If you’re looking for handmade jewelry while in Nicaragua, or locally made rocking chairs, hammocks, and traditional blouses, just head to the city of Masaya. Its famous Mercado Artesanías is housed in the old Gothic market building which dates back to the 19th century. As you stroll the market, look out for high-quality hemp weavings and handmade necklaces, as well as just about every other craft you can think of.
When in Masaya, it’s also popular to take a stroll along the pretty lakeside promenade, discovering the city’s historic plazas and 15th-century churches along the way. A couple of blocks away from Mercado Artesanías, try to visit Masaya’s huge central market too. Here, you’ll find sections ranging from butchers’ stalls to electronics stands.
Masaya is also known as the "Cradle of Folklore." Visit on a Thursday night for the lively Noche de Verbena (Night of Revelry), when traditional dances are performed in the streets. Also, be sure to look out for the fall fiesta of San Jerónimo, when street parties and folklore dances take over the historic center, turning the whole city into a carnival.
Shopped out and had enough dancing? Hike up to Masaya volcano’s smoking crater. The most active volcano in the region, discover Masaya’s lava tunnels, and check out the on-site Ecological Museum to learn more about its volcanic geology and history.
14 km west of Granada, Masaya is a popular day trip. As the third-biggest city in the country, with a population of around 140,000, there are shuttles from all around Nicaragua that can take you the crafts city, and from Managua Airport, a private taxi to Masaya will cost around US$20-30. The Masaya Volcano National Park entrance fee is C$100 for foreign visitors.