Planning a Trip
Intur has its main city office 1 block south and 1 block west of the Intercontinental Hotel (tel. 505/222-3333; www.intur.gob.ni). It is open from 8am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5pm. There's also an office at the airport (tel. 505/263-3176), which is open daily from 7am to 7pm.
ATMs are outside most banks, in malls and service stations, and at the airport. Most banks will also change dollars to córdobas. There are bank branches all over the city, in particular around Plaza España (also known as Rotonda El Gueguense), along with casual street changers (known as coyotes). Banpro, Edificio Malaga, Plaza España (tel. 505/266-0069) and Bancentro (tel. 505/268-5013) are two conveniently located banks.
Exchange all traveler's checks in Managua if you can, as there are very few places outside the city that will change these checks. There's an American Express 1 block east of Rotonda El Gueguense (tel. 505/266-4050). Multicambios, half a block east of Rotonda El Gueguense (tel. 505/266-8407), also changes traveler's checks.
The grandly titled main post office, Palacio de Correos (tel. 505/222-2048; www.correos.com.ni), is 2 blocks west of the Plaza de la Republica in the former Enitel building. Here you'll also find an excellent philatelist store.
Farmacia 24 Horas, 150m (492 ft.) east of Rotonda Bello Horizonte (tel. 505/240-06233), is good for any late-night pharmacy emergencies. Farmacia 5 Estrellas, 3 1/2 blocks north of Semafor El Colonial (tel. 505/248-8026), is an option closer to the center.
Hospital Vivian Pellas, Carretera Masaya Km 9.7 (tel. 505/255-6900; www.hospitalvivianpellas) is the city's most modern (it was built in 2004) and best-equipped hospital. Hospital Bautista, 2 blocks south of Casa RMA, Barrio Largaespada (tel. 505/249-7070), also has a good reputation.
The main headquarters of the Policia Nacional (tel. 505/277-4130) are situated in the Edificio Faustino Ruiz, Plaza del Sol. For emergencies, dial tel. 118.
Most hotels and hostels will arrange laundry service for a price. Dryclean USA (tel. 505/270-1107) has branches all over the city. One is close to Plaza Bolonia, behind Santa Fe Steakhouse. Another is at Carretera Masaya Km 3.5.
Internet cafes are dotted all around the city, but if you have trouble locating one, just head to any of the malls that dot the city. iMac Center, 1 block east and 1/2 block south of the Semáforo UCA (tel. 505/270-5918), offers cheap Internet at $1.50 (75p) an hour. It is open daily from 8am to 8pm. Cyber City, in front of UCA (tel. 505/604-7416), is another good place, as is the modern and comfortable Cyber, on the ground floor of Plaza Inter. They charge $2 (£1) an hour and are open daily 10am to 10pm.
If you find yourself needing a restroom while in the Zona Monumental, head to the Centro Cultural Managua. There are public bathrooms on the second floor.
The small, modern Augusto C Sandino International Airport (MGA; tel. 505/233-1624; www.eaai.com.ni), is 11km (7 miles) east of Managua. An airport taxi costs C380 ($20/£10) into the city center, though you can save some money by walking across the roadway in front and hailing an ordinary city cab. Always negotiate before jumping in. Frequent city-bound buses pass in front but again you must cross the busy street to hail one, as none enter the airport grounds.
By International Bus
Managua has no central bus station, and each international bus company has its own departure points in Barrio Martha Quezada. Tica Bus, 2 blocks east of the Antiguo Cine Doradao (tel. 505/222-6094 or 222-3031; www.ticabus.com), has the most intercity routes and goes as far as Mexico City. The bus to Honduras leaves for Tegucigalpa daily at 5am, takes 8 hours, and costs C570 ($30/£15). The bus to San José in Costa Rica leaves daily at 6am and 7am and noon, takes 9 hours, and costs C266 ($14/£7). Tica Bus also operates a route to San Salvador, leaving at 5am and arriving in San Salvador 12 hours later. The cost is C551 ($29/£15).
King Quality/Cruceros del Golfo, opposite Tica Bus (tel. 505/228-1454; www.kingqualitycg.com) has a reputation for being more comfortable, and provides meals. The Honduras bus departs daily at 3:30am and 11:30am, takes 8 hours, and costs C684 ($36/£18). The bus to San José in Costa Rica leaves daily at 1:30am, takes 9 hours, and costs C703 ($37/£19). They also operate a route to El Salvador, leaving at 3:30am, 5:30am and 11:30am and arriving in San Salvador 12 hours later. The cost is C836 ($44/£22).
Trans Nica, 483km (300 miles) north of Rotonda Metrocentro (tel. 505/277-2104), services El Salvador and Costa Rica. Their bus to Costa Rica departs at 5:30am, 7am and 10am. It takes 9 hours and costs C192 ($10/£5). A luxury bus leaves at midday and costs C384 ($20/£10). The San Salvador bus leaves at 5am and costs C480 ($25/£13), taking 12 hours. Central Line, next to King Quality (tel. 505/254-5431) goes south to San José in Costa Rica, leaving at 4:30am and costing C285 ($15/£7.50).
By Domestic Bus
To travel from Managua to other Nicaraguan cities, you must first get your head around the several stations and markets and meeting points that dot each city, each serving as a transport hub for a particular direction.
Mercado Roberto Huembes (no phone) serves the south, primarily Masaya, Granada, Rivas, San Juan del Sur, and the Cost Rican border. It is in the southeast of the city, on Pista Portezuelo, halfway between Rotonda Centroamérica and Semaforos de Rubenia. A taxi to this terminal should not cost more than C114 ($6/£3). Huembes is the biggest and busiest terminal in the city. Make sure you get off at the bus stop side of the market, known as parada de los buses. Be aware that you will be swamped by touts as soon as you get out of your taxi, and it is normal for them to grab your stuff and run to whatever bus they want to put you on. Always check that the one you get put on truly is the next one leaving or the expreso by asking around.
Buses to the north and east depart from Mercado Mayoreo (tel. 505/233-4729) in the far eastern fringes of the city, on Avenida de Circunvalacion Mercado Mayor. Here you can get buses to Estelí, Matagalpa, Jinotega, and San Carlos. A taxi to the market should not cost more than C152 ($8/£4) from the city center, or you can take the urban bus Ruta 102 from Barrio Martha Quezada. Expresos del Norte (tel. 505/233-4729) is one of the better companies with a punctual schedule and good-condition Expreso buses that service the northern part of the country.
Mercado Israel Lewites (tel. 505/265-2152), sometimes referred to as El Boer, takes you west and northwest to León, Chinandega, and the Honduran border. This chaotic place is located in the western outskirts of the city on Avenida Heroes de Batahola, 1km (1/2 mile) south of the American embassy. A taxi to the market should not cost more than C95 ($5/£2.50) from the city center.
La UCA is the city's biggest university and also a convenient spot to jump on an express minibus or microbus to Masaya and Granada. It is located 1 block from the Rotonda Metro Centro. Microbuses depart when full (every 20 min. or so), from 6am to 9pm.