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Nicaragua - dividing time between Leon and Granada

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Hi. We are planning to spend 2 weeks in Nicaragua over the Christmas holidays (2017). We are going to spend the first week in Granada and Leon, and then the second week at a beach. I was wondering if anyone could give me advice about how we should split the time between Granada and Leon. We are a family of 5 with kids aged 21, 17 and 8. We love to visit cultural and historical sights as well as sights and activities focused on adventure and nature. We like to get to know the places we visit, and at first I thought we would spend the entire first week in Granada, but after some research it seems that we would enjoy Leon as well (mostly for the cultural sights). We have 6 full days. Also, my husband is a surfer and we are looking for a rental near a surf beach. Is it easy to travel between SJDS and Playa Maderas and the other beaches? Would it be better to be near SJDS for convenience or does it matter?

Thank you!

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    You're going to LOVE Nicaragua!

    On both trips, we hired drivers rather than drive ourselves. They are inexpensive and speak Spanish (our Spanish is good, but not fluent). The driver was much help when we were stopped for passport check between Managua and Leon. Drivers can be found at tour companies and along the main plaza in Granada. We arranged several tours and drivers with Tierra Tours; they were excellent, on time, and have excellent reviews. Your hotel will also arrange drivers.

    When in Granada, take a trip to the islands in Lake Nicaragua. We stayed a couple of nights; beautiful and peaceful! From Granada, there's also zip lining and hiking. And the local food is fabulous -- and cheap!! We stayed at the Hotel Colonial, a 1/2 block from the main plaza. It was GREAT!!!

    When in Leon, do the volcano boarding - fun for all ages! Leon has many reminders of their revolution - paintings, museums, graffiti, etc. And, again, fabulous local food! We stayed at the Hotel Real.

    Between Granada and Leon, I would pick Granada. But it would be a shame to miss the history and culture of Leon!

    For the beach scene, we stayed once at the Barceló Montelimar. All inclusive, beautiful bungalows (I think they have larger family units). This was our first all inclusive; we were unsure since we typically don't go for those. But it was great. Note that it's remote, so all inclusive is necessary. It's right on the water -- most resorts in Nica are not. The main building was once home to one of the corrupt dictators. The grounds are beautiful; the pools huge.

    Another time, we stayed at the beach at Las Penitas near Leon. This is a very small fishing village, but has a great surfing scene. Lots of surfing. More of a backpackers' place, but we loved it. (We are a couple in our 50s). Note that there are no ATMs in Las Penitas. The hotels/hostels will take your credit card, but the little restaurants only take cash. We stayed at the Hotel Suyapa Beach. It was the "best" at the time, but heard there's a newer one. The Hotel Suyapa Beach has the BEST seafood stew - yum! Split a bowl - it's huge!

    Hope this helps!

    We are returning in December, 2017 as well. Previously there in 2010 and 2011. Can't wait!!!

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    You defientely want to start with Leon. There is lots of activities to do like a City Tour, Cerro Negro for volcano boarding, Las Penitasand the Juna Venado Reserve, Flor de Can Rum Factory.

    On your way to Granada you want to see Masaya, you will go to Catarina forthe view of Laguna de Apoyo, Masaya Volcano for lava and arts and crafts market for souvenirs.

    in Granada you have atour of the city, the islands on Lake Nicaragua, Mombacho Volcano Cloiud Forest, Canopy (Zipline), and Laguna de Apoyo for a nice afternoon swimming in its waters

    Maybe on the way to the beach a tourto Ometepe

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