Where should I stay on my first (or last) night in Nicaragua?

Hello kind readers (and robots):

Just a (not so) quick story here about the options for the visitor on where they can stay their first night in Nicaragua.The aim of this post is to help readers planning to visit Nicaragua decide where they should stay during their one or two nights that they may need to be in or near the capital city of Managua. We’ll go over the reasons why you may need to stay here, where your lodging options are located, and what type of properties are available.

Now first of all is the disclaimer: My family and I operate Farmstay El Porton Verde so we think staying here your first night in Nicaragua is your best bet, hands down! But as one of those hoary old sayings go, there’s a reason that there are 31 flavors at the ice cream store, if you know what I mean, so please check this post out and find what is truly the best option for you. We won’t take it personal :)

Okay with that said, let’s get down to what is real when you arrive in Nicaragua.  First of all, this post won’t even get into detail about arriving in any other way other than an international flight coming into Augusto Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua, Nicaragua. Sure one can bus in from Costa Rica, El Salvador, or Honduras, or come in on a bus. If you are hitchhiking after taking the chicken bus from Liberia to Penas Blancas, then let us know and we can come and get you from the bus station or have a safe taxi there waiting for you…no problem.

However, 99% of people are likely coming directly to Nicaragua via airplane, so let’s talk about the airport and the best advise for someone flying in for the the first time. If you want more details on what to expect when you arrive at the airport, check this post:

What’s the drill? What to expect when arriving at MGA Managua’s Augusto Sandino International Airport

Managua-Augusto-Cesar-Sandino-Airport

What is the deal with Managua anyway?

Most visitors are not really planning on spend any more time than is necessary in Managua.  This is because there is not much to see in the capital city as opposed to the lovely colonial towns, the brilliant beaches, and the wonderful nature reserves and other protected areas. Let’s face it, Managua is hot, dusty, and for the most part, an ugly and sad reminder that Nicaragua is a developing country that has quite a far bit to go in terms of making the city a real jewel as some capital cities around the world are. (This ain’t Paree or London-town pardner!)

That is not to say that it does not have its redeeming qualities, far from it, only that the things one appreciates about Managua don’t generally come to you on the first impression.  (For some, if ever!) No worries, the point is that sometimes you do need to spend some time in Managua.  This is the point of this post, when it is a good idea to spend a night or two in Managua and where would you want to stay during that time?

You might want to stay in Managua when:

  • Your incoming flight arrives late in the day and you will just want to get a bite to eat and get somewhere nice to spend the night.
  • Your departure flight is leaving really early in the AM.
  • You are traveling on to the Caribbean coast and need to wait until the next morning’s flight to Bluefields, Corn Island, Puerto Cabezas, etc.
  • Your flight came in late and you are planning on going first to somewhere kind of far away, such as Chinandega, Matagalpa, Esteli, San Juan del Sur, Rio San Juan, Ometepe Island, etc. which you cannot or should not attempt to travel to at night.
  • You have some dental work or doctor’s visits to take care of by the best doctor’s and dentists in Nicaragua.
  • You have some NGO- or mission-related, or other type of work to be done in the capital.
  • You are seriously thinking of relocating and understand that it is a good idea to get to know the biggest city in the country before moving on and deciding where you want to live in Nicaragua.
  • You understand that the best way to check out the different areas, especially along the Pacific Coast is to stay in the Managua area because transport is simpler.

if your situation does not fall into any of the above you probably don’t need to worry too much about where to stay in Managua.  So enjoy your stay elsewhere and thanks for reading!

Understanding Your Managua Lodging Options

Okay, so looks like you need to stay in Managua! I would say there are five categories of short-term lodging in Managua:

  1. Near the airport.
  2. Smallish hotels closer to the airport, but in an area with dining and entertainment options.
  3. Big hotels in the more downtown areas.
  4. Small- to medium-sized inns in residential neighborhoods close to the downtown areas.
  5. Ecolodging, ecotourism options located up in the hills with a cooler, more natural and inviting atmosphere.

Let’s quickly look at the options in more detail.

  1. Near the Airport: You have the Best Western Las Mercedes and the Camino Real. Either of these are okay options if being near to the airport is the number one consideration. Reviews on sites like Trip Advisor aren’t real good. You are sort of stuck there since it is a few miles to the East of the city; if you decided to go out for dining and dancing you’d have to take a taxi across town, so its not really super convenient.
  2. Smallish hotels closer to the Airport: There are a few hotels located more or less in the neighborhood called Bello Horizonte that might work for some visitors. B.H. is located about ten minutes drive from the airport, and has a roundabout with bars and nightlife. It also has a shopping mall called Multicentro Las Americas. In this area you can find the Hotel Hex, Hotel Estrella, Hooters Hotel, and Hotel Don Quijote.
  3. Big hotels downtown: Most of the major chains have hotels in the more central areas such as near a shopping mall, an entertainment zone with fun bars and restaurants, etc. You can find Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental as well as similar properties such as Barcelo and Seminole. These can be nice if you really want that “North American” experience, all the usual amenities, and are okay with paying for the privilege.
  4. Small- to mid-size inns: These can be a good option as the quality of service is usually higher than at the chain properties and the prices similar or perhaps even less. There are some absolutely lovely properties in this category.
  5. Ecolodges in Elevation: This is where El Porton Verde fits in! There are at present only two real eco-tourism options in the Managua area; we are located closer to town and on the road to places like Masaya Volcano, Granada, Laguna Apoyo, Pueblos Blancos, etc. while our competition is further outside of town and on a different road that goes to Nandaime and Jinotepe. But Bosque Las Nubes is an elegant property, just maybe a tad too isolated.

Links to lodgings and TripAdvisor reviews: (TripAdvisor all Managua hotels)

  1. Las Mercedes, Camino Real
  2. Hotel Hex, Hotel Estrella, Hooters Hotel, Hotel Don Quijote
  3. Hilton Princess, Barcelo Managua, Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Seminole Plaza
  4. El Mozonte, Casa Naranja, Hotel Aloha, Hotel Los Pinos, Hotel Pyramide, etc. (see TripAdvisor link)
  5. Bosque Las Bosques, Farmstay El Porton Verde

I hope this post helped you to decipher where you want to stay while you are in Managua, Nicaragua.  I would love to hear feedback from readers with any questions you might have or if someone has stayed at any of the above places, let others know what you think!