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Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Visit in Central America (and the Safest)

The region is a cultural and geographical melting pot, offering visitors a diverse experience. The best places to visit in Central America are a unique amalgamation of several fascinating destinations, from pristine beaches and tropical rainforests to charming colonial cities and ancient ruins.

The crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean invite tourists to do snorkeling, diving, and surfing, while the many national parks of the region offer thrilling opportunities to check out the unique wildlife and do other outdoor activities.

Its vibrant cities are dotted with street art, live music, and colorful markets. From the biodiversity of Costa Rica to the Maya ruins of Belize, Central America is the ultimate destination for adventure and cultural immersion.

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woman at the monterrico beach in Guatemala, one of the best places to visit in central america
Central America is home to many different beaches, that are top-notch and welcomes many tourists each year. You’ll not only find Caribbean beaches but also, beaches on the Pacific side of the region. From white and yellow sand to volcanic black sanded beaches.

Best Places to Visit in Central America

With so many options, how do you decide what to do and where to go in Central America? In this article, I will share some of the safest, most beautiful, and best places to visit in the region, as well as some tips and tricks to help you plan your trip.

Places to Visit in Guatemala

Tikal

If you want to have an adventure in the sharp-sided temples that go to a height of over 44m, Tikal is the right place to visit.

The temples of Tikal have mostly been uncovered, and some parts have been restored. You will notice a very peaceful aura and animal noises to enhance the experience of the Mayan area.

view of the trees and top of mayan piramids in tikal guatemala
Tikal is among the top places to visit in the country and is one of the most important archeological sites of Central America, but it’s not only well-known for its pyramids but also for its wildlife.

Antigua

This is the last true colonial city in Central America. It is nested in the middle of three volcanoes and several mountains, offering great outdoor adventures and a true colonial experience.

It is a small and beautiful place; it looks like time stood still, with hotels of all kinds. This is one of the most relaxed and safest places in Guatemala.

It is a tiny eight-block square city with cobblestone streets, located 40 minutes away from Guatemala City.

There are church ruins, beautiful parks, various restaurants, horse carriage rides, free sightseeing, an informative bus tour, many shops, and several other tours and day trips. All of these with the volcanoes as a background.

a street in antigua guatemala
Antigua is the MOST beautiful place to visit in Central America and a UNESCO site, a well-earned title for this fantastic town with its charming colonial houses, cobblestone streets, and several volcanos as a background.

Lake Atitlan

Often labeled as ‘the most beautiful lake of the world’, Lake Atitlan, is one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s situated in the Solola department, between three volcanoes offering stunning views.

While most tourists set their base camp in Panajachel, the lake is surrounded by several small villages inhabited by true Mayan descendants and each of them offers something different to do and explore them by boat.

On the lake itself, you can do many activities, from kayaking to scuba diving and more. On the other hand, there are endless land activities, from hiking and ATV tours to workshops and museums in the different villages.

Woman near a pool taking a photo of Lake Atitlan in Panajachel
Lake Atitlan is often called the most beautiful lake in the world, and IT IS! The lake is stunning and being surrounded by volcanoes makes it even better.

Semuc Champey

Semuc Champey is another of the many outstanding natural beauties of the country, it’s situated in the Alta Verapaz department and is a massive ladder-like water drop (also, one of the best waterfalls in Guatemala) with turquoise pounds perfect for swimming.

Near the waterfall, you can do a short hike to El Mirador, a balcony-like viewpoint where you can see everything from a higher point. Other popular activities are river tubing, and exploring the nearby caves of K’an Ba and Kanba.

Also, you can explore the Q’eqchi’ Mayan town called Lanquín, which is famous for the Lanquin Caves (highly recommended too).

aerial view of semuc champey in guatemala central from viewpoint
Semuc Champey is one of the most stunning waterfalls in Guatemala and probably Central America, you can find many different turquoise ponds to swim in.

Guatemala City

The country’s capital, Guatemala City is an exciting place to spend some days of your holiday. The city is comprised of several zones, being Zone One the historic center of the city offering colonial-style buildings, and Parque Central, which is like the main square of the area.

Next, you can head to Zone Four and visit Cuatro Grados Norte, an area packed with great VRBO and Airbnb. But what makes this zone special is how trendy it is, despite being only a few blocks (three blocks max), it is full of the best and trendiest restaurants, cafes, and bars.

Another great place to visit is Ciudad Cayala, part of Zone 16 and is a massive outdoor space, the first thing you’ll notice is that the area is like an outdoor mall packed with restaurants, and parks to spend your time.

beautiful outdoor restaurant with some trees, table chairs and people eating at cayala city guatemala
Ciudad Cayala is a unique place to visit in the, and is the only one of its kind in Central America, with a trendy and European atmosphere.

📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out 21 Best Festivals and Celebrations in Central America

Places to Visit in Panama

Panama City

Panama City is the most cosmopolitan area in Central America and is a gateway to the natural riches of the country. It is a lively destination in its own way.

It is a place of international trade and banking and supports a stifling skyline of steel towers and shimmering glass. With the hottest nightspots and luxury cafés, it is a treat for people looking for an active nightlife.

cars, buses and buildings under a clear sky during day time in panama city
Panama City is one of the safest places to visit in Central America, it has all the amenities a big city has to offer, trendy zones with cafes, restaurants, and bars as well as museums and a historic center.

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Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is by far one of the most well-known sights of the country, not only due to the fact it connects the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic to the Pacific but also due to the day trips and activities it offers.

Along the Panama Canal, you’ll find several jungles streams, and Gatun Lake, which used to be the largest man-made lake and offers activities like boat cruises, kayaking, and other eco-tours.

Also, you explore parks like Parque Nacional la Soberania, a tropical forest full of wildlife, streams, and trails to hike. Or the Barro Colorado Island, the remains of a massive mountain that once stood before the lake was made.

a large boat with containers docked in miraflores dock panama canals
You can pay a visit to many of the docks scattered around the Panama Canals, just make sure to check out if the visitor center is available before going!

Boquete

Boquete may be a compacted town, but it’s a popular tourist destination in the country, welcoming many visitors yearly. It’s situated in the Chiriqui Highlands and is well-known for its proximity to Baru Volcano, coffee plantations, and unique hot springs.

You can explore the Parque Nacional Volcán Barú and hike to the top with chances of spotting local wildlife and checking the stunning views. Not only that, but you can also spot rare and exotic Quetzal birds. There’s a dedicated trail that you can hike called Los Quetzales Trail which is a 6h path.

Also, you can book a tour of Jungla de Panama Wildlife Refuge, where you can interact with several animals, pet them, feed them, and learn about them and the history of the place.

a yellow and brown house with mountains on the back and a huge sign in boquete panama
Boquete is a unique town worth checking out, it offers a wide range of different outdoor activities to do, from hiking to camping and wildlife watching.

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is a high tourist destination in Panama that offers a stunning variety of natural and cultural attractions. Whether looking for adventure or relaxation, you will find something to suit your taste in this Caribbean paradise.

One of the top things to do here is enjoy the vast amount of top-notch beaches and many water activities like boat tours, snorkeling, and kayaking. It’s ranked among the best spots for diving in Central America.

Since Bocas del Toro is an archipelago another great activity is doing island hopping and checking what each has to offer. The main one is Colon Island and it is a beautiful town to explore and check out the bars, restaurants, and clubs.

a small rocky island in Bocas del toro Panama
One of the top-notch locations for beach fun is Bocas del Toro, which is ranked among the best places to visit in Central America to get a taste of the Caribbean.

San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands are a hidden gem for many tourists, it’s an archipelago part of the Guna Yala region, home of the Guna people and many of them live on the island where they preserve their traditions.

It’s a tropical paradise and a great place to visit for those looking to explore authentic culture and amazing beaches located on islands, or cayes.

Many of those islands have beautiful places to stay and a range of activities to do, from taking a swing on the crystal-clear water, and other water activities to checking the wildlife and more.

palm trees and boat near the beach in san blas inslands panama
San Blas Islands is a paradise, the place is filled with palm trees, sun, and yellow and white-sanded beaches with turquoise waters.

Places to Visit in Belize

The Hummingbird Highway

As you pass through the citrus orchards edging along the Maya Mountain range, you will notice the Hummingbird Highway of Belize.

There are many reasons why you must stop here, and the top one is paying a visit to St Herman’s Cave and Cave’s Branch. These places offer a touch of classic Mayan culture, where you can even see calcified skeletons.

Ambergris Caye

This is the largest island in Belize and is located in the Caribbean Sea. Over the last 30 years, it has become a popular place for eco-tourists and everyone interested in practicing water sports in a beautiful setting.

The island is also part of one of the most extensive reefs in the world. Aside from white-sanded beaches, the island has mangrove swamps filled with wildlife. Add that to the fact that Belize is the only country in Central America where English is the official language.

Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is the largest Caye in Belize, it’s basically on the same stretch as Cancun, and the beaches are world-class too.

Caye Caulker

Another amazing Caye to explore is Caulker, it has its own unique things to offer making it worth exploring for some more beach hopping and other activities.

From snorkeling and checking out the sharks and rays to immersing yourself in the friendly and vibrant culture of the island, the best way to do it is by testing the local food which is a unique blend of creole, Garifuna, and others.

The island is known for its “go slow” motto, which reflects in the relaxed and easy-going attitude of the locals. It also has no cars, and the main ways of getting around are bicycles, golf cars, or walking.

Book your flight or take a water taxi from Belize City to Caye Caulker and start your adventure today!

Caye Caulker
Caye Caulker offers a more secluded and unique experience, while smaller than Ambergris it’s packed with all the fun the bigger ones have to offer.

San Ignacio

San Ignacio is a town situated on the western side of Belize and offers a ton of activities and attractions for travelers who want to experience a different side of Belize by indulging in the natural and cultural diversity it has to offer.

The town is close to stunning Mayan archaeological sites, like Cahal Pech and Xunantunich, which are worth checking out. Not only that, you can enjoy several other activities around the town such as hiking, biking, or horseback riding.

Other popular activities include exploring caves, like Actun Tinichil Muknal cave, which has a lot of ceramics, skeletons, and stoneware to check out, and Barton Creek, a famous cave for canoeing.

san ignacio belize
One of the biggest draws of San Ignacio is its proximity to many attractions like archaeological sites, caves to explore, and activities like cave canoeing

Placencia

Placencia is a stunning peninsula situated on the southern side of Belize, and it offers one of the most beautiful road trips in the country. A 4h drive from Belice City packed with vibrant coastal views and beach scenery.

Among the top activities of Placencia is relaxing on the white-sanded beaches that stretch along the coast. Whether reading a book, swimming, or sunbathing, doing it here is an incredible experience. There are several bars, restaurants, and shops along the beachfront and one of the most extended sidewalks!

While there, I highly recommend you do a snorkeling or diving tour and check out the marine life of the area, you’ll be able to spot colorful corals, a wide range of fishes, turtles, sharks, and even rays!

placencia belize
One of the best places in Central America to relax and have a laidback experience is Placencia, with the option of doing water activities like snorkeling or taking day trips to other places.

Tip: Central America is a safe place for tourists, but be aware!

The biggest issue is theft.

Get travel insurance before starting your journey.

I recommend Visitors Coverage.

Places to Visit in Costa Rica

Arenal

This area is formed by an active volcano, forests, a vast lake, and a colorful, tiny town called La Fortuna. In the middle of all that beauty, you can enjoy zip-lining, hanging bridges, horseback riding, fishing in the lake, hikes to a waterfall, and volcano tours.

Arenal is packed with luxury hotels with great views and in the town, you can find restaurants, shops, and pretty much any service you might need. Also, remember that the best hotels are located closer to the lake. La Fortuna town on the other hand offers budget accommodations.

woman in front of arenal volcano in costa rica
Arenal offers the ultimate outdoor experience with amenities, you can find top-notch hotels nestled within the forest and have several natural attractions to explore.

Manuel Antonio Town and Park

Manuel Antonio is a small town in the excellent Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio that offers a unique blend of wildlife, adventure, and natural beauty. It’s situated south of Quepos city on the Central Pacific coast.

In the town, all the interesting places like restaurants, bars, and other attractions are located on the road leading to the beach, offering an exciting place to take a walk.

Besides hitting the beach and enjoying water activities, you can set yourself on an adventure and explore the outdoor activities the park has to offer. You can spot monkeys, sloths, toucans, and more while hiking its many paths. Do ATV or canopy tours, where you can zipline through rainforests, cross hanging bridges, and rappel down waterfalls.

On the other hand, you can book a catamaran tour to enjoy the views of the beach, snorkel, and watch dolphins, whales, and turtles.

manuel antonio sign costa rica
While Manuel Antonio offers several amazing beaches to explore, one of its biggest draws is how diverse and pristine its nature is, a true gem for visitors looking to explore and do canopy tours.

Tamarindo

Tamarindo is another of the top places to visit in Costa Rica, a small and cozy coastal town that’s growing into a vibrant tourist hub, offering more and more amenities to tourists and visitors each year without losing its unique qualities.

You can now find many places to stay, bars, restaurants, and tours. But the main draw about Tamarindo is its proximity to the beach, nature, and adventure. It’s surrounded by top-notch beaches, where you can do activities like snorkeling and surfing or just relax on the white sand.

You can also explore, the green areas nearby and do outdoor activities, since it’s situated in the Guanacaste region, the natural beauties are endless. Explore the Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge and its different landscapes.

Book your trip to Tamarindo Costa Rica today!

people surfing tamarindo beach costa rica
Ranked among the best places in Central America to do surfing, Tamarindo is more than that, the town is small but has a cozy and coastal feeling that makes it unique.

Monteverde

Monteverde, Costa Rica is a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. You can find several small towns like Monteverde, Cerro Plano, and Santa Elena that are surrounded by the cloud forest, one of the most biodiverse and beautiful ecosystems in the world.

A place well known for its diverse wildlife, you can see hundreds of species of plants, animals, and birds, including the mythical quetzal, the sacred bird of ancient civilizations.

Not only that, you can also enjoy thrilling activities like canopy tours, zip-lining, and horseback riding, or relax on the stunning beaches nearby of Puntarenas.

Monteverde is a destination that will enchant you with its beauty and charm. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover this amazing place for yourself. Make sure to check out all the tour trips in and around Monteverde!

things to do in monteverde sky tram
Costa Rica is only the safest place to visit in Central America, but it’s a green paradise of outdoor adventure and eco-tourism, and Monteverde has the best ways to experience this.

Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano, Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful and active volcanoes in Central America. It is located in the Poas Volcano National Park, which covers an area of about 65 km² and has a rich biodiversity.

The park has a relatively large crater, considered one of the largest in the world, measuring almost 300 meters. You can access the crater’s edge by hiking a trail and admire the stunning views of the turquoise lake and the fumaroles.

The park also has other attractions, such as the Botos Lagoon, a cold and clear water lake surrounded by forest, and the La Paz Waterfall, which is nestled between Braulio Carrillo National Park and Poas National Park, a spectacular cascade!

poas volcano crater
Have you ever hiked to the top of an active volcano? Well, now you can! Poas Volcano is one of the few ones you can get to the top by doing a hike!

Places to Visit in Honduras

Bay Islands

These are a group of small islands located off of the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Utila and Roatan are the most visited by travelers but are not flooded by them yet. They are part of one of the largest coral reefs in the world.

This means tons of almost deserted, white-sanded beaches. The Bay Islands are known as one of the best places around Central America for diving, and snorkeling. It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. There are tours for all levels and ages. Cruising along the coast searching for marine life, is another popular activity in the area.

These islands move to a reggae beat, sitting comfortably on the southern side of the Mesoamerican Reef, this place is a dream come true for water lovers. And if you are fond of backpacking, you will love the cheap accommodation and the sand streets of Utila.

boats and a kid sitting on the sant in a beach at roatan honduras
The Bay Islands are a hidden gem in Central America, while it gets many visitors each year it’s nothing compared to how stunning the area is, a true paradise, and an affordable place to get your diving certificate.

San Pedro Sula

San Pedro Sula is located southwest of the fertile and prosperous Sula Valley. It is the second most populous city in the country, after the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the administrative center of the Cortés department.

San Pedro Sula has a rich history and culture, dating to its foundation in 1536. It offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors, from historical and cultural sites to natural and adventure tours to vibrant nightlife and gastronomy.

Some of the highlights of San Pedro Sula are The Museum of Anthropology and History, where you will find displays about the archaeological, colonial, and modern heritage of the region.

The Cathedral of San Pedro Apostol is another highland of the city, and for a bit of adventure the Reserva Municipal Merendon and a botanical Garden to explore, called Lancetilla Botanical Garden, that is situated nearby.

aerial view of a roundabout in san pedro sula honduras
San Pedro Sula is a city with a lot of history, and you can spot that in its stunning architecture and museums.

Copan Ruins

Copan Ruins is a fascinating destination that allows you to discover the ancient Maya civilization and its culture, art, and history. The ruins are located in the western part of Honduras, near the border with Guatemala, and were the capital of a powerful Maya kingdom.

The Copan Ruins are one of the most important archaeological sites in the world for Mayan research and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

At Copan Ruins, you can explore the magnificent structures and monuments the Maya built, such as temples, palaces, altars, stelae, and hieroglyphic stairways. You can also admire the exquisite sculptures and carvings that depict the rulers, gods, and events of Maya history and mythology.

It’s not only a place of ancient ruins, but also a place of natural beauty and cultural diversity. You can enjoy the lush vegetation and wildlife of the surrounding valley and forest, where you can find many birds, butterflies, and plants.

You can also visit the nearby town of Copan, which has a charming colonial architecture and a friendly atmosphere. You can find hotels, restaurants, shops, museums, and other services to make your stay comfortable and enjoyable.

stelae and ruins in copan mayan ruins in honduras, central america
The ruins of Copan are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Central America, as well as an important archeological site for Mayan research in the whole region.

Macaw Mountain Bird Park

Close to the Copan Ruins is Macaw Mountain Bird Park and Nature Reserve, a fantastic destination that lets you interact with the beautiful birds of Honduras in a stunning natural setting.

It is a bird rescue, rehabilitation, and release center that hosts more than 200 birds of 25 different species, including macaws, toucans, parrots, owls, and hummingbirds.

At Macaw Mountain, you can enjoy a personal encounter with the birds, as you can walk through the aviaries, feed them, and even hold them on your arm. You can also learn about the conservation efforts of the park, which aims to protect the endangered macaws and other birds and to educate the public about their importance and beauty.

You can admire the lush vegetation and wildlife of the park, which covers many acres of a stream-fed valley. You can also visit the coffee museum, the gift shop, and the café, where you can taste the delicious coffee grown around the area.

woman holding a macaw in macaw mountain bird honduras
Who doesn’t like to pet animals?! Macaw Mountain Bird offers that and a lot more, you’ll be able to learn how they take care of them and all the work it takes.

Lake Yojoa

Lake Yojoa, is almost a hidden gem that offers you the opportunity to enjoy one of the largest natural lakes in the country and an incredibly biodiverse region. It’s located southwest of the Sula Valley, close to San Pedro Sula.

At Lake Yojoa, you can experience a variety of activities and attractions, relax on the shore of the lake, admire the views, and taste the fresh fried fish and other local delicacies that the restaurants offer.

You can also explore the lake by boat, kayak, or jet ski, and enjoy water sports and fishing. Lake Yojoa is home to a wide range of species of birds and different species of plants, making it a paradise for nature lovers and birdwatchers.

Also, you can visit the nearby national parks, such as Santa Barbara and Cerro Azul Meambar, where you can hike through the trails, spot wildlife, and see waterfalls.

a dock and a building in lake yojoa honduras
Lake Yojoa is a must-visit while in Honduras, you can take boat rides and do some fishing or take a relaxing kayak trip.

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Places to Visit in El Salvador 

Balsamo Coast

This tiny Central American country only has access to the Pacific coast. El Balsamo Coast is formed by beaches like Sunzal that are popular among surfers.

If you are looking for small waves to start with, or if you are an experienced surfer looking for great waves, this is the region you want to come to! The coast is filled with small shops where equipment and classes are being offered.

playa sunzal el salvador spectacular view
Balsamo Coast is home to a wide range of great beaches, most of which are popular among surfers, welcoming them from all over the world.

San Salvador

San Salvador is one of the most modern and dynamic cities in the country, that offers you the opportunity to experience the culture, history, and nature. San Salvador is the capital and the largest city of El Salvador, as well as its political, economic, educational, and financial center.

It is located in the Valley of the Hammocks, at the foot of the San Salvador Volcano. The city has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, influenced by the indigenous, Spanish, African, and mestizo traditions.

You can find many museums, monuments, churches, theaters, and galleries that showcase the artistic and historical expressions of the city and the country.

Some of the highlights of San Salvador are the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador, the Monument to the Divine Savior of the World, and the National Palace. Other exciting places are the National Theater and the Zona Rosa, a trendy and lively area.

view of the city from a mountain in san salvador el salvador
Despite being the most modern city in the country, San Salvador still gets a hold of its roots and offers a unique atmosphere paired with interesting attractions.

Suchitoto

Suchitoto is a charming colonial town that allows you to explore the true local culture, history, and nature of El Salvador. It’s located only a few kilometers from the capital, but it still preserves its unique features.

The town has a rich cultural and historical heritage, Suchitoto has preserved its colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, which give it a unique and picturesque atmosphere. You can find many cultural centers, museums, galleries, craft shops, and community spaces.

Walking its streets makes a trip there worthy, but it has much more to offer, from unique landmarks like the Santa Lucia Church, Paque Central, and Parque San Martin to outdoor places like Los Tercios Waterfalls, and the Cinquera Forest Ecological Park.

views of the lake from a mountain near suchitoto, el salvador in central america
Suchitoto is another great place to visit in Central America, the small town has done a good job preserving its colonial roots paired with its indigenous roots, resulting in a unique blend you can spot in its cobblestone streets and food.

El Tunco

El Tunco is one of the most famous surf spots that attracts visitors and party-goers from all over the world. El Tunco is located on the Pacific coast, really close to the capital city of San Salvador, and is part of the Sun and Beach Route of the country.

El Tunco is named after a large rock that resembles a pig (tunco in Salvadoran slang) that lies on the shore of the beach. El Tunco is famous for its excellent waves, ideal for surfing, as well as its lively nightlife, full of bars, clubs, and music.

The area is also a place where you can enjoy the local cuisine, culture, and hospitality of the Salvadoran people.

El Tunco is a destination that has it all: sun, sea, sand, surf, and fun. It is a place where you can experience the beauty and diversity of the country, and have a memorable and enjoyable time. Book your trip to El Tunco, El Salvador today!

kid near the beach in front of huge rock formation in el tunco beach el salvador
El Tunco got his name thanks to the rock behind it, locals say it resembles a pig (tunco is slang for pig in El Salvador) and the town is a great way to explore the coastal life of the country.

Places to Visit in Nicaragua

Ometepe Island

Ometepe is one of the largest freshwater islands in the world, located in the middle of the huge Nicaragua Lake. It is also the only one with two volcanoes. Make sure to visit Totoco Lodge!

This UNESCO Biosphere Preserve is home to a couple of eco-lodges you can stay in and go on horseback riding tours to the volcanoes. To get there, you can take the ferry that leaves San Jorge every day.

sunset on ometepe island in nicaragua
Ometepe is a freshwater island, one of the biggest in the world and it offers a unique way to explore nature, packed with eco-lodges and stunning views.

San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur is one of the most beautiful beach towns in Nicaragua, attracting travelers from all over the world. It is located on the Pacific coast and can be reached easily from Manuagua.

The town is well-known for its beautiful beaches, surfing spots and laid-back atmosphere. If you want a relaxing getaway with stunning scenery and friendly people, San Juan del Sur is the perfect destination.

It has several highlights that increase the town’s value as a tourist destination besides the stunning beaches. It has one of the most breathtaking viewpoints I have ever seen, it’s called Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia.

On the other hand, you can explore the Marsella Valley Nature Center, where you can find hiking trails, spots for camping, and a beautiful setting.

woman near the beach san juan del sur nicaragua
San Juan del Sur is ranked among the most beautiful places to visit in Central America, and I could not agree more. Make sure to visit Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia and get a hold of THAT view.

Cerro Negro Volcano

If you are looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure in Nicaragua, you should visit Cerro Negro Volcano, the youngest and most active volcano in Central America. Cerro Negro, which means “black hill” in Spanish, is a black cinder cone that stands out from the green landscape.

You can hike to the top of the volcano and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding area, or you can try the unique activity of volcano boarding, which involves sliding down the volcano’s slopes on a wooden board.

Cerro Negro Volcano is a must-see attraction for thrill-seekers and nature lovers!

people at the top of cerro negro nicaragua
In my opinion, Cerro Negro is one of the most unique volcanoes in the region, mainly due to its features. It’s a popular place for adventure tours and activities like sand-surfing or sliding.

Corn Islands

Corn Island is a true gem among diving destinations in the region. With its stunning tropical landscape and location on the beautiful Caribbean Sea, it offers an affordable and idyllic getaway for those seeking a beach holiday.

I recommend you immerse yourself in the captivating history of these islands, which have been shaped by a period of colonialism, piracy, and slavery. However, today, they have transformed into a tranquil and welcoming paradise that invites travelers seeking serenity and want to discover the allure of their pristine white sand beaches, vibrant turquoise waters, and breathtaking coral reefs.

You can explore the islands by boat, bike, or foot, and discover the diverse culture and cuisine of the locals. Whether you want to relax, snorkel, dive, or fish, the Corn Islands have something for everyone.

a small island in corn islands nicaragua
A unique blend of tropical landscapes, with nature and water activities is waiting for you in the Corn Islands, it’s a top place to do diving and snorkeling due to its clear waters!

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Tips

33 Tips for Traveling Central America without the hassle and confusion – recommended by me!

Food

Central America has a huge variety of food, check out the guide to the top 10 dishes in Central America.

How to Get to Central America

There are many ways to travel and visit the many countries and destinations of Central America. The most common ones are by land and by plane. But as we all know, the most comfortable way to get to Central America is by plane and this is a MUST if you have kids.

Traveling to Central America by Plane:

  • You can expect entrance taxes from around $2-$20 depending on the country.

  • It’s a common thing in Central American airports to have to find the immigration office on your own and get your stamp.

  • Visas are easy to get, you won’t need to get them before your trip or make long lines before your vacation starts.

  • There are everyday flights at good prices from the US and regular flights from other major areas like Europe.

  • In most airports, you can find transport services that you can arrange ahead, or your hotel can do it for you.

Getting to Central America by Bus:

  • The easier and cheaper way to get into Central America by bus is from the United States.

  • It is long-distance and you must go across Mexico but you can get to Guatemala in one full day.

  • You can also choose between making several stops in the Mexican attractions that will be on your way.

  • If Guatemala is not the country you had in mind for your vacation a good idea is to arrange a bus to take you to the country you want to visit before you get to the border.

As you can see these are two completely opposite options. If you are looking for relaxation, luxury, and rest, or maybe you just don’t have a lot of time, a plane is a must. If on the other hand, you want to do some exploring and to enjoy the sceneries and towns you will see on the way, the bus is your best choice.

Flight to Roatan, Honduras airport in Central America

How to Get Around Central America

This thin strip of land that connects North and South America is famous for its forests, beaches, biodiversity, and the ruins of ancient cultures. Although they are very similar, the cultures you can find in each, offer particularities that make them unique. It is definitely worth spending some time exploring these 7 countries.

Knowing the best way for you to get around in a country can be a bit stressful, especially in Central America, where many roads are not very well taken care of.

Here are 4 options that you have for getting around in Central America:

1. Plane – You will not have any trouble finding an international airport, smaller local airports, and cheap airline tickets to many of the main destinations in Central America.

2. Bus – Big bus companies, where you have to get a ticker beforehand are the most recommended. They often offer international trips and cross-country trips, and you will be comfortable. Buses from the public transportation system (chicken buses) are not recommended.

3. Taxi – You will find tons of taxis or smaller vehicles called Tuk Tuks that can take you to nearby destinations or around a large city.

4. Car – Many car rental companies don’t allow travelers to take cars outside the country. But if you do good research, you might find larger, international companies that will make your life easier. Also, remember that some roads might be in bad condition or without proper signalization or lighting.

📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out Essential Tips to Avoid Pickpocketing While Traveling.

Safety Tip for Traveling in Central America

Each region you travel to is a bit different regarding staying safe. Central America tends to have a reputation of being a not very safe place for travelers. But it’s all about taking a couple of precautions without getting paranoid.

The first thing you need to do is to choose wisely the best time to visit Central America and then follow those tips to stay safe.

1. How to avoid being the target of thieves:

  • Leave any kind of jewelry and watches at home; you won’t need that, mainly because most things to do in Central America involve adventures in the wild.

  • Don’t carry purses, camera bags, and phones (especially phones) out where everyone can see them, or carry them close to your body.

  • Take along only as much cash as you need, and not all of it in only one pocket.

  • At night, stick to well-lighted and transited areas, and don’t walk alone at night.

2. Don’t let your passport ruin the fun: People in touristy areas are interested in stealing your passport. They can sell them for around $60, which, by Central American standards, can mean a lot of money. That is why it is a good idea to leave your passport in the hotel safe unless you go to the bank, always carry a copy.

3. Let the Government know where you are traveling: The US government has a travel registration feature. This allows you to register your full trip and emergency numbers with them and will be extremely helpful in case of an emergency. If you are not from the US ask the migratory office of your country, they might have it too.

4. Dress like a local: If you are a foreigner you will hardly look like a local. But you become less of a target if you dress like one of them instead of wearing the Hawaiian shirt. So avoid dressing like a tourist.

5. Women’s dressing code: In the mind of many men in Central America, if you are wearing a tiny skirt, shorts or top you don’t deserve to be respected. So leave that kind of clothes at home. This assures you will be safe and will get better treatment from everyone.

6. How to Keep Your Money Safe and Dry: Almost every destination in Central America involves water. Rivers, lakes, beaches, rainy forests, and the unexpected 5-minute rains proper from the tropical weather, be ready to get wet. Always carry a waterproof wallet for your documents and plenty of Ziploc bags to keep your wet clothes away from the dry ones.

7. Safe drinking water: The only country in the region where you can let your guard down with water is Costa Rica. In the rest of them make sure you only drink bottled or filtered water otherwise you probably will be drinking contaminated water.

8. Fooling Muggers: Anywhere you go in the world you will find muggers. They are so skilled that 90% of the time you won’t notice that you got stolen until you are back in the hotel. To fool them and keep your documents and money safe carry a wallet with $10 in $1 bills and a couple of useless pieces of paper in a visible place. The place where you should carry your important stuff is in a zipped or hidden pocket in your clothes, where you can see it.

9. The safe way of deciding what to eat:

  • I’ll start by saying that you should look for vegetables or meat that has been boiled. Also, all vegetables peeled before eating are safe, depending on how they are handled.

  • Avoid eating uncooked or undercooked meat.

  • You should also avoid food that requires a lot of handling before serving.

  • Be careful with street food stands; observe them for a while before buying anything from them to make sure they are handling food properly.

10. Pantyhose in the fight against crime: Take an old pantyhose, cut off a leg, and put in it the money and documents you won’t need right away, and hide and put it where it’s not visible or away from things you will be using, do this before you leave for the airport.

Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission for any purchases made through the links. Your trust is important to us, and we ensure that all products or services we recommend meet or exceed our editorial standards.

Last Updated on January 24, 2024

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