Are you like me and looking forward to the days we can travel freely again? I’ve led a handful of yoga retreats in Greece now and every time I’m there, I think, “this would be the perfect girl’s trip!” It’s been ages since I last went on a girl’s trip — and it was a disaster, lol. But I do have my favorite travel buddies who I’m always down to travel with. I’m a true Gemini at heart, I love a few days solo to explore, eat and do whatever I want, but I also adore the company of a good travel mate or two, and I love meeting other amazing, inspiring women — maybe that’s why I love yoga retreats so much? What about you?
I LOVE the greek islands and was daydreaming about planning another trip while looking over old travel pics. They’re so freakin’ beautiful — it’s the bluest water I have ever seen (I’m going to post a pic below so you can see), white stone beaches, and the most picturesque villages, tucked into their perfect tiny, little bays… I can’t get enough! How many hours have I spent sipping wine on the patio, telling stories by the pool, or swimming and lounging by the sea with new and old yoga friends. I mean, who’s counting?
These Off-the-beaten-path Islands are Greece’s Best Kept Secret
The Ionian islands, on the west side of Greece, are a hidden gem. Well, Zakynthos is well known and has a bit of a wild party scene, but Kefalonia, Lefkada, and Ithaca are the perfect getaway — far away from the tourist hoards, drunk 20-year-olds, and honeymooners! Do I sound salty? LOL. I’m not, I promise!
I discovered Urania Villas a few years ago. At first, I was blown away by the gorgeous villas with the comfiest beds– I felt like a queen and I’m sure you will too. But then you go outside and each villa has its own pool with a jaw-dropping view of the sea. Then there is the yoga studio with the same gorgeous view, every prop you can imagine, and the option for AC (so perfect during summer in Greece) or you can open up all the glass doors and let the cool morning breeze in… they’ve thought of everything! After a day in the sun, walking into a cool yoga studio for a yin or restorative class is such a treat.
And the icing on the cake: Urania and her son, who take care of everything. They are so welcoming, kind, and generous. Have you ever wanted to have a Greek mama? Now’s your chance (I do hope she doesn’t mind me gloating about how amazing she is). And to have homemade Greek food for every meal, I’ve never been so spoiled.
Yoga Retreat in Greece? I Know That You Know You’re Worth It!
I don’t know about you but I adore having someone else prepare all of my meals with love and care. I’m usually the planner, when I travel with my friends or my hubby, so I love when someone else takes care of all the details, so I can simply relax — or do whatever I want! The structure of a yoga retreat makes life easy– especially when beach trips, boat trips, and sunset spots are already planned out (I don’t have to research because someone has already done it for me)– there isn’t any hemming or hawing about what to do(is that even how you spell that?). And it’s just nice to know that I have someone looking out for me and who will give me loads of great recommendations when I am exploring somewhere new, whether I’m traveling solo or with a posse. Can you relate?
Plan Your Next Girl’s Trip in the Greek Islands
Could a yoga retreat in the Greek islands be your next girl’s trip? I have an upcoming retreat in the Greek islands in 2022 — June 25 – July 2, 2022 at my favorite villas — Urania’s Villas. The retreat is basically built around all the things I love about yoga retreats, travel, self-care, good food, adventure, and an amazing sense of community. I’d love to host you, whether you’re flying solo or traveling with your girlfriends.
I’ve been to the Ionian Islands three times now and I am more than happy to share all of my favorite places with you (whether you’re joining me on retreat or not). I highly recommend visiting this little-visited group of islands– they feel like Greece’s best-kept secret.
This blog post was originally intended as a simple guide for my Greek Island Yoga Retreat attendees, but why not share the love. I’ve been to Athens a handful of times and each time I visit I discover a new gem. In this post, I’ll be sharing my favorite restaurants, yoga shops, Athens yoga studios among favorite wine bars, sights to see and places to shop.
Where to Buy Yoga Pants and Yoga Mats in Athens
Yoga students and yoga teachers… if you managed to lose or forget your yoga mat, block, incense or mala beads head over to Simply Green. Simply Green is actually an online shop, BUT they do open their doors Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm. They carry great brands… think Manduka and Jade, they have plenty of travel mats in all colors, and tons of other bits and bobs you may have forgotten at home (like a refillable water bottle, yoga towel, mat cleaner, etc.). It’s amazing and it’s located pretty centrally, so it’s a win-win! Location: Simply Green 73 Ermou Str. Monastiraki
If your yoga pants have blown away then check out the Nike store at 1 Ermou, this is probably your best bet for finding a variety of suitable leggings. Simply Green has a few leggings styles as well. Athens Yoga on Louizis Riankour 65, would be a bit of an expedition to get to, but if you’re in a bind or feeling adventurous you could head out to their location. There are also two H&M stores on Ermou. H&M stores in the states typically have fitness wear… just check that your leggings are opaque!
Niyamas Yoga Mat would be another option for picking up a yoga mat. Their mats are known for being nice and sturdy. They’re a local brand and they’re located a little north of the city center on Leof. Konstantinoupoleos 78-80 in Peristari.
The Best Yoga Studios in Athens
If you’re arriving in Athens a few days before your yoga retreat you may be seeking out a yoga studio in Athens to get moving and breathing after sitting on a plane for a dozen hours.
There are a surprisingly large number of yoga studios in Athens. Here are a few to check out:
Abhaya Yoga offers classes in English. At the moment, they have the following types of classes on their schedule: Bhakti, Anusara, Abhaya hatha, Alignment based yoga and Yin-Yang. Check out their website for their current schedule and pricing www.nysystudios.gr or give them a call +30 210 3232004. Location: Aiolou 43
Anahatashuddi Yoga Studio is a little further away from the center, but it’s gorgeous and well worth the effort. They offer floor yoga, aerial yoga and pilates in Peristeri. Reach out to Eva via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call at +30 210 5744162 or +30 694 6941126. Location: Emiliou Veaki 36
Swaha Yoga Kallisperi has super friendly staff and a large range of class offerings, including: ballet, pilates, aerial, and floor yoga. Check out their site www.swaha.gr or shoot them an email at email@example.com Their phone number is +30 210 9229251. Location: Kallisperi 11
Where to Eat: Vegan, Vegetarian, Organic and Sustainable Restaurants in Athens
Okay, there are loads of great places to eat in Athens, but when you’ve had enough of the meat, cheese, bread combo give these restaurants a try.
So Amazing!!! Loads of delicious vegetarian meals from falafel, to crispy tofu to veggie burgers. This restaurant has a surprisingly large menu. They even have a few gluten-free and vegan options — which let’s be honest… Greece is not super friendly to vegans… not that the Greeks are mean, because they’re definitely not, but because the options for vegan food are seriously lacking. Definitely check out Avocado for your veggie and smoothie fix. It’s one of my favorite vegetarian restaurants in Athens. Location: Nikis 30, Syntagma
I might be biased. I love Indian food and it is one of my comfort foods. AND there are usually plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, which I love. Indian Haveli is conveniently located near Syntagma Square (2 minutes from the Acropolis metro) and it’s affordably priced.
This may be the best gyro and souvlaki in Athens. A favorite among locals for its simplicity and full flavor. But you must go early, when they run out they close up shop! Pentelis 5, Syntagma
Nice n Easy
An organic bistro with locally sourced Greek food ie. loads of organic produce, fresh pasta and sustainably sourced meats. Nice n Easy is worth a visit. I would definitely recommend a reservation. This restaurant has a few other locations out on the islands, so if you can’t get in in Athens, check out one of the island locations (if that’s where you’re headed). Location: Omirou 60, Athens
Athens Central Market
If you’re on a budget check out the Athens Central Market. It’s been in operation for over 100 years and offers plenty of veggies, meats, and grocery items.
This may be the best meal I have had in Athens. Seycheles’ menu has lots of small-ish plates and a handful of entree style plates and they’re all delicious. I recommend the octopus, the tomato fritters and the smoked eggplant! Go with a friend so you can try more things! If you want to eat during prime time definitely make a reservation. The restaurant is out of the tourist zone in an up and coming, hipster-ish neighborhood called Metaxourgeio. Address: 49 Kerameikou street
Cocktails, wine, and coffee with a rooftop view of the Acropolis and Plaka. Not a bad way to spend an evening. Location: Normanou 3, Monastiraki
Kiki de Grace
A beautiful wine bar near Syntagma Square. They have about 30 different glasses of wine to choose from. Location: Voulis 38
Favorite places for Coffee
Tailor Made Microroastery
Tailor Made Microroastery is located at Agias Irinis 2. Great coffee, awesome outdoor seating that is perfect for people watching and a fun, social scene. Location: Agias Irinis 2 in Monastiraki. Word on the street is that they have closed. Sad face!
Peek a Bloom
Peek a Bloom is another great spot for caffeine, this little cafe is near Syntagma Square and it’s a perfect spot to tuck out of the sun for a cup of coffee. While I haven’t tried their breakfast, I do enjoy their coffee. It’s down the alley at Lekka 14.
Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou
Okay, there are literally hundreds, probably thousands of places to try baklava in Athens, but trust me, when I say that Athinaika Galatompoureko Triantafillou has the best baklava ever! Hike up the hill to Pagrati and get yourself some baklava. It’s worth it. I promise. Location: Eftichidou 2 in Pagrati
This is the best cafe to stuff yourself with sweets and get hyped up on sugar and caffeine while cranking out a days work. Did I say they have super fast wifi??? Because they do. Thank you. Thank you! Location: Archelaou 32
Shopping: Where to Buy Gemstones and Crystals in Athens
Alright yogis, you might love gemstones and crystals just as much as I do, so here are a few spots to check out while you’re in Athens.
Michael Hatzmihail near Syntagma Square at Perikleous 56
One of my girlfriends bought a gorgeous Byzantine inspired ring from one of the Konstantinos or Kostas stores (I can’t remember the name, but there are a few of them in the Monastiraki and Plaka area).
Shopping: Best Clothing, Shoe, Vintage and Secondhand Shops in Athens
Closet to Closet
Closet to Closet is super cute. They have lightly used high end brands like Laboutin and Manolo Blahnik at a fraction on the cost. And it’s next to the National Gardens… picnic + shopping sounds like a lovely afternoon to me. Location: Eratosthenous 4
Preloved is another great secondhand shop between the National Gardens and Monastiraki. Location: Asklipiou 20
If you don’t have time to make it over to Closet to Closet and Preloved you can check out the Kilo Shop located right in the heart of the tourist district. The last time I was in Athens one of my friends found an amazing pair of Levis… so jealous! Location: Ermou 120
Olgianna Melissinos Sandals
Get a pair of custom made leather sandals. Olgianna and her husband make fantastic footwear and leather bags!!! All at affordable prices too. Every time I am in Europe I treat myself to a pair of shoes or an article or two of clothing… the quality is always amazing. This year I will be getting my own custom made sandals. Location: Normanou 7
Free Things To Do in Athens
Watch the changing of the guards at the Parliament building. The changing of the guards happens every hour on the hour. On Sundays there is an even more elaborate changing of the guards. On our first trip to Athens we stumbled upon the changing of the guards. It’s cool. It’s free. And you can stand in the shade while you watch.
Have a Picnic in the National Garden. The National Garden is massive and beautifully landscaped. Stop by a market on your way and grab a few snacks and maybe a bottle of wine (I have no idea if you can drink wine in Athens’ parks — might be worth looking into).
Check out Anafiotika. Anafiotika is a super cute mini neighborhood in the Plaka area. The architecture is reminiscent of the Cyclades… narrow lanes, white buildings, flowering bougainvilla, and sunbathing cats are the norm. To get there from the Acropolos metro station, take Vyronos St. pass Lycicrates monument and turn left to Thespidos St until you arrive at Stratonos. Turn right on Stratonos and walk straight ahead. You have arrived! There is also some nearby street art.
Wander through Athens’ Central Market. The Central Market is massive, impressively clean, and fairly priced. You’ll find meats, cheeses, veggies, and grocery items. Everything you need for a picnic in the park.
Wander the historic center. Start at Hadrian’s Arch, wander through Plaka, stop and aww at the archeological sites that seem to pop up out of nowhere.
7 Must See Sites in Athens
If you plan on visiting multiple sites you should buy the multi-site ticket. The ticket to the Acropolis only is 20 euros. The multi-site ticket is 30 euros… and I would take a wild guess that you’ll be visiting at least one or two more sites. Don’t bother booking ahead, just go early in the day before the tour buses show up. The multi-site pass is valid at the following sites: Acropolis of Athens, Ancient Agora of Athens, Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, Archaeological Site of Lykeion, Hadrian’s Library, Kerameikos, Museum of the Ancient Agora, North slope of the Acropolis, Olympieio, Roman Agora of Athens, South Slope of Acropolis.
The Acropolis Museum
National Archeological Museum
Varvakeios Central Market
Temple of Zeus
Travel to and from Athens City Center
Athens by Metro
Transportation to/from the airport via the metro is 10 euros each way and takes about 40 minutes.
Athens by Bus
Transportation to/from the airport via the bus is about 6 euros each way. The X95 drops off and picks up at Syntagma Square. The bus takes 40-60 minutes depending on where you’re headed.
Athens by Taxi
A taxi from the airport to the city is a flat rate of 38 euros during the day and 54 euros between midnight and 5 am. A taxi takes approximately 35 minutes.
Travel to and from Lefkada
There are four buses a day going to Lefkada from Athens. The first departure is at 7 am. The KTEL bus is 36.80 euros one way or 67 euros roundtrip. If you book online you can save 10%. The bus runs from Kifissou in Athens to Lefkada Town on Lefkada.
Hey beautiful yogis. I’ve just returned from an amazing work/yoga holiday in Portugal and I wanted to share a bit more about my trip to Lisbon in what will hopefully be an awesome and useful guide to help you enjoy your trip. Topics included will be: yoga in Lisbon, awesome vegan restaurants in Lisbon (and some seriously delicious regular restaurants), and where to find yoga clothes while you’re in the city. I only spent a few days in Lisbon and I can’t wait to go back and visit again after our June 2019 yoga retreat in Portugal.
Where to Practice Yoga in Lisbon, Portugal
Alright yogis, who has practiced yoga in a foreign language? I have! And it’s super fun. Obviously, it has its challenges too. When I’m traveling I usually seek out bilingual classes because it helps me learn the native language… in this case Portuguese, but sometimes I just want to be told what to do without thinking about it. LOL.
Little Yoga Space in Baixa is my favorite spot for yoga in Lisbon. The yoga studio is conveniently located, the space is beautiful, and there are many classes throughout the day. Little Yoga Space offers English & Portuguese classes, English only classes, and Portuguese only classes, which is an absolute win in my book! I also love that they offer everything from Vinyasa to Kundalini to Yin to Laughter Yoga. There is literally something for everyone. The studio has an extensive workshop calendar for yogis that want to deepen their yoga practice or are around a bit longer.
Little Yoga Space Rua da Assunção 42, 1. floor, room 3, 1100-044 Lisboa, Baixa
Drop in rate: 10 euros
Ministry of Yoga is another great option to practice yoga in Lisbon. Ministry of yoga is also conveniently located to many tourist sights and will likely be at least close-ish to where you’re staying. The studio has wonderful, knowledgeable teachers with a wide range of classes including: Rocket Yoga, Ashtanga (led), Vinyasa, Forrest, Yin, and Kundalini. Owner Zoe, is also incredibly responsive to inquiries and questions.
Ministry of YogaRua das Portas San Antao 27 Level 1 Lisboa Drop in rate: 10 euros
And there are even more yoga options in Lisbon. Yogana Lisboa offers rooftop yoga and yoga in the park. The amazing and delicious Foodprintz Vegan Cafe offers Jivamukti and Hatha Yoga. And there is a rumor that there is an occasional pop-up yoga class at one of the museums. There seem to be a large number of yoga meetups in Lisbon as well. There are many ways to get your yoga on!
Where to Eat in Lisbon (Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, and More)
Many of you know that I am more flexitarian than strictly vegetarian or vegan or any other label. At home I eat 95% vegetarian, in Bali I eat nearly 100% vegan, and in Europe and Central America I’m a bit more flexible. We ate some amazing food in Lisbon… and after a yoga class or afternoon of sightseeing, I’m usually pretty hungry!
One of my favorite meals of the entire trip was a gorgeous pea soup from the TimeOut Market. So fresh, so wholesome and nutritious. I’d honestly never had pea soup like it. The TimeOut Market is essentially a fancy food court near the water. There were so many great looking things to eat.
We also tried to eat at Ramiro a famous family-owned seafood restaurant and cerveceria, but we didn’t have a reservation… nor did they pick up their phone earlier when we tried to call and make a reservation. Anyway, when we arrived the wait was so massively long… I think there were 50+ people milling about outside the restaurant. We didn’t want to wait, so we searched out another seafood restaurant and we found a gem! We ended up at Marisqueira do Lis (no website) which to our surprise was full of locals instead of tourists. The prices were fair and portions large. We had an octopus salad and a platter of mussels. Both dishes were fresh and flavorful.
A Marisqueira do Lis, Av. Alm. Reis 27B, 1150-019 Lisboa, Portugal
Ao 26 Vegan Restaurant in Lisbon was conveniently located right next to where we stayed. The restaurant was busy with both locals and tourists and had a menu that could convert a meat eater into a vegan real quick! Lots of options from curries to burgers to chocolate cake (get the chocolate cake). The vibe is pretty cool too. I will definitely be dropping in again before next summer’s yoga retreat in Columbeira.
Where to Buy Yoga Clothes and A Yoga Mat in Lisbon
Did you forget to bring your yoga mat or leggings? No worries. There are a handful of Oysho shops in Lisbon. Oysho is a lingerie company, but they also sell activewear… and it’s actually cute. The quality seems pretty decent and it’s definitely on trend. When I was there last month they had some gorgeous leggings and super cute sports bras in beautiful Autumn colors.
Oysho does sell yoga mats too… although they might not have much of a selection. Your best bet is to bring a yoga mat from home or borrow one from a studio. If you’re attending a yoga retreat in Portugal and you need to buy a yoga mat in Lisbon I would check Oysho first. There is an Oysho shop on Rua Garret, which is not too far from Rossio Square. There is a Nike store nearby too.
There is a big sports chain in Lisbon called Sport Zone. The most central location is at the Amoreiras Shopping Center, but there are many locations throughout the city. They also sell activewear and yoga mats.
And finally, we’re to yoga events. I recently found out that Wanderlust Festivals hosts a Wanderlust 108 festival in Lisbon. I still haven’t been to a Wanderlust festival… sigh. Anyway, they had one at the end of September in Lisbon and I’m sure they will host another one next year. Lisbon has a great yoga community.
The Lisbon Yoga Festival takes place in November. This affordable festival has been going on for over 6 years! If you’re in Lisbon in November I recommend checking it out.
Back to Nature Yoga Retreat is an affordable yoga, surf, and hiking retreat offered just 45 minutes outside of Lisbon. The next scheduled dates are June 15-22, 2019. This is a great opportunity for yogis ready to deepen their yoga practice and learn more about the chakras.
Portugal Spirit Festival, although not in Lisbon, is another event that is taking off in Portugal. This yoga, dance, spirit, music, and healing festival is held in Cascais in September.
Yogis, let me know your favorite place to practice yoga in Lisbon. Don’t be afraid to share your favorite restaurants, sights, etc. too. I’d be happy to add them to the list. Comment below or just send me an email!
Summer is finally here! Which means it’s time for outdoor yoga classes. This is the first summer that I have seen tons of outdoor yoga classes in Bend… seriously, you can practice yoga outside every day of the week. How do you even choose which ones to attend?
Every Sunday 10:30-11: 30 am (rain or shine) NEW TIME: 9:30 – 10:30 am
This is my favorite class of the outdoor yoga classes in Bend. Every Sunday, tons of Bend yogis gather for a yoga session on the lawn. Helen, owner of Wild Thing Yoga, teaches a super fun, truly all levels vinyasa yoga class. There are plenty of opportunities to play on your hands or simply stretch it out. The lawn is also surrounded by a wildflower-covered hill (perfect for those Instagram pics!). After class, you can hang out on the hill with a can of Deschutes beer and chillout with Bend’s awesome yoga community. It’s pretty rad. You can usually catch me here on a Sunday morning– usually practicing, but occasionally teaching.
Location: 901 SW Simpson Ave, Bend, OR 97702 (this is the address to the Brewery) — Yoga class is on the lawn behind the brewery off of Shevlin-Hixon Road.
Every day of the week except Wednesdays from 9:30-10: 30 am
Lara House is a super cute B&B owned by a mother-daughter team. It was built in the early 1900s and still has that original charm. Lara House has a giant lawn surrounded by huge, gorgeous trees and rhododendrons… it’s also right across from Drake Park and the Deschutes River. It’s a new favorite of Bend downtown locals and tourists alike. After your outdoor yoga class, you can head over to Drake Park or walk back downtown and grab a coffee at Crows Feet Commons or the Looney Bean. On July 6th there will be a FREE yoga class at 5:30 pm taught by myself and Helen for First Friday. Happy hour to follow.
Leanna Schweitzer and Wren and Wild have paired up to offer a fun Sunday morning flow at Millers Landing. Noise canceling headphones + groovy jams and sunshine by the river. It’s a great opportunity to try Silent Disco yoga in a beautiful low key setting. I loved the DJ’s playlist and Leanne’s class was awesome, as always. After class, go grab brunch at Jackson’s Corner… get their Portobello breakfast and a bloody mary. YUM!
Fridays at 5:30 pm; Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00-10:00am
If you remember the old school Entrada Lodge and it’s old school vibe you will love that the new owners are keeping that old school nostalgic vibe, but making it super cool! They’ve added fire pits, string lights, daily yoga, bike rentals and more. Loge Entrada offers yoga every day of the week for guests and locals alike. Their outdoor yoga class is on their side lawn near the stage. Grab a yoga class and then hang out for a beer, movie, or live music. Occasionally there are even beginner friendly mountain bike rides after the Wednesday evening classes… contact Loge Entrada or Wild Thing Yoga for the details.
Another great outdoor yoga class offered by the Deschutes River. Bend Brewing Company, or BBC as the locals call it, opens right after class, so you can grab a beer or a bite and chill by the river and enjoy your post-yoga glow. Class is taught by Kayla Heuton. Kayla teaches an all-levels vinyasa style class… well-behaved dogs and children are welcome!
Location: 1019 NW Brooks St, Bend, OR 97701
Outdoor Yoga Events
Athleta | Free Yoga With An Athleta Ambassador | July 7, 2018
Athleta offers free yoga classes… sometimes in the store and sometimes outdoors. Here is a link to their July 7th class.
Bend Beer Yoga | Saving Grace Fundraiser | July 8, 2018
Bend Beer Yoga offers outdoor classes in Bend at local breweries, Crows Feet Commons, local guesthouses and hostels. Check out their website for upcoming events… this is a great opportunity to convince your non-yogi friends to give yoga a shot!
Yoga + Beer Bend, Oregon Retreat | August 15-19, 2018
Mikki Trowbridge leads a yoga and beer retreat here in Bend. She gets a great turn out and I can only imagine it’s a ton of fun.
End of Summer FREE Yoga at Les Schwab Amphitheater | August 30, 2018
Helen Cloots of Wild Thing Yoga will be packing the lawn at Les Schwab. Don’t miss out!
Are you planning a trip to Nicaragua’s mountainous north? Awesome! You will be rewarded with cooler temps, green jungle, brilliant coffee and friendly locals. I’ve visited Matagalpa twice now, each time for about a week and both visits have been great. Make your time in the north memorable with our top five favorite things to do in and around Matagalpa, Nicaragua.
Here is the view of Matagalpa from Cerro Apante.
1. Finca Esperanza Verde
The view from the lounge at Finca Esperanza Verde.
If you’ve done any research about Matagalpa you’ve probably heard of Finca Esperanza Verde. Finca Esperanza Verde is a beautiful organic coffee farm set high on a hill with some of Nicaragua’s most breathtaking sunsets. Vivianne and her team of local staff are gracious hosts and will happily guide you on one of the many well-maintained hiking trails that criss-cross the property. The guides are excellent and will help you spot parrots, birds, monkeys, sloths, etc that you would miss on your own. It’s possible to enjoy the propertyfor the day or better yet stay a couple of days to take full advantage of the miles of trails, delicious organic food, and the cool crisp morning air (you’ll crave it after a week or two on the coast.) Book one of the Colibri Cabins for the best views.
You may be lucky enough to join a workshop or yoga retreat at Finca Esperanza Verde. The yoga experience at Finca Esperanza Verde is absolutely unique. During practice you may see toucans fly by or spot a sloth up high in the treetops.
The Finca offers guided hikes, organic coffee and meals, coffee tours, birdwatching tours, yoga and more.
2. Castillo del Cacao in Matagalpa, Nicaragua
If you’re a chocolate lover then a visit to Castillo del Cacao is a must (when I checked last they were closed on Saturdays). It’s possible to tour the facilities before stocking up on the best chocolate in Nicaragua. Their coffee chocolate bar with whole roasted espresso beans is seriously divine and is nothing like anything Hershey’s makes.
Castillo del Cacao is located just outside of Matagalpa on the way to Finca Esperanza Verde.
3. Mujeres del Plomo in San Ramon
Happy group after our jewelry making workshop with the women of Artesanias Mujeres del Plomo.
Looking for a fun workshop to do with kids or your girlfriends (my husband actually loved the jewelry making workshop too)? Mujeres del Plomo is a local women’s jewelry cooperative in San Ramon, Nicaragua. The group consists of about 4 women and their children. The ladies create jewelry out of seeds collected in the local countryside. You can stop in and buy a piece of jewelry or for $5-10 join for a short jewelry making workshop. Gain inspiration from the pieces they’ve already created and then create your own. The ladies are excellent teachers and will guide you along the way. Check out the pieces our group made!
4. Hike to Las Cruces and Cerro Apante
Virgin Mary statue.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to be still for too long. I recommend hiking up the trail to Las Cruces. The loop trail was moderately challenging and well maintained. You can park your car in Matagalpa and then begin up the hill. You will come to a “ranger station” of sorts. Pay your entrance fee here and continue up the path. You will come to an awesome viewpoint overlooking the city of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Shortly after the viewpoint you will climb the stairs up to the statue overlooking the city for another view. There may be a couple of musicians playing up top and there will most certainly be couples and families enjoying this popular outing. Here is a funny little blog post about a couple that went the “wrong way” up to Las Cruces… don’t do what they did.
5. Visit Cascada Santa Emilia just outside of Matagalpa, Nicaragua
Steve happily checking out the waterfall… and perhaps debating a swim.
If you have a car take the gorgeous drive out to Cascada Santa Emilia, also known as Cascada Blanca. Pay the small fee and begin the hike down the paved path. There is a large cave behind the waterfall. I recommend following the path behind the thundering waterfall and looking out at the river below. I believe you can grab lunch here as well. We ate in town and we weren’t hungry, so I can’t say if the food is good or not.
Enjoy your time in Matagalpa! And as always feel free to reach out if you have specific questions. I’m happy to lend a hand… and if I don’t know the answer I can link you up with someone who does.