Managua is truly the heart of the largest Central American country, Nicaragua. Lying geographically near the middle of the country, travellers will find it almost impossible to plan a trip through the country without travelling through the capital at one point or another. It was chosen as the country’s capital in 1857 largely due to its convenient positioning, and the fact that it lies between Nicaragua’s two most attractive tourist destinations in the present day, Leon and Granada, goes some way to justify this decision. Managua strived in the mid twentieth century and came to be one of the most prosperous cities in Central America as government buildings were erected under dictator Anastasio Somoza Garcia. A series of natural disasters, however, have reduced the city in its present state to a remnant of its former splendour. The most notable disaster was the earthquake of 1972 which was said to have destroyed 90% of the city’s buildings.

Disastrous events such as this have made Managua what it is today, a bizarre blend of attractive new buildings and chaotic dusty streets, which often lead the tourist to having mixed feelings about this attractive yet unsettling city. Having said this Managua is nothing if not attractive to nature lovers. With constant tropical temperatures of between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius, Managua appeals to lovers of the outdoors as its climate hosts some of the most dramatic flora and fauna in any of Central America’s capital cities.


The Cathedrals of Managua – The old Cathedral of Santiago is an architectural jewel that cannot be missed. Situated in the east side of the Republic Square, the Cathedral’s neo-classical style attracts visitors from far around, despite the fact that the 1972 earthquake damaged it to such an extent that visitors are not permitted entry any more. There is some hope now that this will not be the case for much longer and the restoration of the cathedral will be possible in a few years time. Managua also houses the most modern cathedral in the world which was built following the condemnation of the old one, and this too is a worthy tourist destination but for very different reasons. It is a strikingly unique cathedral, mostly due to the fact that there are many heat diffusing domes on its roof which make it look rather like an egg carton. This peculiar feature goes some way to portray the unique character of the cathedral which is certainly worth a visit.

Nationale Theatre Ruben Dario – The most important theatre in Nicaragua, and the most modern in Central America, the Ruben Dario hosts both national and international shows of splendid variety. From concerts to exhibitions, ballet to tango shows, there is something for everyone in this spectacular venue. Having been damaged in the 1972 earthquake, the theatre survived and was reinforced using the most modern of technologies. Today it serves as an invaluable home for Nicaraguan culture and a remarkable site for tourists to admire - its stunning white pillars make it an awe inspiring building.

The National Palace – Known for a short time as the Palace of the Heroes of the Revolution, the National Palace is a building steeped in history. Situated on the plaza facing Lake Managua the palace acts as a fascinating tourist attraction on many levels. Not only do its surroundings offer picturesque views but the palace, as it is today, houses many important attractions. From the National Library, home to much precious Nicaraguan culture, to the National Museum, the Palace offers plenty for those who are looking to immerse themselves in the spirit of this country that has such an extravagant and unique history, and there is no better place to access this history than this impressive building that was built in 1935 by President Juan Bautista Sacasa.


Managua has a wide selection of shopping options on offer, ranging from its many peasant markets to large Western style department stores, such as ECLIPSE and SIMAN, which house various designer boutiques. It is best advised not to trek too far into the local markets which can be intimidating and home to scenes of some of the city’s worst poverty, but there are some markets that tourists can feel safe wondering around. The Mercado Huembes is probably the most popular market for tourists where artefacts such as furniture and national arts and crafts are readily available. Fresh fruits and local delicacies make up for tempting food shopping and these can also be found in the Mercado Huembes as well as on stores on the side of most streets throughout the city. Be sure to take advantage of prices when in Nicaragua as it is by a distance the cheapest country to visit in Central America.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Despite Managua being a city that tries its hardest to embrace the modern aspects of culture, its nightlife is surprisingly quiet in comparison to other Central American capitals. It does have a selection of pleasant bars and nightclubs but is lacking in any central area that is renowned for its clubbing as that of, for example, San Jose. If you stay in the centre of the city it will not prove difficult to find friendly bars but do not expect crowds of students flocking to the same areas to dance the night away, they are more likely to be interested in the local baseball games than the nightclubbing scene. Once again, the cheap nature of the country is a huge bonus in Nicaragua, as it is unlikely that you will be charged more than the equivalent of one English pound per beer.

The city has a wide range of international cuisine, such lovers of food ranging from Argentina to Japan will be catered for. Local restaurants are often lively places to visit and serve food of a very good quality, but watch out for the salads which are often washed with local water and have the propensity to play havoc with tourist’s stomachs.

Tourist Information

NicatourDe Plaza Espana 50 mt al SurGranadaNicaraguaAmerica Central

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Almost all international flights arrive at the modern Managua International Airport. It is located on the Northern highway, roughly eight miles east of the city centre which is easily reachable by car, taxi or bus.