mukul

Sandwiched between Honduras and Costa Rica, Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America according the World Economic Forum. It is also home to 7% of the world’s biodiversity. For such a small country (while it’s the largest in Central America it’s no bigger than the UK) its landscapes are highly diverse, ranging from active volcanoes to sweeping coast lines, jungles and forest, all home to a vast array of wildlife including rare birds, capuchins and jaguars. The best time to go is from November to April but there are no extreme seasons so travel is pretty good year-round.

Starting in the lake-side capital of Managua, this is where to stay, eat, drink, dance and play as you make your way to the islets scattered along the Caribbean Coast.

MANAGUA

La Posada del Arcangel

This characterful posada is well-located in the capital’s heart of Las Polonias, close to the main attractions and bus terminal. Loved for its spacious rooms and friendly staff, owner Carlos’ colourful artwork (some pre-Columbian) adorns the walls. Carved mahogany furniture sets a colonial tone for several suites and apartments, all of which are comfortable, attractive and affordable. Carlos and Ana are fantastic hosts, ever ready to recommend the best of their city while looking after their guests with hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners spanning local and European fare.

Cinemateca Nacional de Nicaragua

This extraordinary archive seeks to preserve the country’s film patrimony. Housing decades of reels of film and television footage, now all being methodically digitalised on site, the centre lets visitors observe the process, attend workshops or simply borrow books from its film library. Each month a Nicaraguan cultural documentary is also projected on a screen in Managua’s main square beneath the stars.

  • +505 2222 2362
  • Go to Website
  • Cinemateca Nacional de Nicaragua
    BAC Las Palmas
    Managua 12036

Haydee Callejas

In a country of exemplary leather workers and tanneries, do not miss the bags of Haydee Callejas. Visit her pretty shop to check out her latest collections, including colourful cut-out handbags and hand-painted pieces from well-known Nicaraguan artists. She also draws inspiration from Guatemala and Mexico, and makes beautiful jewellery.

  • +505 8900 0408
  • Go to Website
  • Haydee Callejas Showroom
    Plaza Viejo Santo Domingo
    Managua

Nicaragua Diseña

There is no better way to absorb the design talent of Nicaragua’s capital than at Central America’s top design fair, Nicaragua Diseña. Held at the start of October, it showcases the best of the region’s creative industries from furniture to fashion. The fair supports local designers (including Haydee Callejas) with grants and many brands support disadvantaged communities.

  • +505 228 1005
  • Go to Website
  • Olof Palme Convention Centre
    Palacio Heroes, P.O. Box 281
    Managua

Museo Nacional: Palacio de la Cultura

Inside the capital’s neoclassical palace is the national museum of culture. Housed around a leafy courtyard, are all kinds of works by the country’s most important artists as well as documents belonging to its famous poet, Ruben Dario. In dedicated rooms, you will also find everything from pre-Colombian ceramics to prehistoric bones.

  • +505 2222 4102
  • Go to Website
  • Palacio de la Cultura
    4 Calle Noreste
    Managua 11001

GRANADA

Tribal Hotel

This boutique gem is worth a visit if only to see the swirling wave design of the swimming pool. Rooms are small but design-led with low, wide beds and abstract art filling the space beneath high thatched ceilings. The hotel lives up to its name with an assortment of masks, some intricately carved, as well as traditional folkloric touches like multicoloured woven balls complete with tinkling bells inside. Typical Nicaraguan breakfasts are included and are delicious.

Expressionista Café

Eclectically decorated with curiosities including giant wheels for tables and retro telephones, this café’s experimental menu delivers lighter versions of Nicaraguan classics with a European twist. Try their “lomo en vigoron”, a local dish with pulled pork. They’ll soon be accepting overnight guests in a newly extended space.

  • +505 2552 4325
  • Expressionista Café
    Calle Real Xalteva 609
    Granada 14052

La Casona Calle Consulado

Stay in a private villa at La Casona on Calle Consulado for a taste of colonial Granada style. Furnished with antiques from the city and beyond, the rooms are large and airy, while an inviting swimming pool beckons beyond. Staff cook up some excellent local meals and the whole experience feels like a home away from home set apart from the bustle of the city.

Casa de los Tres Mundos

Housed in a beautiful colonial building with pretty pillars around its courtyards, this foundation drives, supports and promotes cultural projects from Nicaragua and Central America, in turn assisting the area’s under-privileged social sectors. The various studios and outside spaces offer painting, music lessons, a city archive, a library, a gallery and even a radio station.

LEON

Hotel El Convento

The very first convent in the former capital city of Léon, El Convento is now a beautiful hotel (as well as a museum) built and decorated in the colonial style. Enjoy the view of the leafy patio over lunch at the excellent restaurant or settle among the baroque furnishings and sculptures of the living room with a good book.

  • +505 2311 7053
  • Go to Website
  • 3era. Avenida NO y 1era. calle NO
    Del Parque Central 2 cuadras al Oeste
    1/2 cuadra al Norte
    León 21000

Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdián Art Centre

It is hard to find a more engaging glimpse into Nicaragua’s history than through the art in one of its most impressive contemporary collections. Visit Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdián for a modern spin on the past. Current exhibits show works inspired by the recent revolution, including a giant carousel depiction of President Somoza on a horse – and a film showing his statue crashing to the ground.

Cerro Negro Volcano

Half an hour from Leon stands the majestic Cerro Negro volcano. This is one of the world’s few places where you can “ashboard” – like snowboarding but on black ash. Not for the faint-hearted, this expedition includes a 45-minute ascent to the volcano where the views are staggering before you hurtle down again. To avoid the sun, go late afternoon and enjoy the striking views of molten-pink sunsets. Suits are provided but wear loose-fitting clothes.

BEYOND

Mukul, an Auberge Resort

Mukul, meaning “secret”, is a picture-perfect postcard of white-sand beaches and lush vegetation. The five-star affair stretches along 1,670 acres of the Emerald Coast – a name coined by its owners – and is renowned for its surf. Home to hundreds of animal species from jaguars to three-toed sloths and an array of tropical birds,  the hotel now offers permanent residences alongside guest rooms for those who don’t want to leave. The spa has received wide acclaim for the quality of its treatments – some lasting up to four hours.

  • +505 2563 7100
  • Go to Website
  • Resort Mukul Beach Golf & Spa
    Playa Manzanillo
    Guacalito de la Isla
    Rivas

Little Corn Island

Nicaragua’s Corn Islands on the Caribbean Coast are undeniably some of the prettiest places in the country. Little Corn Island, in particular, has become a haven for creatives seeking refuge. Scuba dive along the kaleidoscopic reefs or simply languish until your heart’s content in the warm tropical waters.

Calala Private Island

Venture further into the Caribbean to this largely undiscovered paradisiacal islet. Calala is the epitome of intimate barefoot luxury, complete with its own no-fly zone. The island can accommodate up to 10 people, either as one group or sharing with others. Spend days splashing in the sea or spotting local wildlife. Take part in a treasure hunt for gold and have a film made out of your trip, if the need takes you. Arrive by boat or go all out with a helicopter – if you’re about to find a pot of gold, you might as well.

Cinemateca Nacional de Nicaragua

Haydee Callejas

Museo Nacional: Palacio de la Cultura

Tribal Hotel

Expressionista Café

Calle Consulado

Casa de los Tres Mundos

Hotel El Convento

Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdion Art Centre

Cerro Negro volcano

Resort Mukul Beach Golf & Spa

Little Corn Island

Calala Private Island

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