TV. Breakfast included, free parking in front. Location: south of the BAC building, east of Lacmiel about 2 blocks (updated 1/2007).
- Los Balcones(near the Spanish embassy) in Las Colinas close to Managua is a family run hotel with rooms that start at US$25/night. 24 hour security. The owner speaks English, but the rest of the family and the principals of the staff don't. Breakfast is available. Rooms have air conditioning and cable, Wireless Internet for free, refrigerator, pool, safe parking. The hotel's slogan is "One Bed - One Bathroom" The only downside is the traffic during the day if you're on the street side of the hotel; luckily not when you are sleeping. A big plus is the view of downtown Managua from the balconies. Some mornings are just amazing. Contact E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org or at Phone 505-255-0031, ending 2 and 3.
- Managua Backpackers Inn, ☎ , (mobile). Colonial Los Robles, 3era etapa, Casa #55, De donde fue Chaman 75 varas al sur. This hostel is centrally located in the heart of modern downtown Managua, and offers guests a wide range of accommodation options and features. In less than 10 minutes you can walk to the MetroCentro shopping center, cinemas, parks, casinos, supermarkets, Zona Hippos, and over 50 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The surroundings are very clean and secure allowing guests to explore at any time without worry. Airport transfers take 30 minutes, and a shuttle service is available for guests. Dormitory or private rooms, shared kitchen, pool, hot showers, air conditioning, free wireless internet and a relaxed comfortable atmosphere. Dorms from US$8/night.
- Real InterContinental Metrocentro Managua, Costado Sur Centro Comercial Metrocentro, carretera Masaya, ☎ , fax: . 157 rooms with wireless high speed internet, 7 suites, rooms and executive floors. It offers its guests the services of restaurant and bar, gym, spa, pool, gift shop and print service. US$150-600.
- Casa de doña Elba Tapia, Barrio la Luz. Homestay house. It is located in a safe and friendly neighborhood in Managua, on the same block as Viva Spanish School.It has comfortable rooms with bathroom. For more information call at 2702751.
- 2 Hotel Beneficial Las Palmas, De la estatua de Montoya, 3 cuadras al Oeste,1½ cuadra al Norte (Turn right at the Bridgestone Tire by the Statue Montoya), ☎ . Check-in: noon, check-out: 2PM. Hotel Beneficial is next to the Parque Las Palmas. A king bed, internet in every room, cable tv, air conditioning, and access to the pool. Computers are in the lobby for free use. Beverages and snacks are available 24 hours a day. Full breakfast is included -- always cooked fresh for each guest. Lunch and dinners are available at reasonable rates. US$53 includes tax..
- Hotel Dulce Hogar B&B, Bosques de Altamira Avenida principal El Chipote #449. Managua, Nicaragua (De donde fue Lozelsa ahora gasolinera Petronic La centroamerica, 2 cuadras y 75 varas al lago), ☎ , , . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. A small,nice and cozy family run hotel. The friendly staff love to make travelers feel like home.The hotel is located on the main avenue of residential neighborhood in West side of Managua founded by in the 1970s with an increasing commercial transformation since 1995. Close to Zona Rosa, Zona Viva, Hippos and Metrocentro.8 comfortable rooms for one, two or three guests with full breakfast included. Air conditioning, private bathroom, hot water shower, hair dryer, remote controlled cable TV, radio-alarm clock, in-room safe box and telephone. Free Wireless Internet access at and computer use in business center. Cafeteria service by demand. 24Hrs reception and video surveillance. US$30-$50.
- Nicaragua has made considerable strides in terms of providing police presence and order throughout the country. Crime is relatively low, and the country has been historically ranked as the safest country by INTERPOL and has been ranked as one of Latin America's top 5 safest countries by the Vision of Humanity project. However, starting in 2008, reports of low-level gang violence began coming in from Honduras and El Salvador. The National Nicaraguan Police have been successful in apprehending gang members and reducing organized crime.
- Tourists are advised to remain alert at all times in Managua. Although gang activity is not a major problem in Managua nor Nicaragua, caution should be exercised. Tourists are advised to travel in groups, or with someone trusted who understands Spanish.
- It is also advised that tourists refrain from using foreign currency in local transactions. It is best to have the local currency instead of having to convert with individuals on streets or non-tourist areas. Banks in Nicaragua require identification for any currency conversion transactions, it is best to utilize ATM machines that dispense the local currency. When using ATM machines, utilize precautions and be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you are in a well frequented area and ensure yourself that the ATM has not been altered in any way or form. Some thieves alter ATM machines with chips that can steal credit card numbers and personal information. This type of crime is rare, but it should be noted that an increase in foreign tourism has stimulated the increase of this crime. Tourists are also advised to make sure that they stay on top of their credit card or debit card transactions via online banking. Any suspicious transactions should be reported immediately.
- Traveling around Managua is relatively simple, but as in any major city, tourists are advised to exercise basic caution. When traveling to the Mercado Oriental, tourists are advised to go in groups and avoid the use of chains, necklaces and other valuables. Although Police Officers are available in and around the market, the market tends to be very full and thus it can be hard to find any person who steals your valuables. Tourists are also advised to be cautious around the outskirts of downtown, the area between MetroCentro and the BAC building. Several muggings have occurred around this area. The area around the tica bus station has been deemed unsafe for tourists by the Nicaraguan police due to the high volumes of people moving around. If you must go, take a taxi to and from there.
- When traveling around the city of Managua or around Nicaragua, there are several transportation alternatives. Popular options include buses and taxis, both of which have different rider standards and different precautions.
- Buses in Nicaragua tend to be old school buses that transport people and goods to market. These are colloquially called Chicken Buses. Much like the Argentine collectivo, it uses the honor system on travelers and charges based on the distance one travels. It is relatively the most inexpensive option, allowing tourists to travel to major tourist attractions and other destinations. However, these buses can be extremely crowded and tight in terms of space. An overhead rack tends to be provided for the storage of bags and other items, but tourists are recommended to keep their bags at hand, in their sight, at all times. If you are carrying something valuable and fear the potential loss of theft of it, you are advised to put a lock on your bag. Tourists are also advised to not carry large sums of money in their pockets. On crowded buses (especially during rush hour), thieves can rob you without you noticing. In addition, do not wear any expensive jewelry on the bus. It can be taken from you without your notice due to the high volumes of passengers that board buses. Buses in local urban and interurban routes are not air conditioned, and thus, tourists should ensure that their window is open (provided they are seated).
- There are also Express Buses in the form of mini-vans. These buses provide express inter-city transport at a higher price compared to the standard local Chicken Bus. This form of transport is also cost-friendly, but extremely tight in terms of space. Tourists cannot carry any heavy cargo. Small purses and bookbags are fine, but tourists are advised to exercise the same caution as they would on a Chicken Bus.
- When riding taxis, tourists are strongly recommended to close their windows. Leaving windows open allows one to be robbed while in the car and exposes one to beggars and other service givers. Most tourists consider this a nuisance, and so do locals. Air conditioners do not always work on street-hailed cars. In any case, radio-dispached cars are readily available (particularly from resorts and hotels) and offer the same amenities luxury car services offer at roughly the same price as their North American counterparts.
A full directory of foreign embassies is available at the city govenrment's site http://www.managua.gob.ni/index.php?s=2014 . While there is no single "diplomatic district" in Managua, many foreign missions are located fairly close to each other in Colinas, a neighborhood of large, well landscaped villas, a few blocks east of the km 8 - km 9 marks on Carretera a Masaya. A few others are around km 4-5 of the same Carretera a Masaya.
Some embassies are listed below, in English alphabetic order.
- Germany, km 5 Carretera a Masaya, del Colegio Teresiano 1c. al sur, 1 c. abajo, Calle Erasmus de Rotterdam.
- Greece, Apto Postal 1436, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com.
- Japan, Plaza España 1 cuadra abajo y 1, cuadra al lago, Bolonia, ☎ , fax: .
- Mexico, Km. 4 1/2 Carretera a Masaya 25 Varas Arriba, Altamira, Contiguo a Optica Matamoros, ☎ .
- 5 Russia, Nicaragua, Managua, Barrio Las Colinas, Calle Vista Alegre, 214, a/p 419601,, ☎ . Half a block west from Saint Dominic school, half a block east from the Spanish Embassy, and across the street from the Polish Consulate. Note that as of 2016 Google Maps label the street "Paseo Ecuestre", even though it is locally signed as Calle Vista Allegre.
- 6 Republic of China (Taiwan), Altamira 3ra etapa, Pasteleria Sampsons 50 m al Norte. Nicaragua is one of roughly three dozen countries to have diplomatic relations with the Republic of China rather than the People's Republic of China, which means you will find an embassy for the former but none for the latter
Google Maps labels the street the embassy is in as "Avenida Granada". The embassy is some 200 m SW from the Pharaoh Casino (which is in Carretera a Masaya). Sun Yat Sen Park, a small pleasant park across the street from the embassy, is meant to symbolize the friendship between Nicaragua and the Republic of China (which, since 1949, has been limited to Taiwan).
- Granada - Oldest colonial town in the American continent, rebuilt after burned by US invaders in the 1850s. It has beautiful colorful and picturesque churches. While you're there, take a 2 hour tour of the Granada Isletas (Islands), 365 in total and home to many tropical birds and monkeys. Also while there take a zipline jungle canopy tour of the impressive volcano Mombacho, which looms large over the pueblo. While in Granada be sure to go out on a La Calzada, a hip street host to lots of street musicians and a great, relaxed youth vibe with varied, cheap and delicious food options abounding.
- Pochomil & Masachapa (1 hour or 70 kms from Managua). Montelimar, Masachapa, Pochomil and Pochomil Viejo are the closest beaches from Managua. Montelimar is a private hotel, Masachapa is a fisherman's town with hostals, B&B, bars, restaurants and fisherman's market. Pochomil is located 2 kms south of Masachapa and is a public resort, very popular among Managua residents who arrive in hundreds of buses to spend the day and eat fish and ceviche at the local palapas, there are some private homes who share the beach as well as hotels. Pochomil Viejo is a more exclusive beach located 3 kms south of Pochomil, full of private homes and vacation rentals. The Masachapa-Pochomil beach extends over 25 kms uninterrupted until reaching La Boquita, a great ride to do on a quad bike. Many facilities are available, such as horseback riding, motorcycle rides, surfing, turtle watching, and more. Closest beaches from Managua. There are several beaches in the area: Montelimar, Masachapa, Pochomil and Pochomil Viejo. Masachapa and Pochomil are popular with many restaurants, hostals, B&B and bars, Montelimar is a private resort and Pochomil Viejo is an exclusive beach with private homes and vacation rental homes. It is a large beach where you can enjoy horseback riding, motorcycle rides, surfing, turtle watching, etc.</see>
- La Laguna de Apoyo - An amazing lagoon preserve over three kilometers wide at about 400 meters elevation, crystal clear waters and an impressive jungled volcanic rim of 200 meters. Scuba diving is available along with just relaxing by the water side with various resorts (US$6 for a steak dinner and $0.45 beers) catering to different clients, from young European university students to family venues. Bring a camera.
- Ometepe - In the middle of Lake Nicaragua (19th largest in the world) and a short taxi, then ferry ride from Granada (or a twenty minute twice weekly flight from the domestic section of Managua airport with la costeña) you have Ometepe, an island of two jungle covered tropical oasis home to great eco tourism, virgin jungle and great hikes to waterfalls and the summit of either the (active) volcano Conception (ten hours round trip) or the (inactive) Maderas (eight hours round trip). Also popular are shore side horseback riding along the roads until you reach one of several crystal clear water lagoons up on the mountainside over 300 meters across.
- Masaya Volcano National Park - Excellent park featuring a smoking, active volcano, a visitors center with historical and geological displays. Watch the crater fumes rise to the sky. Climb the steps to the Bobadilla Cross. See the flocks of bright green parrots who live in the volcano's walls. Guided walks to a bat-filled cave are available in the evenings.
- Caribbean Coast - Daily flights are available to Nicaragua's Atlantic coastline, where tropical reefs and small offshore islands offer a very different view of the country. Try to specially visit Corn Island and try their fresh garlic butter shrimp and other seafood that gets freshly caught each day. Swim in beautiful turquoise water or take a glass bottom boat ride and/or scuba diva in the coral reefs.
- Pacific Beaches - Try going to one of Nicaragua's best and most popular destinations: San Juan del Sur, who plays host to the best surf in Central America with many unpopulated beaches hosting world class waves in the area accessible through four wheel drive vehicles. Popoyo beach is known to host 25 foot offshore faces on waves in season, but with so much selection and quality it isn't hard to find and empty beach for anyone's tastes. This is a mellow beach town that has from US$6 hostels to $70 nice hotels up to expensive condo rentals and with increased interest in tourism the local food can be fresh seafood from $3.00 without international tourists fearing foodborne illness due to increased standards. The market and beach front offer extensive dining opportunties at $5 a big dinner. There is something for every pocket. While in San Juan del Sur try to visit nearby practically unpopulated beaches of majagual and marsella, among others. Also, for a more comfortable tourist scene you could always visit Montelimar Beach Resort which is like 10 minutes from Pochomil Beach in the pacific. Rooms average of $75 all inclusive (buffet, soft and alcoholic drinks).
- Volcano Cerro Negro - A fine black sand active volcano piercing the clouds, several companies take you up to the top slopes where you go down on a sled. It's dependent on the rider but speeds of 30 mph have been achieved and since the sand is so fine no danger is present, just great views, adrenaline as you plow down the mountain over a sea of clouds.