What to do in Matagalpa? The Northern Highlands of Nicaragua

The city of Matagalpa is surrounded by mountains, coffee and history. The fresh climate is essential for enjoying the city, especially if you are coming from a hotter city in Nicaragua.

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 a good hiking area and a coffee region. What are the best things to do in Matagalpa? Let me tell you 5 things you can do to enjoy this city.

Best things to do in Matagalpa city in Nicaragua


Hiking El Calvario is one of the best 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 is throwing yourself on the 280m of zip lining where you will be flying above the city. The activity costs US$20 for only 2 minutes of descent, too expensive for what it is in my opinion. 

Zip line in Matagalpa, Travel Nicaragua

The other hill is La Montaña de la Paz (The peace mountain).

The hike is around two hours, crossing a forest and stations of the cross.

The walk is more rewarding than the other one and the views are also really cool. On the top, it rises a huge seedy cross with a Maria Verge statue.

Hike a hill in matagalpa - travel nicaragua


Matagalpa is known for being the coffee region of Nicaragua. Coffee lovers, this is your place!

You have several tours to coffee plantations. I highly recommend going to Selva Negra.

But if you are only spending the day in the city, go straight to the Coffee Museum (free entrance). The museum is small and there is a lot to read without any guidance. However, if you want to learn some facts about the coffee boom and its crash, this is a good advanced course.

Once you have all the coffee knowledge, enjoy a good coffee in the multiple cafes in town.

Matagalpa coffee region of nicaragua


Just 10 minutes from the city, you will find 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 smell is noticeable just from the door, the visit is US$5 but it is well worth it and also includes coffee and some chocolate samples.

Forget about the taste of the supermarket chocolate, this one has a different texture and flavor, it is just delicious!

Handmade chocolate in Matagalpa - travel nicaragua


I was really disappointed by this waterfall but you should judge by yourself.

Really close to the highway, Santa Emilia Waterfall is surrounded by a rural hotel complex.

The entrance is C$100. You can swim and watch the waterfall that it is not really impressive. The coolest part is walking inside the cave behind the waterfall.

If you have the time to go out of the city and visit some nature this is your spot. The bus is only C$15 and you can even have lunch over there (of course with tourist prices). 

It is refreshing half a day trip from Matagalpa city. 

Waterfalls in Matagalpa, travel nicaragua


Walk through the city, stop in the small shops and be aware of the different street sellers.

The main square is a good place for enjoying ice cream and visiting the cathedral, the only colonial-style building left.

Matagalpa is not an astonishing city, but it is a good stop to prepare some hikes and visit the coffee region.

Just enjoy the cool temperature, drink some coffee and embrace a Nicaraguan environment full of history.

Visit Matagalpa city in the north of Nicaragua

Visit Matagalpa city in the north of Nicaragua

Where to stay in Matagalpa:

La Buena Honda:  This nice hostel is close to the center and their rooms are clean and nice. The dorms are around US$8 and with an extra US$1 you can use the kitchen too. Their helpful staff is what I like the most.

Have you been to Matagalpa? What was your favorite spot? Leave a comment


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Visit Matagalpa the northern highlands of Nicaragua
Travel to matagalpa in the north of Nicaragua

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