Malecon area next to Lake Managua at Puerto Salvador Allende Managua Nicaragua; straw covered cabanas with colourful flags; water views and hills in background

The capital of Nicaragua is an often overlooked destination. It does however have plenty of great experiences to offer. With international flights operating out of Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport in Managua, chances are you will be spending some time in Managua during your trip to Nicaragua. Moreover, for those living in Nicaragua, regular trips to Managua will be essential for access to all of the conveniences of a large modern city. To help you plan your next Managua visit, we’ve created a list of the top things to do in Managua Nicaragua. From its vibrant food scene to scenic landmarks and fantastic shopping, From its vibrant food scene to scenic landmarks and fantastic shopping, we’ll show you all the highlights of what to do in Managua Nicaragua.

Plan your trip: Here are our Managua Nicaragua top recommendations:

Activities: book your Managua Nicaragua Tours with Get Your Guide.

Accommodation: we use to find the best hotels.

Private Transfers: Pacific Tours,

Flights: find cheapest flights with cashback on WayAway.

Airport Lounge Access: start your holiday the right way with Priority Pass.

Travel Medical InsuranceSafetyWing Nomad Insurance is the ideal choice for long-term travellers and digital nomads.

Travel Banking: Wise makes global travel banking seamless and affordable.

About Managua Nicaragua

Roundabout with yellow Trees of Life and statue of Hugo Chavez at Rotonda Hugo Chavez Managua Nicaragua
Rotonda Hugo Chavez Managua Nicaragua

Managua is the sprawling capital city of Nicaragua. Devastated by an earthquake in 1972, Managua was haphazardly rebuilt over the following 20 years. Due to the disorganised rebuild, the city has no centralised districts and shopping areas. The main highway running through Managua is Carretera a Masaya. This connects the capital city to the city of Masaya.

Managua is conveniently located in the centre of Nicaragua. It is also one of the main transport hubs to get to other parts of the country. Home to over a million people, it is a cosmopolitan city. Unsurprisingly, Managua also has the best shopping in Nicaragua as well as a wide range of international cuisine. Furthermore Managua is also the best place in Nicaragua for high quality medical as well as dental services.

Top 5 Things To Do in Managua Nicaragua

If you’re looking for fun things to do in Managua, you’ve come to the right place! This is our list of the best things to do in Managua Nicaragua:

1. Get the best view of Managua from Loma de Tiscapa

Man in green t-shirt pointing to Sandino Statue at Loma de Tiscapa Managua Nicaragua; Nicaragua and FSLN flags in the background; blue sky wtih white clouds
Sandino Statue at Loma de Tiscapa

Loma de Tiscapa is a beautiful lookout with one of the best views of Managua. It sits on the hill of the inactive Tiscapa volcanic crater lagoon. Of particular note is the imposing statue of Nicaraguan hero Augusto C Sandino at the top of the lookout. Entry to the lookout is $1 entry per person. This can be paid in cash using USD or cordobas. Furthermore, as one of the top tourist attractions in Managua Nicaragua, there’s plenty of parking on site. Keep in mind there’s not too much shade here. As such, we recommend you bring plenty of sun protection. Especially if you are coming on a hot day.

Views over the city of Managua Nicaragua from the lookout point Loma de Tiscapa. Volcanoes, hills, Lake Managua and Puerto Salvador Allende in the distance, blue sky with white clouds
View of Managua from Loma de Tiscapa

There is a lot of history to this site. It was the site of the old presidential palace of Anastasio Somoza. This also included a casino for friends of the former president. Furthermore, it was the site where revolutionary and national hero Augusto C Sandino was assassinated in 1934 by then General Somoza’s guards. A silhouette of Sandino’s image now stands tall here. Underneath the hill were the notorious Somoza dungeons, which are now a police archive.

Entrance to the Somoza Dungeons (now a police archive) at Loma de Tiscapa Managua Nicaragua; White staircase with artillery
Entrance to the Somoza Dungeons (now a police archive)

2. Eat at the best international restaurants in Nicaragua

We lived in Nicaragua for a year and a half. During that time we travelled extensively throughout the country. In most cities and towns in Nicaragua you’ll find local cuisine, a couple of Chinese restaurants, some pizza shops as well as plenty of burgers. Outside of these favourites, there’s not much else to choose from. However food in Managua is different. In Managua you can find a wide variety of good quality international cuisine. This includes Japanese cuisine, Korean food, plenty of cafes, and a whole lot more. In our opinion, dining out is one of the best activities in Managua Nicaragua. While prices can be a bit higher than other parts of the country, the food is definitely worth it! Plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars can be found in the upmarket neighbourhoods of Las Colinas and Los Robles, as well as in and around major shopping centres.

Best international restaurants in Managua Nicaragua

Xin Tian Di Restaurant

This is a large Chinese restaurant containing plenty of indoor seating. It is nicely presented and also has air conditioning. They also offer take away, but they charge a little bit extra for packaging. We had the tofu and mushrooms as well as the chow mein. The food was delicious and well portioned. Furthermore, the prices were reasonable. Additional conveniences include parking on site as well as being able to pay by cash or card.

Nau Lounge at the Hotel Intercontinental
Woman in black t-shirt smiling and holding a sushi boat at Nau Lounge Real InterContinental Managua Nicaragua
The sushi boat at Nau Lounge Real InterContinental Managua Nicaragua

The Nau Lounge is undoutedly one of the best Japanese restaurants in Managua. It is conveniently located on the grounds of the Hotel Intercontinental, right next door to the Metrocentro shopping centre. If you don’t feel like Japanese food, you can also order from the steakhouse menu. We had the sushi boat. This came on an actual wooden boat and was exquisitely presented. We were particularly impressed with the amount of sushi we received. It was certainly decent value for what you got. Unsurprisingly, the service and the atmosphere were just what you’d expect from a top tier hotel. We had a lovely meal here and would gladly come back.

Sushi Excelencia
Assortment of Korean dishes from Sushi Excelencia Korean Japanese Restaurant Managua Nicaragua. Metal chopsticks picking up kimchi
Delicious Korean food from Sushi Excelencia

Sushi Excelencia offers both Japanese and Korean dishes. Their food is very authentic and made with quality ingredients. They have both indoor and outdoor dining available. Furthermore, the service was excellent. Above all, we were thrilled to be able to get a taste of Korea in the heart of Nicaragua.

3. Relax by the waterfront at Puerto Salvador Allende

Malecon area next to Lake Managua at Puerto Salvador Allende Managua Nicaragua; straw covered cabanas with colourful flags; water views and hills in background
Puerto Salvador Allende Managua Nicaragua

Puerto Salvador Allende is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in Managua Nicaragua. This gorgeous waterfront area has a lot of colourful decorations and pretty straw covered cabanas to sit under. It is a nice place to have a stroll. Additionally, there are a few food kiosks with different international cuisines where you can buy something to eat. When we were there we were lucky enough to spot the resident crocodile swimming in the water nearby. This crocodile’s name is Juancho and he is quite the local celebrity! This area used to be a dangerous area to visit, but it has been cleaned up in recent years. We felt very safe walking around here during the day. There are also boat tours that give you great views of the Managua, as well as the nearby active Mombotombo volcano. Conveniently, there’s plenty of parking onsite. We paid 60 cordobas for parking.

4. Shop til you drop

Without a doubt, Managua is the best place to shop in Nicaragua. It has the widest selection of goods available, international brands as well as clean and spacious shopping centres. Managua is also home to large local markets. Even if you’re living in a large city in Nicaragua like Granada or León there will be some things that you might want to buy that are only available in Managua. This is particularly true of getting the best range of electronics, household goods and certain foods. Keep in mind that Amazon doesn’t ship to Nicaragua, so online shopping is not really an option in Nicaragua.

Where to shop in Managua Nicaragua

Galerias Santo Domingo
Inside Galerias Santo Domingo Shopping Centre Managua Nicaragua
Inside Galerias Santo Domingo Shopping Centre Managua Nicaragua

Galerias Santo Domingo is a massive shopping complex, comparible to anything you’d find in countries such as the USA, Canada or Australia. Opened since 2004, it is the largest and most impressive shopping centre in Nicaragua.

Galerias is the go to place in Managua for a high end shopping experience. The centre has both indoor and outdoor areas. It has a great selection of shops, a wide range of restaurants and fast food outlets as well as the Plaza Hiper La Colonia Supermarket. Additionally, Galerias has free wifi throughout. It also comes complete with major international labels. However it has equivalent pricing to match!

Our favourite store in Galerias is the department store Siman. Siman sells a wide range of items, including household goods, furniture, clothes, electronics and much much more. The shopping centre is clean and bright and made us nostalgic for home.

There’s ample parking on site and security guards at the car park. Located on the Pan American Highway, it is easily accessible by bus. Galerias Santo Domingo is open 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 11am to 8pm on Sunday.

Plaza Hiper La Colonia
Inside La Colonia Supermarket Managua Nicaragua
The biggest supermarket in Nicaragua – La Colonia Managua Nicaragua

Plaza Hiper La Colonia is located within the Galerias Santo Domingo complex. It is a destination in itself and certainly lives up to its ‘hiper’ name. This is an impressively grand supermarket. It even sells freshly made sushi. It is open from 9am to 9pm every day.

Little Caesars Pizza stall at Metrocentro Managua Nicaragua
Inside Metrocentro Managua Nicaragua

Metrocentro is another modern complex for shopping in Managua Nicaragua. The Metrocentro building is clean and air conditioned. Home to over 120 stores, it is a smaller and more low key alternative to Galerias. The building itself is clean and air conditioned. Metrocentro is in the popular Los Robles district of Managua. Conveniently, it is right next door to the Hotel Intercontinental.

There is an open air carpark on site which has secuity guards employed. It is also easily accessible by public transport. Metrocentro is generally cheaper alternative to Galerias, but still has a number of international brands. There is even an immigration office here. However if you need to get your visa extended, you will still have to go to the main immigration office (the Directorate General of Immigration and Nationality). Trading hours for Metrocentro are 8am to 9pm every day.

Checkout area at PriceSmart Managua Nicaragua; Social distancing sign; customers and staff wearing masks
Shopping at PriceSmart Managua Nicaragua

PriceSmart is where you go to get all your bulk goods cheaply. It is open 8am to 8pm everyday and there is a massive range on offer. You can get all your food items in bulk such as spices, pizza sauce, canned peaches and grains. Any household good can be found here, including fridges, televisions and other electronics. You can even find air conditioning units here! There is also plenty more. If you have a plantinum membership you get 2% discount as well as other benefits. The Annual membership cost for platinum is US$86 ($86.21) and US$40 ($40.22) for the standard ‘diamond’ membership.

Checkout at Sinsa Hardware Store Managua Nicaragua; green signs, 8 cash registers, staff in green polo shirts
Sinsa Hardware Store Managua Nicaragua

For all of your hardware and household needs all in the one place, come to Sinsa. Sinsa would be the equivalent of Lowe’s in the US or Bunnings in Australia. It’s a huge hardware store and has all of your home improvement needs covered. It also has an impressive range of household appliances including fridges and televisions. The Sinsa in Managua is the biggest and of course the best in the country. When we came here we were in awe of how big the store was as well as the wide range of high quality goods on offer. Additionally, Sinsa has free wifi throughout the store and plenty of parking on site. It’s also accessible by bus. The SINSA carratera a Masaya hardware store is open from 7am to 7pm everyday.

Inside Walmart Shops Managua Nicaragua
Walmart Shops Managua Nicaragua

The popular department store Walmart has stores throughout Central America. The Walmart in Managua is a popular shopping destination in Nicaragua.

Mercado Oriental

For a more authentic Nicaraguan shopping experience, you might want to consider Mercado Oriental. There is a wide range of fresh food available here as well as clothes and other merchandise. However, Mercado Oriental has a reputation for being one of the more dangerous places in Nicaragua. Due to this, we have not been here personally.

If you decide to come here, we have a few recommendations to keep yourself safe. Firstly, we recommend not bringing valuables. Secondly take care not to get pick pocketed. And finally, we recommend getting someone you trust to keep an eye on your car while you’re shopping. We know people that do shop here. But you do have to be more cautious if you decide to come here yourself.

Shopping for Electronics in Nicaragua

We have noticed that electronics prices in Nicaragua are relatively expensive. This is due to import taxes. The range for items such as laptops will be more limited than what you can get in other countries outside Central America. Expats tend to buy things like electronics in their home countries and then bring it back to Nicaragua. We’ve had a few bad experiences with purchasing electronics in Nicaragua. As such we wouldn’t recommend buying electronics in Nicaragua unless you have no other options.

5. Eat Street Food

Managua is home to some delicious street food. Moreover, many street food items cost as little as $1 USD.


Pot of Nacatamales over hot stones - street food at Managua Nicaragua; food wrapped in banana leaves
Nacatamales – a Nicaraguan street food specialty!

Must try street food include nacatamales. These are a traditional Nicaraguan street food item. This is a cornmeal dish which is filled with vegetables, meat and herbs and wrapped in a banana leaf.

Homemade Gelato

Helado ice cream vendor riding a bike down a street in Managua Nicaragua
Helado ice cream vendor in Managua Nicaragua

Keep an ear out for the gentle ringing of a bell when you’re in Managua. This is the sound of an ice cream vendor. You can get ice cold home made gelato for as little as 5 cordobas or $0.15 USD.


Street food stall known as a Fritanga in Managua Nicaragua
Local fritanga street food in Managua Nicaragua

For a more substantial meal, you must try a local fritanga. Fritangas are Nicaraguan local eateries. These usually be found outside the front of people’s homes and offer a range of home cooked dishes. You can get a hearty meal of grilled meat, salad and fried banana for around 100 cordobas.

Refrescos Naturales

Don’t forget to wash it all down with a nice refreshing drink of refresco natural. This is a natural fruit drink. It is very popular in Nicaragua and comes in a wide variety of flavours. You can get a refresco natural for around 10 cordobas.

Other reasons to visit Managua Nicaragua

If you’re living in Nicaragua, or having an extended stay in Nicaragua, chances are you’ll need to make a trip to Managua at least a couple of times a year. This may be for a shopping excursion, to get your fill of sushi, to have a medical or dental checkup or to get a same-day visa extension. Managua is an underrated destination and we recommend taking some time to enjoy the city while you’re there.

How long to spend in Managua Nicaragua

Most people visiting Nicaragua just pass through Managua on the way to more scenic destinations like Granada, León, San Juan del Sur and Ometepe Island. If you only have a short period of time to spend in Nicaragua, then limiting your time in Managua is certainly understandable. However if you are living in Nicaragua we’d recommend a day trip to the capital once every 3-6 months. If you have certain foods that you can’t live without, a shopping trip to Managua may be as frequent as once a fortnight.

Getting to Managua Nicaragua

Travelling to Managua from overseas

If you are flying to Nicaragua, your first stop will be Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport in Managua. This airport has currently has regular flights to Miami USA as well as Panama and El Salvador.

Travelling to Managua from other parts of Nicaragua

Managua is one of the main transport hubs in Nicaragua. As such, it is highly likely that you will need to pass through here when travelling around Nicaragua.

Domestic Flights in Nicaragua

Flights to the Corn Islands, Bluefields and Puerto Cabezas on the Carribean side of Nicaragua fly from Augusto Cesar Sandino International Airport in Managua. Flights are operated by Nicaragua’s regional airline La Costeña. The flight time from Managua to each of these destinations is between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. One way tickets cost around $100 USD

Local buses in Nicaragua

Local Bus Jinotepe Nicaragua
Local Bus Jinotepe Nicaragua

Travelling by local bus is the cheapest way to travel around Nicaragua. As a rough rule of thumb, a one hour bus trip will cost around 30 cordobas or $1 USD. We have travelled extensively throughout Nicaragua by local bus. Moreover, we think there’s no better way to experience the local culture than to ride on a local bus. Local buses are old US school buses that have been painted in vibrant colours. Vendors will often board the bus to sell all manner of items such as food, medication and even clothes and watches. In Nicaragua there’s always room for extra people on a bus. So prepare to get squeezed! However that’s all part of the experience. We have seen some really interesting things on our bus travels, including a lady feeding her pet parrot some corn!

Bus Terminals in Managua Nicaragua

There are 4 main local bus terminals in Managua. These are spread out throughout the city.

Terminal de Autobuses Mercado Roberto Huembes

This is the busiest bus terminal in Managua. It is located in the centre of Managua, next to the Roberto Humbres market. The areas serviced by this terminal include some of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua such as Granada, Masaya, Rivas, San Juan del Sur, San Jorge and Peñas Blancas.

Terminal de Buses El Mayoreo

This terminal is in the eastern side of Managua. It services the north of Nicaragua, including Estelí, Matagalpa, Jinotega as well as areas to the east of Lake Nicaragua such as San Carlos and El Rama.

Terminal Israel Lewites

Located on the western side of Managua, Terminal Israel Lewites services León and Chinandega.

Terminal Mercado Ivan Montenegro

This terminal is halfway between Terminal de Buses El Mayoreo and Terminal de Autobuses Mercado Roberto Huembres. Buses from here go to Bluefields via El Rama.

Microbuses in Nicaragua

A slightly more expensive alternative to local buses are microbuses. These are minivans that are generally not as crowded as local buses. Additionally, they make for a quicker and more comfortable ride. In Managua microbuses leave from the UCA Bus Terminal is for microbuses. On point to note is that UCA is pronounced “ooka”.

Travel times to Managua from other parts of Nicaragua

Local bus driving through Mercado Municipal de Granada Nicaragua
Bus squeezing through!

Managua is located in the centre of Nicaragua. This convenient position means that it only one of two hours drive from most of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua.

DestinationDriving Time (Car)Local Bus FareMicrobus Fare
Masaya50mins13-15 cordobas19 cordobas
33 cordobas
Jinotepe1hr 10mins
40 cordobas
El Transito1hr 30mins40 cordobas
León1hr 50mins60 cordobas71 cordobas
Rivas1hr 50mins85 cordobas
San Juan del Sur2hrs 20mins90 cordobas
Matagalpa2hrs 20mins95 cordobas
Estelí2hrs 40mins

Ocotal4hrs 20mins
145 cordobas

Prices as at 2021

If you want to know more about how to get around Nicaragua, see our Complete Guide to Nicaragua Transportation.

Getting around Managua Nicaragua

Managua is a sprawling city that does not have a centralised commercial district. Given the large area that it covers, it may be difficult to get around the city by just walking alone. It is possible to walk to most places, but it is time consuming. We have walked around the city ourselves and felt reasonably safe. However it does get tiring walking from place to place. Furthermore, Managua does get quite hot, which is not ideal for walking.

Public Transport in Managua Nicaragua

To get to around Managua you can hop on a public bus or minivan. With city is well serviced with local Managua buses as well as intercity buses servicing the city. A bus ride in Managua will cost between 1 and 15 cordobas depending on which bus you use. You pay the driver when you board.

Taxis in Managua Nicaragua

In Managua, the cost of a taxi is inexpensive. Expect to pay around 100-200 cordobas for a short trip.

Where to Stay in Managua Nicaragua

Managua has a wide range of accommodation options available. These include backpacker hostels, Airbnbs, comfortable budget friendly hotels as well as high end international hotels. The Los Robles and Las Colinas neighbourhoods are popular residential neighbourhoods. These are leafy, suburban and safe. They are also close to plenty of entertainment options such as cafes, restaurants and bars as well as shopping centres.

We recommend the following accommodation in Managua Nicaragua:

Best budget Accommodation in Managua Nicaragua

For a good quality budget hostel, we recommend La Bicicleta Hostal. Located in a quiet suburban street in the neighbourhood of Los Robles, it offers affordable private rooms and dormitories. The hostel is in a converted house and has landscaped gardens and plenty of different communal spaces to relax. The staff are very friendly and accommodating. Best of all, a delicious cooked breakfast is provided each morning as part of your room rate.

Best bed & breakfast in Managua Nicaragua

Casa Lucía is the best B&B in Managua Nicaragua. This family run hotel is centrally located in the Los Robles neighbourhood of Managua. The hosts are friendly and make you feel at home.

Best boutique hotel in Managua Nicaragua

La Posada del Arcangel is the best boutique hotel in Managua Nicaragua. The customer service and food are excellent. The hotel is beautifully presented and also displays artwork from local artists.

Best hotel in Managua Nicaragua

Hotel Nicté is one of the best hotels in Managua Nicaragua. It is a beautiful modern hotel with beautiful gardens and a pool. Located in the Las Colinas neighbourhood, it is conveniently located whilst also being in an area that is peaceful and quiet.

Best luxury accommodation in Managua Nicaragua

The hotel Real Intercontinental Metrocentro Managua is the best 5 star hotel in Managua. It is conveniently located right next to Metrocentro shopping centre. The hotel is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the bustling city. We love the pool area which is surrounded by some of the best restaurants Managua has to offer! You can find the best sushi in Nicaragua at the hotel Nau Lounge restaurant. The staff also provide superb service. Without a doubt, this is an excellent choice for a Managua Nicaragua vacation.

Best accommodation near the Immigration Office in Managua Nicaragua

If you are coming to Managua mainly to visit the immigration office and want to stay overnight, we recommend Don Carmelo Hotel. Don Carmelo is a short walk from the immigration office. They offer a shuttle service from the airport or the bus stop. Depending on your room rate, this shuttle service may be included in the cost of your room rate. If not, you can request the shuttle service for a small fee. We stayed in their smallest room. The room we stayed in was a bit of a shoebox, but it was clean, affordable and air conditioned. Furthermore, beakfast is included in the room rate. One point to note is that there’s not too much to do nearby. However if you are after an affordable place in this part of Managua, it’s not a bad option.

Is Managua safe?

Before coming to Managua for the first time we were a bit concerned about the safety in Managua. However we have since visited the capital several times and have felt very safe. We have walked around the city, caught the local buses and have been out in the early evening. During our visits we have never experienced any issues. With any city with a million inhabitants you will find some less safe areas and incidents of crime. But if you take normal safety precautions the risk of anything bad happening is relatively low.

The main area we’d be cautious around is the area around Mercado Oriental. Conversely we’ve found the neighbourhoods of Las Colinas and Los Robles to be very safe and suburban. We would also take extra care in Managua if there are any periods of civil unrest. However this has not been an issue in the last few years.

Other considerations for Managua

We found generally that the people of Managua are less keen to be filmed. This something to be mindful of if you are a YouTuber or a keen photographer.

Final thoughts

We hope our list of the top things to do in Managua Nicaragua will be helpful for planning your trip to Managua Nicaragua.

What would be top of your list of things to do in Managua Nicaragua? Was there anything we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to learn more about visiting Nicaragua, check out our playlist of Nicaragua videos.

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