Total Time: 19 hours (plus overnight stops in El Tunco and Leon)
Total Cost: $81 ($65 shuttle + $16 border crossing fee)
Getting from Antigua, Guatemala to El Tunco, El Salvador
We used Gekko Explorer Shuttles to book our trip. First is one shuttle from Antigua to El Tunco. This shuttle leaves at 3am but it is actually kind of nice. It wasn’t very crowded due to the early departure time so we got to lay down and sleep. It is about a 5 hour ride. You cross the border into El Salvador and there is no border crossing fee. You only need to get out and show your passport. We decided to make a trip out of it and spent the night in El Tunco. Read our El Tunco recommendations here.
Getting from El Tunco, El Salvador to Leon, Nicaragua
Next take a shuttle from El Tunco to Leon. This journey is long and our bus was packed. It took us about 12 hours. (You’re going to want a few audiobooks for this leg of the journey!) You stop at 2 borders, Honduras and Nicaragua. The fee for crossing the borders is $16. (As a US citizen, different countries may have different fees.) We were unable to find a direct shuttle from El Tunco to Granada but I think we would have wanted a break anyways. We stayed one night in Leon. Our ticket included one night in the dorms at the Blue Hat Hostel. The accommodations were not very nice but it was only for one night.
Insider Tip: Always check to make sure your passport stamps have the correct date! One guy in our group’s stamp from Guatemala was a week in the future so he had a VERY hard time getting across the other borders. We all had to wait almost an hour for them to resolve it.
Insider Tip: Make your trip more fun by trying the local beer in each country along the way!
Fun Fact: There are men who will exchange your cash for you at the border and they are carrying STACKS of money. It is crazy! They must have had $5000 cash on them!
Getting from Leon, Nicaragua to Granada, Nicaragua
Next, you take one last shuttle from Leon to Granada. This one only takes about 2 hours and is a breeze. Read our Granada recommendations here.
If Gekko Explorer doesn’t have space, BigFoot is also another company that has several shuttles in Central America.
The trip isn’t so bad and you end up seeing 4 countries along the way!