Central America has it all, from tropical rainforests to cosmopolitan cities, white sand beaches, rugged mountains and more. But it can be a lot to take in – which is why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best cities to visit.
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Want a city that combines grand colonial architecture and great beaches with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the nearby rainforest? Granada encapsulates much of what makes Central America great, and it’s a great city for budget travellers too.
Panama City, Panama
The capital city of Panama, this is one of the most modern cities in the whole of Central America – making it a great option for those that like to travel safe. You can take a boat trip along the famous Panama Canal, explore the historic Casco Viejo or simply relax and soak up the atmosphere.
The old Spanish capital of Central America, Antigua is a place where old seamlessly meets new. Packed with historic buildings and ruins where you can wander for hours, the city is also home to some excellent hiking opportunities and a vibrant nightlife just waiting to be explored.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Most people travel to Costa Rica to visit its amazing rainforests, but the capital of San Jose has a charm all of its own. With its historic museums and cultural attractions you can easily while away weeks here – and it also makes a great starting point for visiting some of the country’s famous surfing beaches.
A popular destination for backpackers, Leon is ideal for those who want to experience real Nicaragua on a budget. It features the largest cathedral in Central America, some beautiful Colonial architecture and – crucially – is only 20 minutes away from the country’s beautiful Pacific beaches.
San Salvador, El Salvador
Set in a lush valley in El Salvador, San Salvador is a little off the beaten track – but many tourists would argue that it’s all the better for it. It’s extremely cheap, and boasts some amazing hidden architectural gems such as the Iglesia Rosario – plus a lively club and bar scene for younger travellers.
While on the surface the capital of Honduras doesn’t seem to have much to offer, dig a little deeper and you’ll find mazes of ancient streets, charming old buildings and stunning views. The city is also a great place to base yourself for exploring the rest of Honduras.
If you want to discover the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal, Flores is the place to head. A vibrant city in its own right with open plazas, historic buildings and a bustling cultural scene, Flores is also the launch pad for all the major tours exploring the magical temples located just 1 hour away.
Nicaragua’s capital city is one of the best budget travel destinations in the whole of Latin America, offering up cheap food and accommodation on top of a plethora of sights and attractions. See the beautiful Managua Cathedral, swim in the crater of an extinct volcano or just relax and soak up the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Bocas Town, Panama
A city located between lush mountains and the sweep of the Caribbean sea, Bocas Town is a great choice for nature lovers and beach bums alike. A relaxed, laid-back city, it’s popular with scuba divers, surfers and anyone that just wants to kick back and take it slow while still being within easy reach of civilisation.
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