Matagalpa is not a city of intoxicating beauty, but several day-hikes take you out into the inspiring scenery that surrounds it. The most accessible explores Cerro Apante. From Parque Darío head south up the hill for thirty minutes, following the road into the reserve itself. Turn left at the rangers’ cottage, where you’ll probably have to pay the entry fee, and climb the (at times steep) path through pleasant woodland to a mirador offering cracking views of the town and the crown of mountains that surrounds it. You can continue along the ridge, but the summit proper is private property – signs warn you off the final climb up some wooden stairs. The walk should take less than three hours in total. Guides are available, but need to be arranged in advance (Arcenio Brenes, 8651 3727).