With its charming pastel streets, chaotic market and delicious eats on offer, Granada is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Nicaragua.
Many visitors will spend a day or two visiting the churches and touring the isletas before heading on to Ometepe or San Juan del Sur, but one of the real beauties of this lovely colonial town is the nature that exists right on its doorstep.
This guide looks at three very different volcanoes that are all excellent options for a day trip from Granada.
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The fertile soils of Volcan Mombacho are home to lush coffee plantations and verdant cloud forest with a meandering network of trails that weave around its summit.
Hiking through the misty trees dripping with condensation and the calls of howler monkeys echoing nearby is a wonderful way to escape the heat and chaos of downtown Granada, while visiting on a clear day will deliver sweeping vistas over the region.
Visit Independently | Volcan Mombacho can be easily be reached independently by bus. For everything you need to know to plan your Mombacho day trip from Granada on a budget, read this post.
Join A Tour | Volcan Mombacho can also be visited as a part of a half-day tour from Granada which includes 4WD transportation to the summit, a brief coffee plantation visit and a hike around the crater. More adventurous travellers can also join a canopy adventure for the way down. Check prices for the Half-Day Mombacho Tour or the Canopy Adventure here.
Very few places remain in the world where you can lean over a precarious drop off and look down into the smoking pit of an active volcano – Masaya Volcano is one such place.
Loose rocks crumble from the crater walls and tumble toward the bubbling soup of magma while sulphurous fumes belch upward catching in your throat as you lean over the waist-high safety wall.
The major viewpoint marked by the Bobadilla cross is no longer accessible, but a few other walking trails lead across the parched landscapes to various other vantage points.
Besides the volcano, Masaya also has two colourful markets which are worth a visit as part of your day trip from Granada. The frenetic municipal market where you’ll find just about anything you could ever need, and the calmer and slightly more touristy artisanal market where beautifully crafted souvenirs are peddled.
Visit Independently | Masaya is easily reached by bus from Granada. We’d suggest exploring the markets first and moving on to the volcano when you’re ready. A minibus can drop you to the entrance of the reserve. Check out this post for more on how to plan your day to Masaya.
Join A Tour | If you don’t want the hassle of changing transport several times, the markets and volcano of Masaya can also be visited as part of a 6-hour tour. Check prices for Masaya day trip here. Another popular option is to visit Masaya Volcano on a night tour where you’ll see the magma glowing red in the crater and visit the bat caves. Your hostel in Granada should be able to arrange this.
Looking for somewhere to disconnect and relax – Laguna de Apoyo is it!
Once an active volcano, Apoyo now sits as an enormous crater lagoon that makes a perfect place to escape the city.
While away the afternoon lazing in the sunshine, paddle through the translucent waters and doze off in a hammock to the sound of waves lapping gently on the shore. More adventurous visitors can also hire kayaks to explore crater’s perimeter.
Though Apoyo is a beautiful spot for a day trip from Granada, if you’ve got the time we’d also recommend spending a night or two to enjoy the lagoon without the crowds.
Visit Independently | Apoyo is a little fiddly to reach by public transport but it’s definitely worth it. From Granada, catch any Masaya or Managua bound bus and ask to be dropped at the entrance to Laguna de Apoyo. From here you’ll need to transfer to a bus that heads down into the crater. Buses leave the Masaya market at 5:30, 10:30 and 3:30 reaching the turnoff 20 to 30 minutes later where they will pick you up. The buses cost 23 cordobas/$0.82 (10 cordobas + 13 cordobas).
Take A Shuttle | A number of agencies run organised day trips to Laguna de Apoyo from Granada which includes transport and use of the facilities at one of the hostels at the lagoon. The cheapest shuttle can be booked from Buena Tour on the Calzada which drops you at Hostel Paradiso for 84 cordobas ($3) each way where you can pay the day fee to use their facilities or stay for the night. The shuttle leaves Granada at 10:00 and 15:00.