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Nicaragua is a country defined by the majesty of its natural environment. Volcanoes soar above enormous lakes and the beaches of white sand extend for kilometres along its Pacific coast. The capital is Managua, a bustling urban centre with that special something that visitors will only discover when they wander from the busy central district. Of course, travellers shouldn't miss the historic places of interest like the National Museum, the Old Cathedral, and the Rubén Darío National Theatre. However, for a completely satisfying experience, guests of the best hotels in Managua are recommended to stray from the beaten paths.

Wanderers are likely to discover some authentic local colour, watching Los Diablitos dance, for example. This is a street show with a group of boys dressed up with devil masks dancing to the rhythms of traditional music. Taking a stroll down the Avenida Bolívar, which is the main thoroughfare of the city, one finds oneself beneath 22 tree sculptures, whose twisted yellow branches shine with hundreds of little lights both night and day. And let us not forget the giant portrait of the former Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, which beams from a rotunda next to three of these trees. The Managua Lake promenade is a very interesting place for a walk; you can savour an aperitif, take an after-dinner drink and enjoy the feeling of being very tall, as there is a miniature replica of the city there. Visitors can stroll through the scaled-down version of the beautiful monuments of Managua.

You could finish the walk at the Roberto Huembes market, a handicraft market next to the central bus station. There, travellers can find beautiful Nicaraguan hammocks, textiles, paintings and leather goods. Anyone looking for a genuine python-skin bag will find it here.

Fascinating day trips

Guests at hotels in Nicaragua who want to explore Spanish colonial architecturewill find it in Granada. Located on the banks of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America, the town enchants its visitors with its coloured buildings, which date back to the 17th century. A walking tour passes six churches and an old fortress. A climb up the bell tower of the Iglesia de laMerced affords panoramic views over the town, Lake Nicaragua and the Mombacho Volcano National Park. Intrepid visitors can walk right up to the edge of the volcano crossing fields of petrified lava and meadows of wild flowers. The boldest can fly across the forest on zip lines. A boat trip on the huge lake will allow a visit to an archipelago of 350 islands and a tour of the biggest island, Ometepe, where twin volcanoes create a majestic profile. In addition to the luxuriant vegetation that surrounds the area, visitors will discover places of archaeological interest, with the 1,700 petroglyphs that decorate the volcanic rocks. It appears that the island was as attractive to its pre-Columbian inhabitants as it is to the people of today.

Montelimar beach

Some of the best hotels in Nicaragua are located in this peaceful stretch of the Pacific coast, where the waves break on beaches of white sand fringed with palm trees. Here, the hotels offer privacy for romantic breaks, family holidays and business meetings. Guests who choose an all inclusive package can enjoy all the advantages. The enormous swimming pools, the luxury restaurants and the sports activities are to be found at these hotels in Nicaragua, conveniently located one-hour's drive from Managua. Winding paths lead through tropical gardens to private bungalows, where guests can relax in perfect seclusion. There is also a casino to enjoy, which in the past was the mansion of Nicaragua's previous ruling family, the Somozas. The dictators fled in 1979, but the 80-hectare property continues to be a paradise by the sea.