San Juan de Oriente
San Juan de Oriente

San Juan de Oriente

Masaya

The basics

Most visitors stop at San Juan de Oriente specifically to shop for ceramics. Depending on which pottery shop you visit, you might find more contemporary designs or those reminiscent of pre-Columbian times. Using clay from nearby Lake Apoyo, each family has a distinct style of ceramic shaping. You can explore the town within an hour or two, making it an excellent culturally-focused addition to any multi-town itinerary. Some travelers visit during half- or full-day tours of the White Towns.

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Things to know before you go

  • Visit the ceramics museum on the west end of town to see live demonstrations.

  • There are limited accommodations in the area, so it’s best to stop by San Juan de Oriente for a quick visit on your way to Masaya or Granada.

  • Just outside of town, the Sendero El Caballito hiking trail is a challenging trek that leads to great views of Lake Apoyo and petroglyphs.

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How to get there

San Juan de Oriente is located 5 miles (9 kilometers) south of Masaya. Accessible via NIC-18, you can easily reach it with a rental car, though there are local buses, taxis, and private shuttles that connect San Juan de Oriente to Masaya and other towns. You can also visit it by booking a tour that will transport you around the White Towns.

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When to get there

San Juan de Oriente is primarily visited for its pottery, and because many locals have their workshops in their own homes, it’s best to plan your trip during the daytime. There are few restaurants and bars in town, so don’t expect much in the way of nightlife. Visiting for a few hours of shopping or a pottery lesson in the afternoon is ideal.

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San Juan de Oriente’s patron saint festival

Many of Nicaragua’s towns have a local patron saint, and San Juan de Oriente is no different. The feast of its patron saint, John the Baptist, occurs the week of June 24. Visit during the celebration to see a traditional dance known as the Chinegros as well as fireworks and other festivities in the streets.

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