14 Little Things to Love About Nicaragua

Many travelers are drawn to Nicaragua for its high profile adventures–volcano boarding being number one. But the big thrills aren’t why people fall in love with the country. It’s the tiny, everyday things that win over hearts and keep you coming back.

Let’s set aside the eye-catching experiences and take a minute to appreciate the delightful quirks and charms. Here are 14 little things to love about Nicaragua:

1. Colorful doors in Granada

Charming Granada is one of Nicaragua’s most popular cities. With remnants of the Spanish colonial influence, the architecture also features an enchanting mix of Neoclassical and Baroque styles. But one of the most interesting aspects of the Granada cityscape is the most simple: the doors. Keep an eye out for fun details like toucan carvings as you take in the rainbow of colors running up and down the streets’ facades.

2. Quesillo from street carts

Nicaragua’s street food game is unrivaled, but quesillo might just take home the trophy. A small tortilla stuffed full of soft cheese, pickled onions, and crema, quesillo has its roots in the city of León. It’s the perfect size to tide you over between meals on busy days exploring Nicaragua. If you spot a street vendor with a quesillo cart, don’t miss your chance to indulge in this little delight.

3. Guardabarranco sightings

Birdwatchers, rejoice: Nicaragua’s national bird is a visually distinctive species. The guardabarranco, or “turquoise-browed motmot,” is a striking blue-green bird that can be found all across the country. Most notable is the guardabarranco’s unusual kitestring tail: it looks like two long threads connecting the body to a pair of blue and black feathers. Spotting these beautiful creatures on a tree outside your window is a simple pleasure in Nicaragua.

4. Pretty paper money

Nicaragua’s national currency is the córdoba, and it might surprise you that it earned a spot on this list. But if money sounds more functional than fun, then you haven’t seen these banknotes. Each bill highlights a person or place of cultural significance, from the Rubén Darío National Theater to a La Vaquita dancer. The córdoba tells Nicaragua’s story every time you pay a tab. In hues of blue, green, and red, it’s a little treat to spend córdobas.

5. Smooth Nicaraguan coffee

Coffee thrives in high altitudes, warm climates, and rich soil. Nicaragua provides all of these conditions in abundance. Shade-grown in the misty hills of the northern highlands, Nicaraguan coffee is among the world’s best. Jumping out of bed to savor a smooth, bright morning mug is one of the many little things to love about Nicaragua.

6. Funky forms of transportation

Driving a car is the least interesting way to get around Nicaragua. There are a whole host of unorthodox options that offer a unique experience if you’re up for a little adventure. The chicken bus is one such form of transportation that is hard to miss. Inexpensive, ubiquitous, and flamboyant, these retired yellow school buses are resurrected as elaborately decorated public transit vehicles. If that’s not to your taste, try a tuk tuk or bike taxi. Just don’t be surprised if you spot a few Nicaraguans commuting by ox cart.

7. Colloquial street addresses

Don’t expect house numbers or zip codes when you’re looking for an address in Nicaragua. Instead, the country relies on a more “word of mouth” style of navigation. Directions to a home or even a business often sound like they’ve been passed on from an old neighbor–it’s not unusual to hear “2 ½ blocks south of where the pulperia used to be” as a formal address. Mailmen shouting out names as they walk up and down the street adds to the charm of Nicaragua!

8. Fiery volcano sunsets

Nicaragua lights up with spectacular sunsets. But none are more glorious than the ones set against volcano silhouettes. Catching a sunset on Lake Nicaragua will treat you to a stunning display over Concepción Volcano–we recommend viewing it from Punta Jesús María. If you find yourself in León, you can get a once in a lifetime vantage point atop Telica Volcano.

9. Creative street art

Nicaragua is a colorful country–and it isn’t just because of the brightly painted buildings. Local artistry brings the streets to life. In the city of Granada, you can see gorgeous depictions of national icons on the stones of lively Calle La Calzada. During Semana Santa, León is covered with elaborate sawdust carpets illustrating the life and Passion of Christ. They last but a day, kicked up by the Good Friday procession, but are incredible to behold.

10. Unique artisan handicrafts

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One little thing to love about Nicaragua is actually many things: the handmade crafts. Using skills passed down through generations, artisans create intricate pottery, traditional black and white ceramics, handwoven baskets, leather goods, wooden rocking chairs, and so much more. Visit the artisan villages or Masaya artisan market to appreciate these beautiful works, or even see the makers in action. Plus, you get the chance to take home a one-of-a-kind memento from Nicaragua!

11. Award-winning rum

Another old art form you can appreciate in Nicaragua? Rum making. Flor de Caña is the country’s premier distillery. It’s a long-running family business that produces some of the finest rum in the world. Famously aged at the base of active Volcán San Cristóbal, the spirit is enriched with minerals and is exceptional enough to be featured in the MICHELIN Guide. If you’re not a rum drinker now, you just might be after sampling Nicaragua’s edition.

12. Traditional folk performances

Nicaraguans are an artistic people that treasure tradition. So it’s not uncommon to find cultural celebrations all across the country. Famous folklore performances like the El Güegüense satirical drama or La Gigantona dance originally emerged as forms of protest against Spanish colonization. Seeing Nicaragua’s traditional folk performances at festivals like San Sebastián in Diriamba, Palo de Mayo in Bluefields, or La Gritería in León is an unforgettable way to appreciate the country’s rich history. 

13. Sunny sacuanjoche flowers

The national sacuanjoche flower is a lovely little thing to love about Nicaragua. Five perfectly symmetrical white petals spiral around a painted yellow center to form this symbol of beauty and resilience. In other parts of the world, the sacuanjoche goes by plumeria, frangipani, or flor de mayo, but Nicaragua keeps the indigenous name. Look for the fragrant flower and you’ll see it pop up everywhere.

14. Tiny sea turtle hatchlings

Besides their natural beauty and ideal surfing conditions, Nicaragua’s beaches are known for their rare status as a nesting ground for sea turtles. Thousands of mama turtles emerge from the ocean every year in a phenomenon called an arribada. About two months later, the surviving eggs hatch all at once, and tiny sea turtle hatchlings make a mad dash for the water. If you’re lucky enough to witness this incredible event in Nicaragua, you will undoubtedly fall in love with the determined baby turtles.

Conclusion

What first put Nicaragua on your radar? We’re willing to bet it wasn’t one of these 14 little things. But they might just be the reason you’re planning a return trip. No matter what it is you love about Nicaragua, there’s always a new delight to discover.

What is your favorite little thing about Nicaragua? Share it in the comments!

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Meet your Tour Guides

Hola! We’re Gail & Luis, a team of two with a deep love for Nicaragua. Luis, a professional tour guide, is the knowledgeable source behind the blog. Gail, an American writer, is the voice. 

We started this blog as a way to stay connected from afar and support Nicaragua in our own small way.

Today, our mission is to open hearts and minds to the wonders of Nicaragua and make it easier than ever to start planning your trip.

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Guadalupe Santiago Aguirre
Guadalupe Santiago Aguirre
4 months ago

Te invito a mi país para que disfrute de la comida, sus playas y ciudades te incluyo montañas y bolcanes

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