Exploring A Market In The Heart Of Managua

Managua Nicaragua Meat Market
Managua Market Meat Lady
Managua, Nicaragua

Technically speaking, I was an illegal alien. I could get deported at any moment. My Central American CA-4 visa had expired.

This visa allows 3 months of combined travel in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

For two months I had been a fugitive from the law, hiding out on active volcanoes and befriending crazy hermits in the woods.

I couldn’t stay on the run forever… it was time to turn myself in and face the consequences.

Thus began another trip into the gritty capital city of Managua, Nicaragua.

Managua Nicaragua Market
Vinegar Salsa: Local Specialty

Roberto Huembes Market

After waiting in line for 2 hours at the immigration office, paying the fine, and receiving a visa extension, my friend Alexandra and I decided to visit the Roberto Huembes Market to do some shopping for Nicaraguan food.

A taxi dropped us off outside, and we walked into the corrugated steel-roofed labyrinth of stalls.

Passing clothing merchants, electronics repair men, jewelry makers, and hammock ladies, we found ourselves in the meat section. Giant raw slabs of beef were hung out on display.

Enough steak for 10 people was available for the bargain price of only $30 US!

Managua Nicaragua Market
Jewelry Maker

Babies Everywhere

While shooting photos around the market, I suddenly had babies thrust in front of my lens over and over again. Families that owned vegetable stalls wanted to show off their most prized possessions.

Who was I to put up a fight? Babies are often just as interesting as vinegar salsa!

We stopped and chatted with different vendors, asking them about their products, and their lives.

Giovanni used to live in Miami with family, but then moved back to Managua to run his vegetable stall when he couldn’t find work to support the expensive cost of living there.

Managua Nicaragua Market
How Does My Hair Look?

People Of Managua

After purchasing a few bags of fruit, we attempted to find our way out of the giant maze. Soon I heard someone whistling at us. It’s common for men in Central America to whistle at women, so I just assumed they were acknowledging Alexandra.

We kept walking.

But then I felt a tap on my arm. Turns out there was a hole in my shoulder bag, and a bunch of passion fruit had fallen out to the ground. A local man found it and tried to get our attention, then ran after us to give it back!

Managua Nicaragua Market
Pirated DVD Super Store

Is Managua Dangerous?

In fact all the people I met in Managua were just like this man, ridiculously helpful & friendly. If I had listened to all the warnings for avoiding the city at all costs, I’d have missed out on some great experiences.

Just because a place has a lot of crime, doesn’t mean you should completely skip it. By taking standard precautions, odds are pretty good that nothing bad will happen.

You’ll be awarded with adventures that other travelers miss out on! ★

Travel Planning Resources for Managua, Nicaragua

Packing Guide

Check out my travel gear guide to help you start packing for your trip. Pick up a travel backpack, camera gear, and other useful travel accessories.

Book Your Flight

Book cheap flights on Skyscanner, my favorite airline search engine to find deals. Also read my tips for how I find the cheapest flights.

Rent A Car

Discover Cars is a great site for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.

Book Accommodation

Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine. Or rent local apartments on Airbnb ($35 discount!). Read my post for tips on booking cheap hotels.

Protect Your Trip

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance.


I hope you enjoyed my story about Managua, Nicaragua! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:


Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten — I’ve been traveling around the world for the last 10 years as a blogger, photographer, and digital nomad. Adventure travel & photography are my passions. Let me inspire you to travel with crazy stories, beautiful photos, and money-saving travel tips.
Matthew Karsten
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Comments (13)

  1. I spent a few nights in Managua and decided to search for some street food. We headed out at around 9pm and found a line of food trucks and trailers selling their food. My Spanish is fluent and I sat at one of the burger stands and just sat and spoke with the lady working there.

    She told me of her desire to illegally get to the US to send back money to feed her kids and that she works at the stand for a guy who owns a bunch of them and makes next to nothing.

    Within about an hour of sitting there talking to her, we had another 10 conversations with other locals who were curious about my life and wanted to talk about theirs.

    It was at night, in Managua and I didn’t feel unsafe at all. In fact, if felt very welcomed and loved sitting there talking to them and learning about their views on the Sandinistas, Football and everything else.

    It was a great cultural experience and it’s because we weren’t scared to leave our hotel and explore a little.

  2. Do you get to talk politics with people? How do they feel about Ortega, etc?

    Great photos, as always.

  3. Wow that was so nice of this man… I heard crazy stories of managua and when I was there last month I felt very uncomfortable, everyone staring at you and touching you they tried to rob some things from me even with a local guide on my side…

    I was happy when I left again. But great that you had a different experience than I had.

  4. I was glad to read this as most people think I’m crazy when I mention that I enjoyed my time in Managua. The people were indeed friendly and even though I did not feel overly comfortable walking around several parts of the city (and was once told by a security guard in a park to ‘get out of here now’ for my own safety), I only had positive experiences in the end.

    Although, I somehow missed this market. And I’m curious as to how much the fine was for overstaying your 3 months?

    • I enjoy cities with a bit of an edge.

      But not all my experiences were great either. I was walking through a neighborhood in the morning with my camera one day, and a local man told me to put it away “before you get shot”. He may have been overreacting a bit, but who knows.

      I’m confident in my theory that hardcore criminals don’t wake up with the sunrise.

      The fine for overstaying my visa was $1 per day.

  5. Wow, that pirated video stand is incredible. So many movies, and all in such disarray. Reminds me of my trips to Mexico, and seeing all the drug stores. I don’t think I’d trust getting anything from one of those pharmacies! :D