The city of Granada has many elements that make it appealing to visitors. The colorful colonial buildings and charming architecture make the historic center a lovely backdrop for a stroll, and the city’s proximity to gorgeous natural landscapes means there are plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. Three days may not be enough time to see everything you want to see in Granada and also get some relaxation time into your vacation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Day 1: Explore the Historic Center
Before you get out into the wilderness, you can spend a day soaking in the colonial beauty of the historic city center of Granada. Visit the city’s many pretty churches - don’t miss a chance to climb the bell tower at the Merced Church for a photo op overlooking Granada. Tour the powder-blue San Francisco church museum, complete with Zapatera statues that are more than 2,000 years old. Survey the city from the towers of Fortaleza La Polvora, originally built to protect Granada’s gunpowder supply from pirates.
Let Granada help you ease into a relaxing trip - amble through the city streets by day, and take a leisurely horse-drawn carriage ride to wind up your evening. Get a good night’s rest, because you’ll be spending the next two days in the great outdoors.
Day 2: Get On the Water
Spend your second day in Granada on the lake that laps at the city’s edge - Lake Nicaragua. There are a variety of ways you can enjoy Nicaragua’s largest lake, including taking a boat to the nearby Zapatera Island to hike the island’s namesake volcano. Since you’ll be volcano-bound on day three, however, this is a day to spend on the water itself.
Take a boat or kayaking tour of Las Isletas, the archipelago of more than 300 small islands off the coast of Granada. Many are inhabited by private owners, but others have some shops and restaurants - and even hotels - to welcome visitors. Getting out into the islets means you’ll have a better chance of seeing Lake Nicaragua’s bull sharks and the huge variety of birds that call the islets home.
Day 3: Hike the Volcano
The Mombacho Volcano looms over Granada, sitting just to the south of the city, but since the volcano hasn’t actually erupted since the 16th century, its presence isn’t as threatening as you might expect. Instead, the volcano and the surrounding nature reserve give hikers a chance to climb through a dwarf and cloud forest, getting an up close and personal look at several species of plants and animals that are unique to the Mombacho Volcano.
It’s possible to plan your own hiking trip up the Mombacho Volcano, but one of the trails is difficult enough that they require you to go with a guide - and if you have time constraints, it’s easier to book a day trip that includes transportation to hike the volcano.