My husband and I are planning an 8-day trip to Nicaragua in January. I've read a lot of good advice here, and have just a few questions.
We will not be renting a car and will likely take private drivers or minivans between locations, and hire drivers and/or guides for side trips. We are big walkers (from NYC), so are happy to get around urban areas on foot. We'd prefer to choose one or two locations as a base and fan out from there -- not to move around too much.
We love wondering around cities and towns, looking at architecture and soaking up as much of local culture and life as we can (markets, food, etc.). We would also like to see at least one volcano, some jungle (hopefully with animals) and a beach, but all of these would be side/day trips. The question is, what's the best way to see what we'd like to see in the time we have?
We're planning to spend at least half of our time in and around Leon. The question is, do we move to another spot for the second half or try to do what we can in and around Leon? If another spot, it seems like most recommend Ometepe as a not-to-miss place, so we might try to get down there (private car to ferry, probably). Would this be a good use of our time and/or would we regret it if we missed Ometepe?
Also, would it be a mistake not to spend a day in Granada? We tend to like places that don't feel too prettified and touristy, which is why we're thinking of Leon over Granada. We could also possibly see Grenada for one afternoon and evening on our way back to the airport.
As for volcanos and jungles, we like to hike, but are best suited for "easy" or "moderate" trails. We are definitely not up to advanced hikes. I'm also not really interested in ash boarding or zip lining, preferring to walk/hike around to see what we can see.
Any advice would be appreciated!!