Nicaragua Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving In Nicaragua
Driving is on the right side of the road in Nicaragua and you can drive on the photo ID of most countries for the duration of the visa stamp in your passport, though an International Driving Permit is also advisable.

The road network is more developed on the Pacific side of the country,less so on the Atlantic coast. Around 20% of the country’s 24,000km of roads are paved  with routes ranging from well maintained three lane highways to sand and gravel tracks. The Pan American highway runs through the country from the Costa Rica border at Penas Blancas to the Honduras border in the North. There is also a good new highway covering the 95KM  from Managua to Leon, which can be driven in around 90 minutes.

Most of the roads connecting the major cities are in generally good condition, but some roads will deteriorate quickly after heavy rain. With few exceptions, secondary roads are in poor repair, potholed and poorly lit. Road travel away from highways after dark is especially hazardous in all areas of the country. Bicycles, oxcarts, animals and vehicles without lights are encountered even on main roads in Nicaragua. In cities motorcycles will dart in and out of traffic and veer across lanes without warning. Many vehicles in rural areas are in poor condition, travel very slowly and are liable to break down without warning. Drivers should be especially careful on curves and hills, as many drivers will pass on blind spots.

There have been instances of police officers trying to extract cash ‘fines’ from travellers in rental cars. If police authorities demand an on-the-spot payment, drivers should ask for the officer’s name and badge number, as well as a receipt, which may deter them. There have been isolated incidents of  robbery at the Momotombo Mirador (look-out point) on the New Leon Highway. You should avoid stopping here if there aren’t many other visitors about.There have also been thefts from cars beaches around San Juan del Sur. You should be cautious when visiting the beaches of Maderas, Marsella, Yankee, Coco and Remanso.

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Nicaragua Car Rental –
Hertz, Alamo, National, Europcar, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, have outlets here. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites and Web discount sites such as

We currently have no local car rental partners in Nicaragua If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Nicaragua Self Drive Rules-
Budget allow cars to be driven into Other Central American countries but you need to make them aware at the time of booking. The other big companies don’t state whether they allow cross border rentals or not.


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