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Granada Nicaragua is one of the most family friendly towns in all of Nicaragua. After spending 3 months in the country, we feel like no visit to Nicaragua would be complete without a stay in Granada.
Granada is the easiest city to get around in Nicaragua and after spending 10 days there, we had no shortage of things to do in Granada with kids. Our kids ranged from 5-15 while we were there, so I’m sharing things that work for Granada with young kids up to Granada with teens.
Before You Book Your Trip To Granada Nicaragua
Granada is a fairly sprawling city, but to make your visit as easy as possible, try to base yourself within several blocks of Parque Central. We were about 5 blocks away and it was an easy walk to get to where most of the action was, while still allowing us to stay in a quiet neighborhood.
Temperatures in Granada can get pretty hot during the day and unlike many other cities in Nicaragua, there’s not usually as much of a breeze (especially compared to coastal towns like San Juan del Sur or on Ometepe Island). To make your stay SO MUCH BETTER, make sure that you’re staying somewhere with a pool. Granada is a pretty affordable city, so you can get a family friendly place to stay in Granada without spending too much.
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Granada with kids:
Best Family Friendly Places To Stay in Granada
Best Luxury Stays in Granada (it’s cheap, so a good place to splurge on a nicer place)
Best Budget Accommodation in Granada
What To Do In Granada Nicaragua with Kids
After our family visit to Granada, I asked our kids what their favorite things were on our stay. The list below is in order of the things that our kids enjoyed THE MOST! If you’re unsure of what to do, go through the list IN THIS ORDER!
Kayak the Isletas of Granada
Time: 2.5 hours kayaking
This was hands down the best things that we did in Granada with the kids (read all the details about kayaking the Isletas here). Every single kid of ours said it was their favorite and both my husband and I agreed. The Isleta’s are a series of 365 little, tiny islands that were created when Mombacho Volcano (the one without a top just south of town), erupted and sent debris flying into Lake Nicaragua. While taking a tour of the Isleta’s is a popular thing to do, most do it by motor boat. Don’t make that mistake. The motorboats are mostly old pangas which are loud, smell like exhaust and are not relaxing at all. I’m also quite certain that with their loud engines, your chances of seeing much wildlife are close to none.
Our goal was to see as much wildlife as possible, so we opted for a sunrise tour. Our tour company had a taxi pick us up at 6am, to take us to the dock where we met our guide. Everyone was outfitted with a life jacket and paddle and we set out into the lagoon. We navigated tiny waterways, paddled through lilypad filled channels, and ducked under massive tree branches to get a peek at what the locals lived like here.
Along the way, we saw SO MANY BIRDS (which our guide taught us about), saw a couple different species of monkeys, got up close to some turtles, and learned about what like on the Isletas was really like. It was fascinating and so memorable, not to mention stunningly beautiful. Our tour took about 2.5 hours which was perfect with the kids, especially because we took a break at a fort about halfway through. Our guide gave the kids fresh coconut water, and had watermelon and bananas for all of us.
Note: We were seriously considering just renting kayaks and paddling out on our own, but I’m really glad that we went with a guide instead. We would have missed SO MUCH, and then really never learned about the lake or the wildlife there. Our guide grew up on one of the Isletas and was able to answer all of the kids never-ending questions. I couldn’t have been more happy with our trip!
Zipline Mombacho Volcano
Time: 4 hours from door to door
Our kids always LOVE a good adventure, so when they heard that we would be ziplining up on a volcano, they were absolutely SOLD. It was such a blast, though definitely not a trip if you’re nervous about heights (some of the platforms were probably 30m in the air).
Again, a taxi from the guide service picked us up at our hotel to take us up to the volcano. The drive took about 20-30 minutes was was pretty uneventful. Once we got up to Volcano Mombacho, the scenery turned so beautiful.
The guides met us at their base area and got us fitted for our helmets and harnesses. At this point, they asked for my phone so they could take pictures of us, which I bravely handed over. This was SO AWESOME. The guides took turns going down right in front of us and taking photo and video of us while we were going down the ziplines and the footage that we got was incredible (thankfully they didn’t drop my phone).
Along the way we saw several new species of birds, howler monkeys and an animal that resembled a Coati.
The Mombacho zipline tour consists of about 10 ziplines and 2 hanging bridges. It’s the perfect half day activity with kids in Granada.
Visit the ChocoMuseuo – The Chocolate Museum of Granada
Time: 1 Hour
If your kids love chocolate, they’ll love the Chocolate Museum of Granada. We had visited their location in Antigua Guatemala a few years ago and decided to see how this location compared with their free tour. It was great, the kids learned about cocoa production, how chocolate is made, and were able to sample a few different types of treats. We even had the chance to create our own hot chocolate drink from scratch with fresh ingredients.
The tour also includes a visit to a local bean-to-bar shop where we tasted some of the freshest chocolate, though the taste was a bit different from the Hershey bars the kids love back home. It was definitely one of the highlights to our visit to Granada, and the tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable about all things cocoa related. I would highly recommend it for any kid (or adult!) with a sweet tooth! Best of all, it’s one of the best free things to do in Granada Nicragua with kids!
The Chocolate Museum also offers chocolate making workshops, but since we had already done one in Antigua, the kids opted to skip the workshop and just buy some chocolate to eat instead.
Swim at Laguna De Apoyo
Time: 1/2 to one day
Taking a trip up to Laguna De Apoyo is a must do. You can spend anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day here. The laguna itself is a massive crater lake, about 600m deep in the center. The best part? It’s warm enough to swim all year round. We drove from Granada and the drive took us about 30 minutes from our house.
While there are some rugged ways to access the lake on your own, we recommend going to a beach club or hotel and using their facilities. After doing lots of research and talking to many locals, we decided that going to the beach club at Paradiso Hostel was the best option for a family with kids. It was the right choice.
While the day pass does cost $7 per person (kids 5-10 are $5 and kids 5 and under are free), the facilities are really beautiful. The grounds had a beach to play on, a dock that the kids could swim off, free kayak use, pool table, and a ping pong table. The food was pretty decent as well and not too expensive. We loved it so much that next time we are planning an overnight stay at Paradiso Hostel (it’s impressively nice).
We kayaked around a good portion of the lake and from everything we saw, these are the nicest facilities. The shore going down the Laguna De Apoyo is pretty steep, which makes beaches rare. Several other beach clubs just had stairs straight to the lake and little to no beach front area.
While we were there we spent lots of time kayaking, floating in tubes, and jumping off the floating dock. The kids probably swam for 3 hours straight since the water was such an incredible temperature. It was such a fun day and definitely one of the best things to do in Granada with Kids. We can’t wait to go back!
Visit The Mercado Municipal
Time: 1 Hour
Take your kids to see the Granada Mercado Municipal for a glimpse at local life. Going to the market can be a little bit overwhelming, but we think it’s worth the stop. You can expect to see lots of people, a myriad of fresh produce, and an array of items including clothing, shoes, kitchen paraphernalia. It’s a great place to take the kids because they can get lost in the excitement and the chaos of the market. We strolled around for about 45 minutes and found some interesting things for the whole family to check out, mostly fun fruits and vegetables. This isn’t a place for souvenirs, but rather a market where you can see how locals live.
Take A Horse and Carriage Ride
Time: 1 Hour
All around the central plaza in Granada, you’ll see horse drawn carriages waiting to give tourists a tour through the city. Talk to a few of them and find one that’s a good fit. The first driver that we talked to tried to sell us a 1-hour tour for $50, but in the end, we settled on a nice older gentleman who spoke really great English who gave us the same tour for just $20. All of the different carriages take basically the same route, so find one that you can understand and who you think you will have fun with.
Our kids loved the carriage ride since it was a good way to escape the city heat for a bit in the shade of the carriage and to see lots of places that they didn’t want to walk to. We learned a lot about the history of the city and buildings which was really great. Since you’ll learn so much on this carriage ride in Granada, I recommend that you do this on the day that you arrive, so you have context about everything you’re going to see on your trip.
Visit Masaya Volcano
Time: 3 Hours
It’s impossible to go to Granada without someone trying to convince you to go on a tour to Masaya Volcano. We were hesitant because it sounded maybe a little too touristy, but in the end, we did decide to go, and it was worth it.
At Masaya, you can drive up to the top of the volcano, and at night, you can see the magma glow below. It’s really cool. Our kids thought it was a blast! We recommend going for a late afternoon tour and getting there a little before sunset so you can hike around a little, and then see the magna glow when it gets darker.
Masaya Volcano is about 40 minutes from Granada so it’s an easy half day trip.
Visit The Masaya Handcraft Market
Time: 1 Hour
There are not many handcraft markets in Nicaragua, and the one in Masaya was the best we saw (after 3 full months in the country). It’s inside a gated area and opens at 9am and closes just after dark. Inside you’ll find woven goods, paintings, handcrafted shoes, wallets, and of course hand made hammocks. We loved visiting the Masaya market for tourists and our kids all picked up a small souvenir there. While you technically could haggle for a lower price, the prices were so cheap to begin with that we just didn’t feel good about asking them to go lower. If you want to take back some souvenirs from Nicaragua, this is hands down the best place to go.
Tip: This is a great stop before you visit the Masaya Volcano.
Visit the Nidiri Dinosaur Park
Time: 30 minutes – 2 hours
Most of the parks in Nicaragua were pretty disappointing, but the dinosaur park in Nidiri blew our minds. Nidiri is just outside of the town of Masaya, and you’ll pass just by the park on the way to Masaya Volcano. Plan a minimum of 30 minutes here, though our kids could have played for 90 minutes easily.
Inside the Nidiri dino park, you’ll find massive dinosaurs that kids can look at and fun little hands-on displays. Everything is incredibly well done, and our kids just couldn’t stop smiling (especially our 5-year-old who’s dino obsessed). The park is totally free, and we found plenty of on street parking nearby. Just to the south of the park were several food vendors if you want to grab a bite to eat as well.
Stroll the Malecon and Get Ice Cream
Time: 1 Hour
The Malecon is Granada’s lakefront area on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. You can walk along the lake for about 2 km and it’s one of the best places for people watching and relaxing. The Malecon really comes to life on Sunday evenings when it’s packed full of families, a few street performers, and street vendors. The kids favorite here (and all throughout Nicaragua) were the ice cream men. They’ll be pushing a small cart and ringing a bell. Ice creams cost between 20-50 Cordoba, so it’s a great deal, and so fun for the kids.
Hang Out At Parque Central
Time: 1 Hour
Parque Central is where all of the action happens in Granada for tourists. You’ll find a small tourist market there, occasionally see street performers and get the best views of the iconic cathedral (it’s on the edge of Parque Central Granada). In the afternoon and evenings, you’ll almost always find several snow cone and hot dog vendors there and in the morning, you’ll find Quesillos being sold there. If you want to see some street art, take a walk down the Calle la Caldaza, just to the east of the square.
Go For A Sunday Stroll
Sundays are for family in Nicaragua, so getting out with the locals is one of our favorite things to do. All throughout the day on most Sundays, you’ll hear fireworks going off. These are from local churches and when the pastor reaches a certain point in their sermon, he signals to the group outside to light the fireworks. From what the locals told us, it’s so people remember the really important parts of what’s being taught at church. Our kids thought this was AMAZING!
Of course, since Nicaragua has such a family centered culture, Sunday is a great time for family gatherings. In Granada, you’ll see generations of families sitting on the front porches of their colorful houses and chatting, playing games, and eating together. On quieter streets, the kids will be out in the road playing ball games, and it’s so fun to walk around and say Hola to everyone.
Climb the Bell Tower at La Merced Church
Time: 30 minutes
The best view of the town is from the bell tower at La Merced Church, so plan a trip up to the top. They don’t allow young kids up there but had no problem with our kids who were 10 and older. This is hands down the best place to watch the sunset in Granada. There is a cost of $1 to go up to the top of the bell tower in Granada, but the price is worth it.
Walk Calle la Calzada at Night
Time: 30 minutes
If you’re looking for nightlife in Granada that’s also family friendly (at least before 8pm when people start to drink too much), head to Calle la Calzada! Calle la Calzada is a pedestrian street in Granada that’s just east of the Parque Central and the main cathedral.
This area felt more touristy than others in Granada, but also very safe for kids. We went down there several times to go out for ice cream at Eskimo and to visit the Frozen Yogurt shop, Creamy.
There are often street performers and musicians there in the evenings, making it the perfect place to wind down after a long day.
Best Places to Eat in Granada with Kids
Granada has some of the best food in all of Nicaragua, and it’s surprisingly affordable. Here are some of our top suggestions for where to eat in Granada with kids:
Los Mangos Food Park: Here you’ll find several different small restaurants centered around tables and a fun playground for the kids. We loved that you can all choose different types of food and all eat together, and the kids loved playing at the playground with the other local kids.
Garden Café: This restaurant is known for its delicious breakfast options and has a lovely garden area that is perfect for families with kids. We also enjoyed dinner here and it was incredible. We took one of the kids here for a special night out and for 3 of us, including ordering special drinks and smoothies, we only spent about $30, so it’s a great value as well as delicious.
El Zaguan: This restaurant is located in the heart of Granada and offers a great selection of traditional Nicaraguan dishes that are sure to please both parents and kids. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor courtyard that provides a relaxed atmosphere for families to enjoy a meal together.
The Smokehouse Grill: This restaurant is located in a historic building in Granada and serves up some of the best BBQ in Nicaragua. The restaurant has a spacious outdoor seating area that is perfect for families with kids. They also have a kid’s menu that includes chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Kathy’s Waffle House: This restaurant is a favorite among families with kids and serves up delicious waffles with a variety of toppings. The restaurant has a fun, casual atmosphere and also offers a kid’s menu with smaller portions of their famous waffles.
Pita Pita: This Mediterranean-style restaurant offers a variety of dishes that are both healthy and delicious. The restaurant has a kid’s menu that includes hummus, pita bread, and other kid-friendly options. After spending several years living in the Middle East, we can attest that this food is really great and fairly authentic.
How Safe Is Granada Nicaragua?
Granada Nicaragua felt very safe to us the entire time we were there. We went out and walked around the city most days and found that not only was it very pedestrian friendly, but everyone was very welcoming to the kids. This was actually true of most of Nicaragua.
We never felt unsafe while we were in Granada and had no issues with anyone. We did take normal precautions like not carrying too much cash or wearing expensive jewelry and were mindful of our belongings while out walking around the city. The Municipal Market was very crowded, so we were extra mindful of keeping a hold on our wallet, but we never felt unsafe there. All in all, we felt very comfortable in Granada Nicaragua, and would recommend it as a great Nicaragua city to visit with kids.
Do I Need A Car In Granada?
No, you don’t need a car in Granada Nicaragua. In fact, having a car may be more of a hassle than a convenience, since there is very little parking. Most Nicaraguans get around on foot so the city is more focused on pedestrians than drivers. We could get a cheap taxi anywhere that was farther than a walk, so we didn’t have any problems getting around.
On the last 2 days of our trip, we got a car since we were using it to head south to San Juan Del Sur after, but I wouldn’t have wanted it for longer. Having our own car was convenient for trips to Laguna de Apoyo and Masaya for the market, volcano and dinosaur park, but when we were back in Granada, it was more of a pain.