While tourist shuttles are a convenient way to get around, they are usually overpriced and overbooked. We recently made the trip from Granada to Esteli for less than $8 USD. In the process we experienced the real Nicaragua and had some fun along the way.
Step 1: Granada to Managua | chicken bus
Ask your hotel/hostel to direct you to the correct bus stop for the Granada to Managua bus. There are a tonne of different bus stops in every city in Nicaragua, all only going to a select number of destinations. Once you’re there just ask one of the locals for the next bus to Managua (just saying ‘Managua’ will be enough).
QUICK FACTS: COST: $1.5 USD | TIME NEEDED: 1.5 hours
Step 2: transfer between bus stations | taxi
The bus from Granada will drop you at Mercado Roberto Humber, but the Esteli bus leaves from Mercado Mayoria. While there is the option of a local bus, the market itself is a little overwhelming so a cab is the easiest option by far. By haggling you should be able to get the price down to 80C$ – 100C$ ($3-4 USD).
QUICK FACTS: COST: $3.50 USD | TIME NEEDED: 20 mins
Step 3: Managua to Esteli | Express or chicken bus
Once you get to the bus station ask for the next bus to Esteli (Again just saying ‘Esteli’ will be enough). Warning: It’s a bit hectic here, but thankfully each bus has it’s destination written on the front. Before you get on you need to buy your ticket 80C$ ($3USD). Then you’ll pretty much be pushed onto the bus. The buses leave every 15 minutes and alternate between express and chicken bus. The espress takes 2.5 hours while the chicken takes 3. Be prepared for it to be packed, but sitting on stools in the aisle between the passengers is a bit of a novelty. You can also sample some of the local street food, as vendors jump on and off at different stops with trays of deliciously cheap tucker.
QUICK FACTS: COST: $3 USD | TIME NEEDED: 2.5 hours
Total trip GRANADA TO ESTELI: Cost: $8 | Time: 4.5 hours
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