Need help planning an EPIC 10-day Nicaragua itinerary? Read on below to find out more!
With an epic coastline that attracts surfers from all over the globe, home to a whopping 40 volcanoes and an abundance of flourishing wildlife,
Nicaragua is a true undiscovered gem and one that we all need to explore.
Nicaragua is one of the most underrated countries in Central America, but that’s what makes it all the more appealing.
There is something to do here for everyone.
From the wave hunters to the nature lovers, to the avid hikers and the laid-back hammock dwellers, you certainly won’t be short of things to do in Nicaragua.
Whilst 10 days in Nicaragua might not feel like enough, it certainly is enough time to get a small glimpse into what this magical country has to offer.
After an incredible 10 days in Nicaragua, it has quickly become one of my favourite countries in Central America, if not the world!
So what’s included on a 10-day Nicaragua itinerary? Keep scrolling down to find out!
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About This 10-Day Nicaragua Itinerary
This 10-day Nicaragua Itinerary was formed out of all the mistakes and learnings I made from my own 10-day trip to Nicaragua.
My route was completely nonsensical, going up and down and all over the country and spending a lot of money in the process.
So, rest assured that I have curated the perfect itinerary, with the easiest routes so that you can get the most out of your holiday.
In short, your 10-day Nicaragua Itinerary will look a little something like the below:
- Days 1-2 León
- Days 2-4 San Juan Del Sur
- Days 4-6 Ometepe
- Days 6-8 Granada
- Days 8-10 Little Corn Island
In the below 10-day Nicaragua Itinerary I have included all modes of transport (taxi, public bus, private shuttle and plane/boat) however,
I recommend using the fastest modes of transport (taxi/private shuttle and plane) because the public buses can take longer than expected and occasionally be unreliable.
If you want to get the most out of your 10-days in Nicaragua and not spend most of your time travelling then this is the best thing to do (however it will be the more expensive option).
Landing in Managua
To begin your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary, you will most likely be landing at Managua International Airport. There is not much to do in the city, nor is it the safest part of Nicaragua.
With that being said, I would advise spending as little time in Managua as possible.
Depending on what time you land, you can choose to travel straight to the first destination León, or stay for just 1 night and get going as early as possible in the morning.
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Where to stay in Managua
If you need to stay in Managua I recommend either staying near the airport or close to the public bus terminal.
A top-rated (and budget-friendly) hotel near the airport is Airport X Managua.
Otherwise, if you’re looking to stay near the bus station then Hotel El Amendro isn’t too far from the UCA bus terminal.
Looking for more Nicaragua Inspiration? Check out my other guides here
Day 1-2 León
Stop 1 on your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary is León. León is one of Nicaragua’s stunning colonial cities and the second largest in all of the country.
The city is super famous for its stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife, and of course one of Nicaragua’s most popular activities; Volcano Boarding.
Getting to León from Managua
León is easily accessible by public bus, private shuttle or car/taxi.
The driving distance between Managua and León is 94 km. The drive takes approximately 1h 25m.
You will need to get to the UCA bus station in Managua City and from there take the bus to León (1.5 hours). Tickets will cost roughly 120 cordobas.
You can get a shuttle bus from Managua to Leon with Gekko Trails Explorer for $35. The shuttle leaves at 1 pm and takes approximately 2 hours. You can either get picked up from the city or the airport.
What to do
Whether you’re after nature, history or a party there is something for everyone in León
Some of the best things to do in León include:
- Volcano Boarding on the Cerro Negro
- Explore the Basilica Cathedral
- Flor de Caña Rum Tour
- Free city walking tour
- Release baby turtles at the beach
Where to stay
Days 2-4 San Juan Del Sur
Stop 2 on your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary is San Juan Del Sur. San Juan Del Sur is Nicaragua’s most famous surf and party town.
If you’re not a surfer or a lover of parties, don’t fear, there’s still lots for you to discover.
Getting from Leon to San Juan Del Sur
The Journey from León is a long one so I would recommend leaving as soon as possible so that you don’t waste a day of exploring.
The driving distance between León and San Juan Del Sur is 214 km. The drive takes approximately 3h 44m.
To get the bus from León to San Juan Del Sur, you’ll need to take not 1 one but 3 different buses (yep, you read that right). However, the journey should cost you around $10.
First, you will have to catch a bus back to Managua (1.5 hours), then you will need to catch a bus to the town of Rivas (3 hours).
Finally, from Rivas you can catch the bus to San Juan Del Sur (1 hour).
You can hop on a private shuttle from León to San Juan Del Sur with Gekko Trails for just $35.
What to do
- Surfing lessons or Surf School
- Yoga Classes
- Horseback riding
- Pool day at Hush Maderas
- Sunday Funday Bar Crawl
Where to stay
One of the best hostels to stay in, in San Juan Del Sur is The Space, they have both reasonably priced dorms and private rooms.
It’s also a fairly chilled hostel, however, that doesn’t include Sundays, when it’s part of the famous Sunday Funday Bar Crawl.
If you’re looking for something more private with incredible views then Hush Maderas is a great option, although slightly further out of town.
Days 4-6 Ometepe
Stop 3 on your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary is Ometepe. Ometepe is one of Nicaragua’s most beautiful natural wonders.
Home to not one but two volcanoes rising out of the famous Lake Nicaragua (which takes home the title of the largest lake in Central America).
Ometepe is a great spot for those looking to soak up beautiful landscapes and an abundance of nature.
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Getting from San Juan Del Sur to Ometepe
The driving distance between San Juan Del Sur to the San Jorge Port is 34 km. The drive takes approximately 45m.
To get to the San Jorge ferry port via public bus, you will first need to catch the bus to Rivas (1 hour).
You will then need to catch the bus from Rivas to San Jorge Port (15 mins). The whole journey in total should cost $1.50.
Note: It’s probably easier to get a taxi from Rivas to San Jorge especially if you’re in a rush to catch a specific ferry.
You can book a private shuttle with Gekko Trails Explorer to the port of San Jorge for $25. This is where you can catch the ferry to Ometepe.
Catching The Ferry
Once you have arrive in San Jorge you will need to catch the ferry to Ometepe Island. You can find the ferry timetable and prices here. The ferry journey is approximately 45-60 minutes.
What to do
There is a whole host of things to do in Ometepe for nature lovers among us.
- Hike Volcan Concepcion and Maderas
- Kayak through the River Istian
- Swim at Ojo De Agua
- Watch the sunset at Playa Mangos
- Hike to the San Ramon waterfall
Where to stay
Without a doubt, one of the best places to stay in Ometepe is Totoco Eco Lodge.
It’s hidden way up in the hills and has unparalleled views of the magnificent Volcan Concepcion all for a very fair price.
However, if you are after something a little more accessible and social then El Pital is one of the top-rated hostels on the island.
Days 6-8 Granada
Stop 4 on your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary is Granada.
Granada is Nicaragua’s 2nd largest colonial city. It’s home to a plethora of vibrant architecture and a beautifully chaotic atmosphere that is not to be missed.
Getting from Ometepe to Granada
To get to Granada you will first need to catch the ferry back to the San Jorge port. You can find the ferry timetable and prices here. The ferry journey is approximately 45-60 minutes.
Catching The Ferry
To get to Granada you will first need to catch the ferry back to the San Jorge port.. You can find the ferry timetable and prices here. The ferry journey is approximately 45-60 minutes.
The driving distance between the San Jorge Port and Granada is 72 km. The drive takes approximately 1h 25m.
Once you are back in San Jorge you will need to catch a bus (or a taxi) back to Rivas. From Rivas you can catch a direct bus to Granada (2 hours).
You can book a private shuttle with Gekko Trails Explorer from the port of San Jorge to Granada for $25.
What to do
For a small city, there is still lots to do, whether you want to explore the city walls or step outside a little and explore the local nature.
- Admire the rainbow coloured streets
- Parque Central De Granada & Cathedral
- Take a trip to Laguna De Apoyo
- Explore the local market
Where to stay
Prefer to stay in a hotel? Hotel con Corazón is a great option.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to stay outside of the city and a little closer to nature then I would highly recommend staying at Paradiso Hostel at Laguna De Apoyo.
Days 8-10 Little Corn Island
The final stop on your 10-day Nicaragua itinerary is Little Corn Island. And, we’re really saving the best till last on this 10-day Nicaragua itinerary.
Little Corn Island is a stunning tropical paradise on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
With piercing turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and a coastline bursting with lush green palm trees.
This remote little island has become a hotspot for travellers looking for the perfect off-grid tropical experience.
Getting from Granada to Little Corn
Plane and Speedboat
You can catch a direct flight from Managua Airport to Big Corn Island.
From Granada, you can either catch a 45-minute taxi to the airport or catch the bus from Granada Microbus station to Managua’s UCA bus terminal.
From there you can catch a taxi to the airport. Once you have landed in Big Corn Island you will then need to catch a 30-minute speedboat to Little Corn Island.
Bus and Ferry
To get from Managua to Little Corn via bus and ferry you will have to catch a direct bus from Managua ‘El Maoyreo’ Bus Station to Bluefields.
From Bluefields you will then have to catch a 6.5-hour ferry to Big Corn Island, followed by a 30-minute speedboat to Little Corn Island.
For full details on how to get to Little Corn Island, read my complete guide here
What to do
For a tiny place, there are lots of wonderful things to do on Little Corn Island.
Some of these things include:
- Scuba Diving & Snorkelling (If you’re lucky you’ll get to see turtles, sharks and stingrays)
- Book a boat trip to the Pearl Cays
- Go on a fishing trip
- Swim at the stunning Otto Beach
Where to Stay
After a social and cheap accommodation with a backpacker vibe? If yes, then I highly recommend staying at Grace’s Cool Spot.
If it’s something a little more high-end and private that you are after then I recommend Yemaya Reefs.
I truly hope you have a wonderful 10 days in Nicaragua and that this 10-day Nicaragua itinerary was useful in helping you plan your trip!