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).


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).


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.


Total trip GRANADA TO ESTELI: Cost: $8 | Time: 4.5 hours

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  1. Hey there! Thanks for the blog!

    We (two of us) did this trip yesterday a bit different, avoiding Managua and costing 100 Cs or a little over 3 USD each. The entire trip took us almost 5 hours. We started at 8 am.

    Get the chickenbus to Masaya (terminal across the road of Full Moon Hotel). This takes about one hour and costs 10 Cs each.

    On the bus station in Masaya find a bus to Tipitapa (yes, there really is a town called Tipi Tapa ;)) There are plenty. We found an express minibus. 20 Cs each but they charged us another 20 because our backpacks took up a seat, fair enough. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes. Ask them to drop you of at the busstop of the North bound busses to Estelí, Somoto, Matagalpa etc. There will be plenty of people waiting.

    The chickenbus to Estelí can be quite full at first, but do not despair, it will get a lot more quiet in about 15 minutes. This bus is not an espresso and takes about 3 hours for 60 Cs each. It was an easy ride though.


    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for the tip! How is Nicaragua at the moment?

      I’m seeing a lot on the news about the riots.