Nicaragua is still a diamond in the rough. It offers many of the same splendors that draw travelers to its neighbor to the south, Costa Rica -- lush rainforest, beautiful white-sand beaches, volcanoes, and rich wildlife -- but it's a much poorer country and it shows. However, it seems to be on a similar trajectory as Costa Rica was in terms of its growth as a tourism destination: It is already popular with the backpacker and adventure travel crowd, just as Costa Rica was before it saw an explosion of resort development. Read more
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Nicaragua Travel Guide
Those planning a getaway to Central America should note that there are a few advantages to traveling to Nicaragua over Costa Rica. Nicaragua has much more Spanish Colonial history and charm, with historic churches and plazas in the towns of Granada and Leon. Because it is relatively undiscovered compared to Costa Rica, it also offers a more authentic experience -- visitors might see locals riding horses and carts through the streets, fruit stands selling unripe mangoes and jocotes (tart snacks popular among the Nicaraguans), and one of the country's many lively street festivals. Plus, prices for just about everything, including food and transportation, tend to be far cheaper.