Set on the banks of the vast Lake Managua and flanked by towering volcanoes, lush nature reserves, and sweeping lagoons, the Nicaraguan capital is ideally situated for exploring the country’s highlights. Here are your options for day tours from Managua.
El Brujo Natural Reserve—22 miles (35 kilometers) from Managua
Right on Managua’s doorstep, the El Brujo Natural Reserve—also known as the Chocoyero Natural Reserve—is the easiest option for a day hike from Managua. Walking trails loop through the forest, passing natural waterfalls, and you might even spot howler monkeys and Chocoyos parrots.
Granada—27 miles (43 kilometers) from Managua
The colonial city of Granada is one of the most popular day trips from Managua, with highlights that include the cultural center of Casa de los Tres Mundos, the Convent and Museum of San Francisco, and the Parque Central. Day tours often include a visit to the nearby town of Masaya, home to the Masaya Volcano National Park and renowned for its traditional handicrafts, or a scenic cruise around the islands of Lake Nicaragua, where you might even catch sight of freshwater sharks and sawfish.
Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve—32 miles (51 kilometers) from Managua
Looming over the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve offers abundant hiking opportunities, including the option to summit the 4,265-foot (1,300-meter) volcano. The most thrilling way to take in the views is by zipline, flying through the treetops on over 4,900 feet (1,494 meters) of cables. Alternatively, the nearby Apoyo Lagoon makes a scenic spot for kayaking or swimming, and wildlife sightings include toucans, tropical hummingbirds, howler monkeys, and rare butterflies.
Leon—59 miles (95 kilometers) from Managua
Nicaragua’s second-largest city, Leon is also one of its most picturesque, encompassing two UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Leon Viejo and the Cathedral of Leon—and some of the country’s most impressive colonial architecture. Once you’ve explored the town, you can swap sightseeing for sand-boarding, scrambling to the 1,640-foot (500-meter) summit of the nearby Cerro Negro volcano and zooming down the black gravel slopes on a sand board.