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Wonders of Nicaragua

The amazing nature of Nicaragua
The amazing nature of Nicaragua / Jorge Mejía Peralta, / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

This beautiful Central American country is not a popular destination for international tourism. Not yet – the memories of comparatively recent civil war and minefields still are there. But things are changing for the best now.

Highlights of Nicaragua are:

  • Volcanic landscape – few other countries have that many interesting volcanoes as Nicaragua. Exact cone-shaped mountains rise directly from enormous lakes of Nicaragua and bear every kind of heritage value – geological monuments, unique species of plants and animals, and mysterious archaeological monuments on their slopes.
  • Little explored rainforest – vast forest in the western part of the country may hide numerous interesting monuments unknown to contemporary people. This is the largest undisturbed rainforest in Central America.
  • Historical cities – León and Granada are some of the oldest European cities in the Americas – and old rivals. Both are true jewels with a rich architectural heritage.

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 25 wonders of Nicaragua

Geological wonders

Masaya volcano


Very active and unusual volcano (635 m) with several active craters. Santiago crater emits large amounts of sulfur dioxide that created acid rain and eliminated vegetation around the volcano. Masaya crater contains intermittent lava lakes – in 1670 in Nindiri crater the lake was up to 1 km large, by far the largest known lava lake.

Lava lake of Masaya Volcano
Lava lake of Masaya Volcano. / Jorge Mejía peralta, Flickr / CC BY 2.0


Very symmetrical volcano next to Managua Lake. This 1,297 m tall volcano is active and caused much destruction in the surroundings.

Concepción volcano on Ometepe


Perfectly symmetrical volcanic cone, rising almost 1.6 km above the lake, thus turning Ometepe island into the highest lake island in the world.

Concepción volcano on Ometepe island (Nicaragua) - the tallest lake island in the world
Concepción volcano on Ometepe island – the tallest lake island in the world / Mat Honan, / CC BY 2.0
Somoto Canyon


Up to 160 m deep and 3 km long canyon along Coco River.

Quizaltepe monolith


Enormous, some 300 m tall monolith with caves.

El Rosario Falls (Salto de la Selva Morena)

Nueva Segovia

Wide, beautiful waterfall, one of the most impressive ones in Nicaragua. Waterfall has tree steps and its total height exceeds 200 m.

San Jacinto hot springs


Geothermal field with boiling mud pools.

Yahuk Falls

Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte

Large waterfall on Waspuk River in the pristine forest of Bosawas National Park.

Biological wonders

Cloud forest of Maderas


One of the two places in the Pacific side of Nicaragua where cloud forest grows on the very fertile volcanic ground. This forest has developed around the summit of Maderas volcano (1,394 m) on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua and is very rich in rare species. According to the local legends, this misty forest is inhabited by fairies and spirits.

Cloud forest of Mombacho


One of the two cloud forests on the Pacific side of Nicaragua. This unique forest grows on the slopes of the Mombacho volcano (1,344 m). In some parts, the dwarf forest has developed. Forest contains endemic species of plants and animals living only here.

Cloud forest of Mombacho, Nicaragua
Cloud forest of Mombacho / Brian Johnson & Dane Kantner, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Archaeological wonders

Cueva La Conga


Cave with Pre-Columbian paintings and carved speleothems, the southernmost Mesoamerican cave paintings.

Punta las Figuras, Zapatera, and other sites on the Zapatera island


On this volcanic island are large, up to 2.5 m tall stone sculptures, petroglyphs, and other archaeological monuments. Most statues have been removed from the island. These monuments were created mostly in the time period between 800 and 1350 AD, possibly by Chorotega culture.

Isla El Muerto


>A small island near Zapatera. The cliffs of this small island are covered with large panels of Pre-Columbian rock art, mostly stylized animals, birds, and humans. Also, stone statues have been found here.

Sculptures and petroglyphs of Maderas


On the northern slopes of Maderas volcano in the cloud forest are found large basalt statues and petroglyphs. The oldest artifacts are from 300 BC. Whole Ometepe Island is very rich with archaeological heritage, most of it – very diverse petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs on the slopes of Maderas volcano, Ometepe in Nicaragua
Petroglyphs on the slopes of Maderas volcano, Ometepe / Poutine, / CC BY 3.0
Cueva del Duende (Dwarf’s Cave)

Nueva Segovia

Small rock shelter with interesting petroglyphs.

Montelimar Cave


Small rock shelter with petroglyphs. In prehistoric paintings, the blue color is used – which is very rare for cave art.

Nawawasito megaliths (El Gavilán statues)

Región Autónoma del Atlántico Norte

Rich find of Pre-Columbian megalithic sculptures that were made from different materials – basalt, carbonate rock, and andesites. 13 intact sculptures and pieces of many more sculptures have been found here. Numerous mounds.

San Fernando petroglyphs

Río San Juan

Prehistoric petroglyphs that show people, monkeys, and parrots.

Architecture wonders

Museum of legends and myths, León


A unique museum of the rich Nicaraguan folklore that involves the existence of fantastic creatures, spirits, and possessed people. Located in the former prison.

Leon Cathedral of the Assumption


Beautiful cathedral in Baroque – Neo-Classicism style, constructed in 1747 – 1814. The largest church building in Central America that forms a part of the identity of Nicaragua. Numerous tunnels connect this cathedral to other buildings in the city.

Cathedral of the Assumption, León in Nicaragua
Cathedral of the Assumption, León / Mark Larson, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.
The historical center of Granada


One of the most beautiful historical cities in Central America with some 376 historical buildings. Established in 1524 – one of the earliest European cities in America. The city is a historical rival of León – Managua is chosen as a capital city in order to settle the eternal fight for power between León and Granada.

Historical centre of Granada, Nicaragua
Historical centre of Granada, Nicaragua / Carlos Adampol Galindo, / CC BY-SA 2.0
San Francisco Church in Granada


Large and ornate convent church. The convent was founded in 1529 and was one of the first Christian missions in America.

Church of Recollection in León (Iglesia de la Merced)


A beautiful church, built in the Baroque style in the 18th century.

Church of Recollection in León, Nicaragua
Church of Recollection in León / Poutine, / CC BY 3.0
The historical center of León


In the central part of this colonial city have been preserved numerous ornate and interesting buildings in Castilian style. Founded in the present site in 1610, a university city since 1813.

Fortress of the Immaculate Conception

Río San Juan

The historical fortress at San Juan River, built on the border of the Atlantic rainforest and agricultural lands in the central part of Nicaragua. Constructed in 1673 to prevent the coming of pirates to Lake Nicaragua.

WorldYellow Recommended books

Nicaragua Handbook

Nicaragua’s ethereal beauty and anarchic charms make traveling in the country an intense adventure. From the tempestuous spine of volcanoes that run down to the vast Lake Nicaragua to the sultry rhythms of Caribbean life on the Corn Islands, Footprint’s Handbook will ensure you get the most from your trip with all the information you’ll need.

Moon Nicaragua

With Moon Nicaragua’s expert advice, myriad activities, and local insight, you can plan your trip your way.

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