While Nicaragua is top destination for surfers, adrenaline junkies, and beach bums, its capitol city is a bit of a headscratcher for tourists looking for noteworthy things to do. After a tragic earthquake left the city all but demolished in 1977, main roads and the historic old city were never updated or reconstructed. As a result, Managua isn’t an easy place to navigate. However, it is one of my favorite places to club hop and at a dollar a beer in Nicaragua, you can’t really beat the price! Welcome to my guide of best places to drink in the capitol city – as told a former resident whose boyfriend happens to be a local. The true inside scoop!
Gallerías Santo Domingo
My favorite pregame drinking spot happens to be the nicest mall in all of Nicaragua. While it is home to my go-to department stores, favorite cafe, and our gym while we lived there, it’s also the best place to grab a nice dinner and some cocktails. On the back side of the mall, you will find a plethora of dining options, from the country’s only Hard Rock Cafe to delicious Italian options at Pan y Vino. There’s also a Buffalo Wings and a sushi restaurant. With great food, cheap drinks, and sometimes a live saxophone player in the main courtyard, it’s the best way to start off the night!
Literally in view of the mall, The Reef is a great next stop for those not quite buzzed enough to get their reggaeton dance moves on. We call it the fancy chill bar as it definitely has a classy drinking vibe about it. It won’t be very full as it’s not exactly a local go-to spot, but the drink menu is the most comprehensive you will find in Managua where rum is usually the star of the show. The Reef is recently remodled and has a great patio area overlooking the mall.
Translated in English as “the classroom,” El Aula’s theme is a school-is-in-session type of vibe, but you definitely will not be bored! One of the most popular clubs in the area, make sure you get there early enough to grab seats at the bar or you will be standing all night! (Tables go for a whopping $50 if you want to rent one for the evening.) The DJ is great and the people come to dance. Drinks are also pretty damn cheap here. I once went with three friends and we drank cosmopolitans for hours and hours, but the total bill was only $80 combined! Make sure you stay until 1 or 2 am when a midget will run out on top of the bar and pour vodka down everyone’s throats. School is out!
When the suffocating and loud atmosphere of El Aula is no longer fun, we jump in a taxi and head to Caramanchel. With an outdoor dance floor and majority outdoor tables, it’s a nice place to chill out, have some conversation, and get down to the music. While not technically a gay bar, Caramanchel is a favorite spot for Nicaragua’s young LGBTQ+ community and definitely gay friendly! It’s common to buy giant ice buckets full of Toña (national beer) here or to split a nice big bottle of Flor de Caña rum among friends. Don’t expect to find a wide variety of cocktails, however.
Ron Con Rolas
My boyfriend’s favorite bar is located in one of the safest neighborhoods in town, which makes it a great place to end the evening…or early morning! It sits on a street known for its late night bar offerings called “Zona Hippos.” The name Ron con Rolas is a pun on its rock and roll theme, translating to rum and roll. The music scene is a bit different here with mostly classic rock and roll and no dance floor. However, its not uncommon to find live bands preforming on the weekends. Ron con Rolas is definitely a hot spot for locals and tourists alike and is listed with Caramanchel on TripAdvisor for best clubs/bars in Managua. I enjoy ordering a vodka redbull here or domestic beer. I also have to say that the staff is incredible at this joint, both in customer service and in maintaining the safety and well-being of all its costumers.
And now it’s time for bed! My favorite hostels in Managua are located quite close to all of these bars and in the quietest neighboorhood in town. One is La Bicicleta and the other is Pachamama. Both have great shared and private doorms at great prices and airconditioning available in the private rooms.
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