Masaya is one of the smallest, yet most populated departments in the country. The picturesque, small cities of its territory feature several attractions such as cultural manifestations, a strong indigenous heritage and many natural destinations.
Due to its folkloric expressions, the capital city is an important cultural destination. Dance, music, street theater and colorful processions are some of its attractions. Also, Masaya has a nice urban center with interesting sites and diverse lodging facilities. A fortress, a pier, several restaurants, hotels, bars and craft shops are part of the offer.
The Mayasa Volcano National Park and the Masaya Lagoon are two major natural attractions. The volcano is formed by three craters, two of them are extinct and the other one remains active, constantly spewing smoke. A vast territory, which still preserves its flora and fauna, surrounds this volcano. Unfortunately, the neighboring lagoon is currently polluted, but people can visit and find petroglyphs on its shores. Some are even brave enough to take a swim.
In the Southwestern side of the department lies the largest volcanic lagoon in the country: Apoyo. The lagoon still preserves some forest on its slopes and features several summer and rural houses, as well as restaurants and hotels offering fun activities like diving, swimming and kayaking. Apoyo is also a natural reserve shared by the municipalities of Masaya and Granada, both of them with several viewpoints.
On the other hand, the charming cities of Catarina and San Juan de Oriente are frequently known as the "Bewitched Villages". The first one is famous for its many nurseries located within its urban center. There are two viewpoints in this area. One of them is in the city and includes craft shops and restaurants. The other one is situated in Diriomito and has some eateries and a paragliding ramp. San Juan de Oriente, the other bewitched village, is a land of artisans. Multiple studios and craft shops, filled with many, many colors and shapes can be found in this area.
Catarina and San Juan de Oriente are also part of the 'Meseta de los Pueblos', along with three other municipalities: Niquinohomo, Nandasmo and Masatepe. Niquinohomo is known for its traditional dances and Nandasmo for its furniture factories. Masatepe has a renowned traditional dish called 'Sopa de Mondongo', and a coastline on the Masaya Lagoon with natural areas suitable for a good hike.
Masaya has one last municipality: Nindirí. This territory has an interesting museum, a rural area called 'La Concha' and the remote lagoon of Charco de Tisma, which preserves many wetlands and is home to seabirds.
The cultural attractions are the most important in this municipality. There is a great handicrafts production in the area, many folkloric manifestations such as traditional dances and picturesque processions. Its center is the dinamic city of Masaya, where visitors can find hotels, restaurants and several interesting sites like markets, crafts workshops, old churches and a fortress. Walls with petroglyphs, the Masaya Lagoon and a portion of the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve are other attractions located in the outskirts of the city.
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Its urban center is the charming city of Catarina, adorned by several nurseries and a magnificent viewspot. In the city, you will find art workshops and the 'Villa de Artesanías's with lots of shops at the entrance of the urban center. Another attraction are the forest one can find on the slopes and coasts of the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve. Culture is also a highlight here. Massive, picturesque and cheerful processions are held during the festivities in honor of San Silvestre.
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Two neighboring urban centers and rural surroundings are part of this municipality of cool weather, several hills and small valleys, which is also known as 'La Concha'. La Concepción and the nearby town of San Juan de La Concepción are the urban centers. The major religious festivities are held from February 8th to 9th, in honor of the 'Virgen de Monserrat'. An interesting site, which is shared with other municipalities, is the El Ventarron Hill, from where visitors have beautiful panoramic views of the Masaya Volcano National Park.
This municipality has many attractions: art workshops that produce wooden and natural fiber furniture, and restaurants with the famous 'Sopa de Mondongo'. Outside the urban area visitors will find the Venecia viewpoint and other sites from where one has acess to the Masaya Lagoon, as well as panoramic views of the Masaya Volcano National Park. Its center is the small city of Masatepe, which was a church with an image of the Black Christ.
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The main attraction of this municipality --wich center is the town of Nandasmo-- are the crafts workshops where wooden furniture, leather objects and flowepots are produced. There is a nice viewpoint from wich you can see the Masaya Lagoon and Volcano. The rural area has some coasts in the Masaya Lagoon. The religious festivities are celebrated from January 14th to 22nd, in honor of the images of 'El Dulce Nombre de Jesús' and 'Divino Pastor'.
The major attraction of this municipality is the monumental Masaya Volcano National Park, which is a large preserved area with three craters and its own ecosystem. The urban center is the city of Nindiri, where tourists will find old buildings, and interesting museum with pre-Columbian pieces and fossils.
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The center of this municipality is the city of Niquinohomo. There are many eateries on the highway and inside the territory. The central park is very quiet, where visitors will find the antique and quite charming Santa Ana Church. The religious festivities, in honor of Santa Ana, are held on July 25th and 26th, with processions, parties and traditional dances. The municipality is also known for being the birthplace of the national heroe Augusto C. Sandino.
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San Juan de Oriente
Crafts workshops are the major attractions of the municipality of San Juan de Oriente, where tourists can find pottery and ceramics. Throughout the village, tourists will find several shops offering decorative art pieces, either with bright or sober colors. The religious festivities of the municipality are held from July 23rd to 26th, and include the traditional dance of 'Los Chinegros'. The summit, slopes and coasts of the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve are also an attraction.
The center of this rural municipality is the small town of Tisma. There are some colonial buildings, the majority of them churches. The town is known for its hammock producers and a traditional sweet called "requesón". Its major attraction is the Tisma Lagoon, also known as 'Charco de Tisma', which still preserves its wildlife (herons, birds and fish). La Puntita beach is another interesting spot, located 2 kilometers away from town.