The city of Matagalpa is surrounded by mountains, coffee and history. The fresh wheater is essential for enjoying the city, especially if you are coming from the hottest cities in Nicaragua like Leon or Granada. Walking around its streets and enjoying the breeze from the mountains is part of the beautiful Matagalpa.
The city itself doesn’t have a lot of places to visit, but it is a charming walk where you can breathe the remainders of the revolution. Matagalpa is still known as one of the cities that is more revolutionary. Its walls are cover by tags about laws and protests, and the locals are always able to have a political conversation with you.
Matagalpa is one of the best hiking areas of Nicaragua, but if you don’t have a lot of time I will tell you the best way to spend 24 hours in that city.
Hike one of the hills
Hiking El Calvario is one of the options, it is a steep street but in only 30 minutes you will have an amazing view of the city (entrance fee is US$5). The new attraction here is throwing you on the 280m zip lining where you will be flying above the city. The activity costs US$20 for only 2 minutes of descent, in my opinion too expensive for what it is!.
The other hike is La Montaña de la Paz (The peace mountain), the hike is around two hours where you cross a forest and stations of the cross. The walk is more rewarding that the other one and the views are also incredible. On the top, it rises a huge seedy cross with a Maria Verge status.
Time for coffee and chocolate
Matagalpa is known for being the coffee region, you have several tours to coffee plantations (it’s highly recommend going to Selva Negra). But, if you spending the day in the city, go straight to the Coffee Museum (free entrance), the museum is small and it is a lot to read without any guidance. You will learn some cool facts about the coffee boom and its crash. Once you have all the knowledge, enjoy a good coffee in the multiple cafes in town.
Just 10 minutes from the city it’s found the Chocolate Castle, a local handmade chocolate factory (close on Mondays). Only three workers make all the chocolate process, from mashing the cacao seeds to wrap the bars.
The chocolate´s smell is noticeable just from the entrance door. The visit is US$5 but it is well worth and also includes coffee and some chocolate samples. Forget about the taste of the supermarket chocolate, these one has a different texture and flavor, it is just delicious!
Santa Emilia Waterfalls
I was really disappointed by this waterfall. Really close to the highway, Santa Emilia waterfall is surrounded by a hotel complex. The entrance is C$100 ($4), you can swim and watch the waterfall which isn´t really impressive, the coolest part is walking inside the cave behind the waterfall.
If you have the time to go out from the city and visit some nature this can be your spot, the bus is only C$15 ($0,50) and you can even have lunch over there, of course, tourist prices!.
Enjoy the city
Walk through the city, stop by the small shops and be aware of the different street sellers. The main square is a good place for enjoying an ice cream or visiting the cathedral, the only colonial-style building left.
Matagalpa is not an astonishing city, it is a good stop for prepare some hikes or know the coffee region, it is also a good stop for a day. Just enjoy the wheater, some coffee and a Nicaraguan environment full of history.
Where to stay: La Buena Honda, this nice hostel is close to the center and their rooms are clean and nice. The dorms are US$8, with an extra US$1 you will be able to use the kitchen. The thing that I like the most was the helpful staff.